Tag Archives: border collie

Portraits of A Bald Dog.

Free at last: Bilbo relieved after losing his bulky fur coat.

Free at last: Bilbo relieved after losing his bulky fur coat.

Just wanted to share Bilbo’s new look. It’s not exactly pretty or indeed handsome but it’s definitely more functional. That said, losing the fluffy coat has exposed each and every little bulge and what Miss unkindly refers to as his “blubber”.

After having such a fluffy dog, I am intrigued by the new geometric patterns in his new coat.

After having such a fluffy dog, I am intrigued by the new geometric patterns in his new coat.


Lady and Bilbo posing for the paparazzi

Lady and Bilbo posing for the paparazzi

Miss and Lady along the waterfront.

Miss and Lady along the waterfront.

If Only A Dog Coat Had A Zip!

When you are afraid, even a few simple steps can turn into the journey of a thousand miles.

That’s what happened when it came to getting Bilbo, our mature-aged, introverted Border Collie clipped today. What could have all been very Simple Simon, turned into a drawn out ordeal…not just for him but also for all the humans involved.

As I mentioned in my previous post, we were getting Bilbo’s woolly coat belatedly clipped for summer. Or, as it turned out in the end, clipped to free him of his badly tangled coat. His aversion to being brushed while his winter coat was moulting as well as standing out in the rain, had caused serious matting and getting it all shorn off was the only way to go. The last time we had him shorn, I was grieving as the poor mutt faded from black to smoky grey as his coat disappeared.

This post covers Bilbo’s last encounter with the shears: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/summer-loving-a-dogs-perspective/

However, this time I was cheering. At least, I would be cheering if we could actually get him inside the mobile dog salon so operations could begin.

The dog salon pulls up.

The dog salon pulls up.

So the Dog Salon pulls up and we took Bilbo out the front on the lead. I felt like an absolute cad taking the dog out there to be “tortured” when he thinks he’s off for a walk. His demeanor quickly changed and he curled up inside himself on the front lawn and wasn’t coming out.

As I’ve said before, Bilbo is not good with strangers at our place  at the best of times. He is usually withdrawn and reticent in social situations and what you’d describe as an introverted introvert. He is very much our dog and he loves my Mum as well but he keeps close. Even when it comes to people who come to the house regularly, he’s apprehensive and I usually hold him back for about 10 minutes so he settles down. Then, he’s fine. I think people don’t always realise that some dogs like their space and need time to warm up just like some people. They also really don’t like being smothered with affection by strangers, which through their eyes, might simply be a pat. These are the sort of dogs who would enjoy sitting in the corner at a party if they were human and be quite content simply observing the proceedings. That said, he can be quite friendly and isn’t a risk.

At this early stage, now that Bilbo knows he’s not going for a walk and something strange is afoot, he is not in a good way. He is refusing to let the dog groomer pat him and he is looking quite frightened and skittish. I know what he was like when I bathed him and I am concerned about how the clip is going to proceed…or even if. Naturally, we are concerned about the dog groomer’s safety which is why Geoff is going with him but she also has to have enough faith to know she’ll be safe. She has been bitten before and working with dogs day in day out, Bilbo’s withdrawn fear has her on alert. An old hand, she senses serious trouble.

This whole battle of wills just confirmed my belief that dog coats should all come with a zipper so they can be conveniently removed for cleaning and seasonal adjustments.

However, that isn’t going to happen so it’s a case of smooth talking. Reassuring the dog he’ll be okay and also reassuring the groomer, which also involves having Geoff in there with Bilbo. The dog is afraid and no doubt can sense what is at least my concern. Not that I was afraid but I was  stressed about how Bilbo would respond. What’s more, given the state of his coat and some underlying skin irritation, all that fur urgently needed to go!!

There are advantages of having helicopter parents. We keep our offspring both of the two-legged and four-legged variety under some kind of control…or at least we try!! Bilbo was needing close-range helicopter hovering at this point. He really wasn’t happy!! However, our support and the groomers’ patience slowly won Bilbo over enough.

