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My Special Girl

By: Angela Efinger

          Everyone has that one special dog that started it all and I was fortunate to find her. After my father died when I was 8 my mom and I became close.  We shared a love for animals and at one point even lived on a hobby farm with many different animals in MN. We enjoyed filling our lives with such wonderful creatures. 

            Our dogs went through obedience classes. The trainers we encountered were not always the greatest. Then I discovered an obedience class being held by a county club rather than private trainer. I had a wonderful experience training our sheltie there that I became a member of the club and volunteered at local shows. My eyes were open to a huge world undiscovered until now. The wonderful world of dog sports! Then to top it all off I saw what was to me, the coolest thing on four legs. I wanted to learn more about this breed called a Border Collie. I read every book there was and realized this was the perfect breed for me. I had begged my mother for years but she didn’t think a kid of 12 years should own a high energy breed. The issue was brought up for the next 3 years. 

            I just finished Middle School; about to head off to High School once the summer was over. While in School I had put my moral values over friends and soon found myself alone. Drugs and other teen issues had taken over my friends lives. I was raised well and veered from those peer pressures. Losing my friends left me in a depression. It seemed as if life wasn’t going anywhere.

            I dreaded that summer because it led to a new school with no friends. I became shy, insecure, depressed and had no motivation. My grades were dropping and my mother was worried about me. That summer everything changed. My last day in Middle School ended with a surprise! When I got home my mom was sitting in the driveway reading the classified ads. I noticed she had a big smile on her face. She then said go change. Put on pants and tennis shoes because we’re going to a farm. I was clueless to why we were going to a farm. Then she showed me the highlighted section of the paper and my jaw dropped! My mother decided now was a great time for me to own a Border Collie. I was so excited, and ready to go in mere seconds! 

            On the drive there I was telling my mom I was responsible and wanted a well breed healthy Border Collie and I wasn’t going to pick the first one I saw. Not easy to do once you’re actually face to face with 6 adorable puppies! Once we got to the farm I was disappointed. The pups sire was in a very small kennel on cement and feces everywhere. The dam was sleeping under a bus in the pasture. She was caked in mud and scared to death of strangers. I pushed that and the other issues with the puppies conditions out of my mind and focused on evaluating the pups. All were very shy. None were too interested in me except one. A black and white perfectly marked female. I thought about trying another breeder but the puppy was hard to resist and I picked it up, and before I knew it my mother was signing papers. My life changed from that day on. I now had a friend and new goals. I named the puppy Allie. I soon realized I had taken on more than I bargained for. She was extremely fearful of everything including grass. I had a lot of socializing to do. 

            School started and I was feeling better about life. I spent all of my free time training and playing with Allie. We enrolled in obedience classes and graduated at the top of our class. My parents later helped me make agility obstacles. We practiced obedience and agility several times a day in the back yard. No one in our area taught agility so I learned from books.

             Allie was 2 now. After school I’d take my bike out and go for a ride around the block with Allie running alongside. Our neighbor was dog sitting a Shepherd mix for a friend. They chained the dog to a tree out front. As we went by the house the dog went crazy. I didn't think much of it and passed on by. Few moments later the dog broke the chain and took off after us. My bike was not going to out run the dog. I then decided to stop and attempt to gain control of the situation by taking the flailing chain and bring him back home. I figured most dogs attack each other more than humans. This wasn’t the case. The dog rushed towards me without any hesitation. I ordered Allie to leave the dog alone and stay behind me. She is very obedient an knew what I was telling her and she obeyed. I braced myself for the dog rather than run. It jumped towards my face and I grabbed it by the neck in order to keep him from biting me. I screamed in fear! Allie then leapt into action. She tackled the dog from the side. The dog had to have weighed around 80lbs and he was pushed off me by a 40lb Allie! She showed her teeth and kept herself in between me and the dog. Now the dog focused on Allie instead. I feared for her safety! I quickly realized I could tie the chain trailing from behind the dog to the tree nearby. I ran to the tree and called Allie. She came and the dog followed her. He attempted to bite Allie but she was too fast and instead he was left bleeding from a small wound around the neck. The dog froze. Allie was now at my side. I had successfully tied the dog to the tree then ran to the neighbor’s so they could collect the dog. Luckily neither I nor Allie were hurt in the ordeal. If it wasn't for Allie who knows what might have happened that day.

            Now a junior in High School, I made a few good friends and planned on making my next year as a senior memorable. Due to the housing market rising, my mother had to move that year rather than next. We moved to Florida. I was originally born there so I was excited to go back yet sad to leave my friends. We stayed in a rental home until our new home was finished being built. During the stay I discovered Allie had what is called Border Collie Collapse. I had to find a balance of just the right amount of exercise in order to keep her healthy. Not easy when you own a border collie!  

            While still in the rental home Allie comforted me through the stressful times of Hurricane Charlie. Then again, with the stress of a new school for the second time. This time though I made no friends and did not celebrate my senior year. Instead I focused on Allie’s training for obedience competition. We entered our first show in 2006. The first day my whole family came to watch along with Emma our new family dog (cairn Terrier). Came to realize Allie did not perform well with the distraction of family outside the ring. We didn’t qualify that day but came back the next day without family and won first place! A few shows later we earned our CD title.       

