Sunday, February 21, 2016

Come. Sit. Stay.

Yes, of course, I know it's a terrible idea for any number of reasons, but something about today got me thinking again about getting a dog.

Just out of curiosity, I took one of those "pet finder" quiz thingies. I know a few breeds I like, and I have for a long time had a short list of those I'd consider, but I was curious to see which ones might be a good fit for me, according to the algorithms. As it turned out, my best match was a Border Collie, which has been at or very near the top of my list ever since making the acquaintance of the family dog of an old friend of mine a few years back. They're just so damn smart, not to mention loyal, trainable, attentive, unlazy. I wouldn't mind having someone to boss around, and play with, someone who's smarter than I am and better at keeping an eye on things...

So, I perused a couple adoption sites, looked at some pictures, wondered if I could love a dog with an ugly face and why people come up with such stupid names for their pets. I also read not a few warnings about bringing a Border Collie into your life: 
A workaholic who thrives on mental and physical stimulation, the Border Collie must have a positive way to direct his energy. Otherwise he'll invent his own games — and he can become a problem to live with.
Sounds familiar--I've been experiencing a little of that myself, lately. I could lay the blame on the month of February, because apparently it's a recurring pattern, that I go a little stir-crazy this time of year... and when I'm not pushing myself, I start to push others: down, away; buttons, limits. It's not a very admirable trait of mine, and it's something that I need to learn how to manage, all finger pointing aside.
The border collie needs lots of activity and mental stimulation to prevent behavioral problems. 
Not to mention one-on-one attention and a sense of purpose...
if he is underemployed at home, he is likely to develop compulsive behaviors such as chasing light and shadows, twirling in circles, and bouncing up and down.
 Yep, been there.
Without physical and mental stimulation, Border Collies become hyperactive and will drive you up the wall with obsessive and destructive behaviors as they seek creative outlets for their physical and mental energy 
So what makes me think I want one of these wound-up bundles of energy (and potential weapon of mass destruction) around? Why not a nice retriever or a Weimaraner or a Staffordshire terrier or a pit bull? Why am I attracted to a super high-maintenance dog that would force me to spend a bunch of time I already don't really have, handling slobbery toys, running around dog parks and picking up poop, much less feeling guilt-tripped all the time by those hopeful eyes and pouty faces?
Trying to train a Border Collie, in fact, can be frustrating, because they are constantly thinking, analyzing, and reacting to every tiny movement you make. They can be a bit high-strung and oversensitive to sound and touch.
Maybe it's because I don't want a dog that's going to lie around licking its balls all day. Maybe I like the idea of having a dog that pays attention to things, and to me. Maybe I want a dog that likes to work and do stuff and will make me work harder and do more. Maybe I just want a dog to take care of since I don't have any kids. Maybe having a dog could make me a better person and keep my heart from failing. Maybe it would do me good to be the apple of someone's eye, even if they are furry and sometimes annoying as all get-out.
Some are manipulative, i.e. using their intelligence to get YOU to do what they want you to do.
Some are willful and dominant (they want to be the boss) and will make you prove that you can make them do things.
Many are so sensitive that if you correct them too harshly, they may freeze and "shut down."
Or maybe I just can't resist that adorable way they tilt their head to one side, and won't take no for an answer, until they have to.
You must stay one step ahead of this challenging breed, and most households are simply not up to the task.
Maybe my Border Collie's number one job could be to look out for me, until I move to the country and get myself some chickens and a few acres to keep an eye on, a place to do some trail running, skiing, maybe skijoring...
The kind of people that do well with Border Collies are incredibly active and if not smarter… at least as smart as the dog. 

Probably not the dog for me. And then there's the separation anxiety, nippiness, barking, constant need for attention, etc. Plus, I can only play fetch for so long before I get tired of that game. 

Anyway, I should really get my boots on and get myself outside for a walk, before I start chewing on the furniture.

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