Fifteen and a half years is a long time to be friends with someone, especially if that someone is a dog. My Border Collie, Kodi, has been with me longer than my sons, my husband, and my DVM license. To say nothing about a Border Collie’s longevity, this story is more about her loyalty.
I think we all can picture a Border Collie as they slice through a flock of sheep, a black and white blur that somehow cuts out #71 and easily places her in a pen by herself. The breed’s intelligence and agility is amazing enough, but I never expected one to become so attached to me and me to her.
From the Beginning
I met Kodi when she was one week old. I had the pick of the litter when my brother’s dog produced six Border Collie puppies. With dreams of someday taking over the family cows, I picked Kodi based on the old adage that the more black a dog had on the roof of their mouth, the better cow dog they would be. Needless to say, Kodi had the most black. Whether that meant anything or not, it soon became apparent that Kodi had followed in the way of a more timid Border Collie personality rather than a bouncy, aggressive one. She was a quiet observer but would jump to action when the cows needed rounded up or if one decided to leave the herd and make a break for it on her own.
At first, she lived with my parents while I finished the school year since the apartment that I was living in didn’t allow dogs and I would never have dreamed of trying to confine an active dog like that to an apartment lifestyle. She did great with my parent’s dogs and helped out when anyone asked her, but she soon decided to answer only to me, a problem when I wasn’t around.
This issue became more of a problem when I took her to live with me the next fall. I was renting a house with a large yard and one of my roommates had a dog to keep her company. She spent the day playing and chasing squirrels, but if someone other than me tried to tell her to stop doing something she would respond by stealing and hiding their stuff. For me, she would anything. I could keep her from swimming in the creek, chasing another dog’s ball at the dog park, and even to sit still while a squirrel escaped up a tree.
The Veterinary School Separation
I choose not to take Kodi with me to veterinary school as I knew that the demands on my time wouldn’t allow much to be with Kodi and I didn’t want her sitting at home all day by herself. She again stayed with my parents, although she chose not to help out unless I was there. She wasn’t misbehaving, she just wouldn’t work cattle unless I gave her the go-ahead. She still liked to chase deer, birds, or squirrels, just not when asked to by anyone else. One thing was for sure, whenever I was home on break, she was with me. She would go on horseback rides with me, even if it was to an unknown, scary location, something her timid personality didn’t usually take well to. She would also stick with me through thunderstorms, defying her greater desire to be hiding under the porch. It seemed that being apart so much just made her all the more loyal when we were together, a loyalty that far exceeded her timidness.
The Greatest Test of Loyalty
Kodi and my companionship had made it through the four years of veterinary school, a challenging four years riddled with separation, yet filled with amazing adventures when we were together. Kodi’s loyalty was about to be put to the ultimate test-me getting married and starting a family. Kodi had always been a friendly dog, not one to bound up to strangers with tail wagging and tongue lollying, but definitely one to conjure up a gentle pet from visitors. However, when my husband came into the picture it was a whole different story. She liked him but wasn’t fond of the idea that he might be with us all of the time. On backpacking trips, she would stick close behind or in front of me and try to push him out of the way in the tent. He once tried to take her to work with him since he spent most of his day in the woods and thought she might appreciate a change of scenery. Instead, she jumped out, noticed that I wasn’t there, and jumped right back in the pickup, refusing to follow him as he went about his work.
Then along came the kids. The most accurate description of how Kodi feels about my two boys is that she tolerates them. They seem to just be an unfortunate part of me and if she wants to remain by my side she has to take them as well. She’s never uttered a growl or offered to nip them but you can tell she only allows their pets because she knows I’ll pet her as soon as it’s over. She’s like most Border Collies in that she’s not aggressive when something isn’t to her liking, she just puts up with it until she gets what she really wants.
Kodi is still very much a part of my life. She’s a little bit slower, her hearing is gone, and sometimes she gets confused, but one thing remains the same-her devotion to me. She goes where I go, she does what I do even if the kids or my husband are along as well. While her loyalty has sometimes been seen as disobedience to others, to me it’s always felt like the greatest kind of friendship that I’ve known.