I thought my father had lost his good sense on that day seven years ago when he brought home a border collie puppy into suburbia. Why a border collie? Why now? At the time, something about this just did not add up for me. Maybe it was because I was at that age where I thought I knew everything.

There was no way anyone, inside the family or out, could have known what a crucial role this incredible dog would come to play in the lives of my family.

There was no way anyone, inside the family or out, could have known what a crucial role this incredible dog would come to play in the lives of my family.

I wondered if a breed this demanding could make it in the city.

“So what’s this wonder dog’s name?” I asked my father.

“Well, I always wanted a dog named Lassie. So if I reverse it, it means roughly girl in Scot-Irish.” He replied.

I thought this was very fitting considering that our family heritage is Scot-Irish.

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When I was around before leaving town- I was to be moving out, soon, I was attending some college classes, and wanted to gain some independence; and create some distance between my dad and me- I remember she was so small. I’ll never forget the way her eyes and face didn’t exactly go with the rest of her body and personality. She looked so helpless, and she depended on him every morning to go out, and then she would come back into the house and sprawl out in front of the fireplace until I would wake up or whoever was the first up. At the time I was around before leaving town. I was to be moving out, soon. I was attending some college classes, and wanted to gain some independence, and create some distance between my dad and I. I didn’t think very much of it at the time when I asked my dad what it was he knew about the breed, he replied, “I know enough. I’ve just always wanted one. They’re working dogs.”

Looking back, I wish I had been more respectful. The truth is, Dad did know enough, and I resented him for it; but over the past six months or so, the old man started to soften up a little. He became more docile, more reflective, more vulnerable. Our relationship had quickly gone from Little League coach and son to drinking buddies to drunken, fighting idiots. Me on the one hand, saying all of the things that a son voices to hurt his father when he feels bulletproof and invisible, feeling overshadowed by the accomplished old man, over-criticized and over-analyzed. Like he owed me something. Him, on the other hand, putting me in my place, dragging me down and taking his frustrations 60 some-odd years old out on me. The truth was, however, for reasons unannounced to me, over the past six months or so, I was the old man started to soften up a little. He became more docile, more reflective, more vulnerable, more thoughtful.

A one-year-old border collie came prancing up the drive. Sally had a sly grin as if she was concealing a secret from all the other creatures on earth; dogs included. Her coat was glimmering in the sun; she had filled out a bit, not a lot, still a bit small for a border collie.

I watched dad play with her up and down the yard and throwing her frisbee after frisbee.

“She just needs a job to do,” he said.

And what a job she was doing. The more I watched, the more I fell in love with this dog, and I began to see that she was going to be something special; that she was here for a reason. There was no way anyone, inside the family or out, could have known what a crucial role this incredible dog would come to play in the lives of my family.

End of Pt. I

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