Baily the Baja Horse Ranch Dog was born in a home in Brentwood, California, a suburb of the San Francisco Bay Area. It is a far cry from her current residence on a growing desert horse ranch near the Sea of Cortez in Mexico.
When my friend Lynn adopted Baily as a small puppy, it was obvious this Australian Shepherd/Queensland Heeler mix was a different kind of dog, meant for a very special active life. She was meant to be a working dog. Beginning at six weeks old, her owner began training the energetic dog.
Baily is not a dog who likes solitude. She needs to be with her people and her animals. From the beginning she went to work with her human companions and was rarely left alone. The high energy and highly intelligent dog needs something to do to keep all that energy focused in a productive, healthy way.
What dog wouldn’t love to live in the country where there’s wide open spaces to explore, plenty of room to run, critters to chase and ponds to cool off in? We have a tendency to think of city life as more cramped, but there are good things and bad things about living in the city or country. Whether one or the other is a healthier lifestyle for a dog depends more on his owner than where he lives.
When I was a kid, my family lived in the country. My dog Trixie and I explored every country mile we could find. Well, at least the ones that were within the distance I was allowed from home on my own. Trixie, being a farm dog, would roam on her own at times, and brought back some interesting “trophies” from her travels around the farm. One time she trotted up to show off the snake she’d just caught. Thankfully, it was just a garter snake.
As far as I was concerned, life on the farm was perfect, but there were hazards we had to contend with. There was always a chance of meeting wild animals, especially around sunset or sunrise, and there were stray nails that I always seemed to find – with my foot. I had to look out for puddles of oil or antifreeze that leaked out from vehicles, things Trixie found to eat that she shouldn’t, or getting scratched by a rusty wire sticking out, just to name a few dangers. However, when we moved into town, some of the same hazards were also present, especially my ability to find stray nails the hard way.
According to veterinarian and founder of Peachtree Hills Animal Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Duffy Jones, country life gives dogs a higher risk of getting injured. More farm dogs are allowed to roam unsupervised which means they can encounter more falls, run ins with wild animals, being hit by a car or some other type of farm equipment, or being infected with worms from eating things they shouldn’t. Ticks are also a bigger concern for dogs living in the country. Deer ticks are a danger to us as well as our pets, and wherever you find deer, there is an increased chance of finding a deer tick on your dog.
A Border Collie is a great dog to share your home with, as long as you can keep up with them. Because they are so smart, it’s easy for them to dream up things that get them into trouble. They also need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation. The Border Collie was born to herd, but if you don’t have any livestock, what can you do? One option to consider is renting sheep. In fact, sheep rentals are on the rise as owners with bored Border Collies search for ways to entertain their dogs and give them some much needed exercise.
Dealing with any bored dog, regardless of his breed, can leave your home in a shambles and a perfectly good couch ripped to shreds. It’s not the fault of the dog who releases pent up energy while he’s home alone. Border Collies aren’t made to just sit around twittering their paws waiting for us to come home. They need plenty of stimulating action that allows them the opportunity to stretch their legs and minds. I’ve learned from experience just how smart a Border Collie is, and that they need lots of exercise. On the plus side, it forces me to get some much needed exercise as well.
Border Collies originally came from the border area of Scotland and England, and are thought to be descendants of dogs used by Vikings to herd reindeer. It’s said that a Border Collie has a hypnotizing stare and is able to control sheep and other animals with their intense eyes. With no sheep to herd, they turn to cats, kids, adults and other dogs as the next best thing. They don’t care what they herd, they just want and need something to control. After all, that’s what they’re good at and it’s the reason for the breed.
Dogs are known as man’s (or woman’s) best friend, and they are excellent pets and companions. However, many dogs are also hard working family members who more than earn their room and board. Farm dogs are one of the many working dogs that have a lot more to do than be a playmate.
Originally, most all dog breeds were trained and bred for a purpose other than being pets. There were guard dogs, hunting dogs, herding dogs, and dogs that pretty much did it all. Farm dogs fall into the last category, as they often have several jobs they are responsible for.
There are many working farms still around today which utilize these special dog breeds to herd, to protect, and to perform other important tasks. These working dogs have the natural instincts bred into them over the centuries, and go through extensive training to become trustworthy farm dogs.
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