LETTER: In praise of collie-dog film

Colin Balmbro with Scott and Cap.
Colin Balmbro with Scott and Cap.
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On Wednesday, April 2, my husband and I travelled up from Morpeth to Berwick for the opening night of the new film, To the Border Bred.

I am still in a state of amazement at this extraordinary production. About collie dogs? My husband doesn’t even like dogs, but we were both enthralled.

A Border Collie pup.

A Border Collie pup.

This film is not just about the skilful, intelligent animals; the eloquent shepherds male and female; the unmatchable landscapes in summer greenery and winter snow.

It is not just about the traditional shepherding in our lovely county. It is all those things, but it is more.

The young producer has captured something truly fundamental in the history of humanity – as we evolved from hunters into herders; and without dogs this would not have happened.

The way the dogs transferred to humans that interaction with the leader of the pack; the way the shepherds work in harmony with the dogs’ nature; the way the puppies’ instinct to hunt evolved to work the sheep.

There was humour, when one of the dogs at an important sheepdog trial rolled in smelly badger poo at the crucial moment; there were gasps from the audience as a woman shepherd worked her flock with the dogs in a picturesque but terrifyingly cold snowstorm; admiration for the eloquent Northumbrian language of some of the older shepherds; tear-jerking moments when these strong men described how they felt when their animals came to the end of their working lives.

At the end, a spontaneous clapping arose from the audience. I felt like standing up and cheering.

I can’t praise it enough.

Bridget Gubbins,

Old Bakehouse Yard,