Sugar, Spice, and Everything Nice

I’ve had my border collie/sheltie mix for eleven years this month. Although she’s getting up in years, my fifteen year old little puppy is still one of the biggest goobers I’ve met.

Photo by Morgan Trent.

Photo by Morgan Trent.

After watching “The Science of Dogs”, I really started to think about what made her tick. There’re so many great things that I love about her, and it’s really interesting to think that some of these traits have been breed into her from generations past.

Breeding dogs for particular characteristics is a practice that has been going on for hundreds of years. Breeders will often pick the parents based on whatever particular behavior they’d like to see in the pups. Whatever ability, whether it be loyalty, size, temperament, or color, humans have been tailor-making the “perfect” dog for decades. Because my dog is a mutt, it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly she is. I’d like to think that she’s mostly border collie and most of her behavior points in that direction. Border collies are breed for herding, energy, stamina, sensitivity, and brains. And it really shows in some of the things that my dog does.

Occasionally we’ll get black racers in our back yard. My dog just loves to chase them around and herd them wherever she wants. Even though my dog is now fifteen, she’s incredibly spry and has amazing energy for such a little old lady. She can still jump and run and spin in endless circles. Border collies are also very sensitive and if not properly socialized, can become withdrawn. My dog is a rescue and she’s very shy. She’s very submissive and almost tries to blend into the background. But, she’s very pack orientated. Border collies will often look to their herder for information and are heavily reliant on a hierarchy system. When I left for college, my mom became the pack leader and the Alpha for my dog. She understands that my mom is now the one who takes care of her and her behavior reflects that. When I come home she’s excited to see me, but not as excited as she is to see my mom come home from stepping outside for five minutes. All in all, it’s really fun to think about what traits got passed down to my dog after years and years of selective breeding.


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