Maryland Farm Welcomes Wandering Stray Dog

A wandering sheepdog has been frequenting Tom Barse’s farm for the past three weeks. The farmer does not know who the dog belongs to and does not match any description of some missing dogs in the area.

The sheepdog dog has been roaming around the Mount Airy area for about 5 weeks and just last June, 2021, the dog decided that it had taken a liking for Barse’s farm.

A Shy Sheepish Sheepdog

A Shy Sheepish Dog

The sheepdog, which suspect is of a Pyrenean Sheepdog, is quite timid and shy. Tom Barse and his wife, Carolann McConaughty, have been trying to lure the pooch with milk bones but they are finding it a challenge to befriend this dog. The couple wants to get near to check its collar for any identification and also to see if it is healthy or covered with ticks and fleas but to no avail.

“Everybody has milk bones to drop it off, just to try to get her a little bit more socialized, “Barse commented. Slowly but patiently, they have been trying to build her trust making sure not to frighten her by grabbing or capturing the pooch indiscriminately. But there has been some progress.

One time, the dog would wait for Barse’s wife to leave before eating the milk bone she left 20 feet away. Now, it’s down to 5 feet.

The couple is also trying other methods to befriend the wandering pooch by letting their other Australian Shepherd pup, Heidi, play with the shy pooch. They would let Heidi go off-leash to find if they would hit and off and play. Heidi is now their ambassador to this standoffish sheepdog.

Another neighbor, Chuck Smith, while walking with his dog Dolly, happened to get near the sheepdog. Somehow it decided to bravely befriend Dolly and smell each other’s noses but when Dolly started to bark, the sheepdog dashed away. Smith noted that it was like watching Wile E. Coyote. From then on, they started calling the timid dog, Wiley.

A Wily, Wandering Woof

Ever since Wiley became a regular fixture on Barse’s Stillpoint Farm and Milkhouse Brewery, the sheepdog proved to be adept in herding sheep. She took over the herding job on the farm and the Barses are fine with that. “She has taken over and decided she’s hired,” the farmer said. Wiley also successfully herded the flock into the barn just when a thunderstorm was about to hit 2 weeks ago.

Now, Barse is testing if Wiley can herd 50 sheep from the present 15. Barse said that training both the sheep and the dog together is key in protecting the flock if there is danger. There are 2 instincts at play here; One is the sheepdog’s natural instinct to herd, whereas second is the sheep’s instinct to cluster. And Barse said that “what she does, and does a pretty good job of it.”

This only points to the fact that Wiley may be a lost dog and not a stray. Both Barse and his wife checked the Frederick County area for any reported missing dog but couldn’t find any.

Barse said, “If we get her up and find out who she belongs to, we’ll try to contact them, but I would hate to see her go, I would really hate to see her go.”

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Pete Decker