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In Riley’s own words
A fan was wondering about my dog Tucker (The Last Ride and Courageous Love). She wanted to know if he was a border collie. The answer to that is yes, but the breed was not recognized as such until the early 1900s (after Tucker had passed away and I was forty-nine years old and a grandfather). Here is everything you have ever wanted to know about how the border collie came into being.
Tucker, is a working member of the collie dog family. He looks and acts like a border collie. However, the specific breed name “border collie” was not officially established until 1915, when the term was used to distinguish between this particular kind of collie and the Scottish collie. By whatever name you want to call Tucker, he is a collie-type dog and is especially good at herding livestock: sheep, cows, and even ducks.
Collies originated in Scotland, where they have herded sheep for hundreds of years. They spread all over the world and are sometimes called “sheep” dogs. Border collies are highly intelligent and extremely energetic, acrobatic, and athletic. In fact, many say the border collie is the most intelligent of the dog breeds. I believe that, for sure! He followed Andi for three days and nights without being discovered. Then, he made sure the coast was clear before revealing himself. What’s more, he came back to me with Andi’s locket around his neck and showed us just where to go in order to find where the outlaws had held Andi, Lucy, and baby Sammy all those years ago. Tucker is indeed one sharp dog. I miss him so much, and so does Andi. There will never be another dog like Tucker.
Border collies are medium-sized dogs, with a moderate amount of fur (that sheds frequently). They come in almost any arrangement of colors: black and white (the most common and Tucker’s coloring), red/tan/white, black/tan/white, and even one solid color. Their ears can stand up, droop, or be semi-erect, like Tucker’s. Sometimes they have one blue and one brown eye. Tucker’s eyes are both brown.
The first official “border collie” was a dog named “Old Hemp.” He was born in 1893, and his herding style was a little different from how the other herding collies worked. Hemp was quiet and powerful, and the sheep responded well. Many liked his style and used him as a stud to improve their own collie lines. Thus, the “border collie” breed was born. Every purebred border collie today can trace their lineage back to Old Hemp. (Even though Tucker is not considered a “purebred” border collie, he came as close as a dog can without an official title!
Border collies need considerable daily physical exercise and mental stimulation. The Circle C ranch gives Tucker plenty of opportunities to run, herd, and work. Running alongside while Andi and I ride Shasta and Dakota is sheer joy for Tucker. He is a bundle of energy.
Do border collies make good pets? Yes and no. Due to their working heritage, border collies are very demanding, playful, and energetic. They need space and lots of action, either with humans or other dogs. If not given chances to expend their energy, the border collie will chew holes in walls and furniture. (Tucker has never done this! He was extremely well-behaved and loved.) Outside they will dig holes out of boredom. In a household of small children, they will want to herd them, along with any small pets like cats and other dogs. They can’t help it. This was bred into them for hundreds of years. It is what they are as a dog. Andi and I are very glad Tucker liked to “herd” our Jared. This act saved the baby’s life one day when a rattlesnake came too near. Tucker herded him by pulling on his gown. You can read about that incident in the story, “All in a Day’s Work,” from Stranger in the Glade: And More Tales from Memory Creek Ranch >>