OkcPets Magazine July 2023

34 OKC Pets • July / August 2023 The Life of Riley Border Collie Excels at Sheepherding by Carol Mowdy Bond A s a university student, Kim Steagall came across a Border Collie that liked people and was fully loyal and obedient. “I told myself I wanted a dog like that someday,” Steagall said. Steagall researched dog breeds, and in 2016, she bought a seven-week-old Border Collie pup from an Atoka sheep owner and dog breeder. Purchasing the pup as a pet, Steagall named him Riley because she wanted him to have “the life of Riley,” a phrase referring to an easy and pleasant life. “I was absolutely smitten from the first time I saw him,” said Steagall. “And I wanted Riley to have a fulfilled life. So the breeder suggested sheepherding for Riley.” For about a year, Steagall and Riley tried different activities. Together, they waded through obedience training, disc dog, agility classes, and dock diving. “I wanted to give him what he needs, like a job,” Steagall said. “I was figuring out what he can do that he loves because we live in a neighborhood.” Steagall noticed a herding clinic for puppies in Broken Arrow and enrolled 10-month-old Riley. When the dogs were placed with ducks to ascertain any herding instincts, Riley’s passion exploded. So for a year and a half, Steagall and Riley took weekly herding lessons. “We were figuring out this herding thing,” she said. “After the lessons, I felt like I was ready to get sheep and practice on my own.” Launching a Sheep Farm Steagall borrowed five sheep for a few years. But she and her husband live in a residential neighborhood. So she went door to door in a rural area, asking people if she could lease their land. Initially snagging a four-acre parcel, Steagall and Riley worked with the borrowed sheep. When she mustered her confidence, Steagall bought Katahdin sheep — 11 ewes and one ram — launching her Lucky Ewe Sheep Farm in Canadian County. She chose Katahdin sheep because they are hearty, fertile, and low maintenance. And they are meat-producing sheep. Rather than producing fleece, or wool (which can be made into textile products), Katahdin sheep grow hair which they shed in the spring. So owners don’t have to annually In midair, Riley leaps into the 2020 dock-diving competition in Washington, Oklahoma. Photo by Todd & Copper’s Pet Photography, courtesy of Kim Steagall.