The above scene comes early in American Sniper. It’s the movie’s way of establishing Chris Kyle’s reason for doing what he’s going to spend the rest of the movie doing (i.e. shooting people). Chris is destined to be a “sheepdog” protecting “sheep” from the “wolves.” I have no idea if Kyle senior ever uttered those words to his son. But I’ve heard this philosophy many times from people who tool up on domestic soil. I reckon it’s a dangerous belief system. Here’s why . . .

There are not “three types of people in this world.” All people are all capable of all types of behavior. People can be sheep (passive members of a larger group), sheepdogs (protectors of a flock) or wolves (aggressors against sheep or sheepdogs). While some people are genetically predisposed to one of these roles, they can switch between these roles as needs be. Which is just as well.

Imagine you’re in a restaurant. Three armed robbers enter, fire off a few rounds and instruct patrons to hit the deck. This is an excellent time to be one of the non-aggressive diners who follows orders hoping not to be slaughtered. You may think like a sheepdog, looking for ways to save innocent life. You may have the tools and training for the job, if and when it’s a good idea to separate yourself from the pack. But until and unless that happens, it’s best to be sheepish.

When you attack, should you be a sheepdog protecting your flock or a wolf taking on a pack of perps? I get it: wolves are evil. Sheepdogs are not. But when push comes to shove, domesticity isn’t exactly an advantage, is it? A wolf is faster, leaner and meaner than a sheepdog. Wouldn’t it be better to be more wolf-like and less sheepdogish when it’s on like Donkey Kong?

Suffice it to say, armed Americans should not limit themselves to the role of sheepdog. Nor should they look down at “sheep,” thinking they’re incapable of standing and fighting for themselves or others. At the same time, armed Americans should embrace the ferocity of the wolf. And realize they need to know how to blend into a crowd; warn and protect their own when threatened; and attack violently, without mercy, when needed.

178 Responses to The Myth of the Sheepdog

  1. “There are not “three types of people in this world.” All people are all capable of all types of behavior. People can be sheep (passive members of a larger group), sheepdogs (protectors of a flock) or wolves (aggressors against sheep or sheepdogs). While some people are genetically predisposed to one of these roles, they can switch between these roles as needs be.”

    Cops seems to switch between the roles almost daily.

      • Most cops are more like wolves than sheepdogs. Cops running in huge loyal packs being one example of this. Then there is the blue wall, where they even protect bad members who are fully in the wrong. Sadly many departments are a weird gumbo mix of wolves and sheepdogs and it is hard to tell which is which, and tend to be heavy on wolves anyway. They are also like hornets too, piss one off and the whole hive goes after you.

        • Bingo ! Wolves in a pack. Some are alphas and some are betas but all protect the pack, first, last, and always.

          Ask Frank Sercipo!

        • It’s nice of you to categorize the majority of law enforcement officers as violent, aggressive people. I’m sorry you feel that way, but it’s easy to have that point of view when the only time most people encounter Law enforcement personnel is during an amped up high stress situation.

          This becomes amplified when you live in an oppressive region that wants to control every aspect of your life by outlawing everything (HI,DC,NY,CA,etc.) you will attract people into law enforcement who are willing to use violence to enforce said laws, and good people who would make outstanding officers will refuse to do so because they morally object to enforcing said laws & functioning as a tax collector via traffic & policy enforcement.

          However when you are away from these massive population centers you get a close representation of the general public.

    • Sure the coward always transitions to hero, while the protective clergyman evolves into the murderous wolf in an instant. Take a look at your work place. Are the people there likely to fit into one of the three styles mention or are they likely to occupy multiple roles.

      I know I can, but then I habve multiple personalities and my parole officer has warned me about certain activities. The author should also seek help.

    • Exactly. “Sheepdogs” are those who are willing to establish a mindset, acquire the hardware and the skill set to be of use in a potentially violent situation. That doesn’t mean the same response to every situation. RF preaches the “sheepdog” mentality every single day on the pages of this blog. Being prepared. Being willing. Being able. That doesn’t mean being stupid.

    • Great Pyrenees are guard dogs, sheepdogs are herding dogs. Big difference!
      Would I trust a GP to protect me, yip. Would I trust a sheepdog to protect me, nope!

      • You are generalizing way too much. There are several breeds of sheep dogs that work as herd AND guard dogs. This role includes looking after kids of the shepherd.

    • No better front line of defense than a Great Pyrenees.

      If you can get to my front door before he warns me you’ll be the stealthiest man on the planet.

      If you can get past him trying with all his might to destroy you and protect me to his last breath you’ll be the luckiest man on the planet.

      All that will get you you is three in the chest and a ride to the coroners office.

      Pyrs are cute an cuddly until it’s not time to be cute and cuddly anymore.

      • Yep, I have two Pyr’s and an nothing larger than a June Bug gets near the house without detection. We bring them in at night (so the neighborhood can sleep) and without any training our female sleeps inside the bed room door with her sheeple, and our male is at the far end of the hall. You can not get to my family without literally stepping over two 120+ pound, waist high, hair missiles.

        For those unfamiliar with the breed here is a “family pet” who decided that 1000lb moose was a threat to her family.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSQjzmfrIxk
        Wynny isn’t about to come when called because that might draw the moose towards the family, if you notice she is trying to draw the moose away and repositions herself between the threat and the family when that fails. She darts in to keep the moose focused on her, and she does so till the moose decided it’s time to move on. This is typical Pyr behavior, when engaged you can’t recall them until they decide the threat is over.

  2. You’re all wrong. There are only two types of people in this world: Those who like Journey and those who like Journey ironically.

  3. Great review of the “sheepdog” concept, I totally agree with the idea of switching between Sheep and Sheepdog roles as necessary. I consider myself a Sheepdog and my two cents worth, as far as switching between Sheepdog and Wolf roles is that as a sheepdog I consider myself exactly like a wolf and not a little Australian Shepherd. What makes a wolf a wolf is its target, not its demeanor – trust me, if as a Sheepdog I have to protect Sheep I will bring a wolf to the fight.

