Pet Dog & Cat Stories

Life Lessons From A Border Collie Angel

The day my life changed for the better was the day I met Killian, my Border Collie Angel. I have always loved animals, but I didn't know anything about Border Collies. A friend of mine was a breeder and she had her first litter. On impulse, I had to buy one.

This little puppy, known as King of the Pups, attached to me immediately. I would lie down on the floor and he would lie on my chest. If I left the room, he would cry until I returned. It didn't matter if someone was in the room with him or not. I felt the pull on my heart strings. Little did I know that I was making such huge investment in myself. From that day forward the Border Collie formerly known as "King of the Pups", became Killian my personal angel.

So many things change in your life when you get a new pet, but Killian changed me in much more personal ways. One little known fact about Borders is that because of their extreme intelligence, they have the power of manipulation on their side. Killian is one of the greatest.

The basic transformation began with my having to think of someone else's needs. One day as I was playing with a new computer game, called "Pets". Killian, at that time only 4 months old, was lying on my feet looking up at me with those soulful eyes. I felt as if he was actually saying, "Why are you sitting there playing with a virtual pet, when I am right here dying to play with you?" Lesson learned.

As life went on, he became more and more important to my confidence and well being. I couldn't stand to be away from him, anymore than he could from me. He started to suffer from separation anxiety. For those who haven't had a pet with this problem, let me tell you it is very-Very-VERY difficult. You can't leave your home without worrying what they will do while you are gone. I lived in an apartment where destruction was not an option, so I had to keep him in a crate. Poor little guy started having loose bowel problems, then eventually colitis. Still learning about this breed, I didn't realize the impact of separation on his psyche. Most dogs can patiently lie on the couch and wait for their owners return, not the Border Collie. They need a great deal of companionship and do not like being left alone for more than a few hours.I tried all the techniques suggested by professionals, and nothing worked long term. I had to decide to either give him up or change my life.

Of course, I decided to change my life. I left my corporate career, which wasn't a good fit for me anyway, to start my own in home pet sitting service. I realized, after dealing with Killian's separation anxiety, how important it was for many pets to remain in their homes while their owners were away. The best part, now I could take him with me everywhere.

Borders are known for their work ethic. This means they must have a job, or they will come up with their own. Killian's new job was to help me with my business. One of their wonderful attributes is their hypersensitivity, they want to please their owners. By just changing my facial expression, he would spring into action.

During our time working together, I learned so many more important lessons. I loved my job, my life, and my dog (soon became dogs, horses, cats, etc). One of the most important lessons in my life was happiness. It can't be found in trying to compete with the neighbors, having the most money, or even fame. I had grown up with this unfulfilled desire to have a hectic, partying life. Joy was only found in the big grand adventures ­ Colorado skiing, Scuba Diving in Hawaii, etc. Killian taught me to enjoy all the precious little moments of life and seeing the joy in everything you do.

I have also noticed that Killian sizes up other dogs immediately. He has an innate ability to read their body language and greets them accordingly. For example: Aggressive dogs ­ he would turn to me and wait for me to get the aggressive dog under control. His approach would be slower to show he was not a threat. With submissive dogs­, he would stand calmly while the puppy lay at his feet or licked excessively in his mouth. When he had enough, he would offer a snarl (no sound or bite) to let the puppy know to stop. With playful dogs,­ depending on his level of tiredness, he would engage.

Important life lesson, the power of adapting your approach to people, based on their body language. Don't automatically assume the attack position. Enjoy the individualities of each person you meet, don't need to impress or express dominance. No need to be possessive, your turn will come around.

During my time as a pet sitter, we acquired many pets. Killian is always the great mentor. He taught my Chow to be sociable, my cats obedience, and my husband's super neurotic (socially idiotic) Brittany Spaniel how to interact properly. This Brittany is known for unprovoked random attacks on other dogs, even blind and deaf ones. Killian shows compassion for him. I have witnessed him playing with him many times, when no one else will. He disciplines my cats, when they don't listen, by gently putting his mouth around their necks and pushing them to the floor. The cats never feel threatened (definitely annoyed), but they stop what they are doing. The anti-social, nervous Chow depends on him. If Killian is socializing with a person, the Chow will watch his interaction then sneak up to engage. His compassionate soul has shown me how to see the good in everyone. He demonstrates the skill of patience, flexibility, trust, and loyalty.

Life is moving on and I have my first child. The changes Killian has made, and continues to make, are what make me a great mom. He has shown so much patience in teaching my little girl how to socialize with dogs. He quietly sits while she tries to ride him, read him a book, or even brush his teeth. In return, she feeds him from her tray and that is all the reward he needs. We have shown her how to pet him with love, and one of her favorite things to do is to lie her head down on his stomach. He is without a doubt her best friend. He is teaching her the value of compassion and love for animals.

It saddens my heart to know that he can't live forever. He is now 12 years old and all the hard work has caught up with him. Arthritis won't stop him, though. He will still gladly play ball, herd the horses, play with the younger Brittany, and pop bubbles for my little girl. His gift is without boundaries and his love is forever kind! His last lesson, but not his last I am sure, unconditional love. This love can't be bought, it is earned, and it is neverending! My angel, Killian.

Shannon Henrici is a writer for an online baby clothes boutique, offering the most adorable accessories, baby headbands, baby hats and so much more.