Ruff week: solar dog gets name, heads back to sheepdog school

By on July 22, 2014
solar sheepdog, Alamo 2

And the winning name in our solar sheepdog poll is… Wattson!

Yes, Wattson took the vote with 119 out of 332 votes cast.  The next closest contender was Sunny with 104 votes, followed by Volt with 60, Kilo with 38 and Crockett with 11.  Congratulations, Wattson!

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But it’s not all glory and tailwagging for Wattson.  Turns out he’s been sent back to sheepdog school because of failing grades in the coyote patrolling department.

“He really oversold us on his qualifications,” said Sara Kruger, OCI Solar Power spokeswoman. “Looks like he needs more training.”

Wattson’s sheepdog performance left something to be desired. In his short six-day stint at Alamo 2, the 45-acre 4.4 megawatt solar farm run by OCI Solar Power on Binz-Engleman Road, he demonstrated a preference for head pats and people over fending off coyotes. He also jumped into visitors’ cars and followed vehicles every time the gate opened.  Apparently this is not unusual in the sheepherding world.

“About a quarter of dogs identified for livestock protection don’t make the cut,” said Ralph Loos, Editor of Sheep Industry News, a publication of the American Sheep Industry Association , which represents

Separated at birth?  Comedian Jim Meyer suggested we name Wattson Jim Meyer because "he shares my smile." Courtesy photo

Separated at birth? Comedian Jim Meyer suggested we name Wattson Jim Meyer because “he shares my smile.” Courtesy photo

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the interests of 70,500 farm and ranch families across the United States.Loos also pointed out that dogs guarding sheep are technically called “livestock protection dogs,” not sheepherders.

So don’t feel bad, Wattson.

Apart from the 332 votes cast in our Name the Solar Sheepdog poll as of close of business on Monday, we received more than 300 responses, with 219 folks leaving comments and alternative names. We’ve pasted some of the more interesting below:

“Lappy” – With that tongue he could lap up a lot of milk in a jiffy.

You should spell it “Wattsun”! 

Pee Vee (like pee wee but solar)

The exercise also sparked a bit of a pun fest on Twitter.  Comedian Jim Meyer, writing for the environmental website Grist, suggested that we name Wattson “Jim Meyer, because he shares my smile.” Headline from the Rivard Report:”Not a Baaa-aad idea…” And one tweet from the Texas Tribune’s Gilad Edelman questioned: “What happens if the sheep get sick? Are the solar people trained in graze anatomy?”

To everyone who participated, thanks for taking the poll.

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