Friday, July 22, 2005

"She's Got the Look"

I had seen other Border Collies give "the look" but had never really seen it in Rowena. I thought: maybe her eyes aren't the right color. They are brown and not amber or blue. I also never saw the attention span she would need to develop one of these "looks" either. She had always been easily distractingly from her tennis balls and frisbee. It was hard to get her to pay attention when we were throwing one of her toys. I also had a hard time visualizing Rowena in any sort of a herding position as she often charged forward towards other dogs and people. I thought I was really missing out on a Border Collie experience by not observing these things with my own dog, and finally concluded: "Oh well. She won't be a herder anyway."
As Rowena nears her first year, she has noticably settled down. Gradually she has picked up these common Border Collie traits over the past couple of months and her attention span has allowed her to have longer and more focused playtimes and has begun developing intense obsessions with certain objects and games. Not only have I reached my goal of teaching her to swim, I have indeed turned her into a retriever. Rowena is an obsessed retrieving beast! She loves her tennis balls, her water retrieving toy, and now a frisbee! The last couple of times playing at the field, she has actually gotten assertive with her playmates who have usually been able to take her toys and run off with them. She may be a normally submissive puppy, but now when it comes to her frisbee, Rowena is ALPHA! She now watches the toys we are about to throw with an intense, brown-eyed Border Collie stare. She runs or swims after her toy and returns with it over and over and over again! This is where the phrase "That'll do" would come in handy. She doesn't understand that phrase as of yet.
She does know what the phrase "Slow!" means now. When she spots another dog or some people when she is off leash during playtime, I yell "Slow!" and repeat that command until she has gotten to her destination. When I yell slow, she now crouches down as if she is looking to herd a bunch of unruly sheep. Then she'll get up and hurry along a bit further. I repeat my "slow" command and she crouches down again and continues her stop and go approach.
Rowena is also fixed on water, or anything that might have some water left in it. This is my fault for trying to get her to not be afraid of the water. On the down side, I cannot take her to play in the field before our Orono appointment because she will jump into a not-quite-dried-up stream or a little pond that will leave her smelling like a swamp thing. We can't go on the bus like that! When we recently spent several days with "Grandma" (My mother), she became obsessed with the river out back. When ever she was out and off leash, she would run down and into the river, stand there and wait for someone to throw something in for her to retrieve. Fortunately, she has not discovered that she can swim just to swim too. Right now, she would not imagine swimming unless there was an actual fun purpose for doing so.
Watching Rowena grow and develop over this (almost) year has been a fun experience for me. Since I spend all my waking hours with Rowena, I can even pick up on all the little things as well. I can sense her mood changes, facial/body language, and despise it when she stares at me... like I have done something wrong. She is indeed a blossoming Border Collie.

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