Yes, he's gorgeous. He is a young Australian Shepherd, and he happens to be incredibly smart and my favorite coat color - I just have a thing for merles and always have. But despite his good looks, that really isn't why I felt like he was the one.
After we lost Simon, our lovely red merle Aussie, to lymphoma cancer very suddenly in 2011, I was not even ready to consider adding another dog for a long time. For one thing, we had just gone through too much loss in too short of a time. We lost Callie, our blue merle Aussie, to a brain tumor when she was only six. That was a devastating loss, and so many years before we ever expected to lose her. Then, we lost Mollie, the elderly black lab we took in when my mother went to assisted living and could no longer care for her. Although Mollie was sixteen, and only with us two years, I loved her very much and she was still incredibly young at heart. Watching her body fail her as her mind and her spirit remained young was really hard for me. Finding her laying waiting for me when I came home from work, having fallen and not able to get her back legs under her to get up, was terrible. She wagged her tail and didn't seem to mind, but things reached a point where her quality of life declined too much, and we had to let her go. By then we had Maisey, the young border collie pup, who came into a house with two older dogs. So we remained a two dog house, just not the two we expected to have at that point in time.
Maisey had a lot of issues, but they all stemmed from her being neglected and not socialized or trained, and lacking confidence. She was so bright and so happy she was a joy to have around. Although Simon was older and had been with us six years when Maisey came on the scene, he was a great playmate for her. Maisey taught Simon to tug - a dog who refused to tug or play with toys, ever - became a champion tugger. He and Maisey danced around the house tugging at least an hour a day, chased each other in the pastures, and generally hung out. He was a good big brother.
Very suddenly, he was gone. We were a one dog house. But one border collie is a LOT of dog. Maisey had so much energy and was so focused on us, that although it was an adjustment having only one dog, she kept us so busy we often didn't dwell on it. As she became trained and more confident, something else emerged...she was such an easy dog.
I became spoiled. I've never had a dog I don't need a leash for, until Maisey. I've never had a dog I could set a steak in front of, tell her to leave it, walk out of the room for two hours, and come back to an untouched steak. She doesn't chew or destroy anything. She doesn't eat anything she isn't given to eat. She leaves anything alone, no matter how tempting, when asked to "leave it." She can be chasing full speed after something and literally skid to a stop instantly upon hearing "leave it!" She is good with wildlife. She doesn't chase cats. She actually shares with the cats and cuddles with them. She does well with the horses...most of the time! She can be trusted not to harm the chickens or the goats. She travels well and is a perfect hotel guest. She is an introvert, so she never initiates contact with people. She is shy around other dogs, so she doesn't seek them out, but she warms up to them and likes to play. She is not reactive. She actually enjoys baths and jumps into the tub willingly. She can go to work with me for 10 hours and never complain, as long as I play fetch when we get home. I can't say enough about how wonderful she is.
No, she is not perfect. She jumps up more than she should. She can be pesky with her demands for attention. Like most border collies, she has a high energy drive and needs lots of exercise. She can guard her treats from the cats and growl at them or lunge a bit (never, ever harming them, just making it clear she is the boss). She wants so much to herd that she can chase the goats or horses a bit. She nips at horses sometimes despite best efforts. When I'm out riding, she doesn't like to encounter other dogs so she literally hides under my horse (while we are moving). Thank goodness my horse is cooperative about that! She *hates* being left in the car when I run errands so she barks when I leave the car, for about a minute, until I am out of sight. She also jumps around in the car when left and can turn on the hazard lights, and she is excited by windshield wipers (though will contain herself). She rolls in horse poop more than I'd like. She goes through tug toys quickly. She refuses to accept that tennis balls are outdoor only toys, NOT tub toys. She demands a lot of attention. She is wonderful despite all of that.
Lately though, I have felt guilty. Maisey waits for me when I feed the horses, waiting until I can throw the ball. She does not have a regular playmate. She likes dog daycare, and when we travel, she goes to a daycare with other border collies and she plays tug all day and has a blast. It's a terrible mistake to adopt a dog and then find out your current dog doesn't want a second dog. I made that mistake before, with Callie and Simon. Callie would have preferred to be an only dog, something I knew only too late.
When Maisey and Dylan first met, he immediately wanted to play with her, and she immediately responded. And even though he didn't play tug, she had him doing it n 15 minutes. He was responsive to me and to her - he was young and athletic and seemed like a great, gentle, exuberant kid. They were well matched in size. Both smart, too.
It hasn't been long, but Dylan has integrated incredibly well into our family. He is gentle with the chickens, he is good with the cats (still a little too interested if they run), he and Maisey get along great and play every day - chase, tug, but mostly wrestling (Dylan's favorite). He is getting trained, and already proving that he could well be as easy to manage one day as Maisey. He does great off leash, he has great recall, he is eager to please and responds to praise or treats equally well.
For better or worse, we are a two dog family again. So far, it is really, really better. I am glad we adopted again, and ever so glad it was Dylan who joined the family.