Compiled from the Border Collie Mailing List

The Transformation of Malcolm
Sid's Rescue
Abby the Pound Pup
Sheepish Jessie
Trixie's Story
Lucky: In Name and In Life
Bo Knows
Reba: But Can She Sing Country?
Abby's Road
The Making of Hannah
Oliver's Twist of Fate
A Not So Mirky Future

From: Tom Harvey and Malcolm
Pittsburgh, PA, USA

We were originally going to get a puppy, but after doing a lot of research into the breed, we decided that an adult rescue was the best idea for our first BC. This is a recommendation I would make for anyone's first. This breed is challenging enough as an adult, let alone with puppy problems thrown in. You also can see what the temperament is. We found a dog(on this list actually) whose temperament seemed ideally suited to us. My wife says that the only difference between Malcolm and I is fur.

Malcolm had been dumped in the middle of a very busy highway. He had obviously been neglected, but probably not abused. I can find no reason for this dog to be abandoned. His personality is exemplary. He thinks his job is to make people like dogs, and he is very good at it. My neighbor who was afraid of all dogs and would not even enter our yard knowing that we had a dog secured inside the house, now will pet him. He went to the local Highland Games and in crowds of thousands he allowed everyone who wanted to fuss over him, and never misbehaved. I am told by witnesses to our first sheep experience that he is just oozing herding talent. Over Thanksgiving, our 4 month old nephew visited and after carefully introducing them to each other, Malcolm could be trusted around the baby.

My point to all of this (besides unashamed bragging) is that rescue does not mean that something is wrong with the dog. Occasionally that happens, but more often, I suspect, it is something wrong with the owner. Please consider a rescue dog. Everyone with multiple BC's should have at least one rescue. First time BC owners should have a rescue as their first dog. Rescue people are very good at matching dogs with adopters. (How I survived the interrogation, I don't know, but as a result I have the perfect dog for our situation).

I have enjoyed the incredible transformation in Malcolm. From shy timid dog that didn't even know how to play to frisky, friendly, playful dog who just asserted his dominance and rolled his 85 pound dog friend at the park, it is an indescribable feeling. And you will not find a dog more devoted to their humans than a rescue.


From: John Yaquinta and Sid
Fairmont, WV

'Sid's Rescue'

Sid's picture
We lived in Suburban Washington, DC, a family of four and one dog, a toy poodle. My son was in the third grade when an opportunity came up for me to transfer to West Virginia, where both my wife and I grew up. With the children fast approaching middle school age, we jumped on the opportunity. But we had to tell my son! He took it hard and demanded two things when we moved, 1) That we get cable TV (in DC we didn't need cable to get local channels and all his friends had cable -- little did he know that you have to have cable in WV to get anything!!) and 2) That he get to have a REAL dog - obviously he didn't view our toy poodle as a real dog! Well, as any of who have ever moved a third grader know, those were not unreasonable requests and we were thrilled. So, as soon as we moved we started our quest for a REAL dog.

We checked bulletin boards, the local animal shelter and newspaper ads. I didn't want anything too big (I hate cleaning up the mess and I know that would be my job!) but something big enough for him to wrestle with and have fun with. One ad in the newspaper caught our eye - 1 year old border collie - free to good home. Well, that looked interesting - the price was right. My wife called and asked the owner why he was getting rid of the dog and he said he wanted a more aggressive dog and that this one wasn't aggressive at all. Well, having two children, a non-aggressive dog looked good. We loaded up the family (including the poodle) and took off.

The current owner told us that this dog and his mother were dropped off on the road in front of his house a year ago and that the mother had since gotten killed by a car. He had this dog tied up in his back yard where he said he kept the dog. The dog was not allowed in the house and the owner would only untie him in the evening when he got home from work and then tie him up again before he went to bed. No human interaction other than that. He untied him and the dog circled us cautiously and barked. He told us his name was Sid. He finally came to the owner and we were able to pet him and inspect him for health problems. He seemed in good health and wagged his tail when we petted him. Whenever the owner let him lose, however, he would distance himself and bark until the owner coaxed him into coming back again. Our poodle didn't seem to care one way or the other about him - which was good - so we asked my son if he was OK and he said yeah (with a big 8 year old grin!).

