Updated: Oct 17, 2020
Special note for photosensitive users: There is an animated GIF at the bottom of this post showing Dodger's movement. It may or may not be enough to set off a reaction.
Dodger is my hero. He is our little disabled wether, but he doesn't let it slow him down. When Fezziwig and Dodger were waiting for me to pick them up, they were both haltered and tied to the side of their pens to keep them separate from the rest of the flock. However, I believe the other rams in Dodger's pen beat him up, leaving him with a neck injury that we didn't diagnose until several days after he'd been with us.
This is not something anyone could have predicted. Sometimes with livestock, accidents happen, and we simply deal with them appropriately. In Dodger's case, he may move awkwardly, and he cannot lift his head up (often making people who see him think he's sizing them up for a good headbutt), but he doesn't appear to be in pain, so we make sure he stays healthy in all other respects. He has had two incidents (while we were present) where he seemed to pinch a nerve that caused him to fall. It didn't appear to be a seizure, as he was aware and responsive, but he seemed to be unable to struggle to his feet. I propped him to a sternal position, massaged his neck and legs, then lifted him to his feet when he seemed ready, and after a couple of shaky steps, off he went!
Fezziwig, being unaware of personal space, is the only one I have ever seen butt Dodger, and it's usually for food. The other sheep treat him gently, even when Cambridge was teaching them how to butt, but he is also cognizant of his limitations and stays out of the way and watches on frisky mornings when everyone else seems inclined to spar.
When deciding which sheep to bring to an event, Dodger is always a safe bet, though he doesn't feel safe getting scritches from just anyone the way Fezziwig does. If he's not lying down and resting, he is typically in the middle of the pen, eating or watching people. A few times, when someone is very patient and persistent, and perhaps has the right kind of energy, he will come closer and receive scritches. But as far as sheep fighting in the pen, it's a safe bet than anyone he is paired with (besides Fezziwig) will not start a scuffle with Dodger. But at the same time, if I take Dodger and don't take Fezziwig, it's as if I've taken away Fezziwig's anchor, and our friend who farm sits for us notices that Fezziwig is upset.
Dodger has sweet quirks in which he lives up to his name. He is still a little black rocket in the pasture when they are all playing. In the evenings, when they are all put in their stall in the barn with some hay, he often dives in to grab a mouthful, then spins and comes to the door so I can scritch behind his head. Then he turns around and dives in for more before getting out of the way and circling the group.
Because of his disability, he doesn't shake his body in the same way the other sheep can, so his wool is typically very full of vegetable matter. As with most Shetlands, though, the time put in to pick through his fleece is certainly worth the effort. His wool is extremely curly and bouncy with very little britch fiber (the coarser, straighter fiber around the back legs). He is also one of the calmest sheep to shear, so there are rarely any second cuts to pick through during skirting.
Showing Dodger's Movement