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Thursday, September 27, 2018

ii'M iN lOVE WITH COLLIES by Gloria Alden

When I was a young girl, I was in love with horses and galloped everywhere on my imaginary horse. My dream was to have a horse ranch someday with lots and lots of horses. I read every book in the school library about horses more than once, and my parents gave me horse books for Christmas, too. Finally after reading all the horse books in the school library I read the next books in the same row which were about collies by Albert Payson Terhune. They were true stories about the collies he had on Sandybank Farm in New Jersey. They were written in the 1920s. The first was about Lad a Dog, the next one was Further Adventures of Lad, and the next one I still have a copy of was Bruce. In that book he wrote the following beginning
To My Ten Best Friends
Who are far wiser in their way and far better in every way,
than I and yet who have not the wisdom to know it.
Who do not merely think I am perfect, but who are calmly
And permanently convinced of my perfection;
And this in spite of fifty disillusions a day –
Who are frantically happy at my coming 
And bitterly woebegone in my absence.
Who never bore me and never are bored by me
Who never talk about themselves and who always listen
With rapturous interest to something I may say
Who having no conventional standards, have no respectability
And who having no conventional consciousness, have no sins.
Who teach me finer lessons in loyalty, in patience, in true courtesy, to unselfishness, in divine forgiveness, in pluck
 And in aiding good spirits then do all the books I have ever read,
and all the other models I have studied.
Who have not deigned to waste time and eyesight in reading A word of mine, and who will not bother to read this verbal tribute
To themselves  In short the most gloriously satisfactory chums who ever appealed to human vanity and to human desire for companionship. To our ten Sunnybank collies.

Dusty with my little sister Cathi.

The first collie I got was a stray who turned up when I was in my teens. She probably wasn’t a purebred collie, but I loved her and called her Dusty because her coat wasn’t pure gold but more a dusty gold. Unfortunately after I got married my parents gave her to a farmer because my husband and I were living in an apartment which wouldn’t allow dogs, of course, especially not a large dog that wasn’t housebroken.

The next collie I got was after my husband had built our house in Champion close to where I had grown up. We had four children then. I saw an ad in the paper for a collie for sale, and bought him. His name was King. He was a well behaved dog who stayed in the yard and was good with the kids, but one Sunday morning a pack of dogs came across the road chasing a deer through our yard, and King joined them on the race through the woods behind our house that ended at another road where he was hit by a car.

I found a collie puppy advertised and bought her. I forget now what we named her. At that time we bought a house with some acreage and moved out of the house my husband had built to that house. Shortly after we moved there, one of the kids took the collie put out of her kennel and forgot to put her back, and she got hit by a car, too. My daughter who had forgotten to put her away really grieved for her.

I didn't take a picture of Eliza or if I did I have no idea where it is.

The next collie was one my husband found in front of the plant he worked in going up and down the sidewalk in front of his shop and the restaurant across the street where he and his friends ate lunch. That evening the pretty gold young collie was still going up and down that same sidewalk apparently waiting for whoever dropped her off so my husband picked her up and brought her home. I looked for lost ads in the paper and then took her to the vet because she had swollen lumps on three of her legs. She had not been spayed, either. The vet spayed her and removed the lumps. He figured who ever dropped her off did so because of the lumps which could have been cancerous. So I named her Eliza DooLittle like the character in the movies or books. Eliza was a sweetheart. Our house was far back from the road, and she never went near the road, and the barn cats liked her. She even cuddled up with a chicken that wasn’t well. We went for daily walks in the woods next to our house and she enjoyed those, too. Sometimes I’d see a cat or a chicken in her doghouse with her, too.

However, Eliza got cancer, and there wasn’t much we could do about it. As long as she seemed to feel well, we didn’t have her put down. When she got really bad, rather than take her to the vet, my son took her in the woods and put her down with a gun and buried her at our place.

