The Code of Border Collie
The red and white Border Collie’s long eyelashes shaded his eyes from the sunny scene in front of him. Stretched out under his favorite tree, River, as his Lady called him, kept an eye on the young Border Collie, Levi, running joyfully around the yard. Levi ran for the sheer enjoyment of running, feeling the wind against his muzzle. Played out, Levi stopped and collapsed next to River.
“Harumpf.” River snorted, as he appraised his over-heated companion.
“You must stop your silly running. It is time I pass on the Code of Border Collie. My eyesight is dimming, my breath is short. There is little time.”
Levi stretched and rolled on his back. He was tired of River’s lectures and lessons on life. River jumped up and stood over Levi.
“You will listen!” He curled his lip, his full red and white tail held stiffly behind him. Levi lowered his head and looked away from River’s piercing stare.
“We are dogs first and foremost. But we also belong to the tribe of Border Collie, born in a land far, far away, herding sheep, working with man. There are rules we must live by. We are special among dogs, intelligent. We are Border Collies and have codes which you must know and pass on.”
Levi yawned and struggled to stay awake.
“We are here to serve the humans. Our Lady treats us with respect. Honor her with your life.”
“A Border Collie is a hard worker. There is no time to play when there is work to be done. Only a Border Collie can herd with decisiveness, precision, going inside the sheep’s mind. Are you listening, Young One?
Levi’s eyes closed. His thick black and white coat shone through the branches. River stood up and walked to the gate. The Lady would come outside shortly with treats and cooing words.
The next day River himself loped through the green grass, stalking tree rats, munching on acorns, while Levi ran circles around The Lady, loving the attention she gave him. River stopped and focused on the surroundings, keeping track of unusual sounds. The Lady finally walked inside, leaving the two dogs in the yard.
“My breathing is getting harder, Young One. There is more to the Code of Border Collie.” Levi saw a branch fall to the ground and started to run and grab it. River barked and nipped at Levi to keep him nearby.
“You must serve, you must protect, you must work hard. There is more.” Levi turned his head from side to side, wondering what more there could be. He settled his face between his paws and listened intently to River.
“A Border Collie is loyal to his humans. Never betray The Lady. She feeds us and keeps us strong. Don’t ever betray her trust. From the time of the beginning our Tribe has stayed with man even though we didn’t understand their ways.” River slowly and painfully rose. Levi watched his friend saunter away to the water bucket. When he drank his fill River turned back to Levi, “I’m tired. There is more. Another day.”
Many days later The Lady brought home a little black and white Border Collie. Levi danced and circled around the bundle of energy that The Lady held in her arms. Gently she set the pup on the ground. In a flash the pup ran to River, who growled and nipped the baby.
“Have you no respect for your elders? You are a Border Collie!” The puppy mewed piteously but Levi sniffed it and was happy-a kindred spirit.
Over time Levi and the puppy, Catcher, became friends, running in the field, grabbing sticks, chasing each other. River watched from under the trees, disgusted. There is so much to teach them.” He barked at Levi to join him under the tree, the fall air held a crispness, there were more leaves on the ground.
“There is one more important code of the Border Collie tribe. You must love life. Can you remember that? Teach the pup to be a good Border Collie. He must serve, protect, be loyal and hard-working. But most of all he must love life.”
Levi walked over and put his head on River’s side, quietly, centering. The pup ran around chasing a butterfly.
The following spring Levi went over to the tree and sniffed the now abandoned spot of his mentor. He remembered the lessons River had told him. Turning to the other bush where the younger dog, Catcher, played, Levi barked to him.
“Come here! I have much to teach you. It is time for you to learn the Code of Border Collie.