The groomer noticed the fur balls behind Lady’s ears and so we decide to give them a quick clip and hope that Bilbo settles down when he sees Lady “survive”. Lady wasn’t too keen to go in either. I think she remembered the last time she jumped into a car with a stranger and she never saw home again. That was when we picked her up. However, she emerged unscathed and was her usual sociable, tail-wagging self. Unlike Bilbo, she’s quite the extrovert and social butterfly! She loves people and any attention she can muster.

While Lady is being fixed up, the male husband groomer is sitting down with Bilbo and building a rapport. Bilbo is warming up a bit and he’s now deemed a reasonable risk but as I said, Geoff was still going in the float with him. No one was taking any chances.

Bilbo has been clipped once before and really was a lot happier after that. Once he was in there and the clip had got started, he was relatively calm. I think he might have remembered that losing his coat was going to be a relief  and started to settle. He was still a wound up spring but he was somewhat compliant.

The clip gets underway. Look at all that fur coming off. As I said, it was like shearing a sheep!

The clip gets underway. Look at all that fur coming off. As I said, it was like shearing a sheep!

The dog groomers were excellent and worked well with him. He wasn’t comfortable but he was clipped.

The clip is almost over...

The clip is almost over…

Then, it was time for his bath. Our poor boy. He really doesn’t like new experiences all that much and getting a bath is definitely something he files under “torture” and “over my dead body”. However, although there was initially a serious scuttle of claws, the bath went relatively well.

A shorn Bilbo having his bath. Looks like he much prefers the salon treatment to the hose.

A shorn Bilbo having his bath. Looks like he much prefers the salon treatment to the hose.

We knew from last time there would be no blow dry. Definitely no blow dry!! That sound was too much like the vacuum cleaner…his usual nemesis!

Suddenly, after all that kerfuffle, it was over. Bilbo was clipped and working as a very good team, we had all succeeded.

Bilbo's even starting to look like a happy camper!

Bilbo’s even starting to look like a happy camper!

“Success is the doing, not the getting; in the trying, not the triumph. Success is a personal standard, reaching for the highest that is in us, becoming all that we can be. If we do our best, we are a success.”
Zig Ziglar

It was funny when his whole ordeal was over, you could see such a sense of relief. A burden had been lifted. He’s been freed, liberated. Vive la liberte. He was trotting back inside and when Lady saw him, she really did a double take: “What’s happened to you , mate?!! Had a fight with the lawn mower?”

You bet!

We also had a surprise after all that fur had come off. Bilbo has actually lost some weight. I had suspected he’d lost a bit and transferred it to Lady but the shorn coat doesn’t lie. It shows every single ripple and bulge and is just as  unforgiving as a human wearing a wet suit.

Bilbo is now trotting around the house with a real spring in his step. Grumpy dog is almost happy with a new zest for life.

Yes, he really has been set free!!

xx Rowena


Repercussions of Being a Cat Loving Dog

Eisenhower was no doubt trying to be encouraging when he said: “What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight – it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

Unfortunately, you’ll need a microscope to find the fight in this dog right now. Indeed, I suspect that I’ve swallowed a chicken in my sleep.

Please excuse my less than positive outlook. I know I’m not exactly upbeat at the best of times and have more of a realist’s world view. However, my current state is low even by my fairly unambitious standards.

Yoko Ono and John Lennon's message still rings true: Give Peace A Chance. The trouble is how to maintain the peace when there is still so much evil in this world.

Yoko Ono and John Lennon’s message still rings true: Give Peace A Chance. The trouble is how to maintain the peace when there is still so much evil in this world. Not so easy…

Since I last wrote, I’ve been forced into hiding in the deepest depths of my canine laboratory since launching my twitter campaign: # cats and dogs are friends. Rather than building bridges between two age-old foes and turning hate into love, my efforts have backfired and focused the hatred of both species onto their new found common foe… me!

“And I don’t want the world to see me
‘Cause I don’t think that they’d understand
When everything’s made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am”

Goo Goo Dolls: Isis

Now, I am a wanted dog and as you could appreciate, it’s sadly for all the wrong reasons. My situation, as it stands, is therefore rather dire.

Hence, this could very well be my very last post.