After that the only dog we had for a while was a German shepherd puppy my son brought home. Of course, you know whose dog that dog became. He named him Pistol, and I took him for walks and he followed me when I went riding on my horse. And then my husband and I got a divorce so I bought the farm I wrote about last week, and when the house we lived in finally sold, all the furniture and Pistol moved to the farm. Pistol was getting old now and had arthritis in his back legs and had trouble getting around. When he got to the point where he’d fall down and couldn’t get up, I had to take him to the vet’s and have him put to sleep.

One day I saw an ad for free collies that had been found. I went immediately to the home that advertised them. There were two of them, but the one was already claimed. They were both white collies. I had never seen white collies before. One jumped up on me and planted his paws on my shoulders. I figured he was adopting me and took him home. I had him a little over a month and then when I had gone to Washington State with my local siblings to visit our sister and her husband out in Washington State, the collie got sick and died. He must have eaten something that wasn’t good for him. At that time my two grandsons were helping my son put on a new roof, and at that time they chewed tobacco, too. Thank goodness they stopped eventually, but it’s possible the dog ate what they spit out. .
After that I still watched the paper for a collie, and saw nothing until I bought a Sunday Cleveland Plain Dealer Newspaper and saw an ad for collie puppies. Immediately I called to get directions and my best friend Phyllis and I went up to check the puppies. They only had two left so I picked the smaller female one, and named her Molly. Molly was a sweet dog and the first house dog I ever had. I so loved that dog and she was so well behaved and sweet. Once when I was weeding a garden, she discovered a nest of baby rabbits under a rose bush in a partially underground nest. Of course, I put the little bunnies back and took her in the house. The next day when I was in the barn, I saw she was missing so I went looking for her. She had taken all six or seven of those little bunnies out of the nest and had them lined up in a side by side row. As I approached her, I saw her pick one up and toss it in the air and then catch it. Poor bunnies. I tied her up by the barn, and put the little bunnies back in the nest and covered it with some brush. I kept an eye on her after that.

Just before Molly turned five years old, she developed grand mal seizures. The vet put her on some medicine which helped a little, but she still had mental problems like going into a corner in the house and having trouble finding her way out again. She would go back and forth outside my back door like she couldn’t figure out how to get in. I took her to the vet again when she was having trouble walking they gave her some shots. So I took her home. Then one evening her hind quarters gave out and she couldn’t get up. I took her back to the vets and they told me they couldn’t help with that. So I agreed to them to euthanize her. I sat on the floor singing to her while she licked the tears from my cheeks. I took her home and she’s buried by one of my flower gardens near my house.
I wrote a poem about a yellow leaf on a black dog's back.

I missed her so much. My daughter Mary felt I should have another collie as a watch dog so she searched to find a collie breeder which are rather scarce anymore for some reason. She found one not too far from where I had taught school. I called her and was told she didn’t have any right now, but two of her girls should have puppies in the fall. She called me early in September to tell me her girls didn’t have puppies, but she had an eighteen month old collie who didn’t show well that she would sell. Well, I certainly didn’t plan on showing any dog so my friend and I went out to Mantua where we found Maggie. Of course, that wasn’t her name, it was Twin Cities Born to Dance. I had to agree to take her to a vet to prove she was in good health and to have her spayed which I did. 

The next day the woman called to see how she was doing. I told her very well, but I hadn’t heard her bark yet. She told me she had all her dogs muted. When Mary called to see how she was doing, I told her about her being muted, and Mary said to take her back and get our money back. I told her that she paid half and I paid half, and she owns the back half of my new dog and I own the front half and I don’t care if she barks or not.  Well, she does bark and probably earlier not as loud, but she does bark enough now that I can hear her if she’s outside, or if I’m upstairs and she’s downstairs.
Brat Cat and Maggie are now best friends.

Maggie is the sweetest dog imaginable. A week or so after I got her, one of my two tabby cats I had gotten a few weeks before I got Maggie came around the corner hissing and batting at her with her front paws which have no claws. Maggie took off running and slipping and sliding on the kitchen floor to get away from her. I gave her the name Brat Cat. Now they are good friends
Maggie’s only growled once and that was when I was house sitting with my then daughter-in-law’s little mixed breed morky who was being awfully obnoxious. Maggie bowed down to the little dog and growled. He went under the coffee table and that was the end of that. They got along for the rest of the weekend.