    • Derek-You are selling yourself short by comparing yourself to a sheepdog, which sheepdogs are only trained for specific purposes. You seem like a man capable of thinking out of the box and knowing when to show no mercy upon a threat, and trained dogs work well on command but the ferocity has to be in its nature. Keep up the personal responsibility

      @RF- Sir, you forgot the most important and fourth figure in your analogy about armed citizens being types of animals, and that is the role of the human Shepherd. A shepherd trains the dog to protect the herd and disciplines the dog when it gets out of line by acting too savage towards the sheep it is supposed to protect. The shepherd releases the dog as the tool it is bred for upon the wolves that are meaning the flock harm, and the shepherd who is able to use critical thinking uses another tool and kills the wolves to then protect the dog and the herd. Being a shepherd requires understanding the nature of all three creatures, and act accordingly to each. Working Dogs are only as good as their training but some can’t hack it and those are lapdogs. Wolves exist to achieve certain goals by ambush and only go after the weak. Sheep get lost all the time and some never lift their heads up from grazing to look around as they have no want for more than being sheep. Shepherds exist to kill the wolves, love the dog, and know when the herd needs to be culled.

      ” When you attack, should you be a sheepdog protecting your flock or a wolf taking on a pack of perps? I get it: wolves are evil. ” Sheepdogs can be just as viscous as wolves are since they are still thinking just like animals with a particular task of fighting to stay alive, and a reward at the end if successful. A sheepdogs job is to keep the sheep in line and latch their teeth into the sheep when they step at of bounds. Wolves are intelligent Apex predators but still just savage animals, and are strongest in a pack, and if you kill one be prepared to kill more. Wolves are endangered species to some folks that need to be constantly reintroduced amongst the sheep, where as the shepherd lives by the 3 S’s of disposing of predators… Sheepdogs will sometimes give their lives protecting the herd from wolves but the distraction the dog is providing is a job well done as it allows the Shepherd to schwack the wolves with the rifle.

      “A wolf is faster, leaner and meaner than a sheepdog. Wouldn’t it be better to be more wolf-like and less sheepdogish when it’s on like Donkey Kong?” A wolf and dog are still just underdeveloped animals who operate on instinct. Granted the exception to the rule of wolves being knuckle-draggers is the high ranking shot callers who are just as cunning as they are ruthless, but ordinary citizens won’t encounter these men or their wrath as there is no money it. The shepherd is who pays for and unleashes the sheepdog upon the herd to keep order amongst the flock as they meander through life. The shepherd also is the one who will put down the sheep dog if it bites the hand that feeds it.

  4. “Three armed robbers enter, fire off a few rounds and instruct patrons to hit the deck. This is an excellent time to be one of the non-aggressive diners who follows orders hoping not to be slaughtered.”

    Says you. But you must acknowledge that doing so puts your life / loved ones lives solely in the hands of said bad guys. There are plenty of examples where people did just this and found themselves executed at the end of the robbery/etc.

    Individual decision – but not one way is the “best”. The individual has to decide and own the consequences.

    • Common Core strikes again!!! And if you have watched Sheepdogs at work they protect the flock try to move it away from the threat and if necessary turn and fight due to wolves coming in more that 1 v 1 to face one leaves the flock alone for the rest of the pack.
      yes 1 v 3 sucks (watch 1st Person Defender vid’s) they go over a lot of simulations where you and yours may be involved. when in a crowded or not diner/restaurant in a 3 v 1 you really need to pick your tactics! To say getting on the deck is sheepish does to take into account they (3) can not cover a large target area Fast Food/Denny’s size maybe anything larger they have a ton of blind spots. Next you need to check your area for a sleeper even from the serving/kitchen door area they may have sent someone through the back or their insider is there, Who knows what!! If they are an In/Out crew no problem they take the till and leave so be it! If they are making a sweep for cash watches phones ect… they have to split up more problems, but opens avenues! they start shooting folks nothing to loose!! And all of that has to happen in seconds to the first minutes!!! So there you are Were you a SD/S YOU MAY ACT IN DEFENSE OF YOUR FAMILY/YOURSELF or OTHERS Does not make you a wolf Go smack a poodle on the nose and while it rips your wrist open does that turn him/her/it into a Wolf?
      Your actions are not what the title(s) stand for. Sheep & Sheepdog are one side the Wolf or a pack are the other. Sheep can defend themselves if the flock is cornered they stampede even if they do not want to self preservation may demand it, they may not attack the wolf or pack but they may If NO OTHER CHOICE is available. The Sheepdog may just gather the flock and move it away from the wolf/pack without turning on the wolf/pack itself But is of the mind set that he/she will use their teeth if necessary or called upon due to the nature of the attack.
      Do not get caught up in title or function, IT is the STATE OF MIND that earns the title.
      Yours in service
      James Acerra

  5. Man, wolves are not evil. They weren’t born vegans and they don’t have money to buy what they need. Why all the wolf hate?

  6. When you want to write an essay worth the reading about the concept let me know. <500 words that doesn't really say anything beyond "it's a not a perfect metaphor" that probably took you an hour, if I'm generous in the amount of thinking you did before you typed. Seriously. Quantity doesn't always trump quality. It may in the short term get more clicks but you'll lose in the long run.

    • It actually took me quite a while to write this post. A lot of dead ends and ditched paragraphs. And a lot of research into sheepdogs, which divide into herding and guard dogs. Which doesn’t help the analogy one bit.

      Anyway we’re more than happy to publish a more thorough examination of the subject. Send it to thetruthaboutguns@gmail.com if, as and when.

