Happy Birthday, Bonny. Today is your 14th birthday. As I look back over the years, I realize that we have had good times as well as bad. But I am human enough to admit that when things didn’t go as well as I might have hoped, the fault was with me and not with you. According to the AKC description of the Bearded Collie disposition, they were bred to be independent thinkers, able to make decisions out in the fields in order to keep the herd in check or save a baby lamb. You inherited that trait in spades.
I can remember countless times that you caught a fleeting glimpse of a deer or picked up the scent of some wild animal and bounded off through the woods in hot pursuit. As I screamed your name at the top of my lungs, you would glance back as if to say, “Chill out, I’ve got this”.
Now, as you reach those golden years, and have lost most of your hearing, it is hard to determine when the deafness began to manifest itself, as you always had selective hearing and only acknowledged us when it suited your purpose. You were the master of the vanishing act. It always amazed me how you could flat out disappear within the blink of an eye. I always kept my eye on you when we were outside as I knew you had a propensity to run off, but I’d turn my head for an instant and then it was as if you had evaporated into thin air. I’d start combing the woods of our 20 acre property, shouting your name, but you’d never come even if you were within earshot, because you could turn off your ears when you were thinking independently. You’d only acknowledge me when you had been caught out and were in my line of sight. It was as if you had created your own doggy version of hide and seek. “If you can’t see me, I’m not here.”
You were the cutest puppy ever. I remember staring at you in rapture as you slept, feeling all gooey inside, as I marveled at your perfect beauty. You had the most gorgeous flowing golden coat that I have ever seen, a match for any Westminster wannabe. The only reason we were fortunate enough to have gotten you was that you had one minor flaw according to the AKC breed standard. Your white collar extended to your shoulder. But for that, you would have been a show dog, and we may have seen you on the Westminster show circuit. You definitely had the flair and panache to own the ring.
I look into your weakening eyes, and I still see the sparkle and love of life that has always defined your personality, the beautiful green/gold color, still as captivating as ever. I always felt that we could communicate just by staring into each other’s eyes. Your eyes always said, “I adore you, and wish to please you,” though your nature often got the better of you.
Another AKC descriptor is the “bouncing beardie”. This bouncing behavior was apparently a desired trait in the old Scottish herding days, because the dogs would work in thick underbrush on hillsides and they would bounce to catch sight of the sheep. Bonny, you had springs for legs. As I lift you in and out of the car, I remember how you could easily jump 3 feet in the air from a flat footed position. I marveled at your ability to jump onto the bed backwards, landing on the mattress back feet first.
You would have been an excellent Frisbee dog. You had the drive, the bounce, the desire to be the center of attention, but we failed you when you were a puppy. Your older sister, Cayce, was a Frisbee champ. She commanded the Frisbee all of her life, and when you came into the picture at her ninth year, she resented you and made it clear that the Frisbee was hers and hers alone, and would attack you if you tried to interfere with her game. We were weak. We let Cayce have her way, and neglected to train you to catch the Frisbee in order to keep canine peace. If you had had a job and a proper focus in life, you would have been less of a loose cannon.
It is said that Bearded Collies have an excellent problem solving ability. You were very crafty. I remember several occasions when Cayce would be gnawing on a bone that you coveted. You would run into the adjoining room and bark excitedly at the window. Cayce would get up to see what all the commotion was about, and as soon as she had dropped the bone, you would dash in to claim it. Poor Cayce never caught on that she had been duped. You were an excellent counter surfer, just tall enough to snare any morsel that was left on the front half of the kitchen counter. Even as recently as 3 months ago, when I thought that you no longer had the ability to do so, you managed to pilfer two dozen cookies that I had just baked for a llama hike.
The years are catching up with you, dear Bonny. I treasure every moment that you have been with us, the good and the bad. You have an indomitable spirit and a great sense of humor. You are always ready to play and your tail is always wagging. Your cute face has always made me smile. You have definitely made our lives more interesting and if nothing else, taught us to not take ourselves so seriously.
Happy Birthday, Bonny.