Tomorrow morning, the kids and I are piling in the car and driving a few hours North to pick up our new dog, Lady. Lady is a 2 year old Border Collie cross Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, which in the tradition of Spoodles, Cavoodles and two-minute noodles, makes her a Borderlier. Now, that she’s got a fancy breed, she’s ready to strut her stuff with all the other “posh dogs” (as my daughter calls them), at the beach. Moreover, she can tell them tales of growing up on a farm and what its like to grow up in your own dog family. She will be leaving her mum, Dad and older brother behind. Her current owner is selling up the farm and moving on.
We are really looking forward to bringing Lady home and having her as part of our family. I’ve got a feeling that as a two year old, she’s going to liven things up a bit. Bilbo our 8 year old Border Collie has slowed down a lot over the last couple of years and at 56 dog years is on the other side of middle age. We’re hoping Lady will liven Bilbo up a bit but I’m not sure what he’ll think about the whole thing. He’s used to being an only dog.
That’s right. Nobody asked Bilbo whether he wanted “a friend”.
Personally, I think he’s doing very well. There is on the other side of middle age getting a much younger woman and he hasn’t even had to sign up for RSVP or any other form of online or I guess in the world of dogs telegraph pole dating in order to hook up. For him, Lady is like a home delivery pizza. She’s just turning up on his doorstep without any spade work whatsoever. Lucky dog!! I have a few friends who would be more than happy with that kind of service.
But Bilbo is no ordinary dog. Or perhaps he is after all. Dogs are quite territorial and Border Collies can be a fairly shy, introverted breed but he’s fiercely loyal and this is where things could get tricky with Lady. Is he going to welcome her as part of our pack or is she going to be classified “an intruder”? He seems to like some dogs but likes his space, which is quite typical of Border Collies apparently. They’re not so keen on dogs who are forward. At least, he’s certainly not.
Yet, as much as they say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, Bilbo has certainly ventured out in the last couple of years. He’s been sailing, out on the kayak and he’s even started mixing with other dogs at the beach even if he still turns into a ferocious barker whenever my friend turns up to take the kids to school.
As an 8 year old dog, Bilbo is 56 years old. Of course, this doesn’t exactly make him old but he is certainly on the more mature side of middle-aged. He has what you could describe as love handles and some arthritis but is otherwise in fairly good health.
I guess the big question is: why are we getting another dog?
Our concern with Bilbo getting older and especially considering my own volatile health, is the whole issue of managing the passing of a pet and whether you have a cross-over or whether you wait. Of course, nobody has a crystal ball so it’s hard to know how to get the timing right. Our last two dogs died at around 8 so we felt the timing was about right. Hopefully, we’ll have Bilbo for years to come and he and Lady will get on well and run off into the sunset together although there will be no pups. They’ve both been “fixed”.
There are also a few other reasons that I’m excited about the new dog. As much as I adore Bilbo, he has become rather withdrawn. He usually doesn’t sit with the family much of the time and does seem to be in his own world. I’m not sure whether he’s on guard and I know he certainly loves lying out on the back deck in the sun and really heats up out there. He has started warming up to visitors but it’s been hard work. It really takes him quite awhile to warm up even to regular visitors.
Bilbo is a gorgeous boy but he got quite out of sorts when I had the chemo and is very protective of me in particular…and the kids. I’ve done a bit of research and read that Border Collies can get a bit anxious and on the look out for grizzly bears and that certainly fits his behaviour. He just hasn’t worked out that we don’t have grizzly bears around here…only the neighbourhood cats.
And we’re about to have Lady…!
So now there’s only one more sleep and it’s all happening. It all feels a bit like bringing a new baby home from the hospital except this baby isn’t brand new and should be a lot less work. After all, you can leave a new baby home alone. Not that Lady will be alone. She’ll have Bilbo.
Hmm…I wonder what Bilbo is going to think of his new friend…