      • The art of manliness did a three part series on this subject that did actually explore the different types of dogs that we lump together as “sheepdogs” even though we probably shouldn’t. Their exploration of those distinctions did actually bring out more food for thought. And wasn’t a bad embellishment of the analogy

        And this line of thought goes back at least to Plato’s republic. I believe it’s in book 2 where they lament the difficulties in finding a perfect guardian and find hope only in the fact that dogs serve as a guardian that tempers protectiveness with loyalty and trust. Grossman did an article (widely available online) where he specifically notes that it’s a continuum and that our choices day to day can alter where we are on that continuum.

        There’s even a debate in scholarly areas about whether in a stable community you need the two types: those who are excellent co-operators due to an aversion to aggression (a majority) and those with a predilection for aggression (an important minority). For co-operators to survive in a hostile environment those with a better instinct for aggression might be vital. And perhaps humans co-operate better when there is a deep seated aversion to aggression. Grossman’s point that the firing rate was so low historically lends some credence to this thought. As do the studies about fighting men’s psychology and response to exposure to fighting that we did in WWII. The idea that we are all equally plastic in the face of aggression is a poor one- even when we have physical parity (via guns) and cultural endorsement (in the case of war) not everyone responded the same. In fact a majority (~80% ) when faced with the opportunity couldn’t bring themselves to kill the enemy. Self defense, particularly defense of home, may well be a different case. Even a squirrel will attack a hand in their nest. But overall the idea that some of us may be better suited to protecting others I think probably finds purchase.

        My overall point put more politely: I would really appreciate seeing articles that explore things more deeply. This article is not your best work and I would very much enjoy seeing more of your best.

        Have a good day

      • As used here and in our larger national discussions, sheepdog is analogous to warrior. Listening to the cosmopolites whine and dither over Kyle’s supposed brutality says a lot to me about how poorly they are equipped to grasp just how much the world—ours and theirs—has changed in the past few years. Others have understood immediately. When questioned about how they felt about the 9/11 attack, elders in a rural African village (Masai, I think) commented that the attackers were cowards and not warriors. In the Masai tradition, warriors are always merciful whenever they can be and fearsome enemies only when needed. They were contemptuous of what Al-Qaeda had done. In his book, interviews, and now this movie, I think that’s what Chris Kyle was trying to tell us.

        This clip nailed it perfectly, Robert. Y’all done real good.

      • Thanks Data, for the constructive criticism in your second reply to RF. A link to those articles would help, and I too would be interested in what you write.

        Cranking something out every day has to be a challenge, and I give TTAG a lot of credit for generally delivering quality over volume of posts. That also attracts people to opine – another benefit as I always learn from the readers who offer useful facts in their critique, especially from their own experience.

        Here is something that describes the difference between “livestock guardian dogs” and herding breeds.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Livestock_guardian_dog

        Slightly OT, but relevant- just read a very interesting book “Trident K9 Warriors” about use of Belgian Malinois dogs by Navy Seals- now $2.99 on kindle-

        http://www.amazon.com/Trident-K9-Warriors-Training-Battlefield/dp/1250041813

        Fascinating, especially the part about being selected for human aggression.

        • PS: Sorry for my enthusiasm- I have no connection other than having read the book and being a dog guy.

          The proceeds from the book go to the Warrior Dogs Foundation- which rehabilitates working dogs of war.

          The main business is Trikos, in Cooper, TX. http://warriordogfoundation.org/contact-us-2/

          I’ve preordered the next book, and will submit a review, if interested, RF.

      • Acting sheep’ish is a tactic it doesn’t make you a sheep. I’ve always thought “the sheep” have equal disdain for the wolf and the sheepdog, because the sheepdog reminds them of the wolf. Being a sheepdog does not mean you must engage in every situation. Sheep live in denial that is the key trait of the sheep, I doubt anyone that posts here is in denial (unless your a demanding mom). In this hypothetical situation (3 v 1 with shots already fired) you might chose to act like one of the sheep, I would, unless the situation went to hell. Until that moment I’d be looking for shooting lanes (drawing fire away from my family), telling my family what to do when I engage (run for an exit), and preparing to die (the most likely outcome of a 3v1 gun fight).

        Dave Grossman says:
        “Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident… We know that the sheep live in denial, that is what makes them sheep. They do not want to believe that there is evil in the world…”

        “The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, can not and will not ever harm the sheep.”

        • @GGINC, excellent post. You get it.

          Sadly, others allow themselves to fall victim to a game of semantics and nit pickery.

      • There are several breeds that were bred to do both herd and guard. The Basque used different dogs depending on what part of the world they are in. For example, in Southern Cal they have to deal with large coyote packs so they use dogs that can herd during the day and guard at night such as the Catalonian sheepdog. There is a big difference of blending with the sheep as cover and being a sheep.

    • @Data

      While I won’t be as critical as you, I agree that this is a subject that is ripe for an involved discussion.The topic of sheep/sheepdogs/wolves has always bothered me. If anything I’d say sheep/wolves is more appropriate/accurate. Sheepdogs/wolves are simply variations on the same theme.

  7. Have you ever spooked a sleeping dog, or tried to takes it bone away? The difference between the dog and the wolf isn’t the teeth: it’s how well they can play fetch.

    • This.

      I have a “sheepdog,” a Blue Heeler to be specific.

      He heeds my every command, but Heaven help the dog that challenges him. I watched him draw blood from a 75 pound labrador when he was 5 months old.

      The comments I get regarding his “wolf-like” appearance and demeanor are never ending. And given that the Blue Heeler breed is considered half dingo (Australian coyote) it makes sense.

      Whether he is a wolf or a sheepdog is dictated by the situation.

      • I have 4 ACDs that all have completely different personalities except for one common trait… They are all FIERCELY loyal to me and mine. I’ve also seen what an ACD can do when cornered, DO NOT underestimate them based on size or demeanor.

        Edit: ACD(Australian Cattle Dog) = Blue Heeler

  8. @John smith and Todd S. Oh, great. Three of us thought of the same comment essentially simultaneously.

