Sunday, September 30, 2018

Just say Boo!

October is almost here!  And with the arrival of October, comes Halloween.  Did you know that children aren't the only ones who like to celebrate Halloween?  While the collies do not enjoy dressing up in costumes, they do love to get a special "treat!"  That's why we jumped at the chance to review Blue Buffalo Boo Bars for our dear friends at

Scarlett likes to take a break during our Therapy visits, and I like to reward her for being so sweet to the residents!

These treats are called Boo Bars Mummy Morsels, and they are the perfect reward for your furry goblin.  We took them with us on Therapy Dog visits, and we took them with us while we were out shopping for the perfect pumpkin!

Ryder is trying to decide on just the right pumpkin, good thing we brought snacks, this could take a while!

Key Benefits:
  • Healthy, oven-baked snacks in jack o' lantern, ghost, and bat shapes, so your pup can get into the Halloween spirit!
  • Natural treats, with added vitamins and minerals, don’t contain corn, wheat, soy or by-product meals.
  • A howling good bite with wholesome and nutritious ingredients like pumpkin, carrots, barley, oatmeal, flaxseed and cinnamon.
  • Crunchy, tasty biscuit for dogs of all breeds and ages made from an original and delicious recipe.
  • Limited-edition festive treats made in the USA without artificial preservatives, colors or flavors.

Sophie is waiting for the Great Pumpkin to arrive, I wonder if she will share her cookies with him?

Oatmeal, Barley, Oat Flour, Pumpkin, Flaxseed (source of Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids), Cane Molasses, Carrots, Salt, Canola Oil (source of Omega 6 Fatty Acids), Cinnamon, Calcium Carbonate, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Oil of Rosemary, Vitamin E Supplement

And these cookies are perfect for practicing "leave it!"

I love seeing healthy ingredients like oatmeal, carrots and pumpkin in the treats we give our little tricksters!  And you can smell the cinnamon when you open the package! They come in these adorable, spooky little shapes, to help get you in a Halloween mood!

"Ok Mom, can we have our cookies now?"

The collies loved these cookies, and they recommend you order some from before they disappear, as they are only available for a limited time.  They will leave your best friends howling for more!  Just click here! sent us this package of Blue Buffalo Boo Bars, Mummy Morsels, in exchange for our honest review.  We were not paid for this review, or any review on the collie blog.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Dog rescue and romance, a perfect combination!

As a dog lover, I have always loved reading books that feature dogs as either main characters or as a main part of the story line.  I am also a fan of romantic stories, of all kinds.  So when I can find a book that features dogs, memorable characters and romance, I am hooked.  Since reading is another one of my passions, I like to try to share some of my favorite books featuring dogs, here on the collie blog.   

This past year I have been reading a series of books, written by Roxanne St. Claire, that fall under the romance genre.  Her Dogfather series of books focuses on the lives of one special family, and each family member plays an important role in the family business, which is a canine training and rescue facility.  The family is one you can't help but love, as they are devoted to each other and they have a set of values that are too often lacking in books and movies these days.  The series follows Daniel Kilcannon, nicknamed "The Dogfather" by his family, as he plays matchmaker for each of his six adult children. 

I originally planned on reviewing just one of the books, but I couldn't decide on which one, as I loved them all.  The books are all sweet, and touching, and on the cover you will see an actual rescue dog from the Alaqua Animal Refuge in Florida.  A portion of the proceeds from each book in the series is donated to this shelter, so you are actually helping real shelter dogs find homes.  You can purchase these books right on Amazon, and they are available as paperback or as a digital copy for your Kindle.  I really enjoyed this series, and loved all the characters in the books.  There is even a Grandmother who blogs!  So if you are looking for something new to read, I hope you will give this series a try, and then please come back and let me know which book was your favorite.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

4 ingredient dog cookies

From time to time I like to make my dogs homemade cookies.  I like that I can control what goes into the cookies, and they love when I am baking something just for them.  I haven't shared a recipe in a while, but this one is just too good not to share.  I got this recipe after one of our Therapy Dog visits.  The residents at the nursing home make these cookies for the local animal shelters, and they saved a couple for my collies, as they love my three therapy collies.  The collies loved these cookies so much, that I asked for the recipe to make them at home.