If only this placard could be true.

If only this placard could be true.

You see, after advocating that dogs and cats should become friends and flying a flag saying: “I love cats” from the roof of my kennel, I’ve attracted hoards of haters…the very thing I spoke out against a few posts back.

Sadly, that often happens when you try to change the world and fiddle with the status quo.

Still a long way off.

Still a long way off.

So, I guess this means I won’t be collecting my Nobel Peace Prize any time soon.

All the dogs think I’m a traitor. That I’ve sold out and joined the enemy. Although I didn’t quite go as far as saying: “Je suis chat”, it seems that by trying to love cats and be their friend, I have crossed an invisible line. I’ve seemingly betrayed the very essence of being a dog. Apparently, hating cats is as much part of being a dog as barking, chewing bones and chasing balls.

Hence, dogs are quite literally trying to kill me. Indeed, a campaign of pure hate is spreading like wildfire on Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere: #Hate Bilbo, #Bilbo is not a dog… and it gets worse.

Not so long ago, I was living the very uneventful life of a garden-variety backyard dog. Yes, I admit I was also dabbling in dog philosophy and this has somehow become a crusade. It is this crusade which has got be into my current predicament.

Despite these sinister threats, I’m not about to hate. That goes against everything I believe and everything I stand for and certainly is the very antithesis of the Golden Rule. I can’t even kill my own fleas. The family always takes care of that. I am a peace-loving dog whose only crime was to try to change the world for the common good. Now, I’m a dog staring into the headlights of a truck called “Red Rover”. That is, an in “it’s all over red rover”.

It would appear that you only try to change such entrenched age-old values at your peril. So much for appreciating a bit of vision!!

Such is the fate of a lone dog trying to overcome age-old hatred to create a new world order.

However, just because the dogs all hate me, don’t think that I’ve somehow managed to win over the cat population. The cats hate me as well. Rather than seeing my efforts as some kind of bid for world peace, they’ve accused me of being a cold blooded killer, a wolf in sheep’s clothing and have dug up terrible stories about my past treatment of cats. These have been rapidly circulating throughout all forms of media. Like humans, cats simply can’t believe that old dogs can learn new tricks.

So while I’m trying to stay inspired and feel the love, I’ve retreated right into the very depths of my beloved laboratory and Lady, my canine companion, is putting her food thieving, road kill retrieving skills to good use. Thankfully, it turns out that she’s not just “decorative” after all. She’s also become a very loyal friend, standing by me when, as I’ve said, every other dog wants to kill me. We’re in this together for what could well be a very long haul.

Thank you very much for reading, liking or perhaps even following my posts and for trying to step beyond your comfort zone to explore what is truly possible when we all learn to love instead of hate.

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper.

 TS Eliot; The Hollow Men.

xx Bilbo

PS: If you are interested in reading my research into the Golden Rule, my posts start here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/01/09/greetings-from-good-dog/


If you are interested in hearing from Lady, click here for some of her posts:















I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior.

Hippolyte Taine
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_pet3.html#WbTjMwQhRvQBozEu.99



Lady is not one to let truth interfere with a good story…especially when it comes to boasting to all her mates about her wild adventures at sea. She might have only kayaked 3 metres off shore with assistance but she’s still an intrepid explorer! All it takes is a good photo. Yes, that’s right. Lady is off to explore the world. Can’t you tell?

Move over Huckleberry Hound. Lady enjoying her kayak adventures.

Move over Huckleberry Hound. Lady enjoying her kayaking adventures.

Hmm…Lady doesn’t exactly look like the intrepid sea captain here. She’s certainly rather drenched and looks a bit scraggly but she’s actually been for a swim.

Okay, so I wasn't quite going solo after all.

Okay, so I wasn’t quite going solo after all.

Lady is thoroughly enjoying the Palm Beach lifestyle and like us, will be struggling to adjust when we return to the real world.

xx Rowena

Our Border Collie Bilbo out on the mud flats. No doubt he is looking for his tennis ball. He doesn't care about the view and certainly tries to avoid the water.

The Thinker: Our Border Collie Bilbo out walking at low tide.

