Friday, June 12, 2009

Bandy: Our Bearded Collie

I was thinking about Bandy and that her odd story might be worth outlining. We got Bandy in November of 08. Only 7 months ago, but I feel like she has been ours for much longer.

As a kid, we had Bearded Collies. Bearded Collies are Scottish herding dogs. I love Bearded Collies, and they love to run and jump.

As a kid, what is better then spending all day at the barn, then to come home and spend time with your dog that likes to be a horse! Of course I would set up jumps, make courses with jumps in the woods, the works. The best dog for this job was my as-as-kid beardie Molly Brown, a Ha' Penny (breeding line) Bearded Collie.

I searched for breeders in the area. CT used to be the largest Bearded Collie area, and as the breeders got older, they moved to FLA, and now FLA has the largest Bearded Collie Association (not exactly convenient). SO, (in 2007) I'm driving around with Mom one day and we see three Bearded Collies. I stop the car and knock on the door of the house. Finally someone answers (the dogs are outside with electric collars on) and I ask her where she got her Beardies. They are Ha' Penny Beardies (the SAME line as my childhood beardie Molly Brown!), and she does not know where to get any in the area. BUT, she for some reason, confesses right then and there that she actually does not want 3 dogs (small lot under a quarter of an acre, not enough time) and would love to find a home for one or some of them... someday. But not yet.

I'm thinking, yeah right, give away your beardies, funny. thanks anyway. Life goes on, we get married, build the barn, Mackie is our boy and... how about a Beardie to top it all off? All we needed next was a Beardie to herd Mackie in and jump stone walls with me.

I haunted breeders with inquiries, no puppies available, and when they are, I consider the drive from FLA with a puppy, but the expense and the puppy and ugh.

One entire year passes since I knocked on that stranger's door, and the phone rings. She wants me to take Bandy and Blaze (brother and sister) and she will keep their mother, Sofie. After a lot of thinking, we say, OK, sure, we'll take them. They have a visit with Mackie to see how they all got along. They were trimmed back, poodle style, this is Bandy (left) and Blaze (right) on one of their visits with Mackie's huge head in the way (what a chunker).

They are 3 years old at this point. We decide to go for it, and take them. She drops them off and pulls out quickly, it was very emotional for her. Blaze is pretty much timid and wondering what the heck just happened. Bandy is "hey,whatever man, this place looks cool, if I'm a really good girl, will you promise to love me no matter what I do (eat yucky things, pull ALL the zippers off your fleece vests and jackets, swim unsupervised, and..?).

SO, the same day, after several walks on the leash, we take them into the top paddock and let them loose. For some reason they respect the fence, at this point they think it is electric (remember they used to wear electric fence collars). They play, run, and think this is pretty cool. Mr. Java's Mom and I think it's cool too, but also freezing cold, it happens to be in the teens and we want to go inside and get warm.

Mackie is looking at these two fuzzy dogs "hey guys, let's go in and get warm and fed, uh guys...?". Bandy and Blaze now think they are in trouble for some reason. Their other mom loved them very much, but these guys always felt guilty for something. Bandy decided "screw this (yes, she talks like this!), I'm going under the fence and waiting at the back door, I'll risk electrocution with this fence and do what these people want and get back to the house pronto". Bandy is fast to do what you want, and makes her own interpretations some times.

Blaze is "OH MY GOD, I am so confused, I must run run run". Blaze is gorgeous, and can run, his stride must have been 10 feet, huge gorgeous stride, but enough already, let's go in. Bandy is more... Shetland pony. Two hours go by, Blaze is terrified, and thank goodness not going under the fence and staying contained. By now we are STILL in the top field, Bandy is with me, snuggling, and mackie is inside getting warm. Blaze will not stop running. I call his other mom, "you have to come over, we cannot get Blaze on the leash or back into the house, he is beyond distraught". Distraught like when/if you have ever seen a lost dog running along the road, lost and frantic. His mom shows up, and he jumps on her and hugs her like a child with his legs wrapped around her looking into her eyes "don't leave me".

Well, we say, he cannot stay. We like Blaze and think he is a wonderful dog, but he clearly is very attached to his mom and don't want to risk him running away forever either into the woods or in the road the one day we try him off the leash again. She asks with a healthy tone of hope, if we can keep Bandy? At this point Bandy has it all figured out and says: "LATER Blaze, I know a good thing when I see it and I'm never leaving this place, unless it's in the car with Mackie to go to the store". The former mom did not really like Bandy. She was trouble at her old house (perhaps she is not forgiving when zippers get pulled off clothing), and for a long time Bandy was afraid of getting in trouble with us. She learned that animals in our house can pretty much do no wrong, and we love and spoil them no matter what.

So Bandy decided that Mackie is awesome, and teamed up fast with her new friend:

She enjoyed being allowed off the leash and getting to know her new territory:

We let her coat grow out:

She always checks the herd to make sure everyone is safe:

She loves sticks:

Video of Bandy with Stick, bursting with pride of her bounty:

And, Mackie and Bandy are good buddies. Mackie has also lost his chunker weight with all the running around with Bandy. She has the full run of the territory as she wishes, and is fabulous. She is a total tom boy. She will steal his toys to get his attention, guards the herd while Mackie is off sniffing something and will hang out in the car for hours with him. We love our little Bandy. Funny thing is, she does not really jump... yet. If she gets going, she'll spring over a low stone wall, but I have yet to get her going full athletic Beardie style. I'll get there... :)

The koi pond is her latest theme park on the property. Here she is in hot pursuit of Mackie as he rushes to get out of the pond with his retrieving thing before Bandy can attempt to steal it away.

With all this farm life, Bandy's coat is not exactly... show ready. I groom her occasionally, cut mats out and keep my finger crossed that she does not find any burrs. She has a summer trim right now, I trimmed her chest and belly short for a little air conditioning. We'll see how the summer goes. With all of this rain and cool weather, she is just fine, damp and has a major case of the frizzies, but WOW is she happy. Mackie adores her too. They drink out of the water bowl together, snuggle, share and play play play. Bandy has relaxed so much since coming to live with us, it's great to see her really be the little shetland pony that she has always wanted to be. I call her former mom occasionally and leave voicemails of how much we love Bandy and to thank her. I don't hear back, but that's OK. Oh, and Bandy's name: her former mom named the puppies based on their markings (Blaze because of his face blaze, and Bandit because she had raccoon like circles around her eyes), well, Bandit became Bandy... and here we are.


Horseartist said...

I loved reading about Bandy. Just goes to show that every animal has a home. The trick is finding the right one...


Melissa-ParadigmFarms said...

Sounds like Bandy knew when she had finally made it home. Great story!

Anonymous said...

Bandy sure got a good home! Thanks for your delightful post!

Amy said...

What a great story. What is the story behind the dress up photo?

Java's Mom said...

HI Amy, The "dress up" photo is our wedding... it goes with the paragraph below it... married, great life, now all we needed was a beardie to top it all off... sorry for any confusion.