Border collies are dogs with strong personality and have an insatiable appetite. Brick is not only insatiable but he has also a “5 stars” taste. My neighbor is an excellent cook while I’m surely not, and therefore the smells coming from her kitchen are ever since like a drug for my family.
Brick broke a piece of the fence between our houses and always showed up for dinner and lunch. My neighbor’s dogs have all the time some delicacies: tuna macaroni, meatballs, grilled salmon but borders are real troopers and the poor dogs had not even the time to put their muzzles in their bowls that a gentledog thief was already coming back home licking his mustaches.
We mutually agreed, in order to keep good neighborhood relationships, to replace the old broken fence with a stronger and 1.80m high new one. Brick studied the issue seriously, measured the new fence covetously, stood on his rear paws to control the real height. Then he made his calculations: the time needed to climb over it was much more longer than the time food stayed in bowls, the neighbor’s dogs are slow not stupid.
Hence brick changed his tactics. He stays in a strategic place to control through the fence the neighbors’ dinner table that can be perfectly seen if the window is open. He tries the hypnosis and it works. The neighbor surrenders and gives him a tidbit. He drools and looks at her gratefully ( she could call the animal care police if the doesn’t know us). She takes him some cheese and he loves cheese so much! Each meal some cheese. Borders are overbearing their sheep.
At the very beginning he barked softly to have the neighbors’ attention now he barks fiercely making them stand up to give him some cheese.
I was embarrassed that he went to his liking to the neighbors, now that he stalks them.
Today the smelling coming from their kitchen was one of real gourmand and the Tomato macaroni in my sons’ plates made such a sad impression that they looked at each other then looked at brick. I think they wished to be border collies.
Italian version Come convivere con un cane stalker e con l’arte di non saper cucinare
Sheepdog, sheep, flock control are part of a Border Collie work, and yet Brick slights them. He likes to taste the sheep poop pralines and to bark to the hens in the near fence. He barks offensively aloud to the horses but he is not interested in the sheep. At least this is Umi’s idea after a few sheep control lessons that she and Bryce did together.
But other thoughts go through young Brick’s mind, while he rests dirty and tired.
“I ask myself: why should I gather 4 afraid sheep? Ok, I’m a border and if you take me to a farm in a boundless moor with a flock to be led to a sheepfold I could bustle. But in a fence, with the sheep I feel myself uncomfortable then the poor animals are fed up to give lessons to a dog, the teacher explains to the people what to do and they do it, they improvise themselves shepherds and dogs engage and some even try to bite the sheep. The dogs, the ordinary ones, don’t know that during serious sheepdog competitions biting the sheep shank is a serious penalty. They can even be disqualified only for a bite! I don’t want to be the jaguar’s friend or rewrite Tom and Jerry subverting the things natural order, but I’m sorry for those wooly heads, all day long going around foolishly in a fence, going in and out the gates risking the shanks only to entertain humans! We, the borders, control the sheep with our look, our eyes give order…. let German Shepherd join the Police and leave us the dirty job! Paws get muddy, hair puffs up and our magnetic eyes order the rebel sheep to go back to the flock. That happens in Scotland or in the Alp pastures, not in the riding school fence behind the house. There you annoy the hens because a serious border has mostly a nuisance nature. He is irreverent, virtually scoundrel, and extremely clever to understand when a human needs to be cuddled. We, the borders, love to converse with horses, they have great empathy and irony, we gladly exchange a few jokes when we met. As far as the pralines are concerned… everyone has his own weaknesses and tastes… and it’s real vegan food!
In italiano… L’amico del giaguaro
It’s raining, I just came back, the rain makes me completely humid. I was well dried and rubbed. Now I’m lying on then carpet by the fire burning in the fireplace. I hear Umi working in the kitchen but I know I don’t need to get up because according to my brothers when she is there she only plays with the chemistry set…
Therefore I keep watching at the fire! Rain reminds me at something I don’t know but that is in me somewhere. It doesn’t bother me to have wet hair, my undercoat keeps me warm and dry. I love running in the rain, it makes me electric! If I close my eyes, stung by the flames’heat, I can imagine myself working on my canine ancestors’cold hills, I hear the shepherds’ whistles, the mud soaking my paws while I rally big and nervous sheeps. My young body’s energy busts in the control and gathering work, and overcomes cold and danger and even the stony ground scratching my fingertips.
