My sister’s friend Belle died unexpectedly of cancer a few weeks ago. Belle left behind her beloved border collies, a 3 year old male dog and a 6-year old female. Border collies are incredibly energetic dogs and perhaps the most intelligent of all the breeds. In that sense they make great demands upon their owners and Belle was a very good owner in the sense that she was real outdoor person – she had 20 acres of land; was an incredibly accomplished gardener and also a deeply knowledgeable conservationist, which translated into a great deal of outdoor time with her dogs. These were just some of the Belle’s qualities that endeared to my sister and her family. My sister is a great dog lover and she frequently walked her dog Charlie, a friendly labradoodle, with Belle’s border collies. Sometimes, my niece’s dog, Luna, another friendly soul, a lab-pitbull mix joined the walking outings. These were not casual walks - they were often 5 mile-long treks through conservation land. Incidentally, anyone who is reading this and thinking that 5 miles is a long walk is right, but that's just a warm-up for a border collie. Border collies have a tremendous amount of energy - inevitably they are the dogs you see herding sheep in the mountain highlands in the movies. They are happiest when they have a demanding job.
I didn’t know Belle very well although I saw her every Thanksgiving at my sister’s house where she unfailingly turned up with a very large platter of mouth-watering stuffed mushrooms. My sister invites a lot of people for Thanksgiving and she is a very good cook so it's really a credit to Belle that in the midst of a Thanksgiving feast, her mushrooms were especially memorable. Basically, all I really knew about Belle is that she was deeply interested in conservation matters; loved animals; that she was from an old New England family and she was extremely knowledgeable about Massachusetts history. When I heard she had passed away, I was shocked because she was in her early 60s and nobody seemed to have been aware that she was sick. That appears to have been the way she wanted it. She didn't tell anyone she was ill.
My sister was heartbroken about losing Belle, especially at such a comparatively young age and she wanted to do right by Belle’s dogs. We have an animal rescue group, Shelter Me Inc, and I thought that we might be able find a home for the border collies through our network, which includes many barn owners. But, we didn't have the right network – to place border collies in a home that’s right for them, you need a border collie network. These dogs need an energetic owner who loves and specifically understands border collies and can meet their needs. Belle's dogs went to an excellent breed-specific rescue who will find them a home that is right for them and in the meantime, they will be surrounded by other border collies and have lots of room to run.