"I adopted two rescue dogs but there was one thing that was missing…,” says Kate Humble in her new documentary, Kate Humble: My Sheepdog and Me.
When Kate Humble moved to rural Wales there was just one thing that was missing – a working sheepdog. After acquiring Welsh sheepdog Teg, the presenter set about training, working and breeding Teg, and their journey has led to her one-off documentary Kate Humble: My Sheepdog and Me.
Why did you want a working sheepdog?
“I bought a farm in Monmouth and a mix of livestock. I adopted two rescue dogs but there was one thing that was missing…”
What made you choose a Welsh sheepdog, a rarer breed?
“For most of us the image of a working farm dog is a black and white border collie herding sheep into pens and yet they are just one of more than 20 distinct breeds of British herding dog. But all British herding dog breeds, except the border collie, have either gone extinct or are in sharp decline.”
How did you begin your mission of turning Teg into a herding dog?
“I wanted to contribute to the future of this breed and to do that I needed to establish exactly how Welsh Teg was, so I needed to put her to work.”
How did the training go?
“Although we had done a little bit of training, it soon became clear it wasn’t enough. While no one could dispute our enthusiasm, there seemed to be a communication break down and I felt I was the one letting her down.
“I just didn’t feel confident in any way as a handler. I didn’t know where to stand, when to give her commands or when not to.”
You had hoped to register Teg as a pedigree Welsh sheepdog to help the breed, how did you feel when you found out she had border collie heritage?
“It was disappointing, but she is still the most wonderful dog. I don’t care whether she has got a little bit of collie snuck in there!”
Why do you feel so passionately about working dogs and their part in the rural culture?
“There are so many different types of dog out there, but working or herding dogs have an extraordinary heritage and the fact that they are as relevant today as they were 1,000 years ago says a lot.”
“These dogs still have a role. There is nothing out there that can do their job better than they can. There is no machine, no technology, no app and that to me is justification enough to keep these breeds alive.”
Kate Humble: My Sheepdog and Me is on BBC2 on Monday, August 15 at 9pm.