The Flawed Sheep, Sheepdog, or Wolf Analogy

Are you a sheep or a sheepdog? It’s a question periodically asked by advocates of self-defense that tries to shove the person being questioned into a false dichotomy, either you’re a helpless sheep that simply follows the flock or you’re a brave sheepdog who guard the vulnerable sheep from the wolves.

In one of the more annoying advertisement e-mails I received it stated:

Christopher – you are it. You are the country’s last line of defense. The minute-man…. the sheep dog.


This guy completely understands sheepdogs like you and I.

I’m not a bloody sheepdog. The sheep, sheepdog, or wolf analogy pisses me off because it exists mainly to boost the egos of those who carry firearms. Instead of merely being a man who happens to carry a firearm one can now think, “I’m a sheepdog, the protector of the sheep, I am what lies between the average man and evil doers in our society, I am Batman!” Using the analogy seems rather mastubatory to me, a way of making one’s self feel good.

Since I refuse to adopt the sheepdog nomenclature I must be either a sheep or a wolf, right? Wrong. I’m a human being, but if we’re going to use animal analogies I’ll take a page from the Free State Project and use the porcupine as my totem animal. Porcupines are great, they walk around foraging for food, and avoid starting shit with other animals. So long as you don’t attack a porcupine you’ll be OK but if you fuck with a porcupine you’re going to get a face full of wrath filled quills.

The most important part of self-defense is mental. Even if you have a quality firearm with the skill to utilize it you’re likely to lose if you’re not in the game mentally. Thinking of yourself as a sheepdog put you in, what I believe to be, a bad mental state. Instead of merely being out to protect you and yours you’re now assuming responsibility for others. Putting yourself in harms way is the opposite of self-defense and I believe it to be poor form to adopt an attitude of being a guardian to everybody else. Don’t be the sheepdog, be the porcupine.

75 thoughts on “The Flawed Sheep, Sheepdog, or Wolf Analogy”

  1. I completely agree with this post. I don’t carry my gun to protect the sheep out there, I carry my gun to protect me and my family. If I can get out of a situation with my family safely and avoid using my gun, then I will and the sheep can fend for themselves. If they want to outsource their safety to the police, then by all means they can wait for the police to get there to help them. I choose to take my safety into my own hands, I didn’t choose to become a police officer to take on their safety.

  2. Great to hear you choose to exercise your 1st Amendment and disagree with Dave Grossman’s sheepdog metaphor. That is great that you have your own perception to which we should be allowed to protect ourselves and other. When we have a difference in opinion it allows us to assess our views and clarify and support what we believe in. I can hardly say that I agree with you, but I understand you support gun rights and I applaud all that support gun rights. I just ask that you respect my desire to keep my right to legally defend the innocent around me. It is unfortunate, but I think that there are wolves in sheepdog skin, just waiting to attack, and I want to know that there are others (the true sheepdogs)prepared to face that adversity. I believe the way to combat the egotist is to hold them accountable for safe and wise decisions. What we don’t want is to divide us against one another. I am thankful that there are other sheepdogs out there to help protect my daughter if danger comes her way. Whether porcupine or sheep can’t we be willing to work together to keep our rights.

  3. You’re right, Mr. Burg (and Jeffrey). You’re not sheepdogs. The sheepdog will protect the sheep, without regard for who they “belong to”. But that doesn’t make the analogy flawed – it supports it. Sorry it pisses you off. The sheepdogs protect those who cannot see or refuse to see the danger, and refuse or neglect to arm themselves against it. It’s not ego – it’s regard for my fellow man, whether or not they agree with me or what I do.

  4. Well, I’d have to agree with the last two who sound as though they are sheepdogs as well. After being a sheepdog for 27 years (and counting) I’ve observed that most people truly are sheep. Yes, put a gun in their hand and all of a sudden they believe they are sheepdogs (or whatever), but take that gun away, and as I’ve said, most people are sheep and don’t or wouldn’t know the first thing to do other than run and hide. Carrying a gun and badge doesn’t make you a sheepdog, as it is truly a “calling.” Being a sheepdog is one who is prepared physically and mentally along with not having any regard for your own life because you care about those who are defenseless…not someone who thinks they are bulletproof just because they bought a gun.

  5. So, the sheep, sheepdog, and wolf analogy pisses you off because “it exists mainly to boost the egos of those who carry firearms.”
    Keep being a porcupine Burg…they are slow and make great targets.

  6. You have to read the entire Sheep, Sheepdog, Wolf analogy by Dave Grossman. Your anger is misplaced. The analogy states we are at different levels between sheep and sheepdogs. (Academic Honesty Gentlemen)

    1. The analogy states we are at different levels between sheep and sheepdogs.

      Which is the arrogant part of the analogy, it claims that sheepdogs are somehow on a, shall we say, higher plane than sheep. It also assumes that anybody who doesn’t carry a firearm is a mindless animal who follows the flock to the slaughter. What the analogy misses is the fact that risk assessment is subjective and each individual is the sole person who can properly calculate the risk they’re facing. Many people don’t feel there is enough risk to their life to warrant carrying a gun just as I don’t feel there is enough risk to my life to warrant wearing body armor. Calling people who assess risk differently than you and me sheep serves little purpose other than boosting our egos.

      This is why the porcupine analogy works better in my opinion. I’m not claiming anybody who doesn’t assess risk the same way I do sheep, I’m simply saying I have performed risk assessment for myself and concluded that I’m going to carry a firearm for the defense of me and mine. It doesn’t require looking down at people who assess risk differently or claim that they’re mindless beasts.

