You may currently be asking yourself the question…”Should I get a Border Collie?”
There is really no simple answer to that question. In fact, at the age of eleven I vowed that I would never get a Border Collie. I didn’t want one because of their strict exercise requirements and ability to often outsmart their owners. I admired the breed, but I didn’t think I would be able to handle one. I figured the only Border Collie I was able to handle was the black and white stuffed one that my mother had got me for my tenth birthday. In fact, I already had a Golden Retriever who I trained for agility and tricks. I had my hands full! Or so I thought.
Well, that all changed when I got my first Border Collie.
Her name was Tiki, and she was an Australian Red Collie from champion show lines. She flew on a plane from Michigan to Florida at the age of only three months old. She was absolutely terrified, and tried to running away when we opened the door to her crate. I took her in my arms, and she looked at me and in that moment, we both knew everything was going to be okay.
She was much smarter than any dog I had ever known before. Any trick I taught her she learned at a rapid rate, and even taught herself a few tricks of her own. We competed in agility for a brief period of time, but it was becoming increasingly obvious that Tiki was meant to be so much more than just an agility dog. She was born to be a star, and she was going to shine.
While Border Collies certainly aren’t the dog for everyone, they are the dog for me.
I loved the breed so much that I eventually ended up getting another one. He was a Black Tricolor male who I pulled from a bad backyard breeding situation. Dogs were kept on chains or out in kennels, with little to no physical or mental stimulation. I gave him the name Stoke, and quickly grew to be very attached to him.
Although he didn’t pick up on tricks quite as quickly as Tiki did, he still learned them and had much better stamina and a higher play drive. Unlike Tiki, Stoke loved everyone he met. Due to his nature, he also was much more easily distracted in all of the different environments we performed at. If you have ever seen Stoke perfor at one of our events,, then you will understand. Because of this, Stoke required more structure than Tiki.
When I performed with Tiki, she just naturally wanted to focus on me because she knew that she was performing. She knew the crowd was cheering for her, and she loved it.
Border Collies are great at making people smile.
This is something I learned after I started performing with my own two Border Collies. It doesn’t matter if you are young or old, dog lover or not…watching an intense animal participate doing a loved sport or trick is always fun to watch. Border Collies need to have a job, and mine have found theirs in providing demonstrations for crowds of people. If they are not given a job, they will potentially become destructive. However, after owning three of these magnificent dogs I have discovered it isn’t nearly as bad as some people often make it sound.
The honest truth about Border Collies
I’ll admit, my dogs can be very destructive at times. Tiki regularly tears up trash and steals food if left loose in the house, Stoke ate my door as a puppy and bites pieces out of the blinds if he sees me training with the other dogs, and my puppy Renegade gets into seemingly everything. They are high anxiety and will develop OCD if not given proper mental and physical stimulation throughout their lives. They also need a solid foundation of training, and you have to take the time to bond with them and really build a great relationship with them before you can expect them to be the great dogs they can be.
However, if you even make the smallest effort to do these things with them, they will pay you back ten fold. They are a constant companion who will not leave your side even in your darkest hour. I am tearing up as I am writing this, because it is something each one of my Border Collies has done for me. In my opinion, I find them to be much more empathetic than most breeds because of their intensity and anxiety problems.
Tiki has saved my life more than once, and I am currently training Ren to replace her as my service dog. You can’t really decide from a biased interent article whether Border Collies are the right dog for you. If I would have done that, I never would have gotten one, let alone three.
With that being said, please do your research on the breed. They are very special dogs, and they need very special people who understand their specific needs and can offer them an amazing life. Because they make amazing companions!
Cassie Kennedy, ABCDT