What you'll need:

1 small overripe banana
1/2 Cup peanut butter
1/3 Cup chicken stock OR beef stock for beef flavor
1 Cup wheat flour

(Since we are a multiple dog home, I triple the recipe.)

1) You will need to preheat your oven to 350

2) Mash your bananas

3) Add your peanut butter and broth

4) Slowly mix in the flour

5) Form the dough into a large ball, and then using a rolling pin, roll out the dough.

6) Using a cookie cutter, cut out your shapes and place them on a non-stick pan.

7) Bake your dog cookies for 16 - 18 minutes, depending on how thick you rolled out the dough.

Let the dog cookies cool, and then share them with your dogs!  I keep the cookies in a tupperware container, in the fridge.  These are so easy to make, and with just four ingredients they are safe for dogs or humans to eat!  My collies can't get enough of these cookies, so if you are looking for a quick, easy recipe, I would give this one a try!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Therapy Dogs spread happiness

Now that both Sophie and Scarlett are therapy dogs, along with Ryder, I have been visiting Nursing Homes twice a week.  Since it is still such a new environment for them, I have been taking them on separate days with Ryder, so he can "show them the ropes."  He is such a sweet, good-natured dog that he calms other dogs, along with the people we visit.


We have been visiting one of the Nursing homes on a regular basis for two years now, so the residents all love Ryder and really enjoy his visits.  They are starting to get to know Scarlett and Sophie, but Ryder is still their favorite.


Being able to visit the residents, and bring a smile to their faces, is an opportunity I am thankful for, as it is a chance to give back.  So many of the residents get few visitors, and having the collies stop in for petting and socializing breaks up the monotony of their day.  When they see the collies and call them into their rooms, their happiness is visible and it is also contagious.  When you and your dogs are able to make a small difference in someone's life, it is a reward that is priceless.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Pumpkin Spice Season has arrived!

Autumn officially begins on the 22nd, but Fall decorations are already appearing on doorsteps, and Pumpkin Spice Season has arrived.  People go crazy for all things pumpkin spice, so why should our dogs be left out?  This month we are reviewing Pumpkin Spice Greenies for our friends at  Yes, you read that right, Pumpkin Spice Greenies are here, but only for a limited time.

What are Greenies?  Well, if you haven't heard about Greenies before, they are dental treats that help to clean your dog's teeth.  They help to fight plaque and tartar, and help to freshen your dog's breath.  And since humans enjoy pumpkin spice flavoring, Greenies made a version just for our dogs! 

Check out the benefits of giving Greenies to your dog (or cat):

  • Delicious treats are recommend by vets to keep teeth clean and freshen breath.
  • The unique texture fights plaque and tartar with every bite to keep gums healthy.
  • Now in a limited edition pumpkin spice flavor to wow pooches everywhere; made for pups 50-100 pounds.
  • Formulated with natural ingredients that are highly digestible, including real pumpkin.
  • Proudly made in the USA and accepted by the Veterinary Oral Health Council to support doggy oral health.
We chose the Greenies made for large dogs, as all the collies are over 50 lbs. But they make other sizes, for smaller dogs and also another variety made specifically for our feline friends.

Wheat Flour, Wheat Gluten, Glycerin, Gelatin, Water, Lecithin, Powdered Cellulose, Dried Pumpkin, Natural Poultry Flavor, Minerals (Dicalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Calcium Carbonate, Magnesium Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Selenium, Potassium Iodide), Natural Pumpkin Spice Flavor, Dried Apple Pomace, Choline Chloride, Fruit Juice Color, Vitamins (Dl-Alpha Tocopherol Acetate [Source Of Vitamin E], Vitamin B12 Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate [Vitamin B5], Niacin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement [Vitamin B2], Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride [Vitamin B6], Thiamine Mononitrate [Vitamin B1], Folic Acid), Turmeric Color

I am not a huge fan of coffee, so I don't really get into the pumpkin spice craze.  I do enjoy the Pumpkin Spice wine that's sold locally, but that's about all the pumpkin spice I need.  So I was very curious to see what the collies thought of these Pumpkin Spice Greenies.