  7. I find it funny that you say that your a porcupine since their natural predators are wolves, so what your really saying is that you have useless spikes that just get you killed in the end.

    1. Actually you make a valid point, as porcupines have predators and are usually avoided as prey due to their defensive capabilities my analogy is even more accurate than I first thought.

      Porcupines face predators just as humans face predators. In the case of humans the predators are other humans, those will malicious intentions. In the case of porcupines their predators come in the form of fishers and wolves. In general wolves and fishers avoid preying on porcupines due to the fact porcupines are not easy prey. That’s not to say porcupines aren’t consumed, but they are generally avoided if other options are available. It’s no different for humans, criminals generally avoid preying on fellow humans that are capable of defending themselves.

      Thank you for pointing this out as it really doesn’t help the analogy.

  8. Burg misses the point entirely in the Sheepdog analogy; this refers to Soldiers and Police Officers/sworn Law Enforcement officers whose primary responsibility is public safety. It does not refer to the common citizen’s constitutional right to bear arms. I don’t know what Burg does for a living but if HE IS a gun carrying public safety officer, then he’s in the wrong field. He has the wrong mentality and falsely swore an oath to protect and serve. He will not survive a fire fight and will be ineffective in protecting the public when faced with deadly physical force. He is in fact, a liability. But if Burg is a private citizen exercising his right to bear arms, he is a sheep. So there it is – live with it and hope a sheepdog is around when you truly need it because making a nice tight grouping at a pistol range does not mean you will perform effectively when faced with danger.

  9. If you read the whole article, it states that sheepdog are not on a different level.
    You are a sheep as you have stated yourself. You will protect yourself but just get away if you can. Sheep (as in the animal) can do the same.
    Having a gun does not make you a sheepdog either. Nor does it give you a right to run in and play hero.
    I am a sheepdog. Not because I feel special in any way. If there is trouble and I can help, I do. Whether it would be running into a burning building, helping driect people to safety, or just stopping some kids from bullying another.

    Sheep: Protect themselves and not going to harm anyone, intentionally.
    Wolves: Pray on the sheep.
    Sheepdog: Protect everyone.

    Again, Sheepdog are no better. It is just a mentality. I think the best example is a firefighter. While a sheep would flee, a firefighter quickly runs in. He also is not carrying a gun (at least for job purposes).

  10. You are right Christopher, there are probably wolves, sheep, sheepdogs, AND porcupines. But porcupines do not help the defenseless in dangerous situations. Yeah they can defend themselves well enough, but they do not have the desire to defend those around them, even if the are watching a sheep get ripped apart by a wolf. Porcupines run from danger to save themselves even though those quills could help another if that porcupine had just stood between a wolf and the sheep. But they wont, they will run, and that makes them cowards. So you can be cowardly porcupine Christopher, just stay out of the sheep dogs way.

  11. Good point Christopher…protect yourself and screw everyone else. Just keep in mind that means everyone you love or care about…spouse, children, parents, friends, etc. Heck with ’em, let ’em die. At least you will still be alive and that’s all that’s important to you.
    So glad I’m not you.

    1. I think you missed my previous comment Mark:

      I’m not claiming anybody who doesn’t assess risk the same way I do sheep, I’m simply saying I have performed risk assessment for myself and concluded that I’m going to carry a firearm for the defense of me and mine. It doesn’t require looking down at people who assess risk differently or claim that they’re mindless beasts.

      I protect me and mine, which generally implies my loved ones.

  12. Then wouldn’t that make you a sheepdog for your flock rather than the solitary porcupine taking care only of itself? Are you not what stands between your average family and the evil doers of society?
    While I appreciate your concern for you and yours, I still find the lack of concern for anyone else a bit shallow. Whatever happened to helping each other out and caring about others?
    According to your statements, you would stand by or run way while a 90 year old grandmother was robbed, beaten and killed…you don’t find that disturbing?

  13. I feel obligated to point out an obvious truth. People may mitigate their exposure to unsafe situations but you cannot eliminate it. Ever. The students in Columbine were only going to another day in school as were the teachers and students in Connecticut. The 9 women in Waco were just going to the local cafeteria for lunch. The 6 young people in the Yogurt Shop in Austin, TX were simply at work. The victims in Illinois at the Batman premier were just going to the movie. The Tate-LaBianca victims were going to a high brow party and were butchered with knives. Evil exists and it will find a way to seek out the weak and defenseless. Don’t be defenseless. Cowards seldom show-up where they may face a defiant or equal force. We will never eliminate evil or it’s persistence to perpetrate evil in all manner of unspeakable acts. But if even a few of us are present and prepared when it shows its ugly head, its impact will be mitigated and the disposition of those who would carry out these acts, will be duly curbed. I’ll take my chances with Wolves and appreciate the Sheepdogs, but will not rely solely on other Sheepdogs’ eventual presence to protect me & mine. To expand on the analogy, perhaps we should keep one eye on the Shepherd who would lull us into passivity with words of compassion and promises of protection only to lead us to the slaughter. I believe it was Ben Franklin who said, ”People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both.” Stand up or bow down. It’s a choice.

  14. Well said Larry,
    I have two daughters, one a sheep and one a sheepdog. They are both taking their CHL class in Texas but one will likely never carry because I doubt she could actually pull the trigger. The other could. This does not make either one better than the other. I don’t see carrying as giving a person a superior power, but on the contrary it is a burden that few can bear. The responsibility of carrying a weapon should never be taken lightly nor should the “sheep” assume that the sheepdog is actually a wolf. And again I must agree with Larry….I think it is the Shepherd we should be worried about.