I AM FOREVER walking upon these shores,
Betwixt the sand and the foam,
The high tide will erase my foot-prints,
And the wind will blow away the foam.
But the sea and the shore will remain

Kahlil Gibran.

Dog’s Best Friend!

No symphony orchestra ever played music like a two-year-old girl laughing with a puppy- Bern Williams

Have you ever considered why humans became dog’s best friend? Why they chose people over  some other beast? I know it sounds unlikely now. However, way back at the dawn of time,  if dogs and cats had  become best friends instead of enemies, history would not have been history.

So, in the words of scientist Julius Sumner-Miller: Why is it so? Why did dogs choose us?

Another conundrum worth exploring, why is there such a close bond between kids and dogs? Kids pull their tails, dress the dog up in all sorts of clothes, sunglasses and hats and wheel them around the house in the doll’s pram. Yet, despite all of this abuse, the dog still comes back for more. Indeed, dogs are particularly protective of the children in their family.

Why is it so?

Is it, as we humans often like to believe, that dogs love us with a pure, unconditional, altruistic love giving us unfettered affection and undying loyalty? That dogs live and breathe to be with us, love and even adore us?

Or, could it possibly be a case of enlightened self-interest?

I don’t know about you and your dog but our two dogs absolutely live, breathe, think and even see through their stomachs and it’s amazing how their undying love and devotion swells in those gorgeous, puppy dog eyes whenever there’s even a crumb of food around.

My mother-in-law coined the phrase “cupboard love”. She was no fool and not as easily conned as some.

Conversely, when there’s no food around, our dogs are nowhere in sight sleeping like comatose floor rugs, completely oblivious to my existence and that of the entire universe. That is, of course, unless the garbage truck or the posty are going past. Then they mysteriously reincarnate their lifeless fur coats and almost combust in a mad, barking frenzy.

“Properly trained, a man can be a dog’s best friend.”
— Corey Ford (American Humorist)

Lady captures the feral schoolbag.

Lady captures the feral schoolbag.

As much as I am notorious for caving in to pressure and giving tidbits to the dogs, the kids are prime targets, especially their school bags, which house their sadly neglected sandwiches (see my previous post). Being smaller, the kids are also easy targets for food theft as they’re around dog height and also tend to leave food on the floor. Our dogs are accomplished food thieves. Lady has been caught standing on top of the kitchen table scoffing home-made Jamie Oliver Lasagna. Obviously, you can’t knock her taste.

Last night, I caught Lady our gorgeous 2 year old Border Collie/Kind Charles Cavalier in action. She’d not only taken possession of our daughter’s school bag but had also managed to fish out a tasty wrapper.


Lady ambushes my daughter’s school bag and finds a tasty wrapper.


                                It’s not just about food.

What sort of cat could ever provide us with a kennel like this?

What sort of cat could ever provide us with a kennel like this?

Every dog also needs their own castle and that’s something no cat could ever provide!

The Ultimate Kennel Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

The Ultimate Kennel Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

So what’s your verdict? Is it a case of true love? Or do we expose the dog as history’s ultimate cad? Let me know.

xx Rowena

Adventures of a Backyard Dog

Last weekend, our dog joined us on a huge adventure. It was his very first holiday and his first sleep over.

Bilbo is a rather large and often somnolent Border Collie.  What I’d describe as a “backyard dog”. With my mobility issues, walks are infrequent but he often goes out for local trips in the car. So you see, he leads a fairly quiet, simple life and his world is about the size of a large pocket handkerchief.

That was until last weekend.

View of Careel Bay and local racing pigeons.

Palm Beach looking towards Careel Bay and some local racing pigeons.

Bilbo hasn’t been away from home overnight before. Whenever we go away, he usually stays home and is looked after by the beautiful Jess. However, last weekend we were only going across the water to Palm Beach (albeit via a circuitous route through Sydney) so we decided to take him along. I was really looking forward to taking him with us and thought he’d love exploring new worlds, expanding his horizons.