So we took him home and bathed him and he didn't try to get away or bite us. I think he was in shock from getting attention. He stayed in the garage for the first few weeks until we were able to take him to the vets and get him checked out. He didn't eat well, he always wet in the house, and he always acted like he was scared. He didn't know how to play with dog toys and ran away from a tennis ball when you threw it. Then, with the help of the Border Collie list, I began to train him, introduced him to a tennis ball and a Kong, house break him, understand him, and now he is an inside dog along with the poodle. He is currently attending an obedience class and hopefully will graduate on Thursday. He's the star pupil in the class!! All the other owners are envious of him and say so. He always performs as expected. The kids love to play with him and he knows how rough he can be with each one of them.

We are always trying to find new games to teach him. I caught my son the other day doing the ball and cup trick with him. He placed a treat under a cup and then moved it around with two other cups. Then he asked Sid which cup had the treat. He usually got it right and entertained us all for a little while. The poodle tolerates him and doesn't mind sharing attention but she does not allow him in our daughter's room (which I think she thinks is hers!). They do get into it once in a while when he wants to play and she doesn't but having two children we were used to that anyway. He's always amazing us with the things he does and the things he understands. We were all scared at first, getting a dog without knowing his background, but things have worked out great for us. And I'm sure, if we ever get another dog, it will be a rescue!

Press here for another picture of Sid.


From: Tom + Lisa Kompare + Abby

We've never owned a BC before. Quite honestly, really didn't know what we could have gotten ourselves into.

We were going to the local Humane Society every day to find a dog who would fit our adult size requirements (nothing over 40 lbs. please). A large dog would have been too much for our medium-sized house. We looked at a few dogs, a hound mix, a terrier/toy poodle, and a dog that looked like it had every breed in it. None of these dogs seemed like they would fit our personality. After about two weeks of looking, Abby came to the pound. A little 13 week, 13 pound bundle of joy. The reason someone gave for giving up the dog was nipping the kids too much/couldn't handle. She was pawing at the cage door when I passed. Instant heart melt for me. They took the puppy out so we could interact with Abby. She was putty in the hands of the worker, but as soon as she was put on the ground, she was an instant play machine. Yes, she was a little nippy. Then again, she was only 13 weeks old. My wife fell in love with her too. We don't have any kids for Abby to "terrorize." Needless to say, we took her home the next day (24 hour waiting period mandatory so you can mull it over). The only specific advise we got from the Humane Society was, "Give her lots of exercise."

Abby the first night was a terror. Biting everything. She was in a new house, and didn't know that there were limits. Abby had my wife in tears because of her constant nipping and biting.

My wife had the month off work (yes this was planned). She worked with Abby and got her biting under control. The control was rawhide, to which she's now addicted (better than the furniture). I think having someone around the first month, 24 hours a day was a big reason Abby is the way she is now. I should also mention Abby took to the crate right away and was mostly housebroken when we got her. Lisa, my wife, did a great job in getting her housebroken the rest of the way.

Abby is now 8 months old. She sleeps most of the day. at four o'clock, 5 or six times a week she gets to go to the park and run around with her pals. She gets way more exercise there than I could ever give her. She is usually very calm the rest of the evening with only a few play sessions. If she doesn't go to the park, she is a play machine for the rest of the evening. Even with a good 45 minute walk. I don't mind. I love to play with my dog. That's why we got a dog in the first place! I sometimes wake up my dog to play with her. Abby is a real sweetie. I can't imagine a better dog for us. She is still a little enthusiastic when greeting strangers, but is that *ALL* bad? And Abby still likes to be picked up and be held like a baby (all 35 lbs. of her).

I guess to sum it up, rescue dogs are not bad dogs. They most likely were just in a situation that did not suit their personality. I'm sure "private" rescue persons are very careful about what dog goes to what home. They probably do a 100% better job than the Humane Society did. We COULD have ended up with a real nightmare. But didn't.


