Well October 30 marked a bit of an anniversary and as luck would have it, I got back to Toronto in time to at least acknowledge it.
In 2009, on October 30, Bandit made the decision to live at Harrogate.
(Bandit, day one.)
I say that Bandit made the decision because I was very clear in my mind that I did not have the time or the need for another dog. My wonderful Kila had passed away in 2000 and since I knew there could never be another dog like her, I just wasn’t interested.
This did not seem to deter Bandit in the least. In that wonderfully stubborn Border Collie way, he had decided he wanted to live on a farm and so he had set out to arrange exactly that.
And exactly as I expected, he was NOTHING like Kila.
While Kila was laid back and effortlessly friendly to everyone, Bandit from the get go was intense, driven, and a little over protective. I could point at horses and Kila would run towards them but on a softly spoken word, she would drop the chase and immediately come back.
You may have noticed that this is not a skill Bandit has acquired.
Although he has, (for the most part) given up sneaking out to the ditch so that he can chase passing cars, his passion for herding up the horses continues even though he is now 12. He has heard the word “NO!” so often that he probably thinks it is a pet name I have for him.
Interestingly, as I was reminded of again this past week, Bandit is the perfect farm dog when I am not at the farm. For whatever reason, in my absence, he doesn’t seem compelled to ‘help’. Turning out the horses and bringing them back in can be a peaceful process when I am not here. Bandit merely lies in the sun, silently supervising.
But when I arrive he goes into overdrive, madly herding up anything that moves. Someone suggested that Bandit feels he has to work for me but the dog also knows I can’t play soccer with him until the horses are attended to. It is entirely possible he might just be trying to speed up the process.
Had we started our journey together a bit earlier, when I had more time to put into our ‘relationship’, things might have gone a little smoother. He is definitely intelligent but I think that is part of what has made him the most challenging dog I have ever known.
I think everything and everyone comes into our lives to teach us something and I am sure that is the case with Bandit. Some days I am not too clear on the lesson but I’m sure there must be one.
One thing I do know is that as he enters his twilight years, struggling a little more with his kidney disease, I am starting to have to consciously fight off feelings of impending sadness. I look at him and I see the intense joy he brings to every opportunity, whether it’s playing with his soccer ball or chasing scents on our walks in the field.
In those moments, I think I know what I am meant to learn.
Does he drive me insane?
But it doesn’t mean I’ll miss him any less when the time comes.