Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Border Collies can be Lousy Watch Dogs

 In Animal Shelters, the Border Collie is the number one breed for being a boomerang dog - a dog that returns to the shelter.

It isn't because they're dumb, it could be because they're so smart.  To successfully have a Border Collie that doesn't bark incessantly or get into destructive behavior, you will need to keep them exercised or entertained.  There are breeders that will simply refuse to sell a Border Collie to a "family home". 

You know, 2.3 Kids, Minivan, living in the suburbs... that sort of thing. 

When I drove from my home in Philadelphia to the Angel Pet Rescue, I was told by Megs, the owner, to make sure you walk her as much as you can stand.  Three times a day.  I lost 5 pounds by the end of the second month.   I was also told that Border Collies require a "Soft Hand".  I don't believe in hitting a dog, but trust me there were times I was frustrated in those beginning months and was thinking Ritalin may be an option.

We got through the teething pains of her trying to herd me when there was a Golden Retriever a block and a half away out of her own fear, and psychotic Welsh Corgi Owners and terribly trained dogs - that's a blog posting in itself.   She's probably the best trained fearful dog on the island.

How could you not love that face?

There's the problem.  Everyone else does too.  Show this particular Border Collie a little attention and you have a friend for life.  Not really a problem, more like a quirk.  A Big Personality on an island of Big Personalities, she's an amazing judge of characters.

When I first got her, she was terrified of other dogs, buses, motorcycles, and people who looked different.  Broadly, she was a fearful dog.   I would take her down to Germantown Avenue at the corner of Highland near the house and we'd stand there watching life go by from Kilians Hardware's Bench.   She learned to calm down and appreciate people petting her. 

Now she enjoys it so much that she thinks she should have attention wherever she goes. 

Being a Border Collie, one plus one equals three.  We walk past the bars and the Shoppes of Wilton Manors at least twice a day, normally three times a day.  It is the 800 pound gorilla in Wilton Manors Central Neighborhood.  You live here, you work with or around that shopping center and the Wilton Drive Central Business District.    For a Border Collie who has learned that people will treat her well, this is great mental stimulation... she loves her walks!

One particular shop in the Shoppes, a clothes store, has a particular worker who loves Mrs Dog.  He goes over to the window making faces and tapping the window and she goes over and sniffs and smiles and enjoys the attention and walks off.  She's been in the store and loves the attention too.   Canine Ambassador for Wilton Manors to the Snowbirds.   This all usually happens late at night. 

This morning, I awoke to a sinus headache at 5am.  I faked being asleep until around 530 a "Pixel storm" floated past... Reaching over, I realized that to stay dry, we had to walk early.  Nobody was around.  Officer Chadwick was off being the Cop's Cop and I didn't see him, the Baker at Humpy's Pizza was just getting in, I was before all the usual dog walkers - and yes, it is that predictable here.

You can set your walk by who goes past certain corners at certain times.  People are predictable as any Law Enforcement Officer will tell you.

But not my dog.   Since we usually see the guy in the clothes store at night, she thought she'd see him this morning.  After all, it was dark, right?   Dog Logic.  One plus One is Three.

When we got to his door where she'd usually be greeted by the tapping of a frenetic man, she stopped and smiled.   Sniffing the air she simply didn't want to go.  She missed her friend.  

My talking to her and telling her "No, Lettie, he's not there yet, it's too early" broke the spell.   She smiled at me then walked off to greet the baker at Humpys who enjoyed watching the whole scene.

If you're considering a Border Collie, you are in for a treat.  They are amazing dogs, and they will test you.  But if you bond with the dog, you will have a constant companion.  

Now I'm going to go off to the kitchen, make another mug of coffee and watch her glue herself to my leg....

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