Kiley, my Border Collie (1992 – 2006).
Dogs like humans can wear out their joints & teeth, so it’s important to know how to keep your old dog as young as possible. I learned a lot from having 2 very active Border Collies. Now that I know better, I would never let my dogs do what I let those 2 fabulous BCs do!
Border collies are very interesting dogs; they are the true energizer bunnies. Kiley was a problem solver like I’ve never seen. If the Frisbee got stuck in a tree, she would take a moment and figure out how she was going to get it out and then she would do it. I’ve never had a dog since her that was able figure stuff out and stick with the problem until it was solved.
I would take her and Domino on a 5 hour hike, we would get home and they both would be asking “what are we doing now”. Which meant “hey, let’s play Frisbee for a few hours”. It never ceased to amaze me how much energy these dogs had. If I knew then what I know now, I would made them rest and/or given them mental games instead of continuing the physical activity.
Here’s the down side to the big game of fetch we played daily. In their youth we did not have all the great toys we have now and we played with tennis balls and hard Frisbees. When Kiley was 11ish, her teeth were nubs, all worn down by these toys. So use the soft style of tennis type balls, soft Frisbees, basically toys with flexibility.
Then there is the physical problems created by playing all that fetch. The start, stop, crouching down that BC dogs do, wore her joints out and when she was 13 she could barely walk or get up. It was painful to see and I guarantee it was painful for her. I knew then that all that crazy fetching had played a toll. The rest of Kiley was fine, but her physical body was spent.
I tell you this to remind us all, repetitive jumping, landing hard on their front legs, flying through the air and landing hard will have an effect in your dog’s elder years. Be mindful of what your dog is jumping down from. Some dogs need a ramp to get in and out of a house or car. Sure they can do it when they are young, but think about the consequences later in life.
Taking your dog to an Animal Chiropractor is a good idea especially if they are very active. I have Mick on Cosequin, a Vet recommended joint supplement. I discourage Mick from getting on tall things like he would like to do and then jump off. I also give both dogs massages, trying my best to keep them loose.
Kiley was a darling, sweet and extremely good dog. I always said, if I would have told Kiley to jump off a cliff, she would have. One time in Telluride, Colorado, I was working in my store on Main St. Kiley walked with me to the Post office a few doors down, I went in the side door, told Kiley to stay (no leash) and got in line. After chatting with people, taking care of business, I went out the front door, and went back to work in my store. An hour later, I realized Kiley was not with me and I ran down the street to the Post Office and there was Kiley, sitting there like I told her. I’ve never had a dog like that since!
Thanks for reading and take care of your dogs as I know you do!