  15. Christopher,
    I read your article with great interest. I am a sheepdog by trade, and have been one for over 18 years. A Law enforcement officer who chooses to be the guardian of the law abiding citizens who go about their lives in general comfort knowing there is a “sheepdog” watching over them and keeping them safe. These citizens know it is necessary to have me around, but do not necessarily enjoy that necessity, just like the sheep do not particularly like – or completely trust – the sheepdog. People slow down, use turn signals, etc. when they see me drive by… herding the sheep. Criminals on the street corners move in another direction when I walk toward them… keeping the wolves away. I take my responsibilities seriously, and appreciate the most important responsibility I have, which is where I would like to address your posting.
    I completely agree with your assessment of the sheep, wolf, and sheepdog. I believe Lt Col Grossman would as well. There are “shades of sheepdom,” if you will, in our society as well as humanity in general. Your porcupine analogy is a perfect example. Most people are exactly like you; going through life focused on your own goals and objectives. They have the attitude of watching out for themselves and their loved ones. Some may have protection skills up to and including a weapon.
    If a wolf confronted this person, this porcupine, a weapon may end up coming into play. The wolf may get a face full of quills and find easier pray. But, that wolf may be too hungry to give up. It may be mentally ill and not care about the quills. It may have come into contact with a substance which places his mind in altered states and therefore does not see you as a porcupine. And while the attack is on, those other woodland creatures are running away in their own mode of self-protection. That’s where I come in.
    I am the person – the sheepdog, if you will – who watches out for the “woodland creatures.” When the other creatures – the sheep, if you will – are running away, I am running to your aid. I may get a few quills in my nose in the process, but I’ll pull them out with pride when I watch you walk away from the attack.
    I applaud your broadened view of the “sheep, wolf, and sheepdog” mentality. I believe you are spot on about the expansion of what it means to be a “sheep.” I must expound that I as a sheepdog am not solely interested in protecting the sheep. I am interested in protecting you as a porcupine as well. You carry for protection of yourself and others, and that’s fine. I carry for the protection of all around me. Am I not Batman. I am a citizen who chooses to be on guard at all times. I am not a sheep. I am not a wolf. I am not a porcupine. It is not natural for creatures to protect other creatures to which there is no direct relationship. But I do it anyway. I am a sheepdog.

  16. Rereading my post, there is an error. It should read, “I am not a Batman.” A statement like, “Am I not Batman” is entirely egotistical and quite grandiose – which I am not. Neither is this a Fruedian slip. I simply edited the post as I went, and this was the area of last editing… no reread until I hit send. I appologize as I am, most definitely, NOT a Batman.

  17. Sheep- Hurded to food they took no part in producing. They are themselves are not productive and make no indvidual positive contributions to their group as a whole, they are easily manipulated, do not ask questions, and go where they are told. They are sheered. They are livestock.

    Sheepdogs- Keep the sheep close together, they focus inward on the sheep, Border Collies are not fit to fight against Wolfs. They are trained and obedient. They work for humans, they make sure the sheep can be sheered. They veiw the sheep as livestock.

    I am neither of these.

    The Grossman article first difines sheep as the average citizen, then as deniers of possible evil, who need protected, then as anyone who choses not to carry a pistol. It defines sheepdogs first as military men with m-16’s at airports, then as anyone who wishes they were on a hyjacked 9/11 plane (so they could have made a difference), then as anyone who choses to carry a pistol.

    While I don’t see eye to eye with Chris’ porcupine theory, at least he has tried to come up with another option. Those who say they are “sheepdogs” are at least acting as such trying to keep everyone in line and submit that this is the only analogy there is.

    What is the anagolical animal for someone who works hard, pays 17% of his earnings to those on food stamps and to buy people who make themselves feel better by calling themselves sheepdogs new body armor so they can raid a farm that sells raw milk, who carrys a pistol but will protect his family long before protecting yours, who just wants to be left to his family and his pursuits, but continually has the sheepdogs tell him that he doesn’t need his rights because otherwise the evil bad terrorists he spent a year in Iraq trying to find but didn’t see, will get him? I’m that one.

    ok, sheepdogs… fire away.

    1. What is the anagolical animal for someone who works hard, pays 17% of his earnings to those on food stamps and to buy people who make themselves feel better by calling themselves sheepdogs new body armor so they can raid a farm that sells raw milk, who carrys a pistol but will protect his family long before protecting yours, who just wants to be left to his family and his pursuits, but continually has the sheepdogs tell him that he doesn’t need his rights because otherwise the evil bad terrorists he spent a year in Iraq trying to find but didn’t see, will get him? I’m that one.

      Ed, I think you just won this entire debate good sir.

  18. I understand that when it comes to pulling the trigger ewhen under a great deal of stress can be hard I understand that no sane person would stick their head up from a safe place and try to find the assshole whom is shooting at them so that they may take the shot to put him down. But there is one commit that made me think for a minute I have the sheepdog document copied down for now going on 5-6 years now but to thinkl that there could be wolfs in sheep colthing has not crossed my mind until now and that could be a problem for some at a later date. To trust the sheepdog and then to have him turn on you at a later date is dangerous so maybe just maybe the sheep need to get armed and start training themselfs because the sheep may end up as lamb chops on someones table one day!

