Border collies know how to hide themselves in short grass, waiting for the unsuspecting potential Frisbee thrower to pass by. They disguise themselves in dandelion heads and you can barely see them. Well, you can almost barely see them.
Joni is now 2 years old and this photograph appears to portray a dog that is calm and mature and even sensitive. The true story, however, is somewhat different. As I type this, Steven is outside on a ladder in the pouring (and freezing) rain clearing leaves from the gutters in preparation for the snow expected tomorrow. He has trudged back and forth carrying a heavy long ladder all around the house with a wet, bedraggled Joni at his heels. Each time he stops and puts the ladder down to set it in place, Joni drops the Frisbee at his feet ready for him to play. Does that show sensitivity? Maturity? I think not.
Even this photograph, where she is lying apparently peacefully on a rug disguises her real state, which is closer to that of a coiled spring. She is watching us working around the kitchen, gauging where she should drop her blue ball so that we might see it and start a game. It took me several frames to get one this sharp as all the others were blurred by her sudden movements.
She is only 2 years old, still a youngster, so the playfulness and excitement is completely understandable. And she is a border collie, so the focus will never lessen, at least not for several years. But she could show a little understanding and sensitivity to the situation and not ask a busy man on a freezing roof to play Frisbee. Give him a break, Joni!
Border collies are working dogs and are happiest when they have a job. That job can be something as fun as playing Frisbee or ball, or as serious as sheep herding or search and rescue. Joni wears this pack often when we go for a walk, partly because it helps to focus her, but also because the weight it carries gives her additional exercise and builds stamina and muscle. When she sees me holding the pack, she walks up and puts her nose into the harness. As soon as it is buckled on her character changes to being calm and serious. She becomes a working dog in fact as well as name.
She is learning to wait patiently for me while I stop to chat with someone or to take a photograph as I was here. She has also learned to drop to a 'down' position wherever she is, when I raise my arms and call her name (this was how the sheep herder told me to train her). She will also come straight back to me and sit by my left side when I call her name and tap my leg. She needs to work a bit more on it as, like a child, at times she becomes distracted and needs a reminder that life is not all about play. But she is getting there. She will soon be 2 years old.
This big red ball is mostly air with wonderful soft but strong rubber webbing that is most satisfying to run after and catch and chew (I imagine) and almost as much fun for us to kick and throw. The main problem with it is that it rolls. Of course all balls roll, but this one rolls without much outside influence. So Joni who loves to play with it shaking it and tossing it over her head, watches it with delight as it rolls away, then leaps to catch it and repeats the exercise.
The trouble is that our drive has a gentle slope and when the ball rolls past a certain point, Joni knows she can't go after it as it's outside of her boundary. So she sits and watches it as it makes its way down the hill, gaining momentum as it goes around the corner and out of sight, before it comes to rest, buried in some weeds or under a pile of (red) leaves at the base of a tree. As most of this playing and losing of the red ball is done while we are elsewhere, we have no idea that it's even missing until we look for it to play with her and find it… gone.
If she lost it only a short time before we arrive on the scene she might still be sitting staring around the end of the drive in the general direction where she last saw it. Usually by the time we are looking for it, Joni has moved on to other toys that don't leave of their own accord (such as the Frisbee) and looks at us blankly when we ask where it is.
She loved it as soon as we brought it home to her and this photo is showing her and the new red ball on the day she first got it. We still have it, but now have to reserve her playtime with it when we are there to keep an eye on it.