Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Unconditional Love and the Border Collie

Will blog on Thursdays starting July 3 2014
Unconditional Love: If you want a friend get a dog, to paraphrase a saying.

In my work in progress, a contemporary novel set on an organic apple farm outside the small imaginary town of Sierra Creek, a little boy needs a friend.  I remembered someone saying every kid should have a dog, the perfect friend for a kid.  But what breed should I choose for my book? That was the question.


I searched the internet for information on many canines, including the Labrador retriever and Sheppard, I even checked out the Basenji. Then I found an article about the smartest dogs. The Border Collie was number one. Why hadn’t I thought of a Border Collie? After all I’d raised two of them and I couldn’t think of a more loving animal. One named Rex was perfect for the little boy in my book.

Border Collies are also one of the most popular breeds for dog agility competitions. Beside sheep dog trials they also excel at competitive, obedience, showmanship, flyball and tracking trials, a high energy dog perfect for the high energy boy in my story. 

History according to Wikipedia

  The Border collie is descended from a type of collie found widely in the British Isles. The name for the breed came from its probable place of origin along the Anglo Scottish border,(American Kennel Club- Border Collie AKC. Org. Retrieved 2010-09-13). Mention of the "Collie" or "Colley" type first appeared toward the end of the 19th century, although the word "collie" is older than this and has its origin in the Scots language. McCulloch, John Herries (1952). Border Collie studies. It is also thought that the word 'collie' comes from the old Celtic word for useful. Many of the best Border Collies today can be traced back to a dog known as Old Hemp.  


 Old Hemp, a tricolor (Three clearly defined colors, usually either black, liver on the dog's upper parts, white underneath, with tan) dog, was born in September 1893 and died in May 1901 ( Retrieved 2010-09-13). He was bred by Adam Telfer from Roy, a black and tan dog, and Meg, a black-coated, strong-eyed dog. Hemp was a quiet, powerful dog that sheep responded to easily. Many shepherds used him for stud and Hemp's working style became the Border Collie style. All pure Border Collies alive today can trace an ancestral line back to Old Hemp.

In 1915, James Reid, Secretary of the International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS) in the United Kingdom first used the term "Border Collie" to distinguish those dogs registered by the ISDS from the Kennel Club’s Collie which originally came from the same working stock but had developed a different, standardized appearance following introduction to the show ring in 1860 and mixture with different types breeds (Collie Breed History Lee Weston, Retrieved 2007-08-12).

In 1860, classes for "Scotch Sheep Dogs" were offered at the Birmingham Dog Society the second dog show ever held in England. On a trip to Balmoral a short time later, Queen Victoria saw her first Collie and became an active enthusiast of the breed. It is at this point that the divergence between our modern Collie and the traditional shepherd's dog began. However, today's Border collie has remained a true working animal with very little change from the original type.

Recognized worldwide as the premier sheep herding dog, known for its obedience, ability and natural appearance, the Border Collie was given Herding Group designation and became eligible for full AKC recognition status on October 1, 1995.

Working Border Collies can take direction by voice and by whistle at long distances when herding. Their great energy and herding instinct are still used to herd all kinds of animals. They are also used to remove unwanted wild birds from airport runways, golf courses, and other public and private areas. The Border collie uses a direct stare at sheep, known as "the eye", to intimidate while herding animals.

A Border Collie listens to his instructions

The use of dogs for herding sheep makes good economic sense. In a typical pasture environment each trained sheepdog will do the work of three humans. In vast arid areas like the Australia, the number increases to five or more. Attempts to replace them with mechanical approaches to herding have only achieved a limited amount of success. Thus, stock handlers find trained dogs more reliable and economical.

Shepherds in the UK have taken the most critical elements of herding and incorporated them into a sheepdog trial (a competitive dog sport in which herding dogs move sheep around a field, fences, gates, or enclosures as directed by their handlers. The first recorded sheepdog trials were held in Bala, North Wales, in 1873. These competitions enable farmers and shepherds to evaluate possible mates for their working dogs, but they have developed a sport aspect as well, with competitors from outside the farming community also taking part. End.

Border Collies make wonderful pets for the right home. They are intelligent, protective, loyal and affectionate. But they need a lot of exercise and do best if they have a job and someone who can exercise them regularly. If the owner doesn’t find something for the dog to do, the Border Collie will find something and it may not be agreeable to the owner.

 Please share this and post a comment to tell me about your animals.

There are a couple of movies with Border Collies in them. My favorite is Babe. Below there are also other movies with the animals as the stars.

Babe, a pig is raised on a farm by Border Collies. They teach him to herd sheep. Farmer Hoggett is amazed by it. This is great movie for kids and grownups, a love story of a different kind. Young or old, don’t miss it. Four hearts.


If you and your kids want to see other animal oriented movies check out The Adventures of Milo and Otis 1986. A charming movie done from the animal’s point of view. A cat and a dog go on a perilous journey.

The Adventures of Milo and Otis (1986) PosterThree hearts.



Homeward Bound

1993, Pets escape from a California ranch and search for their owners in San Francisco. More predictable but cute.  Three hearts

 Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey


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  1. Great write up on Border Collies. They seem like very smart dogs. Our current and super-duper dog is an Australian Shepherd. She is very aware, bright and ultra passionate about her owner.
    Dogs are great pets. Thanks for sharing your information.

  2. Hi Jodie, They are smart as is their cousin the Australian Shepherd. Years ago we had an Australian Shepherd, a Blue Merle named Gus, such a sweetie. : ) Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Hi Reggi, I love Border Collies, beautiful smart animals. The one we had could jump for a stick well above our heads, lol. Now we have a German Shepherd, Annie, and a Calico cat, Harley. They're the best of friends. We get lots of laughs out walking as Harley's usually the one leading the way, :)

  4. Hi Jacquie,
    LOL. I can picture your cat leading the way. Love the name Harley. German Shepherds are great dogs too. :)

  5. Loved this post. Our Luna is a Border Collie mix that we got from a rescue last Oct. She is spoiled rotten, but that's what she gets for bringing so much unconditional love to our very lucky family.

  6. Loved your comment.Our Border Collie Rex is a rescue dog too and the sweetest guy ever. He brings us so much love we feel lucky to have found him. : )