    I’ll just go delete mine now…

  9. I don’t think the sheep analogy simply means peaceful, instead it is analogous of UNWILLING to fight, looking for protection when the wolves come. Sheepdogs are peaceful 99% of the time but are willing and capable of acting when neccessary. Wolves are those who prey on the week (in this analogy).
    Although no simple analogy will be 100% accurate, especially when discussing the human psyche, I think this is fairly good and uses the KISS principle. The sheep’s fear of the sheepdog and wolf alike as being scary helped me understand (and address in some cases) opinions of hoplophobes. My in-laws have told my wife repeatedly that a home defense pistol and her training at the range was somehow “looking for trouble”.

  10. However, wouldn’t one be able to say that by actively choosing a role, one is making mental adjustments to strategy and not actually participating in that role? The analogy was never perfect in the first place, but removing the simplistic natural analogy changes the meaning to be more accurate. Just because I’m not popping rounds at the preps when they enter and waiting for my opportune moment to pounce does not remove me from the sheepdog role. That waiting is not a behavior of sheep. I am not blindly following orders. For all intents I’m just using that as a ploy so that when that moment comes I can throw off my guise and pursue the original sheepdog role in its most obvious form.

    I’m simply arguing that (especially) in the example provided assuming a disguise does not change your role.

  11. There’s a saying that all analogies are invalid when taken beyond their applicable scope. (That can be by someone making the analogy or by someone responding to it.)

  12. Too difficult for me to remember 3 things. I am going back to FMJ “steers or qu$&ers” Sorry don’t know the PC translation of that.

  13. There are two types of people in the world; people who divide people into two groups, people who don’t, and people who can’t count.

  14. There are 63 different types of people in the world. If you don’t like it, than YOU can just get OUT!!!!!!!

  15. I have to say that I can’t totally agree with RF’s sentiment in regards to this matter.
    Sheepdogs are always sheepdogs, even when they choose not to engage with force. It’s called strategy; this seems obvious. …ever heard the expression “discretion is the better part of valor”?
    Sheepdogs have some advantages over wolves: training vs. instinct, fighting for home and family rather than profit, and as the arrangement typically plays out, loyalty(and love) for the shepherd, i.e., alignment with local laws and law enforcement and a desire to see them retained.
    Again, the analogy is not perfect. Wolves aren’t evil, they are hungry and simply stand counter to the shepherd’s goal of keeping the sheep for himself. Armed assailants at the aforementioned restaurant bent on profiting from the works of others and potentially committing acts of violence whilst doing so, are invariably evil and regrettably, not always easily stopped by one dude with a mousegun. The sheepdog analogy is suitable within the context of a society under rule of law. Even a real sheepdog knows when to bark for the shepherd.

    • The difference between people and sheep is that sheep will not drag down a sheepdog and hold them down for the wolves to eat.

      • Real velociraptors were roughly the size and weight of a turkey. Not exactly apex predator. Now a utahraptor or allosaurus? That’s more like it.

  16. The sheep dog philosophy feels good down in my cockles, but stops there. I don’t like it. My flock wouldn’t extend past my own family, IF they were sheep. We’re more like a pack of dogs who happen not to care or think about sheep. Because most sheep out there CHOOSE to be sheep. I wouldn’t presume to “protect” them nor would I volunteer to.

  17. I am not a canine of any type or a sheep. I am a man, The apex predator. Dogs exist to serve me, if they do not serve me, then they should be put down. Wolves are competitors. If they come into my territory, then they will be dispatched. Sheep exist to provide for my needs. Other humans are not sheep, they are humans. If you consider yourself a “sheepdog”, then be prepared to heel and lick your master’s hand.

    • I think you go that dog part wrong. Historically, man tamed wolves and they became what we now know as dogs. Also, those dogs served man – helped hunt other animals and protected the rest of the family/tribe/clan whatever.

      But you are 100 % correct on the Apex part. There are two types of animals in this world – Predators and Prey.

  18. Hmm…myth of Sheepdogs meets The Hypothesis of Guns?

    I don’t care for it. And I’m a little pissed I fell for clickbait.

  19. I, for one, hate the term “sheepdog” as applied people. Most of its usage I have encountered has been on the part of cops talking about themselves being sheepdogs for the masses. I don’t disagree that that is role they fill, but I have always resented the condescending way they so often refer to “civilians” (uh, cops are civilians too) as sheep and they their protectors with the resounding implication that mere “civilians” are incapable of protecting themselves.

  20. All analogies work as far as they work in context, and fail outside that context. The sheepdog analogy is not (and has never meant) that there are 3 discrete types of people. It does offer an apt set of general categories however, useful for discussion of typical human behavior.

    It’s not a unique analogy, BTW. It’s very like business methods which categorize people as fitting into “Carps, Sharks and Dolphins” or some kind of Myers-Briggs group. Wells used Eloi, Morlock and the Time Traveler in a similar sense. Other cultures use similar notions.

    It’s such a universal idea (spanning cultures, geography and time) that summarily dismissing it indicates a lack of intellectual depth and/or breadth.

  21. Robert you missed the point of the analogy. A true sheepdog, whether it is a soldier, citizen, or oath-keeping LEO, will sacrifice everything to protect the sheep. They will stand up in the diner and put accurate rounds on target. They may sacrifice their lives but they will change the thought process of the wolves from predatory to survival. Sheepdogs are defined by their complete and total devotion to the task of protecting the sheep at any cost. Wolves are predators and will stop when confronted with too much risk or resistance. There is no fluid change. I believe someone makes the choice of what they are. If you are a part-time sheepdog, than you are not one at all. Remember that poodles and Pomeranians also have teeth and claws (read guns and knives). However I wouldn’t trust them with my flock.

