I have been united with this little girl since 2004 ish… she came to me via a dear old friend that sadly passed away some years back.
The reason my old friend asked if i needed a collie was two fold.
Firstly, at the time… me and my ex wife had soay sheep. These little brown “deer like” sheep are bloody difficult to herd..
It’s like trying to herd cats😂😂😂😂… many was the day that we’d spend hours trying to pen 20 sheep to give them a wormer or check their feet…
We’d curse and swear… run ourselves ragged … even rugby tackle the little feckers😂
We then bought a second hand quad bike so as to keep up with the flighty little sods… and i even used to do stunt catching from a moving quad 😉😂 …. that was at times, rather spectacularly successful or … ooooh… wince…. that hurt!!!!!..
Around that time, Ray(my old fried) said to me “do you want a collie, there’s a one next door to me that the farmer wants rid of” what he meant was, the dog is no good and he’s going to shoot her…. well… i couldn’t bring myself to say no really. 😁
The day came to collect her, so we rocked up in my landrover with mam and dad in the back..
My mam was friends with the farmer.. so all the niceties where done away with and we just got on with picking her up.. Nan was shouted of and duly ran up to say hello….
She was so timid but ever so friendly and jumped into the back seat of the old discovery and sat on my dads lap.. she then proceeded to take a wiz on him as she travelled, marking her love for dad. Once home I’d already built a kennel and a small run in preparation for her… she took to that with great exuberance…. happy in the knowledge that the whole place was hers. She had fresh bedding made from paper shreds, recycled from various places, she had fresh water daily and two square meals a day….. what more could a farm collie want🤔
Ahhh….. yes…. exercise..
My ex would take her and the two golden retrievers out for long walks.. culminating in tea time for them all… that is untill the youngest retriever decided that getting on the scent of fallow deer and doing a runner into the forest seemed like a good idea..😈😠😠
Nan would tag along but had no clue of what she was doing, i mean it was just a game to her… something different to sheep!
One day they did the buggering off trick…. usually just as she approached the gate… then the usual hike and calling for them ensued… this day it was different, we found nan within 10 minutes looking rather sheepish🤔..she was in no uncertain terms told to go to her bed, which she did …and stayed there with her run door open. ….but still no sign of paige the retriever.
We scoured the area by foot and quad bike… walked for miles until it got dark…
We tried phoning friends and had all manner of folks looking for her.
It wasn’t until we came home that i suggested calling the police… that’s after we had tried the dog rescue places in Newcastle.
Anyway… I phoned the local station (you could do that then!!!) A nice lady said yes we have a golden dog in the kennel… she’s about to go to the pound.. at which point i dashed down to find one very sorry dog that was so happy to see me…
I think what happened was … paige got picked up in a car… someone thinking she had been dumped… who then kept her for a while before handing her in to jail…. of course NAN would see the abduction and came straight home.
After this episode, neither dog did a disappearing act again…. NAN could be trusted to be outside with a free reign of all the land and never once did she stray further than our boundaries and would ask to go to bed at 10 at night…. if she was in the house.
As time passed, she got used to the soay sheep.. looking more like fallow deer… she then remembered her role and breeding… lo and behold… she had the eye for herding deer sheep… result😂 no more running ragged or quad leaping.
Stroll on a good ten years and a lot had changed she was semi retired… living with me… and working for me on the odd occasions that i myself needed to gather sheep… she was in the house as soon as i came home from work… but stopped in at nights due to her getting on in years…
She had many a road trip and many a day out to somewhere different.. and she loved meeting people…. so soft a nature always getting people to tickle her feet…. (she loved that) and a peculiar woooo……ooooo greeting… a half a bark! But prolonged into a doggy sentence.
Last year….. she took ill, she had what is known as a vestibular, it’s an inner ear dysfunction that causes what looks like a stroke. It’s quite a common problem in older dogs, so I’d seen it and knew what to do… to many people it looks horrific when a dog can’t stand to pee or even walk in a straight line.
So.. it was about this time I thought upon the fact that I may lose her and wondered whether I should get a puppy to be trained alongside nan…. you know…. “monkey see monkey do”
Roll on another few months and nan had recovered enough so as to get out and enjoy life, however…. the zest for herding had gone😔.
Just as this was all happening…. I’d muted to mother about getting a puppy to run with nan… she instantly shared a farsebook post from a farmer over the valley who had pups for sale.
So earlier this year i went and collected the little bundle of fluff that was to be Nan’s Paduan learner… my nephew, young Hugh was tasked with naming her by coming up with a shortlist of one syllable female or generic names. We then shortlisted them and put them in a hat… he then had to pull the name out of the hat ….. lo and behold….. the new dog was named..
Welcome to the new edition … FLO …😁😁😁
they both got on so well… even sleeping together and cuddling in😚..
flo took nan as a surrogate mother… sticking by her side to be shown stuff.
Now…. collie training can only really get going once they are of a certain age and stature… say 8 months plus. So for 8 months FLO was just FLO…. a collie puppy.
Step back to the start of September… I was invited to a 60th birthday party down in London. So, arrangements had to be made for dog sitting etc, as the invitation spanned a whole weekend away.
On the second day of weekend I received a call from my vet.. “nan has taken ill, she has contracted a uterus infection that would need operating on” the vet informed me…. however she is to old for the operation and would not survive it…. I was really gutted and to add to the despair… couldn’t get home.
The vet was told to make her comfortable and… should she slip further downhill .. please do the necessary…
Nan managed to hang on untill we got back….. she died in my arms having her belly and ears and feet being scratched…. she had the trade mark tip of her tongue sticking out.. that denoted happiness… I brought her home to be buried overlooking the fell where her woollen charges roamed… and to admire the view.
She now resides at the foot if an Alder tree, planted over her grave… she will get an engraved slate marker with the words.. “here lies NAN, the best collie in the world”
SHE WILL BE SADLY MISSED BY ALL THOSE WHO’S HEARTS SHE TOUCHED
… REST IN PEACE MY FAITHFUL FRIEND XXX …
Categories: Northumberland (the peoples republic of)