Six years ago, I went to the Greater Birmingham Humane Society to look for a dog that would be a companion for my elderly mother who lived just down the street from us. I would be in charge of walking and taking care of the dog, but wanted to give my dog-loving mom some company and security. I also knew that whatever dog I chose would eventually come to live with me and my husband when Mom could no longer handle the responsibility.
Going to the Humane Society is always difficult for me. I see so many animals that I wish I could help, but know that I can’t. I walked down each aisle, seeing dogs of all shapes and sizes, wondering if any would be a good fit for a woman in her eighties. Cute puppies, big sad-looking dogs, they were all there. As I meandered down the last corridor, I noticed a black and white medium-sized dog curled up on the floor in a room by herself. She obviously had a lot of border collie in her and looked young. Hmmm…young border collie and an octogenarian? Probably not such a good idea…but something about the dog’s eyes called to me.
I asked the volunteer to see the dog in one of their visitation rooms. ‘Lily’ came into the room shyly, walked right to me, looked into my eyes, and put her muzzle on my lap. This kid was good- it was like she went to the School of How to Get Adopted if You’re in the Slammer. I have always had a good sense about when dogs are right for me, and this dog was a keeper. She had such a sweet and gentle nature, and was beautiful.
I called my mom and told her I wanted to bring her to meet a dog. She was hesitant at first, but agreed to come. When Lily was brought into the visitation room, she walked right to Mom, put her muzzle on Mom’s lap, and stared earnestly with all her might into Mom’s eyes. Deal sealed. Mom fell in love, too.
Lily became ‘Sophie’, and we brought her to Mom’s apartment. I came over early each day to take Sophie for a good, long walk, and then checked in after work. Mom was able to just open her door and let Sophie out to the deck and fenced yard below. She was crate trained, and at seven months old had been taught some basic commands. To this day, she wants to shake with everyone she meets….multiple times.
Sophie was great for Mom, giving her a living being to talk to, someone to care for. We bought tons of toys for Mom to toss to her in the apartment to help with the puppy energy. Our daily walks were a joy for me, and- as I’ve heard that many border collies do, Sophie really became my dog. Her eyes followed me everywhere, and she always wanted to go home with me. She was a bit neurotic, and sometimes wacky. This was a dog who would gleefully stick her face in a garden hose on full blast, but wouldn’t dare walk on wet grass. A dog who wouldn’t eat unless I am in the room. My husband and I would joke that Sophie was a few French fries short of a Happy Meal. That’s okay- she was a huge love bug and such a gift to all of us.
When Mom had to move and could no longer keep Sophie, we brought her to live with us. She and our dog Cooper had bonded since Coops was four weeks old, and they were tight as thieves, wanting to be together all the time. It was a perfect match, and Sophie fit seamlessly into our lives and our home. The only drawback was her burning desire to make friends with the cats (aka, chase them), which didn’t go over well with the feline members of our household. The looks on the cats’ faces were priceless, “You’re kidding me, right? We have to put up with Nutso here?” They eventually worked things out as the cats realized Sophie was harmless…just eager.
My sweet neurotic border collie follows me everywhere around the house and yard. No matter where I am, I will find her watching me. I am her work, she is my shadow. She is a goofball and makes me laugh with her antics every day. I always see the bumper stickers that read, ‘Who rescued who?’….I know the answer to that one.