Border Collies are magnificent animals. The herding instinct is real, people. Ours named Millie is a sweetheart. But boy, does she require a bit of effort. I believe that Border Collie should also stand for “Busy Constantly.”
I want to share more about Millie because she’s a huge part of what keeps me busy, sane and happy. Then again, I might be able to string together some more work if she was a bit more lazy but oh well. At least she ensures I don’t sit at the computer all day!
Chaser, the smartest dog in the world and fellow border collie, lives not too far from Millie and me, actually in the same county here in South Carolina. Featured on 60 Minutes as part of a fascinating segment entitled The Smartest Dog in the World, Chaser shows the absolute potential that border collies have. Chaser understands the names of 1,022 objects. WOW! To be sure, Dr. John Pilley, Chaser’s human, has worked very hard to teach Chaser, so it takes tons of time and energy to teach your dog certain commands and skills.
My daughter has taught Millie several tricks, one of which she calls “Play Dead.” She gets Millie to lie down on her side, then says a series of words and Millie wakes up when Taylor says “Alive!” We also have made a point of naming all of Millie’s toys to challenge her and grow her vocabulary. But no way are we anywhere near the 1,ooo+ words Chaser knows!
Millie’s Typical Day:
Wakes up and is ready to play. Grabs toys and tries to engage us while we are getting ready for school/work. She usually gives up when we get busy and lies on the sofa.
Herds the scooter at least 3-5 times a day (weather permitting), separated by recovery rests. These sessions are at least 15 minutes long, usually longer. If we can’t play outside, we set up an obstacle course and run her up and down the stairs and over jumps while chasing a ball.
On a really good day, she also gets to herd the drone 2-3 times.
Occasionally eats. I say this because she is a grazer.
At least 1-2 indoor obstacle course/chase ball sessions.
Rides with us to/from school.
Plays with toys and brings items for you to play with her.
You guys. It’s like having a toddler. Even when I go in the bathroom, she follows me!
OK so all this is sounding like I’m complaining. Which is not my point. We knew what we were signing up for when we chose her breed. She is a working category of dog after all. She’s like the Energizer bunny of dogs. She’s wired to herd and stay busy. I’m down with that.
I love her spirit and her spunk. When she does crash, she crashes hard. And I’m thankful she also travels well. Car rides typically lull her to sleep. Just look at this face I get when we’re driving.
What to Do with a Border Collie or an Active Dog breed:
Let Them Do What They Love. In our case, that’s herding. It’s in their DNA, it’s what they live for. Sure, we don’t have a farm or a ton of land, but that doesn’t mean we can’t give her opportunities to do what she loves.
Obedience Classes. This is a must, especially if you have them off the leash to herd. We have done puppy training as well as two series of more intensive training through a local trainers. Money well spent!
Agility Course. This really gives them added challenges and they are very skilled at learning new things. Plus, they are super fast.
Chasing Frisbees and Balls. On this one, you may have a certain level of frustration to begin with because our border collie is NOT like our previous golden retriever. Millie will run back but not necessarily give you the ball. It depends on her mood and what command you give her.
Challenge Them with Something Unexpected. For us, that’s the the Drone. This has been an unexpected surprise on her desire to herd something flying in the air. But herd it she must, so she runs her patterns and holds out hope that she might be able to catch this UFO.
Do you have a fur child? What are your favorite activities? I would love to add some to our repertoire, so share away!