I’m pretty sure this is not breed specific to Border Collies but boy, oh boy is it something. We discovered the Border Collie Flashlight Obsession by accident one night and we’ve been dealing with it ever since. My neighbor had locked herself out of her house and asked me to come over and help her get in. It was dark so I grabbed a flashlight and went to help her. Upon returning to our place I walked in the door with the flashlight still on. The light shined on the wall and Ned the Border Collie went positively nuts!
I’ve talked with a few Border Collie owners and they have said their dogs also respond to this as well be it flash lights or those laser pointer things. It seems that the common assumption is that this is yet another manifestation of the herding instinct. As our dog went crazy, and I do mean totally nuts, I had no idea what the problem was, not realizing that the darn flashlight was still on. So as I moved around the light flashed across the wall, over the couch and onto a Lazy-boy chair in the living room. Like a rocket Ned shot over to the couch and bounded onto the chair knocking it clean over backwards! By this point I had finally figured out what the issue was and quickly turned the light off.
The strangest thing was that even after the light was turned off he still continued to look for the light for about 15 minutes! Very alert and excitedly running around the house looking at walls, checking the couch and examining the chair he had knocked over intensely. It was like his Shadow Chasing obsession from his puppy days but far worse. Now, Ned is normally a pretty laid back dog, considering he is a Border Collie, when in the house. Not a lot of running, barking, whining or anything along those lines. When that light hit the wall and flashed around the room he “snapped” into a totally different dog. His pupils dilated, his tail was up and he was at a dead run…not a trot or a lively step but a wide open sprint. It was surprising, shocking and actually pretty funny as well…but something that could be potentially dangerous.
Several months later the wife and I were out at night meeting and it was running very long. I stepped outside and called my father, who lives close by, to ask if he would not mind going down to walk the dog. About an hour later, as we were driving home, I get a call. It was dark outside by the time my father got down to walk Ned and he grabbed the flashlight to take with him on the walk. As he and Ned were walking down a dark road a car approached and, thinking safety, my father flicking on the flashlight so the car could easily see him.
Ned went crazy! He turned from a calm dog out for a walk into a manic chasing after the light on the ground. He bolted so fast that the leash popped out of my fathers hand and ran into the street after the light, right in front of the oncoming car! Luckily the car slowed down, Dad switched off the light and Ned came right back over to him. Moral of the story? Just be aware of this little behavior possibility with your Border Collie. I never thought to mention it to my father and we almost lost the darn dog because of it.