Bob's Beloved Becky
Our 5-year-old border collie, Becky, is the weirdest dog we've known. My husband, Bob, and I couldn't love her more.
Our older dog, Gracie, is a shepherd-collie mix. She's the smartest dog we've known. We assumed that Becky would watch and learn from Gracie. Boy, were we wrong.
Border collies are known for herding sheep. Plus, they need lots more activity than other dogs need and are considered one of the smartest and bravest breeds. But apparently Becky swam through the genetic pool without soaking up one drop of it.
If a gun-wielding gangster broke into our house, Becky would go after him with the courage of a SWAT team commander. When a fly is anywhere in the house, she runs, trembling and whimpering, behind the toilet, where she stays until I've spent half the day finding the fly.
Bob had always wanted a border collie. We adopted Becky because we were told she was bred to need no more activity than any other dog and that she didn't have the herding instinct that all border collies do.
That was a bunch of hooey. Becky is not only on the go 24/7, she herds everything in her universe.
1. The vacuum cleaner.
2. Our empty-headed cat, Murphy, who doesn't even notice.
3. Apples that fall out of the shopping bag.
4. Anything that drops on the floor, including tomatoes but especially meatballs.
Becky spends time in our fenced-in backyard herding her flock. No, not sheep. It's her flock of clay plant pots that once contained pretty flowers. Using her nose to move them along, she herds the pots one by one from the left to the right side of the yard. Then, crouching down with that intense border collie stare used for the purpose of intimidation, she makes sure that none of the pots make a break for it and run fleeing from the rest of the pack. Then she herds all of them to the left side of the yard. Then back to the right; then left. This keeps her happy for hours.
Becky doesn't bark. She screams. When she does, she sounds like a woman.
She screams when she sees that a miniature painting has been moved 3 inches. She screams when she sees a truck in our driveway — our truck.
One day, Bob decided it would be fantastic for Becky to follow her genetic instincts and see sheep. We drove to a farm that had lots of sheep and chickens.
Bob's chest was bursting with pride and anticipation to see her in all of her historical splendor. He said to the farm owner, "Would it be OK if I kept my dog on a leash and took her over to your sheep?"
Gracie and I stayed in the truck and watched.
Bob walked Becky to the pen where there were a dozen sheep. He looked so proud, just like a shepherd with his border collie in the ancient hills of Scotland.
When they got to the pen, Becky peered at the sheep, her body crouched for a full two minutes in that concentrated border collie stare. It truly was a beautiful sight to see her in her timeless glory.
Then she let out a scream so earsplitting that all the chickens jumped a foot off the ground.
Bob rushed Becky back to our truck while the farmer came running over, looking around frantically for what he must have thought was a severely injured woman.
Meanwhile, all 12 sheep kept doing what they had been doing all along — eating stuff from the ground, still ignoring the doofus border collie who was scared to death of them.
There is something that Becky does that she has never been trained to do. When she sees Bob, and he, as always, kneels down to greet her, she slowly stands on her hind legs, puts her front legs gently around his neck, rests her head against his and hugs him. She doesn't move, no matter how much time Bob spends hugging her and kissing her forehead.
Becky loves Bob the way Romeo loved Juliet. And he loves her the same. When Bob leaves the house, Becky stays by the door, no matter how many hours it takes for her beloved leader to return home. She will not move, eat, drink or do anything other than stand at her post ... waiting.
When he comes home, the first thing they do is hug. Bob keeps his eyes closed in ecstasy. To me, love is love, whether it's between adults, between parents and children, between dolphins, between whales.
But especially between Bob and Becky.
Award-winning columnist, Saralee Perel, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Her novel, Raw Nerves, is now available as a paperback and an e-book on Amazon.com.