From: Maureen Setter and the dogs: BC Annie & BC Jessie (rescue)
Cleveland, OH

I recently rescued a 4 1/2 year old BC. Most would say that she had lived the ideal BC life. She was trained by a very knowledgeable trainer, lived on a farm with sheep/cattle. When they sold the farm, the owners decided that she should go to another farm where she could continue to work sheep every day. At her second home, they had 50+ sheep. When she arrived there, she was so matted that they could only cut out the mats - must have been very uncomfortable. But what was worse, was that at this second home, she wasn't allowed to work the sheep and was tied to a dog house right in front of the sheep. Six weeks later when I had heard of her plight and went to get her, she was skin and bone. They said she would not eat and that she wasn't house broken (the few times they had taken her into the house, she wet).

Now she is in a home that some would consider a "pet" home. I do not have sheep, she plays with tennis balls ( it was really fun watching her learn about tennis balls, squeaky toys, etc), sleeps on the couch, plays tetherball, visits nursing homes, is learning agility and when we have the time, gets to work sheep. She loves to be brushed and petted - so there was no excuse for all of her mats. This dog in a few months has become so bonded to me that she hardly never lets me out of her sight (and it goes without saying that I've become bonded to her).

When I got my first BC, the breeder told me that she originally wanted her puppies to go to working homes, but when they started coming back to get another puppy because their dog had been killed working on the farm - she changed her mind. Also when I got my first BC, it was easier for me to get my "secret clearance" than my BC.

Because of the dog rescue crisis in general (one of the most active rescue operations in my area is for Golden Retrievers) I always suggest to people that they consider a rescue rather than a puppy. Four of my last five dogs have been rescues.


From: Jennifer Davis & Trixie
(Southern Ontario - Hamilton/Toronto)

When I was 13, my mother and I started volunteering in dog placement at the local ASPCA. They had this little box of filecards of people who had phoned in about specific breeds or requirements, which the staff never, ever looked at. Dogs were getting killed that had potential owners waiting to be called. We organized it and started trying to match these people with the dogs they wanted. There were still so many dogs we went one step further. We put a weekly ad in the paper advertising a search service - people phoned us and told us what type of dog they were looking for and we scanned the SPCA dogs for them. Of course there was not way to do temperament testing or proper screening of the dogs, but it was something. Only once did anyone bring a dog we had matched back.

OK, this is getting off topic a bit. Here's the story: one day as I was walking through the dog room I passed a new dog that hadn't seen before. She was about 5 or 6 months old and, unlike all the other dogs there who barked and clawed at their cages when anyone went by, when I got to her she ran to the front and tried to engage me in play. I decided I had to have this dog.

I named her Trixie and she was (no offense meant to my current pooches) hands down the best dog I have ever had. Very affectionate, and extremely loyal and protective of the family (stopped a robbery once! and would drive away anyone who tried to approach me in the street that she didn't like the looks of). She also liked to chase squirrels. The only thing she couldn't handle was being tied to anything. Her previous owners had tied her to a tree and abandoned her there. When I got her I had no idea what breed(s) she was (not many BCs in NYC), but based on her looks and behavior she had to be some sort of BC cross. She wasn't very athletic, and I never took her to obedience school, but she loved people and would bend over backwards to do things for you.

She died a little over a year ago (spleen cancer) at the age of 11. I remember her final days vividly: her symptoms mimicked heart problems and she was never properly diagnosed until the autopsy. She spent her final weeks in (I now know) considerable pain. She barely ate and spent all her time lying in one place, never moving. She positioned herself strategically in the house so that she could keep me in her sight as much as possible without getting up. Still, every day when I got home she would drag herself into a standing position and, no matter how slowly, come to greet me at the door. The one day she didn't do this was the day I knew she would die. I've had other types of dogs, but after Trixie they will always be (at least part) BC.


From: Jean & Lucky
Raleigh, NC

I made the commitment long ago that all my future dogs will be rescued dogs. Every rescued dog I've ever known--and especially the one I'm fortunate to share my life with--has had a very special bond with his people. These dogs *know* what you do for them, and they repay your kindness. There is no doubt in my mind that Lucky would give his life to protect me--he had some unlucky times before he was rescued, and he wants to protect the paradise he's in now.

Some people aren't interested in rescued dogs because they think they will bond more deeply or faster or something with a puppy. I was amazed at the bond I felt with Lucky from the moment I decided he would live with me. It took him a little longer, maybe a day or two, I think because he wanted to be sure that he was going to stay with me forever before he gave me his unconditional love. BTW, Lucky was probably 8-10 years old when he was rescued. Even at that age, he has formed a deep attachment to me.

