It’s freezing at the moment in my corner of the world – a forest on the Gloucester/South Wales border. We have got off lightly compared with the rest of the UK but breathing freezing air is still unpleasant. So I have decided to write a blog and hope to add to it at least weekly.
I have been taking a look at a book I wrote last year and adding some illustrations. I see so many dogs discarded as being no good when in truth it’s simply the ignorance of their owners. My own chosen breed is very definitely misunderstood being far from easy to manage for the average owner. So I set out to write a book to try and help people make a more informed choice. It’s surprising how little most people know about choosing the right dog never mind training it to realise its potential.
I am very lucky that I share my life with my four Border Collies. The oldest one, Keeta, a red/tri,who is over 15 years old is really my husband Tony’s dog. She idolises him and follows him everywhere. In spite of several vestibular attacks she is still very much a part of our family. Keeta just bounces back and carries on regardless. She is almost completely deaf now and her eyesight isn’t what it used to be. But that doesn’t stop her commenting on everything that is going on in her life.
Roy is 7 years old. It doesn’t seem long since I went to collect him from his breeder as a 7 week old pup. He’s strong and powerful and my constant companion. He has been placed at most of his last few shows and at last is (almost!) showing signs that he might be taking obedience competitions more seriously. His enthusiasm usually manages to deny us red rosettes because he finds it so hard to contain himself. But I wouldn’t want to change him.
Molly is 5 years old and very much likes to be in charge. She has a very powerful personality and has just one rule in her life – everyone does what Molly wants when she wants it – simples! As a certain meerkat would say!! But she has good communication skills. I used to compete with her but rarely do these days because she prefers to do things her way. She makes me smile though and she is happy looking after Keeta at home instead of going to shows.
Rafa is the baby of the family at just 20 months. He was chosen for his wonderfully happy personality. Living with really powerful personalities like Roy and Molly could be a problem. But Rafa has no ambitions to be top of the heap and is happy in his role as deputy. He is also my constant companion, gets on brilliantly with Roy which makes for a peaceful life. His first season in competition has proved to be successful with a win and many second places. He’s still very much a work in progress and I have great hopes for him next year.
At this time of year there aren’t too many shows so training is winding down somewhat. Although I do wish we could get out to do a little more than just walk. Border Collies love their walks but they also need other things as an outlet for their considerable drive. For my dogs this is competitive obedience which requires the ability to focus and achieve great precision but at the same time show true enjoyment.
Roy probably does this to excess. Working with him is like trying to drive a Ferrari on ice.
Molly has far too much ‘attitude’ to be truly competitive although she is so intelligent she can pick up something new in an instant. Rafa is a sensitive little soul. He always tries to do things right and can worry terribly if he thinks he might have made a mistake. He’s proving quite a change from my other 2 head cases! It’s a long time since I tried to train a dog so sensitive. Having such opposites is definitely not dull and really keeps me on my toes. I hope to share our experiences.