I open my eyes on my pack, the pack I love like only dogs can do. My human brother, that I wake up every morning with my humid nose, that I push out of the door and follow with my eyes till he leaves the house alleyway (not for nothing, but if he looses the bus I must “keep it” till we take him downtown to the school). To wake up my other brother I must jump on him with all my four paws! But… how much do the humans sleep? Then there is Umi… you can’t even imagine how much patience I need with her! She stops to talk with an old couple: the lady has a stick, the dog has not… but I’m sure it would be useful to him too… Umi softens and every time is almost moved: the dog was her husband’s, who died some years ago. The ambulance came to talk him and since then the dog doesn’t bear the siren’s sound. Before dying at the hospital the old man was worried about his dog’s future and since then his wife always keeps the dog by her side as she was the husband. Life, old age, and death: that’s the way it goes. Stop moving every time! I close my eyes and let the fire heat warm my hair and bones. The rain smell is still in my nostrils… I could be elsewhere, there, where my nature would like to be… but I’m here and here I’m useful.
In italiano … Pioggia e fuoco
I’m a border collie then I’m a herding dog. I gather the sheep on the Scottish highlands, I run with a lower tail, my body stretched forward and alert eyes. Nothing shrink my look and when the shepherd whistles I run like an arrow. That’s what is told about me and what is written in my DNA. Not all Border collies work in Scotland with sheep, some of us are excellent athletes or Civil Protection volunteers both in the UK and in other countries.
And then there is me and my Umi.
Well, she is not a real natural disaster and nevertheless she is a hard work, turning me in a watchdog (and being a border this is very disheartening). To make matters worse Umi is a real wrangler. At the park if a careless human let his dog dirty she attacks like a Rottweiler. And she never argues with the little dogs’ owners, I had to deal with a long haired German Shepherd… okay, it was enough to bark at him that I would tear his fur with my bites and I would spit his braided hair like a David Crockett’s hat and he immediately settled down quietly. But not all dogs are borders. Besides I must get food and therefore I let my human brother teach me some tricks (some stupid games). I’m learning “sbam”: I should lay down as if I was dead. I think to eat a pair of that Frankfurter packages, that he uses as positive reinforcement, before showing him a perfect “sbam”. However, as far as food is concerned you must trust only Granny, although being a cat lover eel she is very wise. While Umi was cutting some cheese on the chopping board to prepare pizza I was sniffing it… I was sniffing and drooling. It’s not my fault if I’m a shepherd… for a big piece of cheese I would do a perfect “sbam” at the first shot. In short I was sniffing that Sardinian cheese laying only a inch far away from my nose but dangerously near the table edge. Umi stated: “He is a good dog, he would never steal it” (deluded human) and Granny said: “He is a family dog (you can bet I’m), he doesn’t think to steal it but simply to take it (I’m not a thief). Put yourself in his border head (but yet it’s difficult to soar so much)…food belongs to the pack: like your son opens the fridge to take a coke so Brik would take the cheese”.
That’s why I love her even though she is a cat lover. I don’t have opposable thumbs to take the fridge handle yet I have opposable jaws for the cheese and this doesn’t mean to steal but to take with elegance!
In italiano Prendere con eleganza.
This morning Umi and I were going out for our quite daily walk, but my human brother lost once again the bus to school, so we rushed in the car to pick and bring him to school. Yet I should pee but I told to myself… I could keep it for a while.
I didn’t like car rides but by now I’m used to and when we go downtown I look out of the window. My brother put some music on, Umi’s loved one, to relax her. He uses Billy Joel like I use my dog smile and happy wag to be forgiven. We stopped and I saw a human who was oddly dressed. Her face was black like a tree bark, had a crooked expression and wore two trousers together and she limped. She stretched her hand towards me and I licked the window…
Meanwhile I should still pee… but at the next stop there was another human. She was tall with rear shining and high heel “lift-paws”. On her body without fur she wore a red jacket and skirt (border can memorize up to 1000 words: it’s scientifically tested). She had such shining and black hairs, that according to me they put pure salmon oil also in her kibbles. Then she had two dark frisbees on her eyes, they were so big they hid half of her face. Once in a cableway they put me a muzzle, perhaps those frisbee are a sort of human one… in front of the school there were a lot of young human specimen: sweet, all looking alike, all smelling milk and cigarettes. Humans without furs are odd: they disguise themselves as they like and however I should still pee…
My Umi always wears old trekking trousers, t-shirt and sneakers, now she has short hairs and it’s said she looks like a little artichoke ( by the way, what is it a little artichoke? I don’t know this word). But Umi smell good and scent of mom and I like her! Damned music, damn young human: I’m softening! … hey brother next time let’s listen to AC/DC otherwise I loose bite!
