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An Entrepreneurial Dog's Private Life

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An Entrepreneurial Dog's Private Life

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An Entrepreneurial Dog's Private Life

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

And finally, a story about an entrepreneurial dog with a human-like foible. Author Jon Katz wrote about the dog for the online magazine for the online magazine Slate. He spoke earlier with our colleague, Noah Adams.

NOAH ADAMS reporting:

You have a story about your border collie, Rose, on Slate.com - one of four dogs you have there. And Rose came to the studio with you there today?

Mr. JON KATZ (Border Collie Owner and Slate.com Contributor): Yes. She's circling around. She's lying at my feet quite calmly at the moment, eager to - staring at the door, wanting something to do.

ADAMS: Wanting something to do, which is the point of our discussion. She's a border collie from a breeding line in Colorado. These are working dogs, and your Rose is the only border collie that I've heard about who actually works for money. Tell us about how you - how this works out there.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. KATZ: Well, one of the ironies - I have a farm in upstate New York. And, of course, most of the farmers can't afford a border collie and don't have the time to train it. So they call me all the time when their goats are out or their cows are loose or they're having riots with the sheep. And we go roaring over there in the pickup with Rose, and she puts these disturbances down. And we charge - I was going to do it for free, and I realized they got offended by that. So we charge $5 to $10, depending on the difficulty of the task. And Rose has earned $240, which sits in a basket by my computer and is earmarked for a border collie rescue group and a giant bone.

ADAMS: Tell us a story about one visit that you made, one emergency visit.

Mr. KATZ: I got a call from a farmer who said - in the middle of the night, he said my sheep, my cows, my goats are all out on the road. One of them has been hit by a car. And it was 2:00 in the morning, and the poor man was just out there with his sons trying to round them up. He said he had a mutt who was running around in circles making the animals crazy, and he heard I had a working dog.

So we went flying over there, and it was truly a riot. There were just animals all over the road: goats, sheep, cows, steers. It was horrendous weather, and just this dog was just astounding to me. You know, I pointed to the barn - which is a command that I use - I say barn, barn, which means get the animals into the barn. And she - first of all, she ran his dog underneath a truck because he was bothering her, and then she circles these goats whom she'd really never seen before. And she starts circling around and making them crazy, and runs them into the barn. Then she gets the sheep, which was no problem for her. And then the cows, of course, are a different thing, because they don't flock.

And she figured out how to get them to move. She got behind them and bobbed and weaved, and roped and doped, and jumped up and down. And then she got them moving towards the barn, and then the farmer got behind them with a stick and kind of got them moving. In ten minutes, you know, we were back on the way home.

And her ability to go into these situations, I just can't say enough about her. She just has this instinct for understanding what you need to do.

ADAMS: You know, it surprised me reading your story about Rose that you don't know where she sleeps in your house.

Mr. KATZ: I call it the existential loneliness of Rose. There's a vulnerability about her. She lives to work, and she keeps a very close eye on me, but she doesn't really live the life of a pet in the sense of I don't know where she sleeps. She sleeps, I think, in different rooms where she can look out at the pasture and check on the sheep.

Every morning around 5:00, she hops onto my bed. She gives me about 20 or 30 licks around the nose, and then she disappears. So she has her own life, you know. She's always there to work, always ready to work, but she doesn't really hang around or cuddle or hang around with the other dogs. She has a kind of part of her life that's remote, and I find somewhat vulnerable and touching, really.

You know, that's the thing about her that is so interesting, is this obsessive, ferocious work ethic, and yet this kind of vulnerability and remoteness.

ADAMS: Jon Katz talking with us from Vermont Public Radio in Manchester. His article about his border collie, Rose, is online at Slate. And there's a picture of Rose at npr.org. Thank you, Mr. Katz.

Mr. KATZ: Thank you. It was good to talk to you again.

(Soundbite of music)

BRAND: And that interview by NPR's Noah Adams.

(Soundbite of music)

BRAND: DAY TO DAY is as production of NPR News with contributions from Slate.com. I'm Madeleine Brand.

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

And I'm Alex Chadwick.

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