Once upon a time, there was a handsome male Border Collie. Perhaps his name was Tux since he appeared to be wearing one. Somehow, he got separated from his family. He must have been on his own for a long time, because he looked half-starved when found. He must have tried to herd a car, because he had a broken leg when found. He must have had a guardian angel, because he laid down in a remote place and was waiting to die when he was found. Maybe that's why Roy called him "that lucky dog" when he took him to the emergency animal hospital.

The doctors first recommended euthanasia--the dog was estimated to be at least 7 years old and the leg was badly broken. Roy (not so young himself) wouldn't hear of it. Amputation was suggested. Roy wouldn't accept that option either, fearing that a three-legged dog had a slim chance of being adopted and Roy couldn't keep this dog. Roy found a vet who performed the leg surgery at cost and then collected donations to cover that cost. Roy also appealed for a home through his network of animal lovers.

Meanwhile, I had an old dog, a Collie mix named Lady. She was in a lot of pain from arthritis and eventually couldn't walk because of a ruptured disk. I decided it was time to let her go. It was a difficult decision to make and to carry out, but it was the right one.

Two months later, I got a call from a friend of a friend of Roy's. "I've found your next dog." "No, it's too soon, I'm not ready." "But it's a Border Collie--your favorite breed." "Then he's definitely not the dog for me--they need a special situation."

But I couldn't forget about the sad story of that dog. I kept up with his progress, even donated money to help pay his vet bills. Roy kept saying that this dog needed a special home where he could get a lot of attention. I wasn't sure I was ready to give my heart to another dog, but I decided to meet "that lucky dog."

I steeled myself to avoid falling in love at first sight--and I didn't. He was dirty and matted and covered with fleas and ticks. But he was a gentleman. He didn't beg, he just assured me that he would always take care of me if I took him home. I left and thought about it, trying to make a decision with my head.

Suddenly, it was as though someone flipped a switch--"that's it, he's *my* dog and I want him right now!" I brought him home, walked him around the house so he would know the layout. When we got to the bedroom, he immediately lay down beside the bed. He had sized up the joint, and decided to stay.

Since then, he keeps me in his sight except when I go to work (I guess he knows someone has to pay for the kibble). He is suspicious of anyone who comes to the house until he hears the word "friend." He knows I need exercise but hate to get moving, so he drops tennis balls in my lap whenever I sit down. He knows I need fresh air, so he insists I go outside several times a day. He insists we do our part for the economy by spending money on squeaky toys. And he knows that research has shown that humans benefit from petting dogs, so he makes sure I get my daily quota.

And that friends, is the story of how Lucky rescued me. Thanks for all you and all the people involved in rescue do for these wonderful BCs.


From: Kate, Conan, & Bo

I was looking for a dog to do semi-working with (i.e. herding and obedience for fun), who was as intelligent and intense as the ACD that I'd had previously but less aggressive. I'd settled on getting a Border Collie. The next step was to call the Humane Society and ask for the local BC rescue phone number. However, the HS has just installed an obnoxious phone mail system, so I stopped by instead. They gave me the number and "By the way, we have one in right now ...".

I found him to be very affectionate, although somewhat depressed. Nothing was known, or is known, about his background... except that I have noticed he hates things getting packed in boxes, and he hates being left alone. He LOVES kids. It turns out that he's not real intense on herding, but he does obedience just fine. (So I ended up buying a pup for the herding part.)

He is a wonderful all-around house dog, as long as he gets his exercise. (I was lucky, the first thing he tried to chew up was a tube of Ben Gay ...) He's very intelligent: was soon manipulating my roommate's Rottweiler into abandoning the toy of choice, knows to hold dishes with his paw while he licks them, knows his toys and the household members by name, learns commands very quickly, etc.

He's my pal.


From: Mary Ann Sanford & Reba
Apopka, Fl.

I was not looking for a rescue, I was happy with the BC that I had. My husband had told me no more dogs and wouldn't even let me look at a puppy. Reba was 18 months old. She had been sold from a pet shop, what an awful thought, when she was four months old. I don't know what the problem was but the people who bought her gave her away to a person with Malamutes. These dogs attacked her and made her afraid of other dogs. She was returned and then given away again to a person who decided that she didn't want her so she was again returned. Then Reba was placed in BC Rescue, at Jerri Carter's place.

