Betsy's son Race lives with us today in northern Utah, along with three field spaniels and a ridiculously large collection of cats. When he first came into our lives, we lived in the mountains of Southern California, not far from the Mexican border. We drove from there up to eastern Oregon to pick Race up, and he had our hearts from the first moments we saw him. He was terrified at first - scary new people, strange brown dogs that were so slow, and lots of these funny-smelling things called cats. It took a few weeks for him to really settle into our household, but settle he did. It wasn't long before we'd often find Race in a pile with other dogs and cats, and he joined in the play along with all the others.
Debbie trained him to run agility, and the two of them were doing wonderfully until one day four years ago when Race slammed into Debbie's knee. She was badly injured (a tibia plateau fracture) and took many months to recover to the point where she could run agility again. Race was the proximate cause of the injury, but it really wasn't his fault - we could hardly hold him to blame for doing his very best in exactly what he was being trained for. But the risk for Debbie was too high, so we decided that she wouldn't run him in agility any more. That means Race became "just" a companion, but oh what a companion that boy has been!
Visitors to our home always marvel at Race's never-ending desire for play, especially to chase and retrieve something thrown. It doesn't matter to him what you through: a ball, a pine cone, or even a stone are all equally fun for him. He takes such joy in the chase, the catch, and the return - and you'll tire of it long before he does. He's been great with visitors, including kids, once he's sure they're not threats. While Race is making up his mind about that, though, it's best not to get too close. If anyone ever invaded our home (or our car) while Race was on guard, they'd have some mighty fast teeth and claws to contend with!
These days, of course, Race is an adult dog (eight and a half years old). His constant canine companion is Miki, our ten year old field spaniel. The two of them share a special contempt for our field spaniel puppies, Mako and Cabo - while occasionally condescending to play with them, too. Besides chasing thrown things, Race's favorite activities include riding with us on four-wheeling trips, walks through the country around our home, and swimming. Our field spaniels are supposed to be water-loving dogs, but we have trouble getting them into a stream or pond. Race, on the other hand, goes completely bonkers anytime he figures out that he's about to go swimming. He loves to bark and snap at moving water (as in a stream), and to fetch sticks thrown into a pond.
This morning as I had my tea and toast while reading the (depressing) election news, I felt something worming its way under my left elbow and into my lap. When I looked down, two big brown eyes were looking at me - and then flicking over to my buttered toast - and then back to my face. When I took a bite from my toast, there was a little piteous whimper from below, and a little drool. His tail was wagging furiously the entire time, of course. I did manage to keep a little toast for myself. :)
Dog people understand us completely when we say that we think of Race and our other dogs as our children. Others think we're crazy, and they may be right about that. It's our great privilege to have Race as part of our lives, and we're grateful for him every single day. Even when he eats our toast. Especially when he eats our toast...
Thursday, November 10, 2016
Betsy, RIP... Our smooth-coat border collie, Race, was one of Betsy's puppies. Betsy belonged to a breeder (Angie) in eastern Oregon, and she was the mother of a line of puppies that have been stars, including in agility. In memory of Betsy, owners of her puppies are each writing stories about their dog, and they're all going to be collected to send to Angie. Here's the one we wrote for Race: