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.
The Richmond West Breakfast Lions Club (based in western Henrico) recently donated 59 backpacks to the Westover Hills Elementary School on Jahnke Road.
Above, club members display some of the backpacks prior to their distribution. > Read more.
Thanks to a first-place win in The American Protege International Vocal Competition 2014, Glen Allen High School student Matija Tomas will travel to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall in December.
At the first-place winners recital in Weill Hall, Matija will perform Giacomo Puccini’s opera aria, “Chi il bel sogna di doretta.” She will perform with other vocalists from around the world and have the opportunity to win other awards and scholarships.
Locally, Thomas has performed with Richmond’s renowned Glorious Christmas Nights, Christian Youth Theatre, and WEAG’s Urban Gospel Youth Choir. > Read more.
The John Rolfe YMCA and Gayton Baptist Church have partnered in an effort to bring greater health and wellness opportunities to the community.
Through this partnership, the John Rolfe Y will run Youth Winter Sports programs, including basketball and indoor soccer, in Gayton’s newly renovated $5.5 million outreach center that features a new gymnasium, youth and teen space, social space with café, meeting space and full service commercial kitchen. > Read more.
Urban Tavern’s big, bold themes impress
The Urban Tavern opened in August, replacing the former Shackelford’s space at 10498 Ridgefield Parkway in Short Pump. Because of local and longtime devotion to Shackleford’s, Urban Tavern has some big shoes to fill.
Without any background information, I headed to the restaurant for dinner on a Wednesday night, two months after its opening.
On a perfect fall evening, four out of eight outdoor tables were taken, giving the impression that the restaurant was busier than it was. On the inside, a couple tables were taken, and a few folks were seated at the bar. > Read more.
‘Alexander’ provides uncomplicated family fun
It’s not surprising in the least that Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day doesn’t much resemble the book it’s based upon.
Judith Viorst’s 1972 picture book isn’t exactly overflowing with movie-worthy material. Boy has bad day. Boy is informed that everyone has bad days sometimes. Then, the back cover.
In the film, the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad-ness is blown up to more extreme size. Alexander Cooper (Ed Oxenbould) has a bum day every day, while the rest of his family (Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Dylan Minnette, Kerris Dorsey) exist in a constant bubble of perfection and cheery optimism – to the point that the family is so wrapped up in their own success that Alexander’s being ignored.
So on the eve of his 12th birthday, Alexander makes a wish: just once, he’d like his family to see things from his perspective; to experience the crushing disappointment of one of those no good, very bad days. Once he has blown out the candle on his pre-birthday ice cream sundae, his family’s fate is sealed: one full day of crippling disasters for all of them. > Read more.
Tickets for Deep Run High School’s fall musical production – Aida – will go on sale Nov. 3. The Elton John-Tim Rice pop opera, inspired by Verdi’s classic opera, tells the story of enslaved Nubian princess Aida, who falls for captain of the guard Radames, who is betrothed to the Egyptian princess.
Performances will be held Nov. 13-15 at 7 p.m. each day. > Read more.
Performances will be held Nov. 13-15 at 7 p.m. each day. > Read more.
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Oct. 16, 2014Click here to read the print edition.
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