Well, if you can't tell by the drool, they loved them!  Just the smell of the pumpkin spice had them drooling, and they ate these Greenies in record time!  Apparently, my collies love all things pumpkin spice, so I will be ordering some more of these while they are still available.  You can get some for your best friend by clicking right here.

Our friends at sent us these Greenies for free, in exchange for our honest review.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

A new book review for dog lovers!

Dorothy Bodoin is one of my favorite authors, as she writes mysteries that always involve a collie or two, and sometimes many more.  In her newest book, The Deadly Fields of Autumn, we return to Foxglove Corners and to the lives of Jennet Ferguson and her collies.  Jennet, a school teacher and member of collie rescue, is always stumbling upon some new mystery to solve.  And with the help of her friends and collies, Jennet always takes us on a new adventure.

In this newest book in the series, Jennet begins a new program in her rescue, where she places older collies with seniors looking for a companion.  Sounds innocent enough, but right after placing a collie with a woman named Charlotte, both the collie and woman disappear!  Before long Jennet is trying to track down the missing pair, solve a hit and run, and avoid a strange man who seems to have a case of road rage!  Want to know what happens?  You'll have to read the book yourself, to discover the answers.

The Deadly Fields of Autumn is the 25th book in Dorothy Bodoin's Foxglove Corners series.  Each book contains a different mystery, and can be read as a stand alone book, but they are best read in order as they are part of a continuing story.  These books are available in paperback or as a Kindle book.  If you enjoy fiction that features lovable dogs and mysteries, you should give these books a try.  Even though the books are occasionally spooky, I always end up laughing, as Jennet's collies remind me so much of my own collies.  I even have a favorite, the naughty Candy, and if you do read these books, I'd love to hear which of Jennet's collies is your favorite as well!

You can find a complete list of Dorothy Bodoin's books by clicking on the link:
Dorothy Bodoin books

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Versatile Collie - Herding with your Collie

Today we are excited to share our sixth post in our new series, The Versatile Collie.  Collies are such versatile dogs, they excel at many different activities, including herding, which is what they were originally bred to do.  Our guest blogger is Michael Vorkapich, and he trains his dogs to compete in herding, agility and many other fun dog sports.  His blog, The Agile Dog Blog, has great information on competing in different sports with your collie or dog, as well as some beautiful pictures of collies in action!  We are very grateful to Michael for once again taking the time to write this for us, and for sharing his experiences and love for this amazing breed.

Collies Can Herd Too
By Michael Vorkapich
Collies are the ideal family dog. They are great with children, eager to please and easy to get along with. If you are reading thisyou probably have a Collie. Most of the Collies I know are doing amazing things in Conformation, Obedience, Rally and more. Recently, at least where I live, there has been a significant rise in the number of Collies training and competing in Agility and Herding.

Skye the Rough Collie
For many years, I have trained my Collies in several dog sports.It all started with a wonderful Smooth Collie named Holly. She was the dog that made me realize that these were more than just pets; they were intelligent, affectionate friends that I could play with. Pretty much anything I asked, she would do without question. We trained long and hard. Every weekend you would find us at an Agility Trial or some other dog event. Holly was very tolerant of my ignorance in most of the things we were doing and made up for many of my mistakes. We competed at several National events and came away with many titles and many ribbons.


It is not surprising then, that I was overjoyed when we got our Rough Collie, Skye. She was smart, eager and willing to do anything I asked, regardless of what it was. We trained in Obedience and Agility, just like Holly before her. Months and months went into our training. However, I knew a lot more this time around. I had been doing this for years and training Skye was so much easier than Holly because I had become a better trainer. Skye learned quickly and was soon ready for competition.

When it came time for our first competition, I confidently entered the Agility ring and stepped to the start line with Skye by my side. I put her in a sit at the start line and walked to the second obstacle. Looking back at Skye, I released her from her sit and we were off! Running through the obstacle course, feeling the rush of running with your dog. Pure joy!

