Herd it at the Water Bowl
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Herd it at the Water Bowl
[[ Webmaster's note: Mea culpa for the greatly delayed rollout of Michael's
column. Real life has intruded in a big way this fall!! ]]
By Michael J. Mifflin
The sun shone the entire day, the temperature was perfect, and everyone had fun at the eighth annual Collie Rescue Picnic held on September 19th. Eighty-five families of rescued collies turned out to celebrate and share stories of life with the dogs they have adopted.
There were many activities for dogs and children alike. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to find a game in which they both can participate. Attempts to do so in other settings have ended with the collies herding the children into a tight group like out-of-control livestock. Not necessarily a bad thing, but inappropriate for a picnic.
Congratulations to Scottie, who cares for the Rohde family, and Sadie, who watches over the Kijek family, winners of the 2004 CRI “Doggie Dunk.” At 13 years of age, Sadie reminds us when eating with senior citizens to watch our hands lest they get stabbed by a fork or accidentally bitten. Every dog that participated in the “Doggie Dunk” tried to give him or herself a reward by taking a drink of the hot dog-tainted water. Doggie Dunk is not what it sounds like. Anyone who owns a collie realizes they are non-water dogs, preferring to walk around a puddle or waiting until the rain stops to go outside for a bathroom break, even if it is a four-day storm. The premise of “Doggie Dunk” is that a piece of hot dog is dropped into a dishpan filled with two inches of water. Each collie is timed for how long it takes to retrieve the treat. The dog that gets it the fastest wins. Needless to say, there were families, ours included, that had to pick the hot dog out of the water, because as badly as dogs wanted that piece of meat, there was no way the nose was getting wet, even two inches of a very long nose. From the collies’ perspective, this activity falls in the category of stupid human games.
Many collies tried the Rally Obedience Demo. This course was designed for dogs that are not “professional” obedience collies to try a paw at it. Obedience at our house is a bit lax. Often times it consists of one of the dogs eyeing me with the “Get up; I want to lay on that end of the couch” look, and I move, quickly. Our dogs did not give the rally a try since I didn’t see one couch on the course. The dogs and owners that did the rally had the opportunity to determine if this would be something they would like to do on a long-term basis and have fun bonding experiences.
Cosmo, the cart-pulling collie, gave rides in the parking lot. It was impossible to tell who had more fun, the kids or Cosmo. When Cosmo’s around, it’s a one canine dog-and-pony show!
Hands constantly and unconsciously reached out for the dogs, and the dogs couldn’t wait to shove a nose under any hand close by. The bond between man and dog was no better exemplified than at the picnic. It didn’t matter whether the dog belonged to the person at the end of the leash or not; head and hand became one as soon as contact could be made. It is also comforting to find that one is not alone in addressing the dog as, “Honey,” “Sweetheart,” or “Sugar.” Of course, there were other terms of endearment such as, “Tidbit,” “Hound,” and “Fur ball,” but all were said in a loving way.
Loud, incessant barking was heard throughout the day. When one dog quieted, another started up. The commonality between all families was the way in which each dealt with the noise. To know one is not alone in the daily struggle for “Quiet!” consoled many of us. The eruptions of barking followed the pattern of:
“Bark. Bark. Bark.”
“Bark. Bark. Bark.”
If this interaction failed, owner and dog engaged in the familiar conversation of:
“Hey. Hey. Hey. Hey.” Upon hearing that, we all expected someone to break into the Village People’s YMCA song. Barking is the way of a collie. Still, we all did what we could to curtail the noise pollution. Being with other families who understand barking and aren’t annoyed was another gift of the day.
A few opportunities arose to offer condolences to families who had lost their beloved collies this past year. We sympathized and shared our own dogs with them, hoping to give a few moments of consolation and letting the collies give the peace obtained from doing nothing more than petting a soft, furry body.
We were all dog-tired, including the dogs, at the end of the afternoon. Once home, bodies were strewn about the house with picnic weary looks that said, “Don’t even think about taking me for a walk tonight.”
Having the opportunity to meet with other rescue families, to hear the stories about their collies and how they have ensconced themselves into the family was fascinating and enjoyable. Each story is different: the beginning usually sad, but the consistent thread throughout all of the tales is that these second-hand collies have found first-hand love with people who can appreciate the greatness of the breed.
Look for the next installment
of “Herd It at the Water Bowl” around early November. Michael can be e-mailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Comments, questions, or suggestions for further articles are welcomed.