Shhh! Dont tell Otto Im falling in love with another dog
Posted at 02:28PM - Comments: (7)
Otto is my heart dog/canine soul mate, my mixed-breed wonder dog. His first six or seven months are shrouded in mystery, as he was brought into my local shelter at about five months old, after being caught in a chicken coop by an irate owner of formerly living chickens. (I love him so much, I’m willing to suggest that he might have been framed; he’s never tried to kill MY chickens!) Otto sometimes resembles a miniature Irish Wolfhound, or a gigantic Norwich Terrier; he’s right in between the two in shape and size and coat quality. He could be anything, though his behavior suggests a little something “birdy” -- when he spots or hears birds, he points. Flushing quail or pheasants or wild turkeys (in that order) score an 8, 9, and 10 on Otto’s fun list. But chasing rabbits and deer (briefly) also score 10s – and he is not interested in waterfowl in the least. So much for his behavior informing us as to his breed.
It doesn’t matter to me in the least that he’s a big mixed-up pup. I love that his looks (and behavior!) are unpredictable and uniquely his.
But there is a big place in my heart for purpose-bred dogs, too. I grew up with stock dogs – mostly Kelpies and Australian Cattle Dogs. I was also familiar with hounds, used by some of our neighbors for hunting bears and wild pigs. Being around those rough-and-tumble dogs made me really fall hard for another purpose-bred dog, the Border Collie. They were just as keen, but gentler and more sensitive than the working dogs of my youth.
Rupert was my first and only Border Collie (so far). Until Otto came along, I would have said that he was my one-and-only heart dog. An old boyfriend bought him for me the year I graduated from college; we picked him out of a litter bred and born on a sheep ranch. His price? Just $50; he was the “dud” of the litter, without a shred of interest in (nay, fixation with) sheep that his $500 siblings showed in abundance, even at the tender age of just four months old.
Even without an interest in sheep, though, he was all Border Collie weirdness and energy. He displayed a fierce work ethic Border Collies are renowned for, as well as some of the odd fears or superstitious behaviors that can be the bane of the breed. I loved him, and he loved me, for all 14-plus years that we shared.
After he passed away, I could no more have replaced Rupe with another Border Collie than I could have replaced my mother, who died a year to the day before.
But a young Border Collie is staying with me right now, and it’s bringing up all sorts of feelings and memories of Rupie. Thank goodness, she has owners; I’m not at risk of adopting her and breaking Otto’s heart in some sort of canine polygamy. She belongs to a married couple, 80 years old – the parents of a friend. They, too, had a beloved BC in their past, and decided that their last dog would be another one like the one they gave their hearts to years before. However, they had somehow forgotten about the difficulty of the adolescent months with a Border Collie – the relentless need for activity and mental stimulation. They remember their last dog (suitably named “Keeper”) as being more or less perfect, without much of an effort on their part. “Pumpkin” (I cannot explain the name) is staying with me for a week for a bit of training and exercise – and my own enjoyment.
Oh, those dancing brown BC eyes! Oh, the mischief! The light-footed leaps, the quirky decisions, the superquick learning curve. The way a one-mile hike is turned into a three-mile race, with brave forays into the distance and lightning-fast returns. “Just checking! And c’mon, c’mon, c’mon, why are you going so slow!” Ack, my heart is melting.
She gets picked up on Saturday. But I’m already negotiating for inheritance rights with my friend. KIDDING! I want her owners to live forever! But I’m here. Just saying ;)