My initial joy quickly turned to concern as I realized that Skye was acting very strangely. Where she would bound gleefully through the course in class, in this competition she was moving slowly and looking rapidly around her at all the people. While she normally completed courses in class and at home with very little communication required, here I had to coax her and encourage her to keep moving. For several obstacles, she just went around and refused to complete them.

Over the next several months, this ring fear became worse and worse. I worked with several trainers, trying to help her get over her fear of competition but it continued to degrade. Classes would go well but competitions would not. In addition, I was nottrying to force the competitions. We only went occasionally to test how our ring confidence training was going. The answer was not well. We stopped competing altogether when she decided that she could not stay in the ring with me and left one time on her own.  

So we looked around to see if there was something we (my wife and I) could do to keep this extremely smart and eager Collie still active. We talked about many different dog sports, or just dropping dog sports and doing things like hiking (which we also do). Then it occurred to us that Collies are part of the Herding group. That means they should be good at herding. 

Next came our search for a place to take our dog herding. I contacted many places and got surprisingly similar responses from most. When I would ask them about training my Collie to do herding, they would ask “Border Collie?” To which I would reply, “No, I have a Collie without borders”. Many people would not take on a Collie, feeling they were too soft. 

Eventually we found an instructor that was willing to work with us. It was a bit of a drive but we made it weekly. We really wanted Skye to have something that she could do regularly that would increase her confidence. 

Our first few lessons were amazing! Skye took to sheep as though she had been herding all of her life. She just knew what to do. We would send her out and she would just bring the sheep to us. For the next several years, Skye and I trained regularly and eventually went to some competitions just to see how she would do in an arena setting. The results were also spectacular. She performed in a trial just like in class. We quickly earned our HT, PT (beginning titles in AKC herding) and were on our way.
Eventually we moved back to Agility, where we did much betterthan previously, eventually getting through Excellent before retiring due to age.

You can take your Collie herding too


Shepherds who saw their utility and skill initially bred collies in Scotland. They would breed only those dogs with the best herding instinct and those that were the most biddable. Back in those days, Collies did not look like they do now. The Collie we know and love is the result of selective breeding by show breeders. Modern Collies came from this wonderful herding background and still maintain their herding instinct.

Where we currently take lessons, there are close to a dozen Collies that are also being trained. They range in personality from barely interested in sheep to over-the-top enthusiastic, which is exactly the same kind of mix you will find for other herding breeds. 
There are some major differences between Collies and other breeds. For example, the Collie tends to bark much more than a Border Collie. They also tend to be more of an upright herding breed, which means they stand tall instead of crouching in typical Border Collie style. Another difference is that Collies tend to be a little less intense than some other breeds, and less accepting of harsh corrections. These things are not always the case but in general, these are the characteristics of Collies in herding.

If you just want your dog to push some livestock around, you could simply buy a few sheep and let your Collie bring them from the field each day. They will learn this task quickly and easily without much formal training. However, if you actually wish to compete in Herding, you will need to find yourself a good instructor.

Like most dog training, there are no required certifications for instructors. Any person can decide they want to be an instructor and start offering lessons. To find a good instructor, your best bet is to find some herding trials and go watch. Talk to the exhibitors and see who their instructor is. Ask about training methods and see if these align with the way you like to train your dogs. Collies can be sensitive to harsh corrections and many instructors prefer to let your dog loose on sheep and correct them with flapping flags, stock sticks or other such devices. Some instructors prefer to teach to dog what to do and guide them towards the correct choices. This second method is my preferred choice for instructor but they can be hard to find.

Then go watch a lesson or two. See if you can sit in and see how the dogs are being trained. Talk to the instructor in person about your desires and how your dogs will be trained. Ask other students of that instructor about their experiences and, if they are competing, how long it took to get there and what they had to do.

Next come the lessons. Unless you own livestock of your own, you will need to take regular lessons in order to improve your herding skill. Your instructor should help you teach your dog to move the stock in a calm manner, and to move them where you want them. Some instructors work towards specific coursework, which is a limited subset of herding. For example, you could work towards the A course in the AKC which is arena work and a lot of walking sheep along a fence line. You certainly could train just for that but for a more well-rounded dog, you will want to study all aspects of herding.