Bilbo is 6 years old. That’s middle-aged in dog years, even it’s still very young in human years (42 being  the new 21!!) That makes him not quite an old dog but certainly no pup. That being the case, I wondered how he would respond to his big adventure. Would he love his new found freedom and new horizons or would he be thrilled to get back to the familiar comforts of home?

We were soon to find out.

The fun all began when Bilbo saw me packing the suitcases. I didn’t need a degree in dog psychology to see that he was starting to panic. As far as he was concerned, the suitcases meant we were about to disappear and he’d be home alone- albeit with the gorgeous Jess who spoils him rotten. It was bad news. The end of the world!

So while I’m loading the car, he decided to be proactive and loaded himself. I tried to explain to him that he was actually coming with us this time and took him back inside. No use. He was straight back out to the car again with the next load. I was reminded of a song by Mental As Anything If You Leave Me. It has the great line: if you leave me, can I come too?

That’s always appealed to me too!

Anyway, soon the dog is happy. He’s in the car with the rest of us and all the bags. Don’t know what thoughts were going through his mind. He was probably just relieved that he wasn’t being left behind. Bilbo had the luxury of sitting up the front. We had all our bedding in the back with the kids and as much as I love my dog, I didn’t want our bedding contaminated by any dog germs. Dooners and dog smells definitely don’t mix!

Bilbo’s fun was only beginning. You see, Bilbo has only ever been in the car at about 50-60KPH and he’s only ever been a ten minute drive away from home. The trip to Palm Beach started out with a good hour’s drive to Sydney down the freeway at 110KPH. As much as you might think that a dog would enjoy all that speed, we’re talking about a backyard dog here. This was double our local speed limit and he looked decidedly uncomfortable. He wasn’t quite clinging to his seat by his claws but he definitely looked like this drive was taking him well beyond his comfort zone. He was leaning over towards me for reassurance. The trusty car had morphed into something like a rocket and it was going way too fast!! Zoom! Zoom! Zoom!

We arrived at my parents’ place and this was his first taste of dogs not being allowed inside the house. Glaring through the back door, Bilbo was looking mortally wounded. Stabbed in the heart. He couldn’t understand why he wasn’t allowed inside along with the rest of us.  After all, he still hasn’t worked out that he’s a dog yet. He still firmly believes that he’s human…our third child…the baby of the family!

We picked up Geoff and continued up to Palm Beach. Bilbo was really confused by this point. He was still sitting in the front but was now beside Geoff. I was now in the back with the kids. Geoff always puts Bilbo in the back and the dog seemed quite confused. Why was Mum sitting in the back and he was sitting in the front?

Arrival at Palm Beach meant Bilbo “the inside dog” was now an “outside dog”. This was definitely a significant change of status…a serious retrograde step. Nobody had warned him about that when he’d signed up for this holiday. Not that he’d actually signed up for anything. He’d just jumped in the car. Now, he had no idea where he was or how he’d got there but his food bowl and his water bowl had somehow made the journey with him. It was almost business as usual but not quite.

A dog doesn’t need to understand every twist and turn in life and is just supposed to accept what is. Somebody forgot to tell Bilbo. Bilbo persistently tried to come inside. He just wanted to be with us…especially in such a foreign environment.

Where was his bed?

I think he found a sheltered spot under the balcony.

Father & Son take on the high seas.

Father & Son take on the high seas.

First thing Saturday, Mister and Geoff took the kayak out for a paddle at high tide.

Mad dog

Crazed dog

Come back!!!!!

Come back!!!!!

That’s when things really started heating up for Bilbo. He’s a very protective dog and he really doesn’t like us getting in the water and feels compelled to save us. The only trouble is that he won’t get in the water himself. He might get his paws wet but that’s about it. He’s certainly not a swimmer. So you can just imagine what Bilbo was like when Mister and Geoff took off on the kayak. He was beside himself with worry whimpering and running all over the place. He’d run down the slipway and get to the very end and just when his paws were about to get wet, he’d stop. He really wanted to rescue them and bring them back but he just couldn’t bring himself to jump in. I could sense the stress in his body. Every single nerve and muscle was switched onto high alert. He was ready to pounce and yet he couldn’t. Miss and I tried to reassure the crazy mutt. To be honest, Miss wasn’t faring much better. She didn’t want to go out in the kayak and also has a bit of a fear of the sea.