            Not long after we moved into our newly built home our dog Emma needed Allies help this time. My mother and I had Emma out front on leash to go potty. My step dad and Allie were in the garage. Our neighbors Rottie mix escaped out the front door. The dog went straight for Emma. Emma got tied around my mom’s legs on the leash and I called Allie from the garage. Allie came running out and realized immediately what was going on and without further instructions charged after the dog and sent it home limping. Once again my superhero of a dog managed to save the day without even a scratch on her.

            I continued Agility training which quickly became Allies up-session. During training though I was distracted by a boy. Don’t ask me how he managed to get my mind off dogs but he did. Long story short I moved to San Diego, CA to be with him. Allie naturally came with me. 

            Our drive to CA was long and towards the end I had a scary encounter with a man at a rest area. I was walking Allie when this man approached. He began asking “what’s your name honey?” and “What’s a pretty thing doing way out here with such a pretty dog?” I didn’t answer. He asked if he could pet Allie. Instinct told me NO! I told him Allie doesn’t like people and he may get bit. Allie is actually very loving and wouldn’t hurt anyone. She sensed my fear though and growled at the man. I was surprised by her reaction. It only made me more afraid. I noticed the man had a friend who was watching with a grin on his face. He extended his arm out to Allie. Her hair raised and I told the man to leave my dog alone and started to walk away. He grabbed Allies leash and said it was ok because he was a dog trainer. Right there I knew he was lying because no trainer would dismiss a warning from the dog’s owner. Allie stared him in the eyes and growled. He was lucky I yanked Allie away from him because she did not like this man one bit. I decided to just leave. The man had the nerve to follow me to my car. I put Allie in the front seat and jumped in the driver’s side. The man leaned in and started yelling at me calling me rude and said I was a bad dog owner for not putting my dog in a crate while driving. Mind you I’m on a road trip with a car jam packed with my belongings. I peeled away from the rest area hoping he wasn’t crazy enough to follow. Thankfully he wasn’t. Thankfully Allie was smart enough to realize this man was not with good intentions

            Once settled into apartment life in downtown San Diego, CA, we continued our Agility training and entered our first Agility match. We earned our first leg with a first place run! We soon gained our Novice Standard and Novice Fast titles. I was so proud of her. She is now Allie III CD NA NF with a CGC certificate as well.       

            I never went anywhere without Allie if possible. Downtown living is full of scary people. You wouldn’t believe what I’ve seen! One night around 11pm. on our last potty walk for the night Allie smelled something in the air and became very upset. She was growling and her hair was on end. She was looking at the opposite side of the road where a line of cars were parallel parked. The street was only dimly lit. Looking to see what it was that was upsetting her I noticed paws under a car. It was slowly creeping closer using the cars as cover. It would peek around a car and then dart to the next trying not to be seen. I was frozen in fear because it was a coyote! I had never seen a coyote before and wasn't expecting one in a city. Allie started barking and the coyote realized it’d been spotted and showed its self by walking into the street. It cautiously approached. It didn’t proceed much closer because Allie became this vicious protector at the end of my leash. It took a lot to keep a hold of her. She must have looked quite intimidating because the coyote thought twice and took off into the night. Who knows what might have happened if Allie wasn't there. In the newspaper a few days later I read that coyotes were attacking people’s pets and charging at kids.

            After getting married my husband was honorably discharged from the Navy. We decided to go back to FL and start a life together. We always said Allie made it possible for us to say “our little family.” We decided to go on a huge month long road trip together on our way to FL. So here we are, my little Saturn SL2 holding a newlywed couple, a dog, a cat and camping supplies. It was a lot of fun.

            Once back in FL we settled in Orlando. I had down time in between jobs and reflected back on all the jobs I’ve had thus far. They all involved bringing Allie to work with me. I spent more time with Allie than my husband. I knew that I had to find another job where I could bring Allie to work with me. I found a vet clinic that held obedience classes. Once hired I helped start a doggie daycare program and I began teaching agility classes. Allie was the vet’s official safety officer. She would help make sure every dog was safe and got along. It was always amazing to watch Allie herd an escaped dog out of the nearby pond. Yes she would even go in the water and herd the dog out so we could catch it. She’s even inspired people in the obedience class to work towards certification for therapy work. Allie always knows how to make everyone around her smile. I find myself always smiling the biggest though. She truly is such a special girl. 

            My husband and I recently bought our first home in Palm Bay, FL. Allie has two new friends, Libby and Reggie. They are the newest BC members to join our family. Allie’s now 9 years old. I never thought that when I wanted a border collie back then that I would be getting so much more! We’ve done so much together. She’s retired from showing but still enjoying her small job as my demo dog for obedience classes. Allie has created goals to reach for in life. Some being, to better this wonderful breed and become a dog trainer through positive reinforcement. It’s Allie who has helped me find the fun in life and to grab on and run with it, tongue hanging out and all! She truly is my special girl! I really don’t know how I could have survived without her, literally! I always say “what makes a better friend than a Border Collie?” I have living proof of the answer to that question. My best friend is truly and always will be my special girl Allie. 

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