I took Reba from Jerri to foster until a home could be found. I told my husband that it was temporary and that we were not allowed to keep her. Well, guess who fell in love with the Reba girl, my husband. People would come over to see us and see her and go home to bring their spouse back, and he would tell them that she was not ours and that only BC Rescue could place her. After about three days he said that he thought we would keep her. I knew she was ours when I said we had to be approved before we could take her, and he said, I'd like to see them just try and get her back.

Reba is bright and loving. I can find nothing wrong with her. So she doesn't like electric appliances, like the vaccum cleaner. Well, neither do I. She has taught my overly serious BC how to play. Reba has brought a great deal of fun and laughter into my house. She is a clown and my other BC has no sense of humor. She is not perfect, but she does everything with style and grace. The people who had her first replaced her with two cocker spaniels, so maybe they just were not BC people. No fault of Reba's.

I have her in obedience and agility. She does well in both. She really loves these activities. I feel that she would be more of a defender of my property and my person than my other BC - he thinks all people are wonderful and it would never enter his head that some are not. She is over most of her fear of dogs and plays with them after we put up the agility equipment. You can just look at her face and tell how happy she is, she repays us each day with love and devotion. I think rescues are great.


From: Debbie Andolino & Abby

In June of '95 I moved from Rochester, New York to Laramie, Wyoming. Quite a change!! I brought along my 2 cats but somehow needed more company than they could provide. I wanted someone to go places with me, etc. (My cats hate the car rides!!)

The local paper puts out an ad every week from the local shelter about animals available for adoption. In August, I noticed an ad for an adoptable Golden Retreiver (similar to the one I left behind in Rochester with my ex-husband). So, on impulse, down to the shelter I went.

As I got to the shelter I noticed a couple in the outside 'get acquainted' yard. They had the cutest dog with them. I chatted with them for a few minutes and found out the dog was a Border Collie cross. Their dog was a year-old male who had a sister inside the shelter waiting to be adopted.

Well, the end of the story is that I bypassed the Golden and took the female BC cross home - and I don't regret it in the least.

Abby is an absolute love and my best friend. Someone had begun to train her - she knew sit, stay, etc. and was housebroken. She loves to 'goforaride' and is very well behaved in the car (except when she sees a herd of antelope - but we're working on that). She gets along well with the younger cat - and the relationship with the older cat is slowly being worked on.


From: Bill Diesslin & Hannah
Ames, Iowa

After buying my first home, I decided it was time to get a dog. I grew up in a household that always had dogs, but I never had one that I could call my own. I fell in love with a Border Collie that a friend owns and decided to look into the breed. The information I read made me think that maybe owning a BC was not the right thing to do. So I called a local rescue volunteer and she told me that everything I heard about BC behavior was true but added that they can be wonderful companions if you are willing to meet their special needs.

The same rescue volunteer informed me that there was a female BC mix at the shelter. I was told that Hannah was 8 months old and had been in three homes. This was her second stay at the animal shelter because the last family dumped her on the street. With the history behind this dog in my mind, I went ahead and adopted her. I was advised to buy a crate and that obedience classes started in three weeks.

Being the novice that I am, I didn't buy the crate and I had no intention of going to obedience classes. I thought that a crate was cruel and who need to learn how to walk a dog? Within two days Hannah had nearly destroyed my new home. She ripped the screen out of a window, ate a rug, pulled up plants, shredded blankets, and used every available square foot as a rest room. "That's why I'm your fourth owner in 8 months," I said to this dog that looked too sweet to damage anything. I bought the crate and signed up for obedience classes.

Within days of starting obedience, Hannah really started to come around. She came when I called and I didn't get dragged around on her lead anymore. I realized that this dog actually wanted to please her owner, it's just that nobody ever let her know what was expected. Hannah passed beginners obedience and went on to advanced beginners. She passed the AKC Canine Good Citizen test on the first try. Now she can be walked without a lead and has learned many tricks I use to entertain the neighbor kids (and myself). Hannah taught me to throw a ball for her and she is known around my house as "that dog that plays fetch till she drops". All this improvement took place in about six months.

