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Are we ready for another Border Collie?

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My wife has been thinking recently about getting another Border Collie. I feel the same way but with some definite reservations. Our first dog came from Jim Shearer in 1980. He was just one super companion. Our two boys grew up with him and when he was 14 we got another BC pup. My point is that both dogs lived with a house full of people and lots of time and attention given to them. Last year our oldest son, 24, moved back in with us and in November 06 got his own Border Collie from a local breeder (Branchwater Farms here in Maryland). That dog, coincidentially, also came with Shearer heritage and once again we were in the puppy raising mode. Our son was not working at the time and spent a great deal of time with the dog. He has since moved to Vermont to study law (with his dog) and our younger son attends the University of Delaware. The point is that my wife and I are now "empty nest-ers" and would love to have another Border Collie. But we also have demanding jobs: she in personnel for a mid-sized company with branches all over the country (meaning she does have some travelling obligations) while I am an Assistant Principal at a citywide math and science magnet high school who does NOT leave at 3 PM!! (or, as often as not, even at 4 PM!!!). I recognize the responsibility we would have as Border Collie "parents" and I wonder if we would be doing the right thing for the dog. The dog would primarily be a companion and we might try agility training and competition, but I guess what I am asking is, would our situation be fair for this wonderful breed?


Forgive me for such a long post, but I want to present as accurate a picture of our circumstances as possible, especially if we are thinking about getting a dog later this winter or in early spring 08. I might add that retirement for me will be in 2011 --at which time, of course, the situation will change. But for the immediate future would our circumstances be appropriate? Or am I being too much a gloom and doom sayer?


I would appreciate your comments and suggestions as we move towards making a final decision. Thank you.

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It's so nice to hear you contemplate the pros and cons before getting another dog and not after like so many others, so kudos!


Have you considered getting an adult BC or BC mix from rescue or a shelter or elsewhere? There are so many available. Puppies take up so much of your time, particularly with the potty training and socialization, and since you both work full time, an adult might be a better option for you.


A rescue could match you with a less active BC or BC mix. Shelters have lots of mixes and there are always dogs needing homes in another section of this forum and in other forums as well. You could find a BC mix that is more low key that would be ok with being alone during the day, but still have the BC quirks and intelligence that we all love so much.


If you can't settle for anything less than an intense, active, quirky, intelligent BC, then I would wait until you retire and then get a puppy or adult that you will have plenty of time to devote to.


Best wishes to you and I hope you make a decision that will make you, the wife, and the future dog happy for years to come!



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Miz has some good advice and I concur with her Kudos! However, there are many people with active BCs and busy schedules. You just have to commit a part of every day to your dog. Even a very active BC does not need to be going 100mph, 24/7. Lot's of mental stimulation and excercise in the evenings should be fine. If you are off during the summer, you could do a puppy, but they are always crap shoots. You just never know what you will get. Jackson was 6mos. old before he was trustworthy 100% of the time left alone with free range in the house. Skip was like that practically from the git. So, until you retire, a rescued adult dog is the best route, IMO.

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I would second the rescue option. They usally have younger dogs if that's what our looking for and I agree with Linda, they don't need to be running 24/7. As a matter of fact mine is knocked out right now from a long day of playing. But when I have to work I just play and do some obedinance before I leave, and do more when I get home. No big deal. He knows when I leave and just chills out and waits for me to get back to play again. But I think a puppy might be a little to much for you right now. IMO

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I think that just like everything else, it depends on how much you're willing to put into something. I live a pretty darned busy life, and still manage to give a fulfilling life to a dog (or rather quite a few dogs :rolleyes: ). I work 8-5 every day, but I do take my lunch hour to run home and potty and play with the dogs. There will come a day (hopefully in the near future) that I hope to have my own stretch of land and the dogs will then have to wait the entire day while I work - and I will STILL give them fulfilling lives.


I think the biggest key is what you do when you are with them. When I'm not at my day job I work sheep with my dogs, dabble in a little agility, and some other activities here and there (a tiny bit of lure coursing, and maybe even some flyball - these two on a limited basis). I have a very small yard, so spend a good deal of time taking them to places where they can stretch their legs. In other words, I've made some lifestyle changes for my dogs. All of that being said, however, my dogs don't go-go-go 24/7. Sometimes... life is very boring. They understand that, and act accordingly. In other words, what they need is good quality time that includes mental and physical exercise, chewing time, interaction with you, AND some down time.


In your situation a rescue may be a great alternative - just to forgo the whole puppy housebreaking thing. The great thing about rescue also is they can assess the dog's temperament and habits for you, so you'll have a pretty good idea of what you're getting. Puppies are great - and they are also a little bit like a pig in a poke.


If you do decide to go the puppy route, please find a responsible breeder - one who breeds the parents based on their working ability alone.


Good luck!

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would our situation be fair for this wonderful breed


Having just gotten a rescue dog this October, I absolutely agree this is a great alternative for someone who may not have a lot of time to spend with a new puppy. And getting a rescue dog means you can find one that is suitable for your lifestyle. They are "pre-screened". :rolleyes:

I admit I was a little apprehensive about getting a grown dog because I was afraid I wouldn't have the same bonding experience you get with a puppy.

But as we discussed what we needed in a dog for our lifestyle, we decided a BC puppy was too much of a crap shoot and we were not suitable owners for dog with a strong herding drive or extreme high energy. Like you, we didn't want to be unfair to the breed.