  22. A real sheepdog doesn’t just protect sheep from wolves, especially in the modern world. The sheepdog’s primary job is to keep the sheep with the herd and move them back and forth between the pen, the shears, and the slaughterhouse.
    That analogy would apply more to cops working for some sort of tyrannical dictatorship, like the Stasi.

  23. I completely disagree. If three armed robbers come in to a dinner shooting and threaten to the lives of innocent people it is my duty as a Catholic to neutralize the threat(s) immediately. If I did nothing and one of the innocent people was killed I have as sin on my soul as the person pulling the trigger. I don’t want to die but if I do I wouldn’t have single regret. I’ve made a vow to God that I would do everything in my power to protect the ones I love. I train almost every day. I have been to different training schools and participated in many live fire exercises. Even getting technically shot in the shoulder. Very few people know what it’s like to be in a real life or death fight. It’s not like the movies….everything happens quickly and instinctively(all muscle memory) then it’s over and you are confused and break down crying wishing it never happened. The question you should really think hard about is can I live with myself if I acted like a sheep and someone innocent dies.

    • “Duty as a Catholic”? That’s a new one to me. Aren’t Catholics all about peace and love, or something?

      • Not entirely. 🙂

        From Wikipedia:

        Amalric’s own version of the siege, described in his letter to Pope Innocent in August 1209 (col.139), states:

        While discussions were still going on with the barons about the release of those in the city who were deemed to be Catholics, the servants and other persons of low rank and unarmed attacked the city without waiting for orders from their leaders. To our amazement, crying “to arms, to arms!”, within the space of two or three hours they crossed the ditches and the walls and Béziers was taken. Our men spared no one, irrespective of rank, sex or age, and put to the sword almost 20,000 people. After this great slaughter the whole city was despoiled and burnt…[4]

  24. My sheep Weimaraner is extremely dangerous to bacon. You’d better just toss it or you may lose a couple of fingers. The lab / beagle could be a legit therapy dog, except for all the unnecessary howling. And she growls at men who wear any type of hat.

    I’ve always liked the wolf / sheep / sheepdog analogy. Sure it ain’t perfect, but I’ll be damned if I’m in situation clueless like most of the world. Nor do I have any plans to oppress the world, raise taxes, ban guns, or make dumba$$ speeches full of lies. I carry weapons and know how to use them. I’m here to oppose all enemies, both foreign and domestic. Rrroowwrr!

    Come to think of it, the wolf / sheep / sheepdog is one of my favorite ideas. Of course the roles can change, but I’ve had a warrior mindset since I became a Marine in 1994. Although I’ve matured much in that time, my fundamental desire to protect has remained.

  25. “But I’ve heard this philosophy many times from people who tool up on domestic soil. I reckon it’s a dangerous belief system. Here’s why ”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/this-gun-rights-backer-armed-with-his-glock-and-his-blog-is-always-on-alert/2013/02/02/2467d81e-6c87-11e2-ada0-5ca5fa7ebe79_story.html

    “We have sheep and we have sheepdogs. Robert and I are sheepdogs,” Kenik says. “Getting rid of the sheepdogs will not get rid of the wolves.”

    Did you change your thinking or maybe you were confused?

    The sheepdog quote is taken way out of context in your current quote.

  26. “Sheepdogs are not. But when push comes to shove, domesticity isn’t exactly an advantage, is it? A wolf is faster, leaner and meaner than a sheepdog.”

    the Answer is “Speed Surprise & Violence of action”. What it means, is Decide to act quickly to catch the attackers off guard before they “establish” their position of power, and when you Act – Act Decisively.

    In one of my Martial Arts classes I was talking once with one of the other members of our gym who had been sexually assaulted a few years prior. (before she took up the martial arts). One of the things she relayed was that while the attack was happening she was “waiting for that perfect moment to strike”…

    That moment never came – or rather it did; and she didn’t take advantage of it. THE moment to strike is initially. DOn’t let your surprise Freeze you.

    The Wolf – wants an easy dinner. It does him no good to get into a fight that is going to maim him, because then he won’t be able to get his NEXT meal.

    Sometimes you don’t have to be meaner than the wolf. You just have to be mean enough to make him want to seek easier prey.

    This philosophy also shows itself in Computer Network security — THe general philosophy these days is you cannot necessarily protect against a “Determined Targeted attacker”. What you can do though, is make your site more difficult – so that the random, untargeted attacks will pass you by in search of an easier target.

    It’s also reflected in the Old Alaskan Joke: 2 friends are going for a hike in the woods. As they get to the woods, the first puts on running shoes and begins to limber up and stretch.
    “What are you doing that for”? Well, just in case we come across bears. “You’re not going to outrun the bear!” I don’t need to out run the bear, I just need to out run YOU!

    • Good point about being prepared. You give off the vibe that you are not prey.
      I wish I could find the article- it wasnt that long ago, maybe here- but it was based on the experience of someone who worked as a therapist at prison and after, evaluating the behavior of violent people.

      It came down to a numbers game- he compared it to a tiger hunting- its not going to fight another tiger, if it doesnt have to- the risk of death or debilitating injury is not worth it, for the food value, as compared to taking the straggler in the antelope herd.

      Same for muggers- they are looking for the weak, the unprepared, working the percentages- they turn down many prospects until they find the easiest.

  27. Sheepdogs ensure that the sheep are safe up until the moment they’re sheared and/or slaughtered. I’ll be the shepherd, thank you very much.

  28. Yeah, I think this is hyperbole. As Chris Mallory said “We are apex predators.”

    People allow themselves to be prey or they prey. Those that protect others and act are just predators ultimately protecting their interest or the that of the group.

  29. I agree. The “sheepdog” analogy is just a bunch of passive aggressive insulting of others and back patting of selves.

    • Wrong. The sheepdog analogy is fine. It is an apt analogy for a certain type of people who willingly step into the breech. The most obvious are the folks who joined the military after 911 and knew exactly what they were stepping in to. These type of people are 180 degrees out of phase with the average metrosexual city dweller that graduate from our leftist indoctrination camps(universities).

