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A Tail of Two and a Half Border Collies

A photo of MaryWar Eagle ya’ll! Rosedale Dairy was my family dairy farm south of Tuscumbia Alabama. I grew up milking cows, hauling hay, slopping hogs, and feeding calves and chickens. Mom sold the farm after Dad died . I was able to purchase a little over 3 and a half acres which I’m turning into an iris, daylily, peony and oriental lily farm and home for my three Border collie rescues. Thus the name Rosedale Gardens. In this blog you will get mostly gardening don’t do what I’ve done plus a splattering of what it’s like gardening with three rambunctious rescued Border collies otherwise known as “the hooligans.” I had back surgery and a knee replacement at a young age, so I hope to give advice for gardening when at a disadvantage.

I grew up wanting to be a veterinarian. After graduating from Deshler High School, I attended the University of North Alabama in Florence for a couple of years before transferring to Auburn University. Competition for the few available state slots was fierce and very few women were accepted so I had a back up plan with a degree in Microbiology. My occupation mild manner hospital Clinical Laboratory Scientist Supervisor of Microbiology, Blood Bank at Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital by day and mad gardener by afternoons and weekends. I’m also a board member of the Arc of the Shoals, a school for special needs adults.

The cities of Tuscumbia, Sheffield, Muscle Shoals and Florence also as The Shoals is known as the birthplace of Helen Keller, W.C. Handy and as the hit recording capital of the world during the 60’s & 70’s. The Rolling Stones, Sonny & Cher, Paul Simon, Percy Sledge (also a native) Willie Nelson, Bob Seger, Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin Clarence Carter, Bob Dylan, Oak Ridge Boys, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hank Williams Jr., Shenandoah and others recorded hit albums at the area studios. The best time to visit is the last week in July during the W C Handy Music Festival. Oh and bring a lawn chair as a large number of events are in parks and other nook and crannies. Most events are free.

I grew up with Border collies on our dairy farm, so I fully under stood what I was getting into. They have to be constantly doing something. They get into trouble when bored.

Patches 

Patches, aka “Miss Priss,” was my first rescued Border collie I adopted in 2006. She came from a shelter in Columbia, TN. There her name was Lady and she was due to be put down the next day. Five minutes with her and I knew she wasn’t a lady. Approximately five months old she had no manners at all. She wasn’t a “herder” so this was probably the reason she was dumped. If I raised my voice at her she would back into a corner and snap at me. It was obvious she had been beaten and had a back injury as a result. I worked with her on a leash and taught her to come, sit and stay. She was very obedient while on the leash, however as soon as I took off the leash all obedience was forgotten. When she wandered off, and I’d call her back, she would turn and look at me like “what are you going to do about it” put her tail up in the air and trot off. She almost went back to the NW AL Herding Dog Rescue several times. I just wasn’t getting her attention and she wasn’t about to give me her attention.

At wits end, I found a remote control training collar that had a alarm and vibrator. I highly recommend it for a stubborn dog like Patches. Beating is not the answer. I would call her, press the whistle button and if she ignored my command, she got the vibrator. After a couple of sessions of getting her throat juggled, she finally decided to listen and come back when called. Finally progress. However she ate every non-eatable thing in sight. One day she ate off the feet of a concrete turtle sprinkler I was using as a door stop in the barn. Another day I came home from work and went out to the barn to feed her and found what looked like blood everywhere. I kept calling her and couldn’t find her. Finally this bloody stained furry thing ran toward me. I couldn’t find where she was bleeding. Then I noticed a bottle of concrete dye lying in the floor. She had chewed a hole in it and rolled it all around the barn playing with it. Also in the rubble were little pieces of red and white bits of confetti. I soon realized it was the remains of an original owner’s manual for a Farmall H tractor which used to be in mint condition. Somehow she had crawled up on the shelf and pulled it off.

Blackie 

 Blackie, a Chow Border collie mix, joined us a year later. Some how the Border collie genes flew by too fast and she didn’t catch its intelligence. She looks more like a little black bear with a short tail and the gold highlights of a grizzly with an attitude to match. Her owners in Birmingham Alabama inquired about putting her in the NW Herding Dog Rescue but it was in the middle of a move and I decided to take her. She had been locked in a cage for two years and was not socialized. Her owners brought Catfish as they called her up from Birmingham to meet me. As they got her out of the van she came up to me and licked me on the fingers. Their comment was “she likes you”. She watched them drive down the road and sat down like she was saying okay this is home and telling them I’m not going to miss you. Later I found out that they had given her away twice and each time she growled at the prospective owners. Later my Mom who lives next door came over for a visit. Catfish already on guard at her new home barked at Mom as she came across the driveway. Mom asked her “who are you barking at Blackie?” She ran up to Mom wagging her tail and licked her on the fingers. Since she liked the name Blackie and not Catfish her name changed. She has this irritating habit of licking your fingers if she likes you.

Levi 

 Levi, a little over a year old, joined the group February 2008. I didn’t adopt him, rather he adopted me. He came from the same shelter in Tennessee as Patches. He had been in foster care until he started chasing the owner’s prized show chickens, so Eli as he was called landed back at the shelter. He was to be put to sleep the day that he was rescued. Karen sent me his picture and I told her that I didn’t need a third dog, especially a male around all my flowers. One day I stopped in at her house to pick up used rabbit and guinea pig bedding for composting I opened my truck door and Eli was in my lap licking me in the face. I told him I knew when I was licked and home he came. Now being a die hard Auburn Alumni, I couldn’t have anyone thinking that he was named after Eli Manning, so an L was inserted in front of Eli. Levi appears to have been abused some with a rake or broom as he would run off whenever I got one out until he realized I wasn’t going to hit him. He just loves to irritate Blackie until she starts chasing him and he’ll bounce just in front of her getting her madder and madder. Occasionally he’ll under estimate her speed and gets pounded into the ground by her. He drags Patches around by her back leg until she gets fed up and bites him. Then he comes running to me for sympathy. He’s a lover and not a fighter. When the girls find a snake he heads for the house and sits at the end of the drive watching me trying to save the snake. His first day at my house was spent on a leash while I showed him the boundary limits of the underground fence around the lower forty. I thought he’d just about got it down pat and took the leash off and called him back whenever he got too close to the boundary wire. Then he spied Noah watching us from along the creek bank and charged toward him. He hit the boundary wire. Instead of coming back to me he ran back to the house along the path of the boundary wire getting zapped the whole time. It was months before he ventured back down into the lower forty.

Noah, more on him later.