Some, a very few, Collies are not really interested in herding. They get in the arena and just wander around ignoring the sheep. Most are extremely interested and have a ton of instinct. You will be amazed the first time you bring your dog to a lesson and they become very focused on the sheep. Their instinct kicks in right away and they determinedly bring you the sheep or move them in a circle. Quite often their instinct will override other training and they will ignore you when you ask them for a behavior they know quite well such as a sit or a down.

Your instructor will know when you and your dog are ready for competition. They will help you find a trial and figure out how to register and compete. Typically, they will recommend you enter a trial they are going toAlso, typically, your instructor is going to be competing in only one of the organizations that offer herding and they will be training you to compete in that organization as well. This is pretty typical of all dog sports and instructors.


Final words
That’s pretty much what you need to know about herding. I could say many more things. I could tell you about how you need to send your dog on an “outrun” and how you can train for this. Or how to teach your dog to maintain a position behind the sheep. We could talk about the differences between sheep, cattle and duck herding or how to teach your dog directional signalsHowever, that is what the instructor will be teaching you.
After a few lessons, you will find that you and your dog are eagerly looking forward to the next lesson. Shortly you may find yourself addicted to herding like you never thought you would be. It is glorious to watch Collies doing what they initially were bred for and doing it so well. And all that hair! They just look amazing when they are out there with the sheep. Photo ready every single time.

My biggest piece of advice in all of this is that, unless you are actually running a farm, you should approach herding with the idea that you and your dog are out there to have fun. Competitions and ribbons are great but if you and your dog aren’t enjoying it, then why would you do it? So give it a try and let your dog do what it was bred for.
To find herding trials in your area, you would need to check with one of the sanctioning organizations. The ones I have listed here all accept any herding breed even though they may sound like they are breed specific. It may not be clear from their websites that any breed an join but I have verified that this is the case with ASCA and USBCHA.

American Herding Breed Association (AHBA)
American Kennel Club (AKC)
Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA)
Canadian Kennel Club (CKC)
United States Border Collie Handlers’ Association (USBCHA)

And please stop by Michael's blog, he has posts on so many other dog sports and other topics related to dogs.  The Agile Dog Blog

Want to see the other posts in our Versatile Collie series?  Click on the links below:
Therapy dogs
Service dogs
K9 nose work
Pulling a Sulky

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Please welcome a new Blogger!

Since we began blogging, one thing we have always enjoyed was discovering new blogs that are written by people who share our interests or passions.  Blogging is about connecting with others, sharing ideas, and learning new things.  Obviously I am passionate about collies, they are family members in every sense, and I love finding new things to do with them.  This led to my creating a series called "The Versatile Collie," where I had guest writers share some of the activities they have trained their collies to perform.

Michael Vorkapich, one of the guest writers from the series, has started his own blog.  He has done many dog sports with his collies, and shared his experience in competing in agility for my Versatile Collie series.  His blog has a lot of great info, and awesome pictures of his collies, so please head on over and welcome him to Blogville!  

Click here to learn about Michael and his blog:
The Agile Dog Blog

Click here for the blog posts:
Agile Dog Blog posts

Friday, September 7, 2018

A coat of a different color...

We have talked about how genes determine the health of a collie, and now I want to talk about how they also determine a collie’s appearance.  Many breeds of dogs have a variety of coat colors and types.  Collies are known for their sweet expressions and beautiful coats.  Collies have two varieties of coats, the rough and smooth coats.  They have four recognized coat colors.  The colors recognized by the AKC are sable and white, tricolor, blue merle, and white.

Pure for sable smooth coated collie
The sable and white coat can actually come in a variety of shades, from a light, buff color to a dark mahogany.  The tricolor is predominantly black, with white and tan markings.  The blue merle is a rich mixture of grays, blacks and white, which give it a bluish appearance.  And lastly, there is the  white collie, who isn’t actually a solid white color as the name implies.  The white collie will have a predominantly white coat with either sable, tri or blue merle markings.  The white color is not recognized in the European standard.