      • The most obvious are the folks who joined the military after 911 and knew exactly what they were stepping in to.

        IMHO, if they knew exactly what they were stepping into and still went then they wouldn’t fit the analogy’s description of a sheepdog. The motivations and effectiveness of actions post 911 are highly debatable. I submit that they couldn’t really have known exactly what they were doing because that’s not crystal clear even today.

      • As someone who reentered the USMC after 9/11 and after having been out for 11 years, I don’t think I need lectures from anyone on stepping up.

        I’m not a sheep dog or any kind of dog. The people of this nation are not ovine or any other type of herded animal. They pay my salary as a Marine and I am grateful for them trusting me to carry a rifle in the defense of this nation and I don’t feel a need to insult anyone’s integrity or patriotism by lumping them into an insulting category as a sheep, which are generally known to be timid, skittish, fearful, thoughtless animals that do whatever they’re directed to do. The Americans I am helping protect are busy with the business of America, sometimes they are old, disabled, but still brave and patriotic.

        I find it repugnant when people describe themselves as our protectors at the same time they insult us, because even though I am in the military, I still consider myself a citizen. And I think that almost every American would choose to fight for our rights if called on and able, and yet I think an important thing for any American is to continue living in our culture of freedom.

  30. The sheepdog mentality is the same superior, elitist, alpha douche mentality I carry to protect myself from. I don’t need you to protect me or mine, tough guy. I didn’t ask for your help and I don’t want it. It’s a fine line between sheepdog and bully, in my experience. Don’t try to assume some condescending, pompous mantle of authority. Get in your Hummer and drive off. I can take care of myself, bruh.

    • “It’s a fine line between sheepdog and bully, in my experience.”

      I think you have to have been around people who have “Seen The Elephant” to fully grasp the difference. Here’s a example. There’s a wreck on the freeway. A car has turned over and caught fire. There’s a man trapped inside. Immediately a crowd forms and watches, stunned, as fire envelopes the car and its passenger. Suddenly a man races out of the crowd, reaches through the fire, and pulls the injured driver to safety. That’s a sheepdog. No, “superior, elitist, alpha douche mentality” at all. Just somebody who understands The Rules as expressed in the video. Got it, now?

      • That description fits what some would call a true sheepdog and such a person deserves honor and respect in a society. Unfortunately, all who label themselves as such are not of that type.

        • Jeez, John- I dont know you, and you dont know me. Nor do you know anyone on this site, with the possible exception of what you read about those wiling to divulge their true identity.

          So I find it sort of interesting that you project so much ill will, assuming you know them, in your apparent hostility towards a type. At least, thats how it comes across in your comments. Just my $.02.

  31. Will Rogers said:
    There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.

  32. Let me poke the fire some more…..

    Why are most of the sheepdogs now days Southern?

    A crazy good documentary about the mystery of Southern culture from the 80’s comedian Rich Hall.

    A 90 min doc that I guarantee will get you hooked in the first minute.

    Hattip to AceOfSpades

  33. What about a wolf in sheep’s clothing?

    Can we get a gratuitous link to the Israeli supermodels to hold us over?

  34. What I have a problem with is the self-proclaimed sheepdog that insists on trying to treat me like sheep against my will. In those instances, I’ve had to show them how much of a wolf and how little of a sheep I can be. The majority of those I’ve encountered who call themselves sheepdogs were really bullies who refused to respect the boundaries of others. However, I have met a few true sheepdogs and they were an honor to have known. Unfortunately, I believe the real sheepdog mindset is not as common as claimed. IMHO, too many people label themselves sheepdogs when they are anything but.

    The police officer carrying out “shelter in place for your own safety” or house to house searches isn’t much different than an errant self-proclaimed sheepdog ordering people around under threat of force “for their own good” or invading the privacy of others. The sheepdog that understands boundaries is a good sheepdog. One who doesn’t is really a coyote or hyena; unsuitable in his present mindset for the task of sheepdog.

    • As presented, the idea of “sheepdog” implies a set of philosophical rules that inform one’s personal identity. It’s a way of behaving, of living one’s life. The people who showed up at the Bundy Ranch were sheepdogs. They didn’t have to be there and some traveled some distance to come. The reason why they came is explained by my first sentence. The uniformed BLM cops they confronted and ultimately ran off were not sheepdogs.

      • I don’t disagree except to speculate that most who showed up were true sheepdogs and perhaps a few posers in the mix. Overall, I believe that most were genuine and I have respect for their actions.

  35. I think you are picking apart the metaphor in order to over-explain a point already implicit and understood by the audience to the metaphor. That is, if you don’t already understand the point you are trying to make, then you aren’t going to be open to the message of the metaphor in the first place.

  36. I think you misunderstand the story of the sheep, sheepdog, and the wolf. I think you do so because deep in your heart, you know that you are at best a sheep in sheepdogs clothing, and therein lies the answer. The exterior doesn’t make the sheepdog…the interior does.

    In other words don’t confuse my willingness to not kill you now, for inability to always be thinking of a plan to kill you later.

  37. A very abused metaphor, far as I’m concerned.

    I don’t want to be in any any such defensive situation, mind you, but I think the attacker would be truly surprised to realize that the dumpy old lady on the floor just shot him… as the second round hits.

    I have the will, the skill and the tool. And I fully agree that waiting around for the perfect opportunity is probably self defeating. I’ll take ANY opportunity in that kind of situation. If I can make it happen, he’s going down. Where I live, the key would truly be shot placement, since I’d be very unlikely to be the only one in the room who was armed.

    And yes to the idea that the predators look for easy victims. We don’t have any “home invasions” or restaurant/business shootings here. The predators know that we’re armed and don’t stop here.

