Being owned by a Bearded Collie

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    Jan 03, 2013
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We had originally owned a dog when our children were small; she was a 'Heinz 57' - a sheltie crossed with a fox, we believed.  She certainly resembled a fox, except for her colour, which was white, with a little patch above her left eye. For this reason we called her Shiner, and she proved to be a great pet for our two boys. Sadly, she died quite young from a tumour. Shortly afterwards I returned to work full-time as a primary school teacher, and we reluctantly decided that it would be unfair to have another dog as we couldn't devote the time to ensure it was well looked-after.

Fast-forwarding some twenty years, I had to leave teaching on grounds of ill-health, and we began to think of having another dog: I had plenty of time on my hands now the boys were grown-up and had left home, and it would be therapeutic for me to have a pet to look after again.  So we began to research the breed of dog we would like to have.

After much thought, we finally decided that a Bearded Collie would be the breed for us, and we decided to go down the 'rescue route.' We duly got in touch with the Breed Rescue section of the Bearded Collie Club, but were dismayed to find that the only dogs available were from the Scottish branch. This did actually make sense since the Bearded Collie was originally bred for herding cattle in Scotland, and were used to help the drovers as they moved their cattle along the old drovers' roads to market in the north of England. The Breed Rescue co-ordinator duly put us in touch with a gentleman from the Glasgow area who was reluctantly putting his young dog up for re-homing as he had arthritis and was finding it increasingly difficult to excercise the dog properly: Beardies need a lot of excercise and lots of stimulation, being typical collies! The dog was only two years old and a male, so sounded ideal.

To our surprise, the owner insisted on bringing the dog down himself and within a couple of days, we met Clyde. We opened the door and in bounded a knee-high bundle of hair who proceeded to throw himself around the house at great speed.  It was a couple of days after Christmas and we still had our Christmas tree, decked as usual with baubles, lights and tinsel. Clyde immediately made a beeline for the tree and promply proceeded to eat several baubles, clearly with great relish. We were somewhat alarmed but the owner assured us this was perfectly normal.

This dynamo of a dog clearly had a mind of his own and would take some training! He apparently also ate the same things as his humans, and consequently had a rather strange diet. However, we were assured that he was well-trained and was great on and off the lead, and would come when called. The owner duly returned to Scotland, and we were left to get to know our new charge.

We very quicly discovered that Clyde was a real handful, particularly when out excercising. He was not good on a lead; had a mind of his own and pulled for Scotland! After a couple of days my shoulders were complaining with the incessant effort. He also proved rather reluctant to come back after being let off the lead: his 'recall' was virtually non-existent.  But we persevered, and after a few weeks he was settling in very well and beginning to respond to gentle but firm treatment and starting to obey his new owners.

Then the bombshell came: the previous owner phoned to say he was missing Clyde so much that he was making himself ill without his dog and wanted him back. He would come to collect him during the next few days. We explained that Clyde had settled in really well and we didn't think it would be fair on the dog to go back to a house where he would have little or no excercise, and in any case, once a dog had been re-homed the Club rules stated that it should not be returned. Little did we realise that the owner had acted off his own bat and not signed the agreement with the rescue co-ordinator, who was furious once she realised what had happened but powerless to intervene without the paperwork.

The owner duly returned and took Clyde back to Scotland.  We were left dogless and devastated, but it had taught us several lessons, the main one of which was that we really, definitely, couldn't live without a Beardie of our own!! Those few weeks with Clyde had taught us that this breed of dog brought a great amount of joy, fun and hard work. He had worked his magic on us and we were hooked! A Beardie is a big bundle of energy, with an incessant joyful aspect on life and a great sense of humour, but is not for the faint-hearted: with a collie's great intelligence and needs constant stimulation and very careful training,but once he accepts you as his companion, will reward you with constant love and attention. 

So we lost our first Beardie, but the story didn't end there, and it ended very happily for us and a much smaller bundle of fun who came into our lives some five years ago - Baillie the Beardie. But that's another story ...

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As an experienced classroom teacher, I have had plenty of opportunities to use my skills as a writer and am obviously well-versed in proof-reading, checking for accuracy in punctuation, grammar, syntax and all other aspects of literacy. I consider myself to be a confident and experienced writer generally and have recently had experience in contributing to online forums, opinion surveys and product evaluations. I welcome the opportunity to have examples of my writing published online.

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