Maggie and Henny Penny on my back steps.

Once I was given a poor hen that friends of mine had coming over to their house because the neighbors let their hens and roosters out and the roosters were picking on it. Well, my old hens picked on her, too. And she kept escaping, and then decided Maggie would be her friend who would take care of her. Fortunately, eventually the old hens accepted her so now at least I’m getting eggs from her.

Once when I went on a camping trip with my siblings, my granddaughter Sami took Maggie to her house to take care of her. When she came around a corner, she saw her two-year old daughter Ellie, pulling her tongue out to see how long it was. Maggie just let her. When my son has his grandchildren over to play outside and I happen to be outside with Maggie, she enjoys letting them pet her and once they realize she’s not dangerous they love petting her.

Maggie and I on one of our walks in my woods.

As for a guard dog, I think she would bark and wag her tail so much no one would be afraid of her. I’ve been told though that if anyone attacked me she probably would fight them, As for me I’d much rather have a gentle dog than one who could turn vicious.

Have you ever had a collie?

What kind of dog did you have other than a collie?


Margaret S. Hamilton said...

I love learning about your "critters." I grew up with poodles, so acquiring one when we bought our first house was a natural progression. Cass raised her three babies and lived till the older kids were in high school.

And then the fun started. "Mom, we can get another poodle but it has to be a BIG poodle." In our suburban Atlanta neighborhood, everybody had a golden or Labrador retriever.

We acquired Toby, a sixty pound canine with intelligence and cunning. He could open lever-handled doors (and tried hard to open the fridge), slither under, through, or over a reinforced "dog proof" fence. He could open zipped soccer bags and demolish cleats and shin guards.

Since then, we've cared for my mother's little poodle and, after Toby passed, acquired two more standards.

Gloria Alden said...

Margaret, I always heard poodles are intelligent dogs. You've just reinforced that. It's not often you see large poodles. My local daughter has a small poodle and he is adorable and so playful, too. So I understand you now have two more large standard poodles. I'd love to see pictures of them so I'm hoping you can email me pictures.

Warren Bull said...

We just had a visit from friends with a standard poodle who was very smart and well behaved.

Jim Jackson said...

We had golden retrievers for years, but currently we are without pets as we have been doing a fair bit of traveling.

Gloria Alden said...

Warren, I've seen a few of them but not very many. They are smart dogs.

Jim, Golden retrievers are beautiful dogs. I've seen far more of them than I have collies. They are a much more popular dog. I can understand the problem with having pets if you're going to travel. Except for going to California to visit my daughter, or going to Malice Domestic or the very occasional camping trip I don't travel much and when I do, I have a good friend who loves my pets who will watch them, and I pay her, of course.

KM Rockwood said...

My husband had a Hungarian puli when we got married. Pulis are no-nonsense herding/guard dogs, and we were a bit worried about how he would react to my daughters, one of whom was just a baby. He decided that the baby was his responsibility (perhaps on an equal with caring for his tennis ball) and they got along wonderfully. He lived to be twenty.

When the kids were young, we had Newfoundlands. They were wonderful dogs. Not particularly bright, but they loved everybody, were virtually indestructible and happily put up with all the kid antics. Unfortunately, they were not long-lived.

Since then we have had rescue dogs. A pair of German shepherds who were very intense in their patrolling of the house and grounds, a Rottweiler who tried very hard to do whatever he thought a good dog should do, and a number of mixed breeds. We now have a dog who came from a prison program in Zanesville, Ohio, and is growing old, along with us.

Gloria Alden said...

Katherine what an assortment of dogs you've had. I think I met the Rottweiler when I came to your house a few years back. I'm glad to hear your Puli lived so long. Maybe my Maggie will live a lot longer than I thought she would. We have a prison program in our county, too, that takes in dogs that were stray or rescue dogs. Then they sell them for a fair amount since they've been so well trained. I think it's a wonderful program both for the dogs and the prisoners who are given a dog to train.