Dog on board

Dog on board

Well, you wouldn’t believe it because after Mister got off the Kayak, somehow the dog, despite all his phobias and fears, climbed onto the kayak. Before we knew it, Geoff was paddling out with Bilbo on board. It was hilarious to watch at first, especially after writing my poem The Surfer’s Dog. In my wildest dreams, I’d never expected Bilbo to climb on board a kayak, especially after being such a nervous wreck!!

Perhaps, he’d wanted to go out there all along. He wasn’t afraid. Perhaps, he was crying out: “Wait for me! My turn!”

Trying not to rock the boat.

Trying not to rock the boat.

Somehow, I don’t think so. Perhaps, he just had a momentary lapse when he climbed onboard.  He was happy to climb on but once he realised he was no longer on terra firma and the thing started to rock a little, he wanted out. The poor dog! Instead of trying to jump out, he actually lay down and dug his claws into Geoff. When it came to getting off, his fear seriously intensified. I have never seen him so frightened. He dug his claws in and clung to the kayak like glue and wouldn’t budge. He was visibly shaking like a leaf. It was pretty intense but short lived. It became very evident that Bilbo had bitten off more than he bargained for with that adventure. He was very pleased to be back on dry land.

That said, he did show a bit of interest in having another ride in the kayak on Sunday and Geoff thinks he might even have another go.

After all that excitement, you would think that Bilbo would have had enough adventure for one day. That he had well and truly exceeded his quota of character-building adventures for a life time. However, Bilbo had other plans.

We all decided to go out in the kayaks. Mister was paddling in a single kayak and Geoff and I were paddling in the “banana boat” bathtub kayak and we had Miss in the front.

Bilbo had been a bit unsettled to say the least with us in the kayaks and so we decided to secure him safely in the backyard. We didn’t think anything of it. Bilbo is a pretty mild-mannered dog and he’s never tried to escape before. The kids will be playing out the front and the front door will be wide open but Bilbo just lies there with his claws curling over the doorstep staying put. He’s busting to join in but he doesn’t. He’s a very good dog! We can trust him and he’s usually much better behaved than the kids!

Well, we hadn’t factored in the panic. The sheer terror Bilbo felt when he saw all four of us take off.  He had to come and save us. The only trouble was, at least as far as he was concerned, that he needed to get in the water and he still couldn’t muster up the courage. He was stuck on the shore feeling useless and very overwhelmed.

We had paddled past the mangroves over to the Careel  Bay Marina and were heading back when we spotted a Border Collie running haphazardly on the shore about 10 houses away from home. We didn’t realise that it was Bilbo straight away because he was at home and as I said, he’s never escaped before. He’s a really good dog. But once he saw that we’d seen him, there was a very definite look of recognition. It was him, after all! Bilbo had escaped.

When we arrived home, we discovered that Bilbo had chewed solidly on the wooden gate and had even pulled off four planks. There were nails sticking out and all sorts. He’d all but demolished Dad’s gate. He’d gone ballistic!!

This is how all big adventures come to a screaming halt. When you go too far, you get brought back into line.

Bilbo was in time out.

Geoff was off to the hardware store.

Neither was happy.

Bilbo wasn't invited sailing!

Bilbo wasn’t invited sailing!

Fortunately, it was a long weekend and Bilbo had a chance to redeem himself.

I don’t know how Bilbo felt about his big weekend away. It’s not always easy when all your Christmases come at once and it was a huge change for a backyard dog to suddenly explore the world and even the high seas. He had fun but I kind of suspect there was also a sense of there’s “no place like home”. Driving home, he looked particularly comfortable curled up in the back seat in between the kids. The three of them were sound asleep. Bilbo also slept in the next morning and I can’t help wondering how much nervous energy he’d expended on our weekend away. He was pooped!

Yet, something tells me that when the suitcases come out next time, Bilbo will be back in the car ready to join us on our next big adventure.

See! You really can teach an old dog new tricks, after all!

The sun sets on a perfect weekend.

The sun sets on a perfect weekend.