We needed a companion dog who could get along with our older keeshond and who could be a playmate for our crazy cat. We needed a dog that would be satisfied with daily walks and play sessions. We really didn't want to go through house training again.

So we decided to look at rescue dogs and see if there was a BC that fit the bill. East Tennessee rescue had an adorable 1 year old that looked perfect for us, so I made the 5 hour drive to meet him. As soon as I got out of the car I knew he was our dog. Absolutely adorable, squirmy, wriggly, happy, bouncy little guy who "woo, woo, wooed" his way into my heart immediately. We couldn't be more pleased. He's still enough of a puppy that we get the fun part but he's already beautifully housetrained, so we don't have to deal with the messy part! He loves to play with the cat, he respects the grumpy old dog's space, he's fine when we leave him in the house for hours at a time.


So I wholeheartedly agree getting a rescue dog is something you might want to consider. Plus it just feels great to give a loving home to a dog someone else threw away. Many times I look at Finn and think "someone made a HUGE mistake letting you go".

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:rolleyes: It sounds like you and your wife are dedicated to dogs and would give a BC a WONDERFUl home. My husband and I have 2 BC's(the oldest is 7 and we just got a puppy in October). We both work full time. Our BC's are pets, they do not have the work drive. There are a lot of BC's out there that have been abandoned in shelters. Look around! It sounds like you and your wife should get another BC!!!!! Rescue Leagues can be an option if you're willing to go through the application process. My husband and I had an unpleasant experience several months ago while trying to adopt though a rescue league and would never go that route again, but that was our individual experience. Obviously a lot of people have positive experiences as demonstrated by the other replies you received. We ended up getting a BC puppy from a farmer while out of town visting family and we could not have gotten a better pick for our family!!! He is fitting in nicely but the bottom line is that we looked around and picked the one we felt best situated to us. You may or may not get that option with a league as they try and match you. A league matching you can also be a positive, thing. It just depends on how you want to proceed. Whatever route you choose, GO FOR IT!!!




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I got an adult (18 months or so) border collie 2 years ago, and he's been wonderful. I work and am away from home from 8 to 10 hours a day - sometimes (rarely!) even upwards of 11 or 12. Buddy sleeps all day and is wonderful in my home.


However, to make this work, I walk him for a good 45 minutes off leash at a park in the a.m., and I try to get him into the woods to run for an hour in the afternoons/evenings. It's really tricky, especially this time of year with sunrise and sunset cutting down on the light. I sometimes have to arrange for Buddy to be at my sister's house or my parents' house if I'm going to be gone the extra few hours - just so he can be a bit more active and get out to go to the bathroom if he needs to.


Sounds like both of you have the financial resources to maybe get a dog-walker or take the dog to doggie play group on days when you're going to be gone a really long time? A lot of my dog's friends go to day care or have dog-walkers come to the house, and they do fine with working parents! :rolleyes:


Good luck. I can't say enough good things about getting an adult dog who's already done chewing, peeing, etc..



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I think that with long work hours, a young adult rescue makes the most sense, BUT if you want a pup you can find a way to make it work. I am fortunate that for the four youngsters I have raised I could take them to work and my van could be parked in a safe place where they would not be disturbed. Then I could take my breaks and lunch to play with pup, etc. If you decide a pup is for you, then you will need to consider perhaps getting a dog sitter or other person like that to come at least once a day to let the pup out. Perhaps you and your wife can also stagger leave and return times so that the pup is left home alone for the least amount of time possible. You sound like dedicated and creative people, and I think you can make it work, whatever you decide (young adult or pup).


My first dog was a young adult rescue. I commuted to work an hour away in a large city (Washington, DC) and so was gone basically 12 hours a day (including commute time to the vanpool lot, the work day, and the actual commute time to DC), barring any major highway disasters. I had two sets of neighbors who were also very close friends and who were also dog owners. One set also left later than me in the morning and got home earlier and the other was a nurse who worked "odd" hours. Between all of us, we made sure that everyone's dogs were out when they needed to be, had playmates when they wanted, were walked as needed, and so on. Up to that point, my work, including travel, had precluded me having a dog. Thanks to great neighbors and a dog that didn't have the needs of a puppy or require basic puppy training (like housebreaking), I was able to make it work. Had I decided to get a puppy, I would just have had to be more proactive and creative in finding solutions to make it work. At the time, a young adult rescue was right for me (a pup would come later--and y'all could do the same, young adult now, pup when you retire).


Good luck with your decision.



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I also am approaching retirement age (although financial circumstances may force me to continue working); and while some of my comments may seem indelicate or insensitive, they are thoughts I have had myself.


First, is your health such that you can keep up with a Border Collie? Annie (who is 3-and-a-half) and I go walking every day, and hiking and swimming when the weather allows; she also gets in a great deal of both indoor and outdoor play time. If you can keep up with a puppy, then go for it; but if you are not sure, an older, more sedate dog (for instance, from rescue) might be appropriate.


The second thought is far less pleasant, but again relates to your health. Given your current state, what is the outlook for longeivty? Mortality is not an issue that we like to think about, but it is a reality. BC's seem to be very robust dogs, and can have very long life spans. Do you have a contingency plan for the dog if it should survive you? Again, this may be relevant to the choice between a puppy and an older dog.


If we decide to get another dog after Missy departs, it will probably be an older dog from rescue, one who needs our love and support in its latter years. But that is our choice, and is not a suggestion for you. Whatever you decide to do, the best of luck to you.

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