The short answer: we tried. We have approved applications on file with the two largest Border Collie rescue groups in Northern California. Since April, we’ve applied for a over a dozen dogs. Of all those dogs, we only got to meet one. Rock, a beautiful, young merle collie, is athletic and smart, but he attacked Jasper within minutes of meeting him. Thankfully, he found a home on a ranch where he could romp to his heart’s content. The rest of the dogs we applied for also found homes. Most were adopted by other applicants before our “turn.” A few linger in foster care because our situation was deemed unsuitable by the foster parents. (We were told by one parent that the occasional seven-hour day Jasper spends alone, in the house, was untenable for rescue dogs.) But they will eventually find their forever homes. (I suspect, with their foster parents!)
When I expressed guilt as one of the reasons I wanted to adopt our second dog, Rock’s foster mom told me: “Never feel guilty for getting your puppy from a breeder. It’s the only way you know what you’re getting.” When we failed to adopt a pre-owned border collie, we explored the breeder options in the area. Beefy and I have only worked with reputable breeders who supply records on both parents and ask to be informed of any health issues with the pups. It is a source of comfort to know that our pup’s parents suffer from neither hip dysplasia or collie eye. Jackson’s breeder met Jasper and allowed us to introduce him to the pups at 6 weeks to ensure we made the best match possible.
Why did we want another Border Collie? For all the same reasons we selected a BC the first time! They are medium-sized, athletic, energetic, smart, biddable, and cat-safe(ish). We considered other breeds, but ruled many out because they wouldn’t be able to do Jasper’s favorite activities, had breed-specific health issues or were likely to be a danger to our kitties. I could have gone with a standard poodle for dog #2, but Beefy objects to them as frou-frou.
I have no issues with mutts, but, not knowing the parentage, you can’t predict the dog’s temperament or ultimate size. With Jasper and five cats already at home, safety is paramount. I can’t risk aggression behaviors or a strong prey drive. I’m also afraid of bringing home a small pound pup, expected to become a medium-sized dog, and ended up with a 100+ lb animal. As much as Beefy covets giant dogs, we don’t have the space in the house, yard, or car for something that large!
Why did we add a second dog to our family at all? Well, this is the least defensible answer: for Jasper. We do all the things a human can do for a dog. Obviously, we provide food, water, shelter, and veterinary care. He also gets a minimum of an hour of aerobic activity a day and exercise for his mind, as well. We do on-leash runs, off-leash hiking, games of frisbee, agility, and swims in the river. He is constantly learning new tricks and vocabulary. (You should see him push the walk button to cross Folsom Avenue!) But we can’t provide doggie companionship: wrestling, chasing, (play) biting. Each time I left a doggy play date with his friends Rosko, Charlie, or Yoshi, I was sad that it couldn’t happen more often.
Jasper now has his live-in playmate. Jackson is a healthy 8-week Border Collie pup and integrating well into the household. (Less than 24 hours after picking him up, we got a call from the breeder asking for an update.) He’s already learning “outside,” “potty,” “house,” “sit,” “come,” and his name. We are looking forward to many years as a two-dog family. At the end of that run, we will try to adopt (and maybe foster), again.