Are You a Sheepdog?

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The analogy of the sheepdog, which oversees and protects the flock, was popularized in the law enforcement, military, security, and personal defense communities in the 1990s through the writings of Lt. Col. David Grossman, who has been a PDN contributor. Over the years, Rob Pincus’s beliefs about the sheepdog concept have evolved.

The Professional Sheepdog

Rob completely supports the idea of the sheepdog when talking about the armed professional — military, law enforcement, and security. They have distinguished themselves from the flock, put themselves in a position of overwatch and agreed to professionally take on the responsibility of protecting everybody else. They can truly say, “I am the sheepdog.” But are you really a sheepdog?

If you’d asked Rob ten years ago if the sheepdog analogy applied to personal defense, he would have replied absolutely yes. But over the years he’s learned that there really is a dramatic difference when he’s wearing his badge and uniform as a reserve deputy and goes out into the public space. He is then playing the role of the sheepdog.

The same applies when he is on an executive protection detail and during many other times in his professional life when he has worn a security uniform, a law enforcement uniform, or a military uniform.

I am the Sheepdog

But what are you, a private citizen, acting as when you put on a firearm and go out into the public space with the intention of defending yourself and your family? Is “I am the sheepdog” your motto? Should it be? On the contrary, Rob believes you are simply a member of the flock who is prepared to defend themselves.

Learn more about Lt. Col. Grossman’s self-defense concepts through his videos here at PDN, and get differing viewpoints in our extensive collection of self-defense training videos.

Discussion
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8 Responses to “Are You a Sheepdog?”
  1. Howard

    Dear Mr. Pincus,

    Thanks for another great video. I may have told you by email that I present on emergency preparedness for people with disabilities and I address four categories: fire escape, medical, mandatory evacuation, and, depending on audience, anti-crime/terrorism. Though I speak mostly to an audience who is unarmed, what knowledge do you recommend that I present for armed professionals or citizens? Or would such a presentation be useful to you at all? And yes, I should take some classes from you.

    Thanks,

    Howard

    Reply
    • cst

      Hello Howard, unfortunately, Rob is not very clear on the question at hand here.
      In regards to your inquiry:
      If firearms and their defensive use isn’t your area of expertise it is recommended try and present as if you are one. Look at your unarmed information and find what unarmed topics could cross over and provide value to those that are armed.

      Hope that helps! Have a great day!

      Reply
  2. David Weaver

    I would hope that I was – in the case that the circumstance warranted it.

    The problem is that by simply professing that one is prepared and “willing” is liable to be used against you in a court of law – in the case that the circumstance warranted it.

    Reply
  3. Jose

    I have heard another analogy that may be even more appropriate than the “ram”. I am actually a porcupine. In todays world I will defend myself and my family, but I am not willing to take the risk of defending others and spending $$ and time to defend myself from government and law enforcement intrusion.

    Reply
  4. John

    Rob, I agree with your analogy. Sheepdogs are to protect the herd and Rams are part of the herd. As the gentleman below talked about the porcupine he would actually not be part of the herd. I would also like to think that those of us who are CCW holders are a cross between the sheepdog and more like a herding dog. We will do the part to protect when necessary but will more likely move the herd to a safer location if given the opportunity. There still may be a crossing in the terms yet.

    Reply
  5. kingssonservices

    I read the description and watched the video and I would have to disagree with part of it. In most aspects law enforcement officers are only res-ponders. They respond to something after it happens. Very rarely, with the exception of traffic citations, does a law enforcement officer ever see or catch something when it actually happens. They are almost 100% of the time, called after the fact to take a report based upon what has already occurred. Historically, military, security and CCW individuals tend to be more aware of their surroundings, over watching the flock around them. Now there may be some law enforcement officers that could be classified as sheepdogs, but that certainly would not be the norm. As around here, which is a very heavily policed geographical area, for as rural as we are. It would appear, that there primary function around here, is revenue generation. Other geographic locations may differ from the norm around here.

    Reply
  6. lpotwell

    Very good, thought provoking piece. One suggestion, however, for a future iteration on this topic – let’s be more gender-inclusive. Women are the fastest growing segment of the concealed carry/personal defense community. And there’s no one more formidable in defense of their own than a momma bear, elephant, or lion. Let’s not get locked in to the “ram” analogy. My wife and three daughters (all pit bulls when it comes to family) will appreciate it. Thx for all the excellent content.

    Reply
  7. David

    The time of the sheepdog is passing. The sheepdog lies with the flock and protects from the wolves who come in the night to kill and consume. Our sheepdogs have failed us. The wolves are in the fold and decimating the flock.
    The time is coming where we will need the wolfhound, who tracks the wolf to its lairs and dens and exterminates the threat to the flock.

    Reply

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