I can’t tell you how much having herding dogs has been a special part of my life. They’re just freakin’ awesome dogs! I grew up on a farm in the country with Australian Shepherds and an Old English Sheep Dog cross as staples in my life. After school, when I finally got a job where I could do something drastic – like pay the bills – I knew I couldn’t live without them anymore.
That’s when I got my dog Percy, a Border Collie/Aussie (Bossie?), from an old farmer. After hanging out at a Disc Dog competition one day when Percy was only 8 months old, I thought it’d be cool to compete with him. So with a lot of fumbling, playing around, and goofing off with a Frisbee, I showed up with Percy exactly 1 year later and entered my first Disc Dog competition and had forgotten to look at the rules! Did I mention I like living on the edge sometimes? With the combination of Percy’s natural talent, help from some really, really patient people, and my dumb luck, we almost qualified for the Worlds at that competition! We were both hooked!
But that summer, my job got even more intense. I started traveling more and hated leaving Percy by himself. If you’re thinking of getting a herding dog, do your research first! I knew that Percy was not only lonesome while I was away, he was bored.
This is normal. Herding dogs have some of the sharpest minds in the animal world.
Forget chimpanzees, they could probably send an Aussie into space and have him fly the whole mission solo. If they’re awake, their brains are working at 90 miles an hour. Percy needed a buddy . . . soon!
Enter a random Petfinder search that brought me to Eastern Herding Dog Rescue – to the rescue! I remember flipping through the numerous pets on Petfinder looking for an Aussie. As the page loaded my requirements (a young male Aussie), I stopped looking when I saw this guy’s picture:
Go ahead. Say it. “Awwwwwwww!”
He looked like the most fun, fluffy, full of life little Aussie mix I had ever seen! I’m a sucker for goofs! Psych (Oscar as he was then called) was a two year old Texas Heeler (3/4 Australian Shepherd and ¼ Australian Cattle Dog). I instantly contacted EDHR with a ridiculously long email about how much I would love to meet him, and bring him home, and teach him to be a disc dog, and be a buddy to Percy, and how cute he looked, and – look, I didn’t say living on the edge meant being smooth.
After email conversations with Ashley, Sarah, and Psych’s foster mom, Brittany, and going through the approval process, I met them in Richmond and just fell in love with his freckled face! I played with him, petted him, he was so full of energy. He was perfect! That face just makes you laugh – in a Patch Adams kind of way – every time you see him. Cheering people up is his favorite pastime.
He loves food.
There’s great joy in bringing home an animal you have just adopted. You’re sharing your life with a dog or a cat or an iguana that really needs you. The responsibility is great. With herding dogs, it’s even more so. They have so much energy and curiosity.
So why get one? Why go through all the trouble of research, searching, and, above all, going through a rescue?
Because these are the most loving, loyal companions that you will ever have.
They know if you’re sad, if you’re excited, if you’re sick. They hate to see you leave, but love to see you come home.
They are intelligent, focused, and curious, constantly on the move, always asking questions (in that dog kind of way), and always tagging along from room to room, and pasture to pasture.
They need to run. They need stimulation.
They need someone who appreciates all of this about them and won’t ask them to be something they’re not (i.e. a Basset Hound).
And because someone didn’t know all of this before getting one, because they couldn’t take the time to click a few links to find out about them. They saw a cute picture online and they wanted handsome and fluffy rather than cute and wrinkled.
Pictures are great.
If you like what you see, print it out and put it on your wall.
But don’t make an animal pay for your failure to realize what you’re getting. These are the dogs who end up in rescues – or worse, they are the ones who don’t. Okay. I’m off my soap box . . . for now.
So if you’re still reading and think that these amazing animals are for you, then take home the one who came from that broken home, or the one who was abandoned. Give them a second chance.
Give yourself a chance for an incredible journey with one – or two – of the most incredible dogs you will ever find.
And now I’m Psyched for life! 🙂