Adventures of a Border Collie Living in the Burbs
Meet a Border Collie Named Skye
I'm a border collie or border collie/ Australian Shepherd mix with who knows what else might be thrown in, (only my mom knows for sure) and I'm a good dog, but I get a little bored sometimes. I'd be a great dog in the country on a ranch or a farm where I could run all day long.
I was even on my own for awhile and I did just fine until the dogcatcher picked me up and took me to the pound. First I was in one pound and then I was transferred to another one. I was fenced inside a little pen for a long time. I tried to chew my way out, but that didn't work. I was really happy when some people came and sprung me from the pound and took me home with them.
This is one of my mug shots that was posted on Petfinder. You can probably tell that I don't really like to sit still long enough to have my picture taken.
If I lived in the country I could help out by barking whenever someone came up the road, dig up all of those pesky gophers, catch mice, chase rabbits, squirrels and deer away from the garden and check for holes in the fence. I would probably enjoy helping by herding some sheep or goats, too.
Although I'm happy to have been sprung from the pound, now I live in the burbs so sometimes I miss the country life. My people try to keep me busy, but sometimes I get bored and find my own entertainment.
All photos by the author unless otherwise credited.
Yes, that's me, the author, in the photo when I was about 3 years old. Some things just don't change very much. From as far back as I can remember, I've loved dogs. Fortunately my husband is also a "dog person" and grew up always having a dog. Neither of us have spent much time in our lives without a dog as part of the family.
Although we both enjoy an active lifestyle with lots of outdoor activities and physical exercise, we both work full time. We were in the habit of adopting older dogs who require less activity and were pretty happy to sleep all day while we were away at work. We've had good luck with our older dogs. Shelters and rescues often have a hard time finding them homes, and we loved all of them dearly. They were sweet, mellow and funny and had fabulous personalities. Most lived a long life with us and we were happy they were able to spend so many good years in our home instead of dying in a shelter before their time.
Then we had a couple of heartbreaking years starting in 2006. Our old husky/lab mix Jessie died at about 16 years of age. A few months later we got Hannah, a little border collie mix. Hannah was diagnosed with cancer less than 2 years later and died in 2008 when she was only 12 years old. Our poor vet was going broke buying kleenex for us and I'm sure it was hard on her, too. She made a comment, possibly in jest, at one of the many office visits we had when Hannah was rapidly declining, "Have you two ever thought of getting younger dogs?"
A Face on Petfinder
How I Met Skye
About a month after our dog Hannah died we were still grieving and not sure we were ready to adopt another dog, but we found ourselves taking a peek at the Petfinder website.
We were drawn to the face of a dog, identified as Mertle2. To the right is another one of her Petfinder photos - the one that intrigued us so.
She was at a rural shelter located about 150 miles, a mountain range and, in some respects, a world away from our home in the suburbs. In her profile, she was briefly described as a border collie or border collie mix about 2 years of age that had been picked up as a stray. There was something about her expression that haunted us, so we kept going back to her picture.
One Friday evening about 2 weeks after we originally noticed her listing, we looked and saw an ominous new bit of information on her profile. The word "URGENT" had been added. "URGENT" is a word shelters use to indicate when a dog is "out of time" and soon to be euthanized .
The next morning we called the shelter as soon as they opened at 11am to ask if she was still available. The volunteer at the shelter told us she was still there and would be put on hold for us until we arrived. We loaded up Tyson, our sweet old labrador retriever, and the three of us set out in our pick-up truck on a trip across the mountains and into the country to meet Mertle2 and decide if we were right for each other.
We were delayed by an unexpected detour for road construction and arrived at the shelter only 20 minutes before closing time. We didn't have much time to get acquainted before making a life or death decision about Mertle2. How would an unknown young stray dog from the country fit in with our life in the burbs? We had a border collie before, so we knew they have a lot of energy and need to be both mentally and physically challenged.
Obviously, we decided to take Mertle2 home. We had no idea of the new adventures awaiting us all.
Why Did We Name Her Skye?
Mertle2 just wouldn't do
When we adopted older dogs, we always just kept their name the same. They knew their name and had already gone through enough trauma and stress by suddenly finding themselves without the home and family they'd known for many years. We hoped to lessen their confusion by at least continuing to call them by the name they knew.
Mertle2 was different from the dogs we had adopted before. She was a young stray who had been picked up and taken to a small shelter in a rural area where she stayed for 2 months. Then she was transferred to another larger rural shelter when the first shelter became overcrowded. No one knew what name anyone might have called her before she was taken to the shelter. The second shelter where she had been for about a month had called her Mertle2. She didn't know or respond to the name Mertle. The "2" was because her pen was located on the 2nd aisle of cages in the shelter.
