Saturday, May 31, 2008

Happier Days

Here is Bud. Bud came to live with us one month ago today. When I ran into my good friend Victoria Huff the day after Abby died, she reminded me that there might be a wonderful dog out there somewhere, waiting to be rescued. I went home and began searching for the Border Collie rescue groups.

I found Sweet Border Collie Rescue at Glen Highland Farm. This organization is the life work of Lillie Goodrich along with her husband and co-founder, John Andersen. Since its inception, they have placed almost 1000 Border Collies. E-mails flew back and forth; Lillie selected several candidates, drove an hour and a half to the farm of Warren Mick, a herding dog trainer, and had each dog evaluated with actual sheep to determine herding potential.

Bud was the shining star among the herding candidates. Two days later we drove to Glen Highland Farm, located just outside Oneonta NY, along with our little Silky Terrier Spike so that we could all meet. Bud and Spike hit it off immediately and we began the journey home.

Bud is a treasure. Sweet, playful, attentive, grateful, comes when called, adapted quickly to the invisible fence, truly penitent- every time- when caught swiping food off the counter, devoted. He made many friends at my booth at the WEBS tent sale two weeks ago and charms all he meets when he visits my mother with me at Linda Manor, a local nursing home. He has stolen my heart.

It's hard to imagine that his first family gave him up! Sadly, this happens too often with Border Collies. Many people are charmed by the intelligence and playfulness of the breed, buy a puppy and then are overwhelmed when the herding instinct kicks in and they find that their sweet pup is chasing the kids and nipping at their legs. Although Bud negotiates that balance between good manners and herding instinct gracefully, at some point during his puppyhood the circumstances of his first family changed and he was crated constantly for the five months prior to being relinquished to rescue.

The Glen Highland Farm site is a wealth of information on the Border Collie mind, rescue in general, canine health and nutrition, programs bringing inner city kids and dogs in need of friends together, seminars, success stories about BC's finding meaningful work in keeping golf courses clear of Canada Geese, and profiles of adoption candidates. If you are as inspired by this organization as I am, please consider making a financial contribution. A donor has offered to match every donation dollar up to $15,000! This is a worthy cause for anyone who loves to wear or work with wool. There needs to be a role for Border Collies in this culture. Maintaining a pool of herding dog talent is part of the infrastructure that keeps sheep on our hillsides and local wool available.

Bud is just over one year old and it is still early for him to work sheep. He and I will be heading to Greenfield MA in a couple of days for our first lesson in working with sheep with trainer Denise Leonard. I'll keep you posted!