The breed that I have chosen to talk about today is one that is very near and dear to my heart…the Border Collie! Now, I haven’t always been a fan of the breed, until I met Zoey, a 3 year-old Border Collie mix, who quickly went from a temporary foster dog to a full time member of our family.
In the past two and a half years that Zoey has lived with us, I have come to greatly admire the vast intelligence and loyalty that is inherent within this breed. In fact, Border Collies are ranked #1 on nearly every list for most intelligent dog breeds, surpassing other intelligent breeds such as the Standard Poodle, German Shepherd, and Golden Retriever. Intelligence is definitely something that I can vouch for in this breed! I am continuously amazed at the number of words and commands that Zoey is quick to learn. For example, when I say “Are you hungry?”, Zoey will run straight to the kitchen and wait anxiously at her food bowl for supper. If we are at a family or friend’s house, all I have to ask is “Are you ready to go?”, and she immediately runs to the door, ready to jump into the car! And don’t even mention the work “park” in her presence, unless you are ready to take her there! She is constantly learning everyday words and what they mean without us even trying to teach them to her!
Another wonderful aspect about this breed is their responsive nature, willingness to please, and crave for action. Historically, Border Collies (aka Sheepdogs) were created to help protect the flocks. Today, this breed has remained a true working animal, commonly used on farms to assist with the herding of livestock. Being in the working class of dogs, most Border Collies require considerable physical exercise and mental stimulation. In other words, Border Collies need a job! Now, this job doesn’t have to be on a farm, it can be achieved simply with a Frisbee, participating in agility trials, playing catch with a ball, or a sport that really amazes me: Flyball!
Flyball is a team sport for dogs that was invented in California in the late 1970s. It is a relay race with 4 dogs on a team. The course consists of a starting line, 4 hurdles, spaced 10 feet apart, and a box. Each dog jumps the hurdles and steps on a spring-loaded box that shoots out a tennis ball. The dog catches the tennis ball and runs back over the 4 hurdles. When the first dog crosses the starting line, the next dog goes. The first team to have all 4 dogs run without errors wins the heat. While it is encouraged that ANY breed of dog can participate (Rat Terriers, Jack Russells, etc…), by far the most popular breed of dog competing is the Border Collie! It is the Border Collie’s speed, agility, and intensity that make them outstanding Flyball competitors. If you are interested in doing Flyball with your dog, check out Austin’s local Flyball team, Dogz Rule! They offer beginning and intermediate flyball classes at Austin Canine Central training facility. Check out their website at www.flyball.com/dogzrule to learn more and see videos of these amazing Border Collies in action!