I have always loved Border Collies, but when I was looking for another dog, I did a lot of research and decided there was absolutely no way I could ever handle a Border Collie. So, I went to an animal shelter to find my new best friend with a list of acceptable breeds. This particular shelter was notorious for mislabeling breeds, but I absolutely wanted to rescue a dog from this miserable place. I found my baby girl, Leela. She was fuzzy and adorable and looked like a purebred German Sheppard. She had cell mate who was obviously a Border Collie and roughly the same age. The paperwork on the cage door said that these dogs were German Sheppard/Border Collie. Clearly, they meant the black and white dog was a Border Collie and the black and tan puppy was a German Sheppard.
I put her in the car to take her to her new wonderful, loving, happy home. She immediately threw up at least twice her body weight all over the back seat. That was probably a sign.
The next inclination I had that perhaps something had gone awry in the selection of my puppy occurred a few nights later. I have a huge fully fenced backyard and a dog door. Even though I walk my dogs regularly, I let them out back for the occasional potty break. One night, Leela came through the dog door carrying a large bag of dog treats which I had never seen before. I was completely baffled until I got a call from my neighbor a few minutes later. Apparently, Leela had jumped the six foot fence, broken into my neighbor’s garage, found the dog treats and carried them back home over the fence.
I called a dog trainer the next day.
Clearly, Leela was cut out for agility training. First, though, she would have to pass the basic puppy training class. After the first two classes and religious home practice, my trainer said that she couldn’t be trained because she wasn’t “reward motivated.” The trainer said that we were lucky that she was a very sweet dog and not aggressive in any way. The best we could hope for was that she would occasionally do what we asked of her. She said that was just how some Border Collies are, confirming my growing my suspicion that I had a Border Collie in German Sheppard’s clothing.
Leela and I run at least two miles a day. We go to the dog park every other day. In addition to these outings, she also gets two walks a day. Unfortunately, however, I don’t have any sheep for her to herd.
I love her and I always will, despite the massive emergency vet bills. They actually know us at the emergency vet. She has been seen to have her stomach pumped multiple times. She has cut her paws destroying glass objects. She has gotten her butt kicked by a variety of other animals, including raccoons, cats and a neighbor’s pit bull (Leela is certain they would be best friends).
Leela escapes constantly. At enormous expense, I put “coyote rollers” along the top of all of my fences to prevent her from grabbing the top of the fence and pulling herself over. Those didn’t stop her for even a day. I installed an “invisible fence.” No dice. I even resorted to a tie down in my backyard. She pulled the first one out of the ground and broke the metal lead of the second one. She’s learned she can also escape by climbing the wood pile and vaulting herself over the highest part of the fence. Leela has been known to jump out of open windows as well.
Despite these things, Leela is one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever met. She has her own unique personality. My other dog, a German Sheppard, was very ill. Leela picked up a plastic cup on my kitchen counter, filled it in her water dish and set it down right side up in front of the sick dog. I wouldn’t believe it if two other people hadn’t witnessed it with me. Leela is four now and continues to be a loving and challenging companion. I wouldn’t give her up for the world, but I will also never adopt another Border Collie—unless she comes with a herd of sheep.