Stories and Sayings of James Gardner

1840 - 1900

Note: James Gardner was a shepherd and famous collie-dog trainer, born in 1840 in the Upper Ward of Lanarkshire in Scotland. In 1910, Rev. Hugh Young wrote of Mr Gardner as follows:

“Among my first impressions of him which remained and deepened as the years went on, were his genial nature, his kindly heart, his fidelity to duty, his intense interest in all things human, and his fine sympathy with every living thing in Nature… even still more remarkable than his wonderful ability as a shepherd, was the extraordinary mastery he had over his dogs… Many are the interesting stories that might be told of Mr. Gardner and his dogs, to show the latter’s sagacity, intelligence, and ability in working, as well as their master’s command over them.”

Sayings on Dogs

In every case, a great dog bears a deep resemblance to his master.

I have never known a deceitful man to have a faithful dog.

In training, you have to guide instinct by a superior and kindly wisdom, being always careful not to blunt the genius of the pupil by over-direction.

The higher type of collie is easily spoilt, the lower type can scarcely be rendered useless even by the greatest novice.

The leading, not the commanding faculty, is the strongest quality of a great dog.

A shepherd’s dogs should all be recognized as members of the family.

No insult would wound me deeper than a look of distrust from one of my dogs.

Prove yourself worth dying for, and your dog, if need be, will cheerfully make sacrifice.

The noblest lessons in truth, sacrifice, and duty I have got from my dogs.

Base-minded men work for money; my dogs work because service is their pleasure.

“Auld Rasp”

Account shared by Ralph Fleesh, 1920

Note: “Rasp, the heroine of this story, belonged to Mr James Gardner and deservedly ranks as one of the great dogs of history”…

“…The collie does not know the meaning of fear or hardship. I was witness of the following: — A blind sheep fell into a loch and swam out a considerable distance. Fortunately, the shepherd was just returning from the “hill,” and having been apprised of the accident he hurried with his three collies to the rescue. He simply whispered a syllable to one of his dogs, who at once took to the water. Out she went — tried to bring the sheep ashore one way, then tried it another. The shepherd stood motionless; his two young dogs impatiently whined at his feet. At last somebody cried, “Auld Rasp” (meaning the dog) “is gaun toe be drooned.” “Yes,” replied the stern-featured, stalwart mountaineer, “she will die or save her charge.” After the finest display of sagacity under most trying circumstances I ever beheld, she brought the sheep to the bank, she herself being so exhausted that her master had to lift her out of the water, carry her home, and administer restoratives.

Many stories are told of “Old Rasp,” for to her memory all who knew her are ever ready to pay tribute. On one occasion a pig, which had been brought home the previous day, escaped. The sun was setting when Mr. Gardner returned from the moors. Finding “the guidwife” much excited over the abrupt departure of the little stranger, he allayed her fears by assuring her that “Auld Rasp will soon bring back the wee prodigal.” So off Rasp went in quest of what proved one of the most stubborn of the members of the bucolic family she ever encountered. Having been absent about twenty five minutes she at last appeared with a few sheep in front of her. But in the centre of the sheep was the pig, experience having taught her that the little rebel could not be driven alone. Ever afterwards she visited the sty daily to make sure that the occupant was being kept in his proper sphere.”