Thursday, June 9, 2011

Faithful Companions

Enrich Your Life - Rescue a Border Collie
by:  Cassie Hicks Dullea

Having sadly lost our faithful companion of almost 14 years recently I decided the only thing to do was to write about her. The grieving process gave rise to a blog, a video tribute and the posting of lots of pictures, and then the decision to get another dog.
The decision was difficult but made quickly, as my old dog was a rescue dog and I think would have wanted another unwanted pet to have the chance of a loving home. She had always seemed especially loving and grateful to have found a permanent home after having had 5 homes in the 7 months of her life and she was a very special dog.
Personally I would only get a pet from a rescue centre as there are so many deserving animals there that need homes. Through no fault of their own they've been put up for adoption, sometimes unwanted, abandoned and at the worst of times badly treated or neglected.
Our dog, Tippy, was a border collie cross and some would consider her typical of the breed: very intelligent, agile and fleet of foot, and rather neurotic at times. However, when you consider quirkiness in a dog it doesn't seem much different than our human quirks and foibles.
With patience and love most dogs will become loyal and faithful companions. Dogs want to please their human friends and just need to be given clear direction as to what is expected of them. As with humans, they need consistency and positive reinforcement when doing things right.
Border collies are traditionally working dogs, with one well-known image being the sheep dogs on One Man and His Dog, rounding up sheep (or geese). They are good farm dogs, where they can roam free but have a defined role to play.
Border collies are said to come from the borders of Scotland and England (hence the name "border" collie). It's a strange coincidence that my ancestors date are said to hail from the borders, which maybe explains my border collie affinity.
I've just been lucky enough to adopt a border collie called Holly from Northiam Blue Cross (in Sussex, I live in Bedfordshire!). She is seven years old. Far from slowing down she is full of energy. Her passion in life is chasing balls and she never seems to tire of it.
It is early days but we expect she will make a fantastic goalie dog when the boys are playing football as she is extremely fast, athletic and precise and has incredible paw/eye coordination.
Being a border collie, Holly is very intelligent and we will learn a lot from each other as we start our new life together. The "getting to know you" process is a long one that requires love, acceptance and patience on both sides. But, oh, so rewarding. Just like any new relationship.
I work from home which is ideal for a new dog, especially one that is insecure from long lonely months at the animal shelter. However, she will have to learn that working from home means I need to work in between our lovely long walks, and that this is not just another opportunity to play endless hours of ball!
Border collies love water and a paddling pool is a must for the hot Summer days if you don't live near the a lake, river or the sea. They love the beach, playing ball or Frisbee in the sand - at a very high standard, sometimes competitively - and playing in the sea.
We discovered a funny thing about Holly on the way home. She started crying in the car and we weren't sure if it was Robbie Williams playing on the radio, upset at moving again, or something else. She seemed desperate to move to the front of the car. After some changing of seats and trying various things out we realised she just wanted to stick her head out of the window. Once she could feel the breeze on her face and the wind in her ears she was as happy as anything.
So, now all we need to do is move to California!

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