  19. Christopher, I enjoyed reading your take on LTC Grossman’s essay. He uses the analogy of sheep, sheepdogs and wolves to discuss human nature as he sees it. But, like all analogies, it has flaws. Or maybe just some gaps and holes.
    You identify yourself as a porcupine, and explain it well. But I would like to offer another. I do not know you, and would not claim to identify you beyond how you have identified yourself, but I would, if permitted, classify you as a ram.
    I have seen, and unfortunately experienced, what a ram (especially an Alpha Ram watching his flock/harem/family) can and will do to protect his interests and family. I have no doubt that you would ferociously defend your and your loved ones lives. But there are those, who will fight to preserve those they do not know. They often end up in uniform, but not always. And a uniform is not a surefire identifier of such a protector.
    I am grateful for rams, just as I am for sheep and sheepdogs. But sheepdogs is the best analogy I have found yet for those who will place themselves between the wolves and all members of the flock.

  20. As a rancher/farmer I find this analogy extremely annoying. I really wish LTC Grossman had spent just a few minutes doing actual research before writing. There are two classes of sheepdogs, herding dogs and LGD (livestock guardian dogs) herding dogs do not protect stock so obviously LTC Grossman is referring to the LGD. Sheep are 100% comfortable with their LGDs, sleeping curled with them, allowing them to clean the lambs during birth and even playing with them. The LGD is bonded to his sheep, he is part of their “family” that is why he protects them. One must even be careful when introducing new sheep as the LGD may take unkindly to strangers disturbing his family. Probably the most important part of the sheep/lgd relationship that is totally overlooked is that the LGD, for all his size and fearlessness in the face of danger, is completely and totally submissive to the sheep! He is a low ranking member of the herd as far as the sheep are concerned. He will sleep in the rain and snow if the sheep kick him out of the barn, he will be forced to give up his food if not protected from pushy ewes. The idea that the LGD is some sort of demigod that the sheep live in awe of is ridiculous. If one is going to use animal behavior as an analog for human society one should at least have a rudimentary understanding of the animals involved.

  21. Any anology can and will be flawed, to nit pick and call Col. Grossman names only serves to showcase your own childish tendacies. If you imagine your self to another animal great. The world needs Ligers too.

  22. Yes Allison, you are right to identify the LGD – not many people know the difference between the herder and LGD.

    I remember being a human LGD since kindergarten when the first of the many (bigger/stronger/faster/experienced) bullies I’ve knocked down learned my nature. During my civilian times, I have been, and continue to be, only armed daily with the gifts God has blessed me with at birth – while I own firearms I do not carry. LTC Grossman in his analogy does not state carrying a firearm is required to be the [human] LGD. I swore my first oath to our nation in 1977; I am going back to Afghanistan this coming year as an Army Reserve Officer. I AM in the rain and snow outside the barn. I HAVE signed that open ended and undated check to our nation … I stand ready for the day the sheep (or the wolves) decide to cash that check … I won’t give my life cheaply. For the good of my children and grandchildren I hope the check is never cashed … I have been and always will be the human LGD for the flock … it is my nature … it is my duty … regardless of who the sheep are … regardless of how I am armed … regardless of how I am treated or disrespected. I am not a hero, I am just a man who will not tolerate wrong or evil.

    Regarding the porcupine, when you see something bad, maybe alter course toward the fight; it is amazing how your close presence can change the wolves’ behavior.

    God bless America! AND NEVER LET THE BASTARD RELOAD!!!

  23. Mr. Burg, I admire your attempt to get your take on this issue out in a respectful manner. At the same time, I regret that some of those who may be of the same opinion as mine in this matter chose to ridicule you because of your interpretation of this writing.

    I applaud those who mildly debated your points with their own. I condemn those who would call you names and think less of you as a person because your ideals aren’t spot-on with theirs.

    I am neither law enforcement nor military. I am a private citizen who wholeheartedly believes in the second ammendment. I (in my mans mind) would like to think of myself as a sheepdog. I carry daily. I have no misconceptions about the amount of evil that passes us on the street each day. I have lost friends to senseless gun violence in the past and made a conscious decision to afford myself the ability to have a say if the day should come that the wolf knocks on my door.

    I spent the last four years in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan. In my 2 years at FOB SHANK Afghanistan, I gained a renewed respect for all those young men and women who went outside the wire in search of those wolves in sheeps clothing. I hold them all in high regard.

    I have a sister in law enforcement. She is another whom I look up to and admire greatly.

    Those in the military and law enforcement chose their paths out of patriotism or the fiece desire to right the wrongs of todays society. To protect those who may not be able to protect themselves.

    We, as private citizens, have the right, and I feel, the obligation to protect ourselves from the harm that would be inflicted on us from those simpleminded predators who see us as easy pickings.

    I respect your view, as I repect the view of others who commented. It was refreshing to read others thoughts on this topic.

    All comparisons of animals aside, I prefer to think of us all as ‘Gaurdians’. We are all gaurdians of something or someone. Whether your family or a stranger on the street or your home. As well it should be. I repect you all. We have that duty charged to us not by law but by nature.

    Everything has its flaws. Lord knows that point was driven home here. There are people who hesitate or freeze every day when confronted with evil. Just as there are those out there who react quickly and concisively. I only hope that if that fateful day comes for any of us who have been lucky enough to have never experienced true evil, may our wits be with us and our hands be steady.

    Few people will admit that we, as gun owners, are a very important part of our country. It is with the ability and right to own weapons that we keep a fair amount of evil at bay. The sheer number of free citizens who exercise the right to legally bear arms is virtually unheard of any where else in the world. We should all be proud to live in a society where we are not ‘required’ to be the proverbial ‘Sheep’.

  24. Sorry you misread Col.D. Grossmans paper. He simply makes a statement about some possible differences in the mentality of the human being. After 20 years in the Corrections field its not hard to see what the Col. was describing. Maybe you should read the paper again. I do not conceal carry so I can be Superman of the moment. I C.C. to be pepared in the event that something might happen. Then and only then do I make an educated decision to either draw or not my weapon in order to protect myself, my family or you.