Meanwhile we arrived at the park: finally I opened the bulkheads, opened my hydrant and I was flooding the world!
In italiano: … acqua alle corde! (clicca e leggi!)
Ho sempre pensato che amare voglia dire anche conoscere. Quando presi Bryce capii subito che tra noi c’era un’empatia speciale. Scattò la sete di conoscenza: scoprire i segreti della sua razza, capire il perché dei suoi comportamenti, penetrare il suo modo di essere e di pensare. Libri, video, articoli, amici cinofili furono fonte di conoscenza. Sentii ripetere spesso che se togli “il lavoro” ai border, togli loro qualcosa d’essenziale. “Lavoro” inteso come controllo delle pecore nelle fattorie, il cui surrogato può diventare, per esempio, l’agility.
Giovedì, alla fine dell’allenamento Bryce era stranamente appagato, come se avesse dato a se stesso e al suo compagno umano, quello che doveva in termini fisici e mentali. Non l’ho capito subito. A casa, ha cenato e gli umani hanno cenato; ha aspettato che stendessi i panni, chiudessi il computer, mi lavassi i denti e alla fine era con il muso appoggiato sul letto: “Guarda che mi casca la mandibola dal sonno ma sono in stand-by”. Già, di solito se ne va in cuccia e buona notte ai suonatori. Quando mi sono messa sotto le coperte, lui è salito accanto a me e, girandosi a pancia all’aria, si è strofinato alla mia mano in cerca di carezze con quel suo atteggiamento da cangatto. Non lo aveva mai fatto, non è uno sdolcinato. Mi ha guardato con la testa sottosopra e ha strizzato gli occhi. Direte che sono fantasie, che è il mio solito mescolare vita e storie, ma sono convinta che in lui ci fosse gratitudine e io ho capito quanto vere fossero quelle parole sentite ripetere tante volte. Era felice di sé, appagato: si sentiva il cane che doveva essere, grazie a quei giri di agility e a un lavoro ben fatto.
Forse solo chi conosce i border, esseri eccezionalmente complessi e sensibili, mi crederà e la comunicazione tra uomini e animali è una percezione labile, ma il dialogo tra esseri diversi rimane comunque una conquista straordinaria e gratificante.
Concludendo, pare che i border si leghino in particolare al conduttore di agility: Bryce ha scelto mio figlio come conduttore, ma a me è venuto a raccontare la sua felicità da border. Uomini e bestie hanno capacità infinita di dare amore.
My human brothers are very different from eachother. With the older one we go wild, he is strong and we really play together: he throws balls, tug the war and we run a lot… I come home with broken paws, and consumed pads. I give everything I can and it’s a very beautiful feeling. He puts all his passion playing with me, as a matter of fact everything is passion to him: he is very happy or very bored. Everything is “very” to him. He changes his mood very easily and this makes me a little scared… We, dogs, are a bit frightened by humans when we nose suspence around us. Perhaps it’s just a kind of natural preservation instinct that we have.
My family would never hurt me on purpose but when one of my human raises his voice and I feel his mood is darkening something tightens my stomach, I lower my ears and my tail slips between my paws.
Someone says you should pay attention to dogs because you don’t know what they are thinking but we believe the same about humans.
My younger brother invents some tricks for me: “roll”, “turn”, “goes under”, “goes on”, “give me your paw”, “stay with a juice brik on the head”.
Then he plays his piano, and when he does I sit under his chair and vibrations come from the floor through my whole body. I put my face on the floor and suddenly a musical massage of vibrations and notes, a delightful feeling goes all over me.
He plays and his mind flies away and I Let myself fall in a light sleep moving my paws while I’m running on the scottish highlands and the humid grass of my dream caresses my body and I feel myself as a young, wild and free wolf.