Which were your favorite pets, and what made them special?
Border collies were my favorite animal. They are loyal, affectionate dogs, usually restrained and safe around children. We mostly had one dog at a time. I appreciated our dogs because they liked to follow along on our outdoor adventures, which generally took us through the fields toward the Calapooya Creek. Our dog would be nearby investigating smells and small creatures — things that interest dogs.
Border collies are differentiated from most other breeds because of their insatiable herding instinct. In my early childhood, we had sheep on our farm, and the border collies helped round them up. We also had free-range chickens around our house. When our dog was not needed in the field, we could find him intently watching chickens, trying to work out how to herd them into a chicken corral. The hen house out back had been torn down when I was little, and there was no proper place to corral the chickens. Amazingly, our chickens survived the predators with their free-range life style.
I adopted a border collie — not sure she was intended as a gift for me. I named her Sydney, after that city in Australia. Sydney had developed the habit of chasing passing hay trucks and nipping at the wheels. One busy afternoon Sydney was run over and badly injured by the hay truck I was driving. Mom and I used a large piece of cardboard to load her into the back seat of our car for the trip to the vet in Roseburg. Mom drove the dog to the vet; a one-way trip, since Sydney was suffering from several broken bones. I still feel guilty that I didn’t slow down and swing wide to avoid harming the dog, and that I didn’t stop hay hauling and ride with Mom to the animal hospital.