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“Brave and strong” dogs drive the flock to safety after Dorset river floods

Flock of sheep being directed by border collie © Jemma Harding – Facebook

A farmer from Dorset has praised her herding dogs for what she described as a life-saving rescue of a flock of 80 sheep. According to Jemma Harding, her dogs saved the day.

By Nick Whittle, 26 Dec 2019

Ms Harding was caught out by the heavy rain that fell earlier this month. Her farm, which borders the River Stour, was swamped when the river burst its banks. The deluge left 80 sheep stranded on a small rise of land.


As the water continued to rise the sheep started to panic, according to 40-year-old Harding, who works on Knighton Farm House near Wimborne.

They're a bit dumb, they started self-sabotaging,” she told The Metro. "At one point they started jumping on top of each other and I thought that they would get themselves drowned.

A few of them were trying to swim against the tide, and they weren't moving at all – that was the lowest point,” she added.

Dogs to the rescue

Wasting no time, Harding deployed her four farm dogs: Border Collies Bee, Ghost, Blaze and Jack, and New Zealand huntaway Kea. The dogs were tasked with swimming through the water to bring the sheep to safety.


They worked for 40 minutes swimming through 300 metres of cold water to direct the sheep to dry land.

Some of them don’t even like water,” said Harding. “Like my eldest, Bee, who doesn’t like going swimming in the sea when I take them down to the beach. But they all got stuck in.

I was totally caught out by the floods,” she added. “There's just no way I could have saved those sheep without my dogs.”

The dogs were cold and tired but all of the sheep were safe. As a reward they were given “warm puppy milk and lots of hugs", writes The Metro.

Other notable rescues

In 2018 French training centreDog centre Caninature published a video of their rescue of a flock of sheep from flooded farmland. It makes for compelling viewing!