Acquired: Breeder (hobby breeder)
Training: I haven't learned care / training techniques, Attended conferences / shows
Posted January 9, 2013
When a collie comes into one's life, he enters merely as a dog but instantly becomes family. My collie, Reonardo, became my companion when I was the ripe age of seven. He was just a pup and I a child, but we were destined to grow together. As an only child, I spent all my time with my new best friend, and now as a young woman I realize my fondest memories were with him.
The hit classic, Lassie, does justice when depicting the loyalty of this breed of man's best friend. If I was happy, Reonardo was happy. If I was sad, Reonardo was sad. I truly believe he did his best to catch every tear I shed over 16 years. He would nuzzle his adorable long nose to my face and attempt to catch each one.
That personality of his- one of a kind. Although an unusual analogy, if Albert Einstein were a dog, he would have been a collie. Reonardo noticed everything out of the ordinary and by everything- I mean every minute detail. If I were to go shopping and place a new item in our home, Reonardo would immediately run to it as if he were saying, "What is this, and why is it here?" If I would move an object out of place and relocate it in our home he would be the first to observe it and run back to me as if to say, "How in the world did that get there!?"
Of course, collies are known for many things, but perhaps their most popular trait is their uncanny ability to herd things. Reonardo definitely did not lack the herding gene. As a child my parents presented me with three baby ducklings as a gift. I think Reonardo thought he was their mother because he would nudge his nose on the feathery bottoms of the ducks if they dared to get out of line or even wander off. Although collies may "ruffle the feathers" of birds they are simply trying to herd, I believe it would be nearly impossible for this breed to ruffle the feathers of their captivated owners.
As far as barking, Reonardo seldomly barked unless he felt something was out of place or out of the ordinary (a trait that works simultaneously with the herding instinct). For instance, my loving fur ball would bark like crazy if I would dance or sing. Of course, this was not a warning bark, it was simply him playing along and also trying to get me in order. He also had several different barking pitches he would use during different situations. If Reonardo was trying to alert me of danger, it was always a lower, solid sound. If he was trying to get me or the ducklings in order, he would belt out a high, short tune.
With the previous knowledge, it is no secret that collies are very expressive. Reonardo quite possibly possessed the largest heart and guiltiest conscious of any dog- two traits depicted in his daily actions. If our other dog was being fussed at, Reonardo took the blame. His ears would practically be glued to his head and his tail jammed between his hind legs as he would find any corner of a room to stare at and give it his paw.
As empathetic as he was, he loved even deeper. Children love to play games- hide and seek being a favorite. I was no exception. Being an only child, Reonardo was always the role of the "seeker" as I made "master mind" plans to hide from his keen sense of smell. I would take one of Reonardo's toys and throw it in an opposite direction from me as I would find a place to hide. It could be up to 30 minutes and Reonardo would not stop searching for me. He would peek behind doors and corners relentlessly until he found me. The thought of his priceless expression when finding me, leaves me fighting back tears as I write about such a fond memory. He truly loved me, and he did not hold back from expressing the dedication he felt for me.
With his loyalty and love came protection. At night when my parents would come tuck me in, Reonardo would jump in my bed, stand over me, and playfully "roo" (an affectionate term for Rio's quiet howling) at my parents if they would get within two feet of me. I call him my pet, but in reality I think he believed I was his. Reonardo never needed to protect me from a dangerous situation, but I have no doubt that he would have done anything to keep me safe.
He was my best friend from the moment I received him in second grade until my senior year of college. My freshman and sophomore years of college, Reonardo was not able to live with me as I lived in dorms without a pet-friendly policy. He remained at home with my parents and according to my mother, "laid all day at the foot of my bed as he grieved for me." My junior year I relocated to a pet-friendly apartment and named Reonardo my official roommate. We resided in that apartment together until the end of "our" senior year of college.
He never lost his charm, intelligence, or loyalty- probably the hardest reality I had to face as I watched his body become crippled by arthritis and hip dysplasia. He received the best medications and therapy, but eventually he was unable to walk. I realized that part of being his best friend was letting him go.
It has nearly been a year since Reonardo's passing, but the memories we shared will last a life time. I recommend a collie to anyone- regardless of age. They are smart, loving, protective, and will steal your heart.