  38. Oopsies, are the comments screwy again? I just noticed somebody posted under my nickname and it wasn’t me. Also, over the past week or so Malwarebytes kept blocking portions of this site as unsafe. I also noticed more spam going to the e-mail I use here, so I don’t think that’s a coincidence. Whatever was/is going on, it’s more than just a DDoS.

  39. I don’t want to be a sheep so I need to know if wolves sniff each others butts, because I would like to avoid that part if possible.

  40. “In this world there’s two kinds of people, my friend: those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig.”

    — Man with No Name aka Blondie

  41. Robert, you are such a good writer. I commend you for bringing your talents to such a good cause.

    However, I respectfully disagree with your “Myth” point. The sheep, sheepdog and wolf “parable” is just that; a parable. It is a way to try and articulate to an audience that there are those who have the warrior spirit and mentality and use it to defend family, friends, neighbors and citizens against evil. Most people do not have it. Lt. Col. David Grossman, in his acclaimed book, “On Killing” effectively makes the point after exhaustive research into battlefield observations and data.

    I understand in our overly sensitive world of political correctness that some people might be offended to be characterized as sheep; and perhaps that is where you are coming from. However, whether we characterize those who are not warriors as sheep or by some other characterization and those who are warriors as sheepdogs or some other characterization is not the point. The point is, there are two different psychological mindsets people gravitate to; warrior and non-warrior. And many warriors have the psychological make-up to engage in killing humans without remorse; if I recall correctly, about 5% of the population. Psychopaths and sociopaths who perpetrate evil fall into this segment and we refer to them in this parable as the wolves. Those who choose to defend against evil, whether they psychological are wolves or not, we call sheepdogs.

    I have not seen the movie yet but am looking forward to doing so shortly.

    • Thanks for quoting Grossman’s original. It saved me the trouble. BTW, if anyone here in the Armed Intelligentsia hasn’t read “On Killing” it’s a must read.

      • Thanks for the reply. The book is a must read for those considering CC. The psychology of gun use in a CC scenario is an aspect of training that is missing. The book would add an important dimension to CC training and make people considering CC think real hard about what they are actually getting into. I believe many do not.

        Here’s the point. The very nature and purpose of CC is to use it when one’s life or the life of their family is threatened. But as Grossman points out, having a gun, even drawing a gun, doesn’t necessary mean that the gun holder has the psychological wherewithal to pull the trigger pointing at center mass. If that is the case, the gun becomes a distinct liability that is counter productive to the purpose of CC. The perpetrator may turn it against its owner and do more harm.

        Because of this, I believe that gun owners, and CCs in particular, need to be more responsible in their training and approach to guns.

        What does responsibility mean? I think that the industry and owners of guns need to figure this out and then act. In short, first, fully and openly recognize the fact that guns are designed to kill and that handguns are designed primarily to kill humans. As such, they are dangerous. The fact that there are dangerous is actually a good thing because that is their purpose; to defend against tyrants ranging from thugs to dictators. If you think about it, this is a heavy responsibility. However, we as gun owners, need to take this responsibility to a much higher level through continuous training and certifications and to be open and public about it with respectful and statesmen-like engagement in the public square.

  42. The real problem I see with the “sheepdog” term is that the sheepdog is not one of the sheep. He’s a henchman to the sheperd, and while they do protect the sheep, they also slaughter them when it befits them. Humans used to be sheep, with the Kings their owners and his army the sheepdog. That’s not a society americans (or indeed, any human being) should identify with. We’d much rather identify with a herd of bulls or elephants, the strongest defending the herd while still being part of it.

  43. I didn’t check every comment, but I think a large part of the “sheepdog” analogy may have been overlooked.
    I’ve always understood it to refer to the English Sheepdogs that were bred to resemble the sheep they protect. In theory, this keeps the wolves from simply walking around to the side of the flock opposite the dog and snatching a lamb from there.
    This made the wolves’ job harder and made them maybe look for dinner elsewhere.
    I feel that integral to being a “sheepdog” as the analogy suggests is the idea of being willing to and capable of defending the flock while not standing out so that the predator has another variable influencing his decision making process.
    This also makes uniformed police never qualify as “sheepdogs”.

    • @C.Rogers

      While that tidbit about breeding shipdogs to look like sheep is interesting (if true, I don’t know), it isn’t part of the original analogy at all.

  44. “sheep,” thinking they’re incapable of standing and fighting for themselves or others
    ————————————-
    Sorry, I couldn’t disagree more. Standing and fighting require thinking, and the vast vast majority of people cannot think in high stress situations.
    It’s why there is the mantra “you don’t raise to the level of expectation, you fall to your level of training.”
    A building can be on fire, and 90% of people will stand around doing nothing, even when it is clear that an escape route is nearby.
    They will follow commands, and even if those commands are idiotic, what they can’t do is make a decision.
    Even training doesn’t eliminate this behavior, it just allows the person to accomplish a task without thinking about it.

  45. The analogy is a reference to “On Killing” by Lt Col Grossman. It has to do with psychological predisposition to violence, which only applies to 2% of oeople. Those are people who can withstand rolonged violence or threat of loss of life without suffering psychologically. The wolves guys like gang bangers or terrorists. The sheep are ordinary people who prefer not to even think about violence because violence is traumatic. The sheepdogs are like the wolves in that they are fighters and they don’t suffer from battle stress like sheep would and so they tend to be more prepared for combat, the difference being that they use that psychology to protect the sheep from the wolf. And it’s not about looking down on the sheep. The sheep look down on the sheepdog because he reminds them of the wolf. To them, he even looks like a wolf (like how people who promote the 2nd amendment are now being labeled extremists by the government).

  46. I am neither wolf, nor sheep. However, I do not believe I would risk my life to save some sheep, so I am not a sheepdog either. I suppose that makes me just a regular old dog, which I am strangely OK with.

  47. Actual (part-time) shepherd here. As some people have already pointed out, the term “sheepdog” applies to more than one kind of dog.