It really didn't seem like the name Mertle fit her. So "what to call Mertle2?" is what we were discussing on the way home from the shelter. As we drove back across the Cascade Mountains over Stevens Pass, we crossed the Skykomish River several times. We also observed that she seemed to enjoy looking out of the window of our truck up toward the sky. With her border collie ancestry the name "Skye" sounded ethnically appropriate and perhaps a little yuppyish to fit in with her new life in the burbs. So that was how Mertle2 came to be called "Skye".
Ready to Rock n Roll
Skye knows how to start the day
Each weekday morning we start the day with a walk before I leave for work. In the winter it is often still dark. When I start putting my shoes on to get ready for our walk, Skye is always ready to rock and roll!
To provide Skye with enough mental and physical activity to keep her out of mischief, we've had all sorts of adventures. Skye has been to obedience class, tried an introductory agility class, lots of trips to dog parks, doggie day care, learned a little tracking and we've even tried sheep herding!
Flint River Ranch Dog Food
Skye's Favorite Dog Food
Of course Skye would prefer people food any day, but she likes her Flint River Ranch Lamb Millet & Rice Formula, a high quality food that is made in the USA with people food quality ingredients.
Our Three Amigos
Introducing Skye to Our Other Dog
Skye seemed to like Tyson immediately when she met him. But then everyone loved Tyson. She snuggled up next to him often. I think sometimes he found her annoying when she pestered him when he wanted to rest. But being Tyson, he tolerated her grabbing his ankles and barking at him to try to get him to play.
Almost a year after we brought home Skye, we were helping the border collie rescue in our area by transporting a dog named Tim across the state. He was such a sweetheart that we agreed to foster him until a permanent home could be found for him.
We weren't very good at fostering. In fact, we were foster failures. We decided to keep Tim. He is about Skye's age and they keep each other busy.
So for awhile we had three dogs until our dear Tyson passed away in May 2010. Tyson was the subject of several of my other lenses. The photo is of our "Three Amigos" shortly after we decided to keep Tim.
From Doggie Day Care to Porcupine Encounters - There is never a dull moment!Click thumbnail to view full-size
Skye Tries Sheep Herding
As you will see, Skye doesn't have a classic border collie herding style. Her style is much more rough and tumble rather than finesse. There's not much "eye" just a lot of barking. Maybe her method of herding is with harsh language. You can certainly see that she is not afraid of the sheep! She'll definitely need some work before she's ready to herd.
A Trip to Ewe-topia to Try Sheep Herding
Take Your Dog Along on a Bike Ride
This Walky-Dog bike leash was a great find for us. It allows us to safely take our dogs with us on bike rides. It keeps the dog a safe distance away from the spokes and chain of the bike and the short leash that is included prevents the dog from running in front of your bike. We can now bring Skye along on a bike ride and maintain control. We can go for a bike ride and not feel guilty for leaving her home when she can use some exercise, too. This is a great way to exercise your dog and release energy - especially for active dogs. The Walky-Dog installs in just minutes and is easy to use.
Bike Riding with Skye with a Walky-Dog Bike Leash - Another way to exercise a high energy dog
My husband used to take Skye along on bike rides by just holding onto a leash attached to a harness on Skye. After a couple of near crashes when she suddenly decided to try to run after something, we found this handy little devise that attaches your dog's collar to your bike. It leaves your hands free so you can use both hands to steer the bike. We actually bought two - one for Skye and one for our other border collie, Tim. We can even take both dogs with one bike by putting on dog on one side of the bike and one on the other. I highly recommend it if you like to go for bike rides and would like to take your dogs along to give them some exercise, too.
Top 5 Reasons Why We Enjoy Skye
We get more exercise
To outsmart her, we think more
We laugh a lot
We read a lot
We've had new experiences
Officially licensed by the American Kennel Club. The AKC Squirrel is designed for safe, durable, pet play. It is made from a strong plush fabric, double stitched with embroidered details and no small parts to swallow. This toy will stand up to moderate chewing. This realistic plush toy has squeakers for interactive play!
Skye's Favorite Toy - Nothing beats a squeeky squirrel toy
Skye had obviously never played with a toy when we brought her home. There was a whole box of dog toys that she totally ignored. Instead she grabbed a plastic grocery bag from the recycling bin and ran around the room playing with it. She has come a long way. She learned how to fetch a ball (with a lot of treat rewards) and enjoys toys that have a squeakers. She loves to run through the house doing "zoomies" tossing a toy (or a sock) into the air and catching it. There is nothing better than a toy squirrel that squeaks!
Skye Enjoys Camping
© 2010 Vicki Green