  25. Just wondering, has anyone actually read “On Combat” the book that this is from. It it part of greater idea.

  26. You fall right into the sheep fold.Your denial of the wolf and hostility towards the sheepdog.”He has fangs mommy and he looks like a wolf.”When did you lose your manhood?The mind is the weapon and the tool is the extension of the mind.When and why did you allow someone to turn you into a sheep?

    1. You appear to have questionable reading comprehension, Johnny. I never denied there were dangerous individuals, nor did I claim that there are dangers to those who carry a firearm. What I did say was that I find the mentality that carrying a gun suddenly makes you a guardian for all who do not unproductive.

  27. [quote]What is the anagolical animal for someone who works hard, pays 17% of his earnings [by order of the shepherd at the teeth of the wolf…or sheepdog (take your pick)] to those on food stamps and to buy people who make themselves feel better by calling themselves sheepdogs new body armor so they can raid a farm that sells raw milk, who carrys a pistol but will protect his family long before protecting yours, who just wants to be left to his family and his pursuits, but continually has the sheepdogs tell him that he doesn’t need his rights because otherwise the evil bad terrorists he spent a year in Iraq trying to find but didn’t see, will get him? I’m that one.[/quote]

    [bracketed statement added by me]

    Ed wins +1

    I like ram. Better, a wild one. I even like the sheep-sheepdog analogy in general.

    This was the post (quoted above) that broke loose a key distinction for me. There are two clear issues here.

    First, it is important to recognize that “sheepdogs”, true to their roots, are nothing more than the trained “wolf” enforcers of the shepherd. The so called “sheepdogs”, especially law enforcement, lay down when the shepherd comes calling for a lamb for “supper”. I again call attention to the silliness surrounding “raw milk”, but folks with a history of non-violence being drug off by enforcers (sheepdogs?) because of illegal firearms or marijuana also spring to mind. I think it’s worth re-emphasizing the statement “history of non-violence”.

    I love the sheep-sheepdog part of the analogy for that reason. Sheepdogs in real life do NOT obey some utopian ideal of justice. They enforce the law. They obey the shepherd. Sure there are exceptions (May God protect you & bless you!), but you noble exceptions prove the rule. And worse yet, you noble exceptions will be suffered by the shepherd only to the extent of being an “acceptable” nuisance — and I should think it’s obvious that this tolerance becomes less as you get closer to the shepherd. How long would a sheepdog last that prevented harm to befall the lamb chosen for the shepherd’s table? The shepherd would kill the sheepdog. …and the remaining sheepdog would watch.

    Second, the 2nd Amendment isn’t there to empower sheepdogs. It’s there to give the sheep a chance to protect themselves from the shepherd. Period.

    Unfortunately, the shepherd (and his shepherd friends) has worked hard to ensure the sheep are ill prepared for the occasional culling. The replacing of community with commercialism. The continuous chipping away of the personal responsibility of the individual citizens, and the masses subsequently forgetting the root purpose of the 2nd Amendment. Call it domestication.

    I will never call myself a sheepdog, and I am compelled to help where I may. So where was _I_ when the sheepdog was laying down as it’s master culled the nearby lamb? I agree with Chris’s mention of rational “risk assessment”, especially with respect to me & mine, compared to them & theirs. Or, to put it another way, I weigh risk vs. reward. The bottom line is, my family depends on me. I have a duty to my family first.

    Example: If I see someone in a ditch, I will pull them out, free of charge. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do. If a “sheepdog” is on the scene, I will not stop. Maybe the sheepdog would appreciate my helping the sheep. Could be that the sheepdog would give me a ticket for being out of the herd. Either way, it’s not worth the _risk_ of losing $100 of my herd’s money (ticket), to save another herd a $100 (tow truck call).

    Feel free to point out it’s non-life threatening, or that a “peace keeper” would “never” give out a ticket to a helpful citizen, even that my $100 assessment is absurd, or any other nit you wish to pick. Or, take it in the spirit that it is offered: YAA (yet another analogy).

    I am not a sheepdog, because I will not be a lackey to the shepherd. Call me a sheep if you will, but a wild ram would be closer (and as close as I’m likely to get with this overly stretched analogy). And while I might not have the weapons of the sheepdog to protect _my_ flock (my family) — mainly because the shepherd will cull me if I were to suitably arm myself — I sure as shit trust _my_ motivation over the sheepdog with respect to me & mine. As a wild ram, I won’t suffer a predator in my midst, and if I get half the chance I won’t suffer the shepherd either. Nor will I carelessly throw my life away for another herd in the gloriously selfless hope that someone else will step up to protect my herd with the same dedication as me in my absence.

    That said, as our forefathers, I recognize that a shepherd _is_ necessary. However, while the forefathers understood the necessity of a shepherd, in their great wisdom they also provided the 2nd Amendment. I.E.: The sheep get the guns. 🙂

  28. I am a member of the military and I also carry a concealed weapon when I am off duty. I will protect myself, my family, you, or you family, unless you are a wolf and then I will kill you. I believe it is my duty not because I am a soldier, but because I am a citizen of the United States that chooses to carry a concealed weapon. I am a sheepdog. You are right, you are not a sheep, a wolf, or a sheepdog. A porcupine is a pretty good analogy for what you are. You only care about yourself and that is rather pathetic.

    1. I believe it is my duty not because I am a soldier, but because I am a citizen of the United States…

      Perhaps that’s the problem. If being a citizen of the United States is required to be a sheepdog I’ll never attain that status as I am not a citizen as I am the subject of no other person.

