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A border keeping household order

Editor’s note: This column is the second in a series about pets and children. You can access the first installment at http://tinyurl.com/77qqtxn.

We brought our 11-week-old border collie pup Toby home from the breeder’s, still missing our sweet Harry. Being black and white borders, the two brothers looked similar, which was both comforting and confusing.

We were pleased to find that Toby didn’t have nearly as much interest in herding our feet or the children. And he took to the housebreaking and the electric fence and his daily walks well enough too.

But there was something about Toby’s right ear, the way it flapped forward at a jaunty angle, wayward and uncooperative (see photo). It might look cute and photogenic to you, but to us, it gives a little insight into our pup’s mental stability (cue the circus music and let it play until the end of the column).

From the second Toby sets paws from his crate in the morning to the second he crawls into it at night, he is in constant motion. Forget all that jazz about harnessing wind energy and solar power. What we really need to do is somehow tap into the energy of a border collie puppy. I truly believe that the energy contained in just one litter of border collie puppies could meet the energy demands of our entire country.

Without sheep to herd, a border collie will think up his own “jobs.” Toby has taken it upon himself to “manage” our outdoor property, which involves ordering the birds, squirrels and the occasional deer about the yard. When that job is sufficiently addressed, he feels very dutiful about barking at bikes and scooters and swinging them around by his teeth until they’re airborne.

He also is very concerned with the way our tires move willy-nilly up and down the driveway, so he directs them to their proper places with a few well-placed nips. The same goes for UPS trucks and pest control trucks, anything with those round, rubber sheep. He also scolds any vehicle that makes a tad too much noise going past the house.

He bosses basketballs. Just the sound of a basketball bouncing on the driveway sends him into “manage” mode, when he starts barking and biting and chasing the ball to the point that no one wants to play anymore. “Chuck it”—the launching of a tennis ball from a long, plastic rod—is another job he takes very seriously, as is herding airplanes and helicopters away from the house at breakneck speed.

But sometimes he is too good at all of his jobs, and boredom sets in. At these times he will turn over the trash cans and scatter its contents all over the lawn. He will dig up outdoor landscape lighting wires and chew through them. He will chew through boxes left on the porch, then chew through the boxes’ contents.

He will sneak into an accidentally-left-open garage and steal plastic water bottles and sponges and basketballs and shoes and things with tires. He will pull bows off door wreaths. He will burrow through fresh grass clippings, gnaw on the yard man’s leaf blower and harry the edger. He will bark for hours straight at the dog next door, or up the tree where the squirrel went, or at the door to come in.

When inside, he will mutilate stuffed animals and destroy his “chew-proof” dog toys. He will man-handle the sofa cushions. He will drop his soggy tennis ball in a basket full of clean laundry so that I will throw it to him, over and over. He will sneak upstairs to mark. He will try to hump our crawling baby. But perhaps most disturbingly, he will follow me around from room to room, staring with those border collie laser-eyes of his, as if he’s just asking for a job to do, any job at all.

He can’t lay down. He won’t rest. Resting is for chumps. For lap dogs. For cats.

Toby is now almost three years old, and with the years, he has mellowed just a bit. He is now able to slow down enough to enjoy the occasional snuggle, the rare nap on his favorite red leather chair, the daily rawhide bone. In spite of being certifiably bonkers and too smart for his own good, he has proven to be a sweet-natured dog, easy with children and licky with babies and men with beard stubble.

And when I take a step back, I see that he fits our family kind of perfectly.

(P.S. We won’t ever forget you, Harry.)

Diann Ducharme is the author of The Outer Banks House and the upcoming ebook, Chasing Eternity, and is a wife, mother of three children and owner of one border collie. You can find her at http://www.diannducharme.com where, she blogs about the life of a writer.
Community

Celebrating 106 years

Former Sandston resident Mildred Taylor celebrated her 106th birthday Aug. 9. Taylor, who now lives in Powhatan, is still a member of Sandston Baptist Church. She was visited the day after her birthday by several members of the church, who played for her a recording of the entire church membership singing happy birthday to her during worship. > Read more.

YMCA breaks ground for aquatic center

YMCA officials gathered last week to break ground on the new Tommy J. West Aquatic Center at the Shady Grove Family YMCA on Nuckols Road. The center, which will featured 7,600 square feet of competitive and recreational space, including water slides, play areas for children and warmer water for those with physical limitations, is the fourth phase of a $4 million expansion at the facility. West was president and CEO of Capital Interior Contractors and a founding member of the Central Virginia Region of the Virginia Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors. > Read more.

Rotary donates to ‘Bright Beginnings’

The Sandston Rotary Club recently donated $1,000 to the Sandston YMCA for its Bright Beginnings program, which helps provide children in need with school supplies for the new school year. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Journey to mediocrity

‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’ fails to capitalize on tasty concept
The Hundred-Foot Journey is a curious little Romeo and Juliet of a film. A family, forced out of their native India, begins a trek across Europe.

The family’s sole mode of transportation sputters and dies in a sleepy little French town, but the town’s food culture is high, and that’s a perfect place for a family of restaurateurs to settle down. There’s only one problem – the family’s rustic “Maison Mumbai” is right across the street (a hundred feet away, if the title didn’t clue you in) from a prestigious French bistro with a Michelin star, run with an iron fist by the dreaded Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren, pictured).

It’s here that a particular Romeo and Juliet story begins to develop, with Hassan (Manish Dayal) on the Indian side and Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon) on the French side. > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


Enjoy the final days of summer with comedian Guy Torry, the Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour or mystery writer Mary Miley Theobald at Twin Hickory Library. Another great way to welcome the beginning of fall is to check out the UR Spider Football season opener with man’s best friend. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Bottoms up

Short Pump brewery offers more than just beer
I am still (happily) thinking about my entire experience at Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery last week. Knowing nothing about this new brewery out of Denver, I was leery of brew-pub in the heart of Short Pump Town Center – this is not what I’d usually think of as a perfect fit, and yet, it was.

The restaurant and craft brewery opened in early June and features 10 beers made by female brewmaster Becky Hammond (pictured). This is the restaurant’s second location in Virginia; the first is in Arlington. Behind glass walls, customers watched the beer brewing in massive steel barrels. For our up-and-coming beer region, it makes sense that Short Pump would jump on board.

As I walked up to the back of the mall near the comedy club, I was taken aback by what I saw: at the top of the stairs was an overflowing restaurant with outdoor seating, large umbrellas and dangling outdoor lights. > Read more.

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