Whistles commands are deemed essential for working dogs of any kind, the sound signals they create carrying further and being so much less ambiguous and confusing than voice commands - which we unconsciously vary by using different words (& so sounds) or through unintended expression. A whistle tone is also much less disturbing to livestock than the human voice.
Working dog handlers therefore take their whistles very seriously indeed – seeking out an instrument whose tone the dog appreciates and responds well to. None more so than sheepdog handlers whose dogs are often working out of sight well over a mile away, in all kinds of weather. The sheepdog whistle has been perfected over many decades to cope with this harsh working environment and the sometimes life and death urgency of ensuring the dog responds to the handler’s commands to bring livestock to safety.
A shepherd’s whistle is capable of producing a full musical scale making it easy to create multiple commands and so work two or more dogs with just one whistle. They are also an object of considerable beauty, evolving from the half-moon bent tin approach of old to the current streamlined, sculptural objects milled from the finest materials – lightweight anodised aluminium, brass, stainless steel, solid silver and more recently new modern polymers.
Sussex-based Logan Whistles has been a key driver in the development of this new generation of shepherds whistle. Designed originally by Harford Logan for his own use farming the Copeland Islands off County Down and his ’secret weapon’ for many years on the sheepdog trial field (where he chalked up seven ISDS National Championship wins and the Brace Competition in One Man and His Dog), development now continues under the stewardship of his daughter Joanne in Pulborough, West Sussex.
“There is absolutely no reason why any dog breed should not enjoy the benefit of a Logan Whistle,” says Joanne. “The clarity and scope of our whistles makes it much easier for a dog to make connections between sound signals and what he is expected to do, which not only helps in early training stages but also takes away confusion in competitive or working situations. The urgency of their tone makes them a great Stop and Recall whistle – their signals cutting through difficult weather conditions, even traffic and crowd noise, and over quite amazing distances. For some that in itself makes them invaluable.”
Logan Whistles are not only a key tool for the shepherd, they are now increasingly used for other working dog breeds whose handlers appreciate the versatility and quality of their sound. Harford’s secret is out.