      You only care about yourself and that is rather pathetic.

      How wrong your are. If you actually take some time to read my site you’ll see that I actually care about others a great deal. Since I care about others I encourage them to enable themselves, help one another, and avoid depending on people they don’t know to provide.

  29. “If being a citizen of the United States is required to be a sheepdog…” You are being argumentative only for the sake of being argumentative. I did not state that being a citizen was requisite to being a sheepdog. Also, you can’t quote someone and end the quote with “…” when the next word is “that”. You omitted the qualifier; in this case the one that states that because I carry a weapon, I feel that I have that duty.
    “How wrong your(sic) are…” Am I? You stated in other responses above “I’m going to carry a firearm for the defense of me and mine” and “I protect me and mine”. If you cared enough to protect others, you would be a sheepdog like me. If you only care about you and yours, you are a porcupine. Are you now claiming you care enough about others to be a sheepdog? If so, you are as wishy-washy as Obama.

    1. You are being argumentative only for the sake of being argumentative. I did not state that being a citizen was requisite to being a sheepdog.

      I was trying to lighten the mood by making a somewhat sarcastic remark, it wasn’t mean to be a statement of great seriousness.

      Also, you can’t quote someone and end the quote with “…” when the next word is “that”.

      Actually, I can. My blog, my rules.

      Am I?

      Yes, yes you are.

      You stated in other responses above “I’m going to carry a firearm for the defense of me and mine” and “I protect me and mine”. If you cared enough to protect others, you would be a sheepdog like me. If you only care about you and yours, you are a porcupine. Are you now claiming you care enough about others to be a sheepdog?

      False dichotomy. The only options aren’t to defend you and yours or be a sheepdog, there are many other possibilities. As I said, I put a great deal of time and effort into empowering others so they can help themselves. I donate money to those in need of firearms, training, or ammunition so they can defend themselves. I put a great deal of effort into raising awareness of the state’s war on those in need as well as offer direct support to those in need when possible.

      Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for the rest of his life.

  30. I am a sheepdog. If you like porcupines better then more power to you. I am quite certain there are those who do feed off the ‘I am a sheepdog’ ego thing just to make them feel better or feel____fill it in. If The Sheepdog pisses you off well then Bye-bye, go run with the porcupine family. The sheepdog analogy I am sure, was risen from our patriotic heritage of this country and was re borne post 9/11 and it runs in the blood line of strong patriots, a certain type of patriot, unlike the live and let live patriots who go on in like being asked ‘you mad bro?’. There are many sheep in this world that don’t give a rats ass about this country or where its going but I do. And until I change my direction I will continue to be a sheepdog for my family, god and my country. If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for everything.

    1. How does a sheepdog defend against a man with a gun? This is why I don’t like animal analogies, they have rather expansive gaps when applied to real world scenarios.

  31. Actually, for someone to take the analogy as an ego booster for those who carry firearms indicates to me a reader that not only does not understand self-defense, at all, does not truly understand wildlife, and is most likely the one who is offering attempts at being comparatively argumentative. All argument, or debate if you will, has more than one side, and many arguments can have more than one winning outcome – depending on who is making the evaluation. In the case of the argument that is being offered at hand, it really doesn’t matter because it isn’t based in reality. It really is only a debate that began out of a person’s being offended at being classified as a sheepdog. In a way, this interlocutor is right, not everyone carries a weapon to protect everyone else. Instead, like myself, some carry a weapon for personal defense. But that is the very idea of self-defense as it is usually defined. By extension, however, ofttimes when one protects himself, he takes on the role of sheepdog inadvertently by putting down, or confronting, the entire threat, hence he guards or saves the flock, too.

    But just as there is more than one type of bad guy out there, sheep and porcupine alike have more than one type of predator in common. The wolf is only one predator the sheep and porcupine fears. There’s also the coyote, the cougar, the bobcat, and even the black marten. Each has their unique way of getting to the porcupine and killing it. And even though the porcupine has a painful defense that the sheep does not, prey is prey, once dead. At that point you were just less interesting prey than the sheep, but prey even still. 

    I’d say if the sheep, wolf, sheepdog analogy missed it’s mark, it was indeed with the sheep dog. But only because when going after wolves, we don’t use sheepdogs – there are much better dogs for that purpose. But as a basic analogy for the common sheep (average person) it strikes a proper chord in that just as the sheepdog by breeding will seek out the danger and confront it for the sake of understanding whether it is an actual threat, and then upon recognition of the threat commence to defend self and flock. By contrast, a porcupine is not going to stand it’s ground – ever. It will run and hide; look for a hole or tree. Imagine high school bullies chasing their prey up a tree and coming up short because they can’t climb a tree and couldn’t get a good grip in the slippery geek. The geek gets away, but only because his loose pants slid right off when that was the only thing the bully could get his hands on during the pursuit. The pants slip off, geek goes up tree until the threat goes away. This is the type of defense system a porcupine has too – generally a passive defense system. His quills will not go attack anything. He can turn and run with quills raised high, or ball up best as possible to attempt only exposing his quills, but this only works for awhile. Eventually, he’s food. Ergo, to be a porcupine in the real world of defense, is to be no better off in the end than the sheep. The sheep too has a similar defense system. The system of running until tired. Often the sheep will run back to the flock, bringing danger behind him to the rest of the flock. Ego booster? I don’t think so. Being a porcupine is really just an analogy for being a spineless.

