My name is Billie, but my parents often call me Billie Blue Bacon Bits, the Wiggler, or even The Comma (given the extent of the wigglage when looking down from above). I’m a border collie, roughly 9 years old. To the extent that my parents know my past, well, they say a construction worker found me along a highway in Eastern Washington, gave me a good shot at a home, but couldn’t keep me locked up all day.
The American Kennel Club defines my breed as a member of the herding group, and they couldn’t be more right: I love herding frisbees, tennis balls, my stuffed shark, my stuffed hedgehog, cookies, even my brother cat Norman when no one’s looking. Their website says I’m “a remarkably bright workaholic”, but I’m not sure what that means. Yeah, I’m pretty smart, at times I might look at you like a man in a dog suit. While I can help you itemize your taxes every April (no, really), I’m a stray sans paperwork, sans passport. But you see, where humans define their life as work and play, for me it’s all just life. I have only so many days on this earth, I can’t define them. Quite simply, I just go.
You wouldn’t know it from looking at me, but I’m a dog of divorce. :) Yeah, happens even to the best of us. Love and dote as I might on my parents, it doesn’t always work out. I used to blame myself. I mean, I think we all do right? But as time marches on those feelings diminished. It’s been more than five years since my parents split up, but they worked out an arrangement for me to visit my dad once in a while. Mom and Dad still love each other, just differently. They have new partners , which means more belly rubs!
My mom is a veterinary technician, so while I have the best teeth in town, she can also bring me to work. It’s a great sitch, no doubt; I’ve seen some of my fellow borders at the dog park whose parents left them alone all day. Two words, people: CRACKED OUT. Place a stethoscope to their chest and you’ll hear BALL BALL BALL BALL BALL at roughly 225bpm sitting still. And yes, they hate their parents for leaving them home all day.
Not me. Mom’s worked it out for me to curl up in a kennel slot while she works away. We take breaks for walks, rain or shine. Sometimes she gets sad during the day, I think because she cares so much for her patients, and we can’t always explain how we feel. All I know is that her cheeks must hurt, because when she looks at me she lights up with smiles and tears. I respond in kind with wigglage.
If you come walking up to me, I’m likely to chuff a bit. I’m proud and protective, but I always relent, as scratches and belly rubs matter most. Public service announcement: you might think I’m out to sniff your junk by default, but it’s more about circumstance, as my breed size and your inseam just happen to align. Believe me, I’m not always keen to whiff your bouquet, that’s simply the way I’m made.
I’m classically trained in the art of sitting, laying down, rolling over, and playing dead if you point at me. It’s kinda tough to do the latter given all the school shootings of late (look I’m a dog, but I watch the news, I’m smarter than most people, especially those shooters). I love to howl at sirens. Sometimes when we hear a siren my dad will ask, “do you want to sing the blues?”. I have no idea what that means, but I suppose that’s permission, so I let ‘er rip, he giggles, and that’s love.
I’ve noticed a few grey hairs creeping onto my muzzle. I try not to pay too much attention because, well, I’d go cross-eyed from staring at them. I’m also feeling a little stiffness in my joints. Some days it’s hard to get going, my mom wells up with tears, and that usually means we can’t play frisbee. FRISBEE!
It's about time for my nap. My bed is filled with all my toys, which are also my best friends. I’m not much for other dogs, being a “bright workaholic” and all, but as this days winds down, I find safety and warmth, tucking my grey muzzle into my bed next to Mr. Shark and Mr. Hedgehog.