After owning several great dogs over the years I had never had a Border Collie until I got married. The wife wanted one and, if you’re married you know this, the wife pretty much gets what she wants. I knew enough about the breed to know that we were in for a challenge but there was something I was not so ready for or aware of. After being the happy owner of a Border Collie for over two years now I am simply amazed at how involved in our lives he has become. I don’t mean this is a sappy way and, in writing this, I’ve had a tough time trying to explain it. What it boils down to is this; when this breed looks at you they really are looking right at you. As in, right in the eye. Not in an aggressive manner but in a questioning way like he’s asking, “So, what next?” The Border Collie look is really something to behold.
This look started when he was very young. As a puppy I’d be working with him on training and he’d look me directly in the eye. Now, I’ve always been told and read that this is an aggressive move used by dogs to establish dominance. I know that look in a dog however this is something totally different. You may also have heard of people talking about the Border Collie Stare which is something different as well. The “stare” is that look they get when their herding instinct kicks in and is unmistakable. We see it all the time whenever someone picks up tennis ball.
What I’m talking about it an indepth intelligent look with an attentive “I’m listening” or a slightly impatient, “What are we doing next?” sort of look that I have not seen before in other dogs. Other Border Collie owners I’ve spoken with know “that” look. This is not the semi-blank stare you get while they wait for a treat or that look you’ll get when you scratch behind the ears of most dogs. This is an inquisitive and interactive look that means something. Either he wants to go out or, most often, he simply is bored and wants you to give him something to do. These are, after all, pure working dogs and while we don’t own a farm or have sheep Ned the dog still needs a job!
In order to have a good relationship with this breed lots and lots of training, patience and time is required to make it happen, far more than any other dog I’ve had before. Through this time I’ve learned that a special relationship is formed with your Border Collie. When he looks at me I get the unshakable feeling that he really is looking, listening and thinking about what is going on at the moment. It has been a real challenge trying to figure out the best way to have a good relationship with our dog and I’ve done more reading and studying on this topic than I ever would have imagined. In the end it has been a great experience and we now have a loyal and well behaved pet and a happy family because of it.