"The staff is also used for guiding sheep. Again and again I have seen a shepherd use his staff to guide his sheep gently into a new path or thought some gate or along dangerous, difficult routes. He does not use it actually to beat the beast. Rather, the tip of the long slender stick is laid gently against the animals's side and the pressure applied guides the sheep in the way the owner wants it to go. Thus the sheep is reassured of its proper path.
Sometimes I have been fascinated to see how a shepherd will actually hold his staff against the side of some sheep that is a special pet or favorite, simply so that they 'are in touch.' They will walk along this way almost as though it were 'hand-in-hand.' The sheep obviously enjoys this special attention from the shepherd and revels in the close, personal, intimate contact between them. To be treated in this special way by the shepherd is to know comfort in a deep dimension. It is a delightful and moving picture."
A Shepherd Looks At The 23rd Psalm, Pg. 90