Now Hannah and I are soul mates. At home she is never more than a few feet away. I am never at a loss of what to do because she constantly comes up to start a game or just to be hugged. This summer on a camping trip, Hannah and I were playing fetch. A man impressed with Hannah's athletic ability asked lots of questions and tossed the ball a few times. He said to me "that is a really great dog, where do you get something like that?" Still a novice but feeling like an expert I responded, "great dogs are not bought, they're made". He agreed.


From: Lisa Ochoa and Oliver

Okay, I can't resist bragging about my Oliver and how wonderful he is!

Last December, one of my dogs (Teton -- 11?yo mix) died very suddenly. Needless to say, depressed and heartbroken doesn't begin to cover my reaction. Two weeks later, my friend Donna talked me into going to the shelter to see a dog she said looked just like Teton. I didn't want to go there (just wanted to stay home and hug the dogs I had left), but finally agreed just so Donna would shut up and leave me alone.

The dog Donna wanted me to see had been adopted, but we went through the adoption wards anyway. In the very last run, a Border Collie sat all the way in the back facing the wall. According to the card on his gate, he was an unclaimed stray who'd been at the shelter about a month. He flicked an ear back when he heard me approaching, then turned to look. Without hesitation, he trotted up to the gate and sat in front of me. I took him home the following day.

Oliver bonded to me the minute he saw me, and he's in the top two of best dogs I've ever lived with (and I've lived with many). He's not as quiveringly intense as most BCs, but he's extremely smart and as sensitive and intuitive and quirky as the best of them. In the past year, he has become convinced that every person who sees him will instantly fall in love (and to be fair, he is justified in this opinion). He's turned into a real ham -- always on stage if there's someone watching. He's learned how to play with toys; he'll retrieve anything except a tennis ball (brings me percussion instruments on command, and can tell a tambourine from a treschotka or lozhki). He's MARVELOUS with children. Right now we're playing Flyball, hoping to run in tournaments maybe as soon as next year, but I'd also like to put him in obedience trials. Additionally, I think he's got the temperament to make a great therapy dog; I want to try that with him too someday.

He's pretty spoiled by normal people's standards, but he richly deserves everything he gets. When I come home from work and he flings himself into my lap and puts his head on my shoulder -- well, the attention and indulgence and extras in his life almost don't seem like enough, somehow.

If I had the room and the time, I'd get another rescue BC in a hot second. I cannot recommend them too highly to anyone willing to devote the time and attention they deserve.

PS: Did I mention he's absolutely beautiful?


From: Debbie Kaufman and Mirk
Bunker Hill, WV

We have three rescue dogs, the most recent is a Border Collie. Mirk is a two year old who had been with a family with three boys under the age of eight. He had been contained with invisible fencing. I guess he was just too much for the mom and the last straw was when the batteries went dead on the fence and Mirk went looking for something to do. He found it in the form of kids on bicycles.

The breeder did take the dog back, but supposedly told a friend of mine that she was going to have to put him down because of lack of space and whatever. I agreed to foster Mirk until a suitable home could be found, extracting a promise from my husband that he would not agree to me keeping the dog permanently.

The first night in our home Mirk had to share a small bedroom with another Border Collie, two Westies and a BC/Siberian (who is certain she is a princess). Oh yeah, my husband and I were also in the room, having had to allow a disabled guest to have our room on the first floor. The five dogs didn't make a peep all night. This dog just sort of settled in as though he had always been here. When our Westie rescue came home with us, he spent quite a lot of time just gazing off and I always wondered if he was looking for his "family". Mirk stayed out of the way and took quite awhile to make eye contact with us. His manners are impeccable. I should say were impeccable, he now jumps up on the sofa to get in my lap and snuggle. I love it. My husband didn't break his promise, he decided that HE would keep Mirk, I wouldn't. So that worked out well.

This is the sweetest dog I've lived with. He's very anxious to please and gets along with the other dogs at home and in agility class. Skeet, my other BC, is a bit of a rogue, though very sweet and loving. I guess he grew up with a little bit more confidence. It doesn't matter. I love this breed and my two guys have definitely added something special to my life.

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