Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Millie is a good, good dog

This is Millie.

Millie 2010_5

She is my parents' border collie.

Millie 2010_7

If any of you have ever had or been around a border collie, you know what I'm about to tell you. They only need three things in life:

1. Food
2. Water
3. A job

Give them those three things and they'll think they have the perfect existence. But if you throw in a "Good dog" every now and then, look out. It will send them over the moon. But a "Good, good dog?" It turns them into a gooey pile of pure bliss.

Millie 2010_6

Millie gets plenty of food and water (heartily supplemented with dog cookies and jerky strips), but she sometimes lacks in the job department. Border collies are herding dogs. They can't control their instinct to herd. We have horses, but we don't like her to herd them. And the mules in particular take great offense at any attempts on her part to do so.

Border collies are ingenious little creatures, so without a proper animal to herd, such as a sheep or cow, they'll look for something else. Long ago when Simon was still alive, he served as the perfect subject for her. He'd run through the pasture and she'd go flying after him. Then he'd stop. She'd stop. Then he'd come running back to me. She'd come running back, too, with a smile on her face and a sense of accomplishment for bringing this unruly dog back to his proper place. She never seemed to notice that ball he had in his mouth.

With the passing of Simon, Millie again found herself without a job. She sulked and pouted. Every now and then, inspired by true stories of herding dogs on the Animal Planet, she'd warm up her arthritic little paws and set out to herd Lucy and Sadie. But each time she'd come to the same conclusion: trying to herd these two girls is like trying to herd chipmunks.

Lucy and Sadie

Then one day, the clouds parted and the sun shone down, and her dad pulled up to the house with a scared and starving dog he found on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. At first Millie was offended to share her space with such a stinky and dissheveled boy, named Trapper (another story). But soon Trapper was slick and fat, and a miracle happened right there in Brannan Valley: While outside in front of the house one day, he ran. And she chased him. Then he stopped and ran back to his mom with a stick in his mouth. And she chased him. The world was right again!

Millie and Trapper 2

Millie and Trapper 1

Trapper and Millie 3

Trapper and Millie 4

Millie's old now. She'll be 11 this spring. Her front paws are knobby little things gnarled by arthritis. She spends her quiet time on the foot stool in the living room, keeping a watchful eye on her herd of dogs.

If you pass by her, her ears go flat. She lowers her head and looks up at you with the sweetest brown eyes. There is a soft "thump, thump" of her tail against the side of the foot stool.

Millie 2010_1

If you stop and look at her, she rolls slightly to her side, hoping, praying, that you'll give her one small belly rub.

Millie 2010_2

She is in heaven for those few moments that you're rubbing her belly. But when you stop, she'll snap to attention and check on the status of her herd. They can be unruly, you know.

Millie 2010_4

Then she turns to you again, and with flat ears and a lowered head, she'll ask for affirmation of her existence. And when you utter those six words, "Millie is a good, good dog," it's like she melts into a little pile of overjoyed goo right in front of your eyes.

Millie 2010_3

But a border collie's job is never done, and she quickly regains her composure.

Millie 2010_8

With alert ears and eagle eyes, she focuses on these two bozos, because you never know when they might try to escape.  

Lucy and Sadie Jan 2010


  1. that was wonderful, what a charming, if unruly, family you have~

  2. THAT was a riot....a sweet and wonderful riot. They are all so lucky to have her watching over them!

  3. Hope it's not too late to comment. Oh sweet Millie . I smiling and have tears in my eyes. She's such a good dog!


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