Cause and Effect

I’m not sure which came first: the books about dogs or the love of dogs.

I remember several books from when I was very young. There was a children’s version of Lad: A Dog, by Albert Payson Terhune, and another of Lassie Come Home, by Eric Knight. Both were thin hardcover books, beautifully illustrated. Both books were about sable collies; here I am with two sable Shelties.

There was another book, a paperback dog encyclopedia with a Bernese Mountain Dog on the cover, published by Simon and Schuster. It had color drawings of different dog breeds. I remember being taken by the drawings of Belgian sheepdogs; my dog Kestry, whom I lost to old age in February of 2013, was a Belgian sheepdog.

Most of my dogs have been herding dogs. I love the look of them, love the long-haired coats, even though they’re a pain to deal with. Herding dogs are quirky. They’re quick to react, often independent, very sensitive, and sometimes too smart for their own good. They’re energetic, observant, and can have a wicked sense of humor. They pull me out of my tendency toward laziness and get me out in the world.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the dogs in my life often resemble the dogs in those books. I don’t know if I was given those books because I was crazy about dogs, or if the books made me crazy about dogs. I don’t know if I have herding dogs now because of those books, or because that’s just the way it all worked out. The first dog in my life as an adult was Wolf, a collie-malamute mix. My second dog, Panda, was a lab-whippet – not a drop of herding dog in her. Since those two, there have been a Belgian, two Aussies, two Shelties, and a border collie.

I seem to have a type.

Now that I live with dogs, I don’t read so much about them. I have several of Terhune’s books, as well as a copy of Lassie Come Home somewhere. I have shelves of dog books, many of which I mean to read, but haven’t yet. If the dog books sparked the love of dogs, the dogs have certainly surpassed the books.


16 thoughts on “Cause and Effect

  1. I loved dog books as a child. I read all of Terhune’s books, the Big Red books, and I’m sure there are others I am forgetting. My 6th grade teacher told me I couldn’t do any more book reports on books about dogs! We had a dachshund, not a collie or an Irish setter, but I loved her very much. Now my students love a dog book, Racing in the Rain. Thank you for the trip down memory lane!


    • I remember the Big Red books! I had so many dog and horse books… now I want to go back to my parents’ house and see if they’re still there. Very funny that you weren’t allowed to write about dogs anymore! Memory lane is a pretty neat place to visit. 🙂


    • Me neither! Four is my maximum… I sometimes feel as though I can’t give everyone enough attention. I’d intended to stay at three when I lost my oldest last October, but that didn’t last long.


  2. I really enjoyed the link between the books you loved as a child and the dogs who’ve loved you! My family is partial to Miniature Schnauzers; but I was a huge Lassie fan as a kid. I look forward to reading more about your wonderful dogs.


  3. You sound like my twin 🙂 My first chapter books that I read was “Where The Red Fern Grows” and “Black Beauty” Born, raised and then raising my children on a farm we have always had and have working dogs. I have four very smart but spoiled dogs: heeler, aussie, and two Mountain Bernese Dogs. They all have their own unique personalities and Yes… very active. Thanks for your post!


    • I’ve read both of those. Love Black Beauty… was lucky enough to have a horse for a few years. One horse was a lot of work – can’t imagine an entire farm, horses or no! Didn’t really have dogs growing up… that’s a topic for another post.


  4. Herding dogs are definitely interesting. I can’t imagine having one as a pet for the reasons you mention–too smart for their own goods! I worry that I wouldn’t be able to keep them occupied enough and they’d be miserable. I really prefer couch potato dogs. (Which is why pits are perfect for me!)


    • They are super active, that’s for sure. I have a dog walker take them on walks most days, so they can get some of that energy out. Luckily they mostly play with each other too, and once the snow finally disappears, we’ll have long ball-and-frisbee-throwing sessions in the yard. Agility helps too!


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