This was the last week of Zeke’s life. He was 10.5 years old and our very first Border Collie. He was free, which makes it even better. We had never trained a sheep dog before or owned a border collie but we figured we could watch enough videos and read enough books to get it done. We did get it done, but there were some hiccups along the way.
We tried to socialize him early when he was a puppy by taking him out into the barn that first winter. This did not work out so well for him, as one of the ewes took an instant distaste to him and proceeded to stomp on him or roll him every chance she got. Zeke took this personally and he remembered her until the day we got rid of her due to old age. If given the chance he would single her out of the herd just to chase her down and drag her to the ground. He did not ever forget that grudge. This philosophy was his life, if all went well and you treated him well, he treated you well. If you made his life miserable, he was not going to forget. The older he got the harder he was to take to the vet. He would snub all treats and growl at everyone whenever we took him in.
We did train him to work the sheep and eventually even the cows although he loved working the sheep more than the cows. The only real problem with his training was that it ended up becoming the R rated version of a working sheep dog’s commands. You could not have little kids within 1/2 mile of hearing range of me working the dog. He did great but he expected a certain kind of criticism while he was working and if he did not get it then that meant he could do whatever he wanted. Luckily, we are in the middle of a large open area and don’t have any close neighbors.
He had torn out a knee and was retired from animal working although he managed to work the sheep twice in his last week. I buried him in a rock cairn at the very top of the farm property. He is next to our chocolate lab. The view is spectacular and I think that I would like my ashes/compost (we have not decided which yet) up here with the dogs so I can look over the farm and wish everyone well and watch over the place. He will be missed.
We are going to wait until early summer to get a replacement. It seems soon but our other dog is 5 years old and it takes about 2-3 years to get a dog trained up well. If they are only able to work until about age 9 then that does not give us much time. Mouse also needs eye medicine to keep him from going blind so he might not make it to the 9 year mark. Zekee proved how invaluable a dog is to us when it comes to moving the farm animals around. We will never not have one as long as we have cows/sheep.