Friday, October 23, 2015

A Bitchy Gem

This has been a particularly rough week in terms of training Lilly.  For whatever reason, she has been crazily wound up all week anytime we work, to the point that she is missing hides on the first/second pass because she is in a constant state of tail tucked, ears back, smile on her face euphoria anytime we work.  Why?  Only Lilly knows....

In order to harness some of her happiness and restore order to our life, I decided to take her to the dog park tonight with the hope we would find some dopey, adolescent male Labrador, that might not mind an intense border collie bossing him around.  Sadly, though no one was at the dog park.

Well, until this man showed up at the fence and started watching us.

After this guy stood quietly at the fence watching us for 15 minutes, my mind went to the darkest place imaginable.  And I was just getting ready to go into total panic when he says to me in the most quaint Irish accent:  "Is your dog a bitch?"

Immediately, my ears perked up, partly because of the accent and partly because if some uses the term "bitch" to discuss your dog, you know they have been around dogs.

Me: "Excuse me?"
Gentleman:  "Is your Border Collie a bitch?"

"Assuming you are asking if she is female, yes.  Yes she is.  Although, if you are truly asking if she's a bitch, she's that too.", I said with a chuckle.

He laughed and asked:  "Does she bite?!"

I laughed again, "There's a strong possibility she might."

Man:  "Can I pet her?!"

Me:  "Um, sure?  If you really want to.  She is leery of some people though."

Man:  "She reminds me of a dog I had back home in Ireland.  Great dog.  Look how symmetrical her markings are and how smart she is!"

Me:  "Yep, she's a challenge, but I love her."

He went on to tell me that he lives here with his wife, but all of his family lives back in Ireland.  They have always had Border Collies and he explained that his family owns a working sheep farm.  Just two weeks ago, he went home for a visit and was able to work with his brother on his brother's farm.  The whole time he was talking to me, Lilly was totally smitten with this man.  She was sitting in his lap, with her tongue lolled out to the side, in total "doggie heaven".

He said:  "Do you mind if I play with her for a minute?"

Me:  "No, be my guest!"

He kicked the soccer ball we had away from us and as Lilly went to chase it, he used a series of whistles and body language to block her movement until she herded that ball right back to us!  The two of them did this several times before we had to leave, and as we were leaving, he thanked me and said he hoped he would see us again.

His parting comments will stay with me for a bit....

"In Ireland, we look for the Border Collie bitch that is strong.  She has to be willing to listen and work with us, yet ignore us and think for herself.  You have yourself one heck of a dog there.  She is a gem!"

I have to think this guy is right on the money.  Although Lilly comes more baggage than an airport, she is quite the gem!

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