Rough, mahogany sable - this would be a tri factored sable collie.

Sable headed white, photo courtesy of Darlene Kerr

In Europe you will never see a rough and a smooth bred together, as they are viewed as separate breeds.  In the U.S. rough and smooth collies are allowed to be bred together, but are judged separately at dog shows.  In the U.S. the rough and smooth collies are considered to be two varieties of the same breed.  Because we are allowed to breed these two varieties together, we have more dogs to choose from, and thus we have more genetic diversity.

Rough and smooth collies

A collie’s coat is determined by his or her genes.    Because the gene for the rough coat is recessive , if you breed two roughs together the breeding will only produce roughs.  If you breed a rough and a smooth together, you can have both rough and smooth puppies in the litter.  The smooth puppies from such a breeding would be considered rough-factored.  If you bred two rough-factored smooth collies together, you could end up with both rough and smooth puppies in litter, because smooths can carry the recessive rough gene.  If you bred two pure-for-smooth collies together, you would end up with only smooth collies in the litter.

Tricolor smooth collie, photo by Jerrica Coady-Farrell

Coat color is also dependent on dominant and recessive genes.  If you breed a tricolor with another tricolor, you will only have tricolor puppies in the litter.  If you breed a sable and a tricolor, you will produce both tricolor puppies and sable puppies that are trifactored.  Here is the color inheritance breakdown:
S - Sable
Dominant coat color, sable comes in a variety of colors, from straw to dark mahogany.

PS – pure sable
These collies carry no tricolor gene, and can only produce sable offspring.


tS – tri factored sable
sable collies carrying the tricolor gene along with the dominant sable gene.  Most trifactored sables have a very dark mask and a darker sable coat.

Tri = tricolor
Recessive to sable, tricolors have black coats with white and tan markings.
M – merle
A dominant dilution gene which combined with sable or tri genes, produces merled collies.

BM – blue merle
Bluish gray coat with black splotching and white markings.  Blue merles are the product of a dilution gene with the tricolor gene.

SM – sable merle
Sable and white collies with the merle gene, the sable merle comes in pure for sable and tri factored sable.

tSm – tri factored sable merle
These collies carry the tricolor gene alone with the sable and merle gene.  Tri factored sable merles are usually a darker sable color than PSM.

PSM – pure sable merle
A light sable merle, with no tricolor gene.



W – white
These collies have a predominantly white body, with a colored head.  They are the result of breeding two white parents or white factored parents.  The color white is a recessive gene, and depending on the other gene received, the white collie may have tri, sable or blue merle markings.

Wf – white factored
Colored dogs with a lot of white on their neck, tail tip and white extending upward from their hind feet.  When bred to another white factored or a white collie, they can produce white offspring.

WM – white merle
The white merle results from breeding two merled parents.  These collies inherit the dominant dilution gene from both parents.  They may be all white, or may have a few merle spots.  They may be missing eyes, blind and/or deaf.  They may also have severe impairment to their liver or kidneys.  If bred to a tricolor, these collies will only produce blue merle offspring.
 These are the offspring that may be produced by combining the the following sires and dams:
PS  +  PS  = PS
PS + tri = tS
PS  +  tS = PS and tS
tS + tri = tS and tri
tS  + tS = PS,  tS, tri
Tri + tri = tri
Tri + BM = tri, BM
BM  +  BM  = BM, tri, WM
BM  +  tS  = BM, tS, tSM, tri
BM + PS = tSM, tS
WM + tri  = BM
tSM  +  tri  = BM, tS, tSM, tri
tSM  +  tS  = BM, tSM, tri, tS, PSM, PS
tSm  +  PS  = tS, tSM, PSM, PS
PSM + tri = tS, tSM
White + white = white
Wf + Wf  = non-Wf, Wf, white
Wf BM  +  tri-headed white = blue-headed white, tri-headed white, Wf tri, Wf BM
White  +  non white = Wf

Rough blue merle, photo courtesy of Jennifer Laik