In which I try, very hard, to stay off my soapbox. First off, I’ll tell you how I ended up with my Border Collie. I grew up with Setters and had always intended on getting one myself one day. They are a great breed, fun, smart enough, high energy and beautiful. I fell in love with Border Collies several years ago when my dog’s full brother came to live with me for a few months. His person is a good friend of mine, and she was going to be overseas on an internship for months so I agreed to keep him. What a life changing experience. He was amazing. Smart, easily trained (he was four or five at the time I believe), loving, a great companion. Naturally when I was finally ready for my own dog I decided I wanted a BC too.
Kira, my BC, is a year and eight months old, and she is the delight of my life, but she’s a ton of work. I did a lot of research because I knew Border Collies were a whole different style of dog than the Setters I had grown up with. Honestly, even my experience with Liam (my friend’s dog), and my research, didn’t truly prepare me for life with a female BC puppy. Let me tell you, the guys are much more mellow (read as less intense, not hyper) than the girls in this breed. And OMG are they smart. (This is the beauty and the curse of the breed.)
This is what my typical day is like. During my workweek (I work four, ten-hour days, and I work nights) I get up, let Kira out, do some writing work, play with my dog for as long as I can, get ready and go to work. In the summer I also come home and play fetch with her with her glow in the dark Chuck-It ball. Best Invention Ever!
During the weekend I get up, go to the barn for a few hours with my dog, do writing work, broken up with fetch and other training, play with my dog of various sorts, more writing work, more playing with my dog, etc. On Sundays when weather permits we have flyball practice, on Mondays we have herding lessons. Sometimes we have clinics and trials and tournaments to go to. Is this starting to sound like having a kid? Yep… from what I can tell from parents, this is exactly like having a kid except that I am legally allowed to leave her for long periods of time. You’ll also notice I don’t mention hang out time with friends here… Pretty much, if it doesn’t involve my dog, I’m not likely to do it. I make exceptions, but she needs a lot of exercise to stay sane during the workweek when I am gone.
(Here’s my soapbox. I’ll keep it short.) I mentioned above that their intelligence was the curse and beauty of the breed. The reason is this. People get Border Collies because they are cute, smart and great companions. What they often don’t realize is how smart BC’s are and that they were bred to work. It is so ingrained in them, that if they don’t have a job, they’ll make one up. A lot of times they become destructive in their quest for a job. The human doesn’t know what to do with the dog and then the dog ends up in a shelter… Border Collies should only be in active households. They need exercise, lots of it, every day, and a job to keep their minds active. However, you can teach your BC to clean up the kids toys, clean up the laundry, help dig flower beds, probably even dust, if you take the time to work with your dog. They are amazing and the possibilities are endless. There are other cautions with this breed, for example their herding instinct is so strong, that, while they are amazing with kids, sometimes they can try to herd them too. They know they need to keep the kids safe, but if the kids aren’t trained to work with the BC it can be scary for them to be herded. Okay, done with the soapbox other than to say, if you decide you want to bring a Border Collie into your life, be prepared! They will be your best friend and working/running/trail riding/everything companion, just make sure you’re active, and willing to train your dog and keep their minds occupied.
I love this breed and my experience with Kira is directly responsible for my Doc, Vampire-Hunting Dog stories. Thank you so much for your time and I hope you get to enjoy some of his free stories on my website at www.writerjacampbell.com or check out his new Novella.
Jen, thank you so much for having me here today.
Julie writes fantasy novels. When she’s not out riding her horse, she can usually be found sitting in front of her computer with a cat on her lap and her dog at her side.