The Dog Liberator™

The Dog Liberator rescues abandoned dogs throughout the Southeast. Based in Central Florida, this non-profit organization fosters all of their dogs in a home environment. Founded in 2009, all dogs are fully vetted, spayed or neutered prior to adoption. The Dog Liberator focuses in rescuing the herding breed, which consists of Border Collies, Shepherds, Sheepdogs, Aussies, Collies, and Deaf/Blind Dogs.

The Versatile Border Collie

The Versatile Border Collie
My Reckless, a classic Border Collie beyond compare!

Within the past 10 years, the Border Collie has changed dramatically, not by looks but by temperament.  I have written this before for other publications, and shared it with Border Collie enthusiasts but I have never explained the Border Collie in detail on this website.   I realize now the need because our Ellie, formerly known as Valentine,  exhibits behavior that confuses some but only because she is  a classic Border Collie of a decade ago.

For hundreds of years, the typical Border Collie had an on and an off button, meaning that when they were asked to work, they worked, and when they were asked to rest, they rested. Not today.  As a breed, they are often labeled “hyper.” I have seen numerous Border Collies that can not stop; they must play constantly.  Every waking hour they are bringing you a ball or laying a Frisbee at your feet.  They simply will not let their owners rest. To the average person, these dogs appear to be OCD, and borderline neurotic. Every Border Collie should respond to the “leave it” command, but many rarely do. Why?

My Tinsel Town, great looks and temperament

Good breeders breed their dogs for a specific purpose.  Some breeders breed for temperament in an effort to strengthen a specific skill, i.e., herding, disc, agility.  Some breed dogs to preserve the standard.  Some breed for looks only, aiming to produce a gorgeous litter that will be quickly sold as pets.  (The puppy mills are the most infamous of these.)

I think the general public first became aware of Border Collies from the movie “Babe.”  Breeders began to produce lots of cute puppies to meet the resulting demand.  Sadly, many of these puppies were adopted by families who were completely unprepared for a dog with a working drive, and so the first wave of Border Collies hit the shelters.  But it was the birth of TV shows like Animal Planet that made the Border Collie sought after within the sporting community and resulted in a change in temperament.  After all, these highly intelligent,  athletic dogs can be trained to do anything on a dime.

My son Ryan and Reckless

Naturally, breeders responded to the demand by breeding their most high drive, focused, intelligent, and tireless dogs.  Eventually this resulted in what we see too often today: Border Collies who can not stop.  These are the dogs that you see doing cartwheels in their 4 X 4 crates. Few people can deal with this much energy.

Let’s face it, most of us work full time, have chores to do, families to take care of, and need time to relax. These are the dogs that are usually dropped off at shelters and pounds because they are impossible to live with.


My daughter Sarah and Tinsel Town

Because of this over-breeding for drive, when I surf the internet about the breed, I see statements like, “Border Collies do not make a good family pet” or “Border Collies are not good with young children.”  This is not true. Yes, breeding high strung Border Collies creates high strung Border Collies, litters that will grow up to be the neurotic dogs that no one can live with.  But I do not believe that this is the rule with Border Collies.  The original Border Collie, however, the Border Collie of ten and twenty years ago, was the perfect family dog, the dog with an off button, the dog that enjoyed working hard, and resting with the family.  As a herding rescue with emphasis on Border Collies, we have rehomed enough of them to know that the hyper-drive ones are the exception, not the rule.  The trick is knowing which is which.

Ellie, (Valentine) A show-stopper!

And that brings me back to Ellie, or, as we will always think of her, Valentine.  When we first met Valentine off of transport, she appeared shell shocked, lethargic, unresponsive, and disinterested. She was very thin, and heartworm positive. I figured she wasn’t feeling well, which could have been a factor, but only a small factor.

The months that followed, her adopter, Sharon, shared videos of her at the dog park.  What we saw surprised us.   She is quiet in the home, but when taken off leash at the park, she goes into action, and is the ultimate herding dog.  But how could that be? Where did she get that energy? She didn’t get it;  she’s always had it. Valentine  is what a true Border Collie should be, used to be, before hobby breeders bred the dogs for reasons that changed their temperament forever.

Our rescue has had the pleasure of finding homes for all types of Border Collies, some have received Canine Good Citizen awards, some are therapy dogs, bug dogs, disc dogs, agility dogs, and some are just awesome family pets. So while Valentine appeared to be a quiet dog that would do well with a quiet family, her true color today dictates that she thrives when her life is balanced by times to run, play and herd.  She is a TRUE Border Collie!

2 thoughts on “The Versatile Border Collie

  1. I question your premise regarding border collies of today. Most that I know have an off switch. Maybe that is because most that I know are in performance sports. Could it be that if your border collie has an interesting, constructive job, he is more likely not to be (as you call it) “high strung”? No disrespect intended, just a thought taken from my limited experience.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I meet many potential adopters looking to find a second dog, another Border Collie. Some of the Border Collies that I have met are truly out of control, maybe due to a combination of lack of training and leadership in the home, but certainly due to irresponsible breeding.

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