Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Jessica the Border Collie

 Jessica is my house guest for a couple of days. She’s 102 in dog years and is slowing down, but she is still the best dog in the world to us.

She came into my older son’s life over fourteen years ago as a ball of fluff that was one of the most adorable puppies ever. At the time, Steve was equipment manager for Winged Foot Golf Club in Westchester County, New York. He was living in an apartment building which ostensibly didn’t allow pets, so she went to work with him every day. She rode to and from his apartment in a back pack and he taught her not to bark.

She grew up as a working dog on an upscale golf course, and her job was to chase geese away. Geese love golf courses; all that lush grass and water holes to boot. She was very good at her job, and when she wasn’t herding geese and chasing them off, she’d be in the shop with Steve, herding a tractor he was working on.

After five or so years, Steve returned to Pennsylvania and established a company which services playing fields, mostly golf courses. Because of his networking during his time in New York, most of his work is in that area and extends into Connecticut and onto Long Island. So during his active season, it’s an almost daily commute of two or more hours each way. Jessica was his traveling companion for many years, and roamed happily on some great golf courses.

Some six years ago, Steve finally met the woman of his dreams. She was his age and had two children, ten and eight at the time, and Jessica was able to retire and become a house dog. She fit right into this family and they adore her. She’d earned the pampering and spoiling. Recently she has gained a best friend, a sweet little cat named Mae West. The other cats in the household know that Jessica is Mae West's champion, so they steer clear of altercations with her.

I wonder if this will be her last visit. She has a hard time getting up and down the steps in my bi-level, and is content to sleep most of the time. When she first started visiting, my cat Josey was highly suspicious of her and hardly slept a wink. Who knew what the evil doggie might try. Jessica, who is the gentlest dog in the world, just ignored Josey’s freak show. In the past couple of years, once Josey gets over the shock of realizing her nemesis is once again invading her territory, she ignores Jessica. Mostly.

Jessica has been so much a part of Steve’s life for so long that saying goodbye to her will be very difficult. She’s still beautiful, though her eyebrows are gray these days, and she seems content to not move much. Border collies are very active animals and in their early years they need lots of room and they need to herd. She had all that. I think for a border collie, she’s had a great life. Last year when she visited she had the first accident in my house I had ever experienced. She was very ashamed, but I told her it was okay.

Obviously, I’ll miss her, too.

Jessica and Josey