Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Retiring a Herding Dog

Mickey, my nearly 11-year-old Border collie, has a stress fracture that may end her competitive herding career.

So, we talk about retirement.

But, she's a working dog. She doesn't want to give up racing around the fields, chasing other dogs, herding sheep. Retirement is not a word she wants to hear.

So, we work on compromises.

The splint must be worn outside. (She won the indoor argument when she very carefully pulled the Velcro tabs and removed the splint).

A leash is not required. (As she spun in circles and hopped around me, I realized the leash was doing more harm than good).

But she and Caeli do not go on treks together. (If she can't herd sheep, she will try and herd Caeli).

When I'm outside working in the garden and cleaning the barn, she can hang out with me.

Inside, too, she can hang out with me, even if that means sleeping on futons and couches.

I will still encourage her puppy-like, goofy behavior.

I will still brush her and pet her and tell her she's beautiful.

And, I will still encourage her to roll in the grass, four paws stretched to the sun.

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