    First, there’s the herding dog. This dog does NOT protect the sheep. His job is to gather, contain, and move the sheep for the shepherd’s convenience. The sheep mistrust and resent him, and well they should. He works for the shepherd who, if he doesn’t have a taste for lamb himself, caters to those who do.

    Then there it’s the guardian dog. This dog is raised among sheep as a part of the flock. As far as he’s concerned, he’s a sheep. As far as the sheep are concerned, he’s a sheep. He doesn’t push the sheep around, and they don’t fear or resent him. He WILL defend the flock from danger.

    • Dem/Progtard pols and community organizers are the herding dogs.
      Flock Guardians are the Tea Partiers and POTG, military, leos of the non-suckup, street fighting type.

      “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” ~ George Orwell

  48. Please folks. It’s a movie, so let Sir Clint take some dramatic license!

    However, sheepdog as described in the scene is best depicted in another movie that did not get the major playing time that Sniper did and will. It was called Defiance, based on another book and true story — that of the Bielski Brigade, a Jewish partisan group in WW2 Poland and Belarus. I saw the movie as a DVD rental. Various critics say the movie over-reached the book by the same name. Again, dramatic license. But download the movie or the book. The leader of the group literally shepherded over 1,000 of his people, civilian sheep to be sure, surviving the German invasion and Holocaust. He apparently stated in later interviews that his main goal was saving (shepherding) but he took plenty of Nazis out along the way, as well many local collaborators, many of the police persuasion. The movie should be a must-see for anyone who supports the 2nd Amendment, and should be a must-show to the MDA types who believe the police will protect anything except the interests of their current overlords. Anyone who has seen it knows the scene early in the movie of which I am speaking, where Bielski uses his old Nagant revolver from his days in the Polish army to dispatch the collaborator police chief who murdered his family, and then liberates the police weapons for use by the partisans. The hidden, unregistered revolver began the liberation of many whose other destiny was certain death.

    There have not been a lot of sheepdogs in history. The Bielskis. Paul Revere, the Minutemen, the Green Mountain Boys, other Founders in our history. Conductors on the Underground Railroad, if they lived in a slave state. Many unnamed Native Americans at a time when the fledgling United States was the wolf (go to the Cherokee Nation museum in Cherokee, NC if you have any doubt). The US soldiers who liberated Europe twice from its collective insanities. They all rose to their circumstances, regardless of who they were before. May we all hope that others follow in their paths.

    • This: The Battle Of Kings Mountain, 1780

      The attackers were loosely organized backwoodsmen not much given to discipline, tactics, or strategy–especially of the European variety. However, owing in part to Ferguson’s overconfidence in his troops, as well as the rain that had prevented dust from betraying its approach, the over the mountain army had the advantage of surprise, and their leaders had formed a general plan of assault. Campbell’s and Shelby’s men (Virginians, Tennesseans, and North Carolinians) would attack first, on both sides of the southwestern end of the ridge, while the rest of the force encircled the northeastern slopes, taking position for later attack. According to legend, Old Round About signaled the advance with a stentorian roar, ‘Shout like hell and fight like devils!’

      http://www.historynet.com/american-revolutionary-war-battle-of-kings-mountain.htm

  49. I guess the number one question is… where do you get sheepDOGS? When you try and get a member of the flock to transform into a sheepdog it doesn’t work. Rams and Ewes WILL protect themselves and their harum or lambs… but having raised 700 sheep at a time I can tell you I NEVER had a Sheepdog deliberately kill a lamb but have watched helplessly while a Ram killed the lamb of another Ram and seen a Ewe stomp a lamb to death after it’s mother refused it and it went looking for something to eat. Hey, there are times you just can’t get there in time. You have to find a wolf and train it to be a sheepdog. a protector not attacker. Col Grossman’s anology is suspect like all anologies but serves to illustrate a valid point, we may “change” how we act situationally but the core of each “type” remaoins constant. Think of it this way… Kim Kardassian’s latest outfit or divorce or comment and the idiotic level of investigation about football inflation overshadows death and destruction – discoveries and man’s quests in the universe. The sheep look up… but only rarely.
    You are right, wolves don’t run up and fight the Grizzly that takes their dinner. They wait, watch, and when a opening appears they attack… they “lie low” as someone called it. illistrates the old parable, “The strength of the wolf is the pack, the strength of pack is the wolf.” If nothing else take that from this discussion… even lone wolves are “alone” until they start their own pack.

  50. I hate the wolf/sheep/sheepdog analogy. I devalue the opinion of anyone who uses it in earnest. Name calling like this accomplishes nothing of value within the gun community and does not further the cause of gun rights. It only gives some people a platform to be wannabe “operators.” I also resent someone implying I need to be in one of these boxes. I know from my military experience that I can hunt and kill, and I can protect. But I am a man of peace. If I have to defend myself or innocent people, I will go ape-shit, but that does not define me.

  51. With all due respect, Mr. Farago, I think you are missing the point of the sheepdog concept or just plain torturing it. Let’s take the example of the armed citizen, or sheepdog, caught in a restaurant with two armed robbers. If the robbers aren’t actively killing people, lying low and complying doesn’t make him a sheep. The sheepdog is there to protect innocent life, not prevent or punish crime. Crime prevention and punishment is the job of law enforcement, and the sheepdog understands that. He is not a vigilante. Similarly, let’s suppose the robbers start killing people, or declare intention to begin doing so immediately. If the sheepdog waits until their backs are turned to shoot them, that doesn’t make him a wolf. That makes him an intelligent person who understands the odds and tactics. In short, the sheepdog is not a paladin from Arthurian legend who must fight honorably and cannot let a wrong go unpunished. He is a citizen who understands his place in society, has chosen to arm himself to protect those he cares about and others, and likely has a family he wants to go home to when it’s all over. His choices are not black and white, and treading in the gray areas does not make him a sheep or a wolf.

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