  32. I completely agree with Mr. Burg. The whole analogy is getting to their heads. First off, the so called sheepdog does not protect the sheep, waits till after the killing to take a report, secondly the sheepdogs only enforce rules to the the sheep that their Masters give them. Secondly, protect and serve is only a saying, not an oath, it been decided in Supreme Court that the sheepdogs do not have to protect the sheep from wolves. I’ll rely on my personal defense when seconds count, sheepdogs are minutes away.

  33. I think Montanatrapper put everything into perspective – way better than I could. Perhaps the porcupine analogy seemed fairly reasonable to the average person. By average, I mean …a sheep. But it is only a sheep’s mentality that assumes a porcupine defense will suffice in a given threat scenario. Reality however, says something quite different. The porcupine is killed once the predator gets past his defenses. Without the security of his quills, the poor animal is hopelessly vulnerable.
    Regarding the ego boost. That is not what I derive from the article. Was the young man on the plane full of ego when he said “let’s roll?” I believe he wasn’t. Perhaps he believed that he should do “something.” Perhaps he believed that he should try to stop those men from killing everyone on board. It’s a survivalist mentality. The will to live or die trying. That may sound conflicting – but only to the sheep minded. To me, it makes perfect sense. I’ll borrow a quote from a sci-fi book…You are what you do – when it counts.

  34. You carry to protect you and yours? Does that mean you would stand and watch while a ‘wolf’ slaughtered a ‘sheep’ and do nothing to help. That makes you a wolf,

    1. I, unfortunately, am not privy to perfect information and therefore cannot ascertain the entirety of a situation that has unfolded outside of my direct influence. Would you engage a person apparently aggressing against another without knowing the entire situation first? What happens if the situation wasn’t what it appeared to be? What if the “aggressor” was actually a person acting in self-defense because the other person attempted to mug them? What if the engagement was a drug deal that went bad?

      Not entering in a situation that doesn’t involve you doesn’t make you a wolf, it makes you smart. Unless you are privy to perfect information you are unlikely to know have all the information required to determine if entering it would be beneficial or detrimental. This is why most self-defense instructors urge you to keep out of matters not involving you and let a third-party (usually the police) deal with it.

  35. Lets just say for arguments sake that you know for sure that the ‘sheep’ is being slaughtered by the ‘wolf’. 100 % sure. Would you help?

  36. Never mind my last comment. Reading through your blob I have found that you are not the idiot I had originally thought.

  37. I feel that the Sheepdog,Sheep, and Wolf mentally not only exists, but exists without guns. It has nothin to do with guns, as many sheep have guns, and some sheepdogs and wolfs don’t. Wolfs are the aggressors, Sheep are the people who cower at the aggressor or dont do anything about it, and Sheepdogs fight back against the aggressors. Its all mental. Gun are almost not a factor.

  38. Places with more legal gun carriers have less crime, so while you’re not a sheepdog and don’t ACTIVELY protect anyone, you protect others without even trying. 🙂

    But you’re right: It’s a false dichotomy. There ARE “sheep” among us, but that doesn’t mean the only choice other than being a sheep is to be a wolf or sheepdog.

  39. I think the Lt. Col made this statement many years ahead of the current gun debate. Porcupine is eaten quite regularly actually, it may take a bit of picking a few quills out of a nose or two but they do get eaten on a regular basis by cougars, bob cats, owls, pythons, etc. I think the Sheep, Sheepdog , Wolf analogy is really about are you the guy who runs to the fire to help out? Or do you run away and or pretend you don’t see it. Or did you start the fire?

    Seems like a no brainer here. There’s nothing wrong with pretending you don’t see it and hiding behind your quills. As long as you don’t make a nuisance of yourself and I have to trip over you getting to the fire.

  40. Ridiculous. Mr. Grossman was keeping his analogy short and readable. How far would you want to carry your critical silliness. Let’s get real and start naming all the animals known to exist so they can all be used since everyone may not exactly fit as a sheep, sheep dog, wolf or porcupine. Let’s not stop there though, some may fit better as an insect or a flower.

    1. Now you see why I find animal analogies silly in the first place. They’re not terribly accurate no matter how you look at them.

  41. Looking at the thought processes of the author (Mr. Burg), I have to wonder about the life that he has led that makes him feel this way.
    For me, I have zero hesitation in defending and I live for the day when the wolf comes calling. Why? Because, I have and still serve the public and my family. I have children and grandchildren that are too young or too weak to defend themselves. I will be the last thing that the enemy sees before he tries to destroy them and I will be successful.
    Being in a more pacifistic role, I can almost understand that you do not nor have not had that responsibility. But, once you have put your life on the line and understand what it means to protect and be protected from the front line view, you have a better understanding of what the sheepdog is.
    I am the sheepdog.

    1. For me, I have zero hesitation in defending and I live for the day when the wolf comes calling.

      Nothing I wrote would indicate that I’m unwilling to defend myself against an attacker. In fact my mentality is defensive in nature.

      Being in a more pacifistic role, I can almost understand that you do not nor have not had that responsibility. But, once you have put your life on the line and understand what it means to protect and be protected from the front line view, you have a better understanding of what the sheepdog is.

      That’s funny, because most of the people I know who have had to kill develop an attitude to avoid ever doing it again if at all possible. In fact much of my philosophy is derived from the lessons I’ve learned from people who have been in positions where they had to kill. As they would say (obviously I’m paraphrasing), “Killing a man is one of the worst experiences you can suffer. It changes your life and not for the better.”

    1. I’m sure the irony of an individual who failed to end his sentence with proper punctuation calling somebody else simple minded isn’t lost on you.

  42. “For me, I have zero hesitation in defending and I LIVE FOR THE DAY when the wolf comes calling” (my emphasis).

