Thursday, July 24, 2014

Remembering Mickey: Couches and Bones

Mickey taught me about herding sheep.

I taught her about couches and bones.

She mastered couches and bones in days; I'm still working on sheepdog handling, though I've made progress thanks to her.

When Mickey arrived at our farm nearly three years ago, she was an expert in sheep. She'd traveled the country collecting accolades for her sheepdog abilities. But she'd also been a kennel dog, and was a novice at being a house dog.

On Day 1, she discovered the couch. And she wasn't going to give it up. The only time I saw her bare her teeth was when another dog walked near her couch.

On Day 1, she also discovered the box of bones we kept in the corner of the entrance way.

Our other dogs would go to the box, select a bone and settle in for a chew. Not Mickey. She collected bones and stashed them in her crate -- and in her couch.

Every few days, I'd collect the bones and return them to the box; and she'd hoard them once again.

Months later, while we were working sheep on a farm in southern Ohio, I knew she'd mastered bone detection and collection.

After working sheep, her previous handler and I were riding in the back of the Gator. The other Border collies were happily running along.

But I didn't see Mickey.

I called and called.

And then we saw her, running to catch up with the group. In her mouth was a deer leg.

"She never did that when I owned her," her previous handler said.

All I could do was smile.

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