Thursday, January 14, 2010


My parents got a new dog last week. My mother is completely enamoured. Their 17 year old Australian cattle dog, Butch, died several months ago, and my parents wanted a companion for their 12 year old and still very active border collie, Duffy. They have had Border Collies most of their married life (close to 50 years), and my mother started searching through the Border Collie rescue sites. Duffy is getting older, and has always been at the bottom of the pecking order, so she wanted to make sure he wouldn't be picked on by any new dog. One that caught her eye was a little female who had been hit by a car and had spent weeks at the vet's and months recuperating. She's only got three usable legs, and she's really still recuperating. She's possibly been a little stunted by the accident, because she's half the size of Duffy, but apparently he's being a perfect gentleman to her. My mother named her CĂ©ilidh (Caylee), which, as I said in my last post, is a Gaelic dance.
One of the first things my parents did when they got married was to get a Border Collie. Gammon was three when I was born. He was more like an older brother to me, and being a Border Collie, of course looked out for me. One day when I was a toddler, my mother looked out in the front garden, saw that I had somehow managed to open the front gate and that Gammon and I were gone. She rushed out, looked down the street, and way off in the distance there we were. Gammon was slowly walking next to me, leaning into me and herding me out of the street. Most other dogs would have bolted for freedom, but he stayed right with me. He, of course, could have stopped me from leaving at all, but he was always up for a walk.

Another time (when I was even younger), we were camping, and I crawled into an adjacent field full of cows. Cows are fairly curious, and so they all started crowding around me to have a look. Since we were in a campground, Gammon had to be chained up, but he actually became frantic, broke his chain, and flew into the middle of the cow herd, scattering cows in all directions and protecting me until my parents could get there a few seconds later (my parents really weren't nearly as careless with me as this all sounds. Really...).

When I was older, I would try and order Gammon around and I swear he would just raise one eyebrow and look at me. I could actually see him thinking, "Hmph. Like I have to do anything you say." Gammon owned, to borrow a phrase from 101 Dalmatians (the book NOT any of the lame movies), one of the keenest brains in Dogdom. He died when I was nine, and I'm not sure my parents have ever completely gotten over it. He was their first child.

After Gammon, we got a half St. Bernard half Weimeraner. She was the size of a Great Dane, and looked a lot like a giant Rhodesian Ridgeback (especially when she had her hackles up). Poor Shandy was probably very intelligent in her own way, but she could never live up to Gammon. She lived in his shadow for 15 years.

Other Border Collies they've had:
Whisky — who was found near a rest area (I think) by a friend of the family who knew of my parent's fondness for Border Collies. They thought she may have fallen out of a truck. I think my parents had her for 13 or 14 years.

Heidi — She was the sole survivor of a head on collision. Again, my parents got her because someone heard (through me, actually) that they were fond of Border Collies. She was about 11 when they got her, but she lived another 4 or so years.

Vixen — wasn't really a Border Collie, but she was a collie mix. She looked like a giant fox. She came from the Humane Society and had been kept in a basement for the first nine months of her life.

They often seem to name their dogs after food. Duffy is Plum Duff, Gammon is a cut of bacon (their cat was named Streaky - another cut of bacon), Shandygaff is a beer flavoured with ginger beer (can I just interject? - blech! I don't like beer OR ginger beer), and Whisky was Black and White Scotch.
I think they're lucky to have Ceilidh, but she's also very lucky to have them. Note - That is her tail and a chew toy, not her bad leg...


Mo said...

I think I love your parents! How amazing that they'd rescued so many great dogs (although I think they really rescue us). The new one is a cutie!

Lesley said...

Do you even KNOW how much I love this post?? (And it's so well written!) I just fell in total love with every dog here (especially Gammon) AND YOUR PARENTS. I mean honestly. What lovely, amazing people. Truly. I teared up a little here and there.

And I do agree: I'm fairly certain Ceilidh is the luckiest one here. She just hit THE JACKPOT. (Plus? She has her extreme good looks going for herself.) I'm sorry about your parents' of Butch, but nothing heals a broken heart like new love. Ceilidh will provide plenty of that!

Lesley said...

Um, yeah. That was supposed to be "your parents LOSS of Butch...." but then again I was also supposed to be previewing my comment and not posting it yet. #USERERROR

Laurie said...

Mo - I love my parents, too. Even though they obviously mostly left me in the care of THE DOG! Of course, they knew they could trust him.

Lesley - Everyone loved Gammon. My grandfather used to come over a couple of times a week (when we were still in England), just to take him for a walk. Years later, after we moved to the States, my grandfather came to visit, and Gammon (not ever very friendly with strangers) saw him walking up the drive and suddenly recognized him and almost knocked him over in excitment.

Ceilidh certainly does have the extreme good looks. My mother says she has a great personality to go with them.