    Zero hesitation is great. And we should certainly TRAIN for the day when the wolf comes calling — as in, doing all we can to be ready, IF AND WHEN that day comes.

    But “I LIVE for it”? Sorry, but that smacks of “I wanna be a hero” … “I can’t WAIT to blow some bad guy away.”

    And I think if most of us are honest, we will admit that carrying a gun for self-defense can foster such fantasies of bloodletting-in-the-name-of-justice.

  43. I’m sure some have misrepresented the original text. But Lt Grossman expanded on this analogy by comparing convicted violent felons with predators, who sought out weaker members of the (public) pack. Convicted felons interviewed in a study admitted that when they sensed a potential victim was prepared (NOT necessarily armed), they moved on to a softer target.

    I believe the insistence that a ‘sheepdog’ should always be armed is primarily directed toward law enforcement officers; because (even surviving a slaughter unscathed) they could not live with the knowledge that they could have saved lives if they had been better prepared.

    If you have not read Lt Grossman’s book, I highly recommend it.

  44. Your read on Grossman (at least the speech in question) is based on a completely flawed point of view. With the sheep, sheepdog and wolf anaolgy, Grossman was not – in any way – ever even for an instant, referring to the idea of civilians who carry guns for personal self-defense. This particular speech was written for and delivered to a graduating class of police officers. The entire ananlogy refers, exclusively, to LEO’s and military personnel, who sometimes question whether or not they should carry when off duty. His words were never intended to apply to the general public. You have taken his speech entirely out of context.

  45. have you ever seen the show the Big Bang Theroy? Chris Burg you sound like the main character Sheldon Cooper. I believe your way of thinking is way out of wack. LTC Grossman was making an analogy not a fact it was a basic comparison. I will tell you in my 29 years of being in the Army I have killed a lot of bad guys I live with it. a self centered porcupine is also worthless to society.
    another thing if a sheepdog is one who helps the flock (general society) then as a medic/Nurse wouldn’t I be a sheep dog in that aspect when there is a fire or an accident I wont run scared and or sit on the side lines and watch people die I run and help who ever it is. I not a sorry assed porcupine

    1. I will tell you in my 29 years of being in the Army I have killed a lot of bad guys I live with it.

      Um… congratulations?

      But seriously, it’s funny (in a sick and twisted sort of way) that you claim that my thinking is out of whack and then go off and talk about all of the human beings you’ve killed as if it’s an accomplishment.

  46. Obviously humans are more diverse than just 3 (or 4) classifications. The point of the wolf, sheep, sheepdog analogy is more of a mind set. It seems no one argues that wolves are out there to prey the other animals. Porcupine, Skunk, Ram, Armadillo it makes little difference the primary goal of any of those is to defend against the wolf. Not a bad idea but it involves being reactive. Sheepdog, Shepard they protect and do so by actively seeking out the wolves, this is not for everyone, hence he gives the various degrees between true sheep and true sheepdog. I would say the point of the original writing was more a call for people to wake up and stop being true sheep. Look around on any giving day and you will see people that just scream out by body language and or lack of awareness “Please make me a victim”.
    Your point doesn’t go unheard but the title “of wolves, Sheep, a bunch of mostly harmless but well protected animals, and sheepdogs” just doesn’t have the same please read me ring.

  47. Get your head out of your ass stop taking everything so literal but if you wanna take it there we can sheep have teeth and can bite, porcupines have been known to be taken down by predators smart enough to flip them on there backs, but since you’re so confident that you need no one else’s help or protection why don’t you go “quil up” and fight for your own rights and protection instead of undermining the veterans brave enough to do so for you. And you remember that whole only look out for you and yours philosophy just don’t get upset when another sheep like you does the same thing and turns a blind eye when something bad happens to your family member or kids (if you’re lucky enough to have any) for your sake and theirs I sincerely hope there is a sheepdog around to save them. But I won’t be surprised if you still look down on them from your high horse. That’s ok though because sheepdog don’t do it for the thanks they do it because they want to help and protect those who can not.

    1. Aw, did I hurt your delicate little ego?

      Get your head out of your ass stop taking everything so literal…

      How about you get your head out of your ass and stop annoying electrons by trying to defend a bad analogy simply because it makes you feel all self-important because you view yourself as some kind of defender of humanity.

  48. in regards to you “I am a porcupine” Analogy. just remember, Porcupines don’t actively defend themselves, they roll into a ball and hope the predators don’t make it into their soft underbelly. I have seen coyote’s rip the belly out of porcupines several times. not a pretty sight. while I can understand a willingness to let others fend for themselves, I can not stand idle while a child or mother are threatened by others. but for now, it is a free country, but when the Wolves come to your door, feel free to curl up into your little ball, but make sure people know your feelings, don’t want to have any sheepdogs risk themselves protecting you.

    1. I’m not too worried about announcing my preference to any “sheepdogs”. From my experience anybody who considers themselves a sheepdog tends to be all talk but find every excuse in the book to no abide by their proclamation when the time arrives.

      Meanwhile I’ll be sitting pretty in my ball of .308s and .45s. It’s an effective little ball.

  49. While every analogy has limits, I think the sheepdog analogy is a very good extension from an even more limited paradigm that continues to show up in pop culture. Anyone remember Chocolate War which topped best seller lists for a while and still shows up on required high school reading lits? “There are only two types of people, victims and those who prey on them.” Most recently in Walking Dead the split is butchers and cattle. I remember wanting to shout at the book as I read it, “no, there is another.”

    There is another and it is the sheepdog. As for the porcupine analogy, the moment you extend it from protecting yourself to protecting yours you are no longer a porcupine but a sheepdog.

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