I wake up at 6:15 every morning. I let my three foster dogs outside and try to drink enough coffee to last me the whole day. By 7:15 I am down at the barn moving through a complex system of letting out, feeding, and keeping happy the 11 dogs that live there. I clean rooms, make food, and keep track of everyone. Jojo, Gus, Pike, and Haley can only go out by themselves; Tanner and Prinn can go out in the big yard together, but you have to keep an eye on them; Sammi likes to splash in the water tubs so she’s usually drenched when she comes back in; Shine will jump on you and attack you with kisses, so be prepared when you open her door. It’s a complicated process to keep all of the rescued border collies at Glen Highland Farm satisfied, but it’s something every worker here is completely dedicated to.
Zoey, Bentley, and Carson (bottom to top), the three dogs I live with
Glen Highland was created in 2001 and has cared for thousands of border collies throughout the years. This organization provides a home for border collies, and works with them so that they can eventually be adopted by people who are exactly right for them. Previously neglected, unwanted, or abandoned, these dogs need time, love, and lots of space so that they can recover and flourish.
Shine, an extremely energetic 2 year old
Border collies were bred as herders, and have very unique qualities because of this. They are highly intelligent (necessitating games and sometimes socialization with other dogs), athletic (demanding exercise and space), and energetic (requiring the people who are with them to keep up their energy as well). Because of these characteristics and the needs that come along with them, the people who take border collies into their homes must be unique as well.
Gus, who came from a farm and is working on learning his manners
When it comes to the adoption process, the founder, Lillie Goodrich, carefully vets potential adopters, matches them with a dog, and assesses their interactions. She believes that each of these steps, particularly the last one, requires reliance on intuition and emotions, rather than getting stuck in cognition. There are the basic questions (Does the person have a fenced in yard? Do they live with another dog? A cat?), and the more complex ones (Will this person spend quality time with this dog? Will this person be understanding if this dog’s anxiety causes them to chew something up? Will this person listen to this dog?). Each criterion is important and some can be difficult to know for sure. That is why Goodrich is so thorough and careful in the adoption process; she wants to be certain it’s the perfect fit.
Jojo, a goofy girl who loves tummy rubs
This coop has allowed me to dive deeper into my research on human- nonhuman animal relationships and bonds by giving me more first hand knowledge. By growing with and helping these dogs, I am learning more about how these relationships are fostered and fortified. It is my belief that the bonds formed between species can be just as powerful as those formed within species, and this experience has only strengthened that belief. Seeing how the dogs and my coworkers interact with each other, watching the faces of the newly united adopters and their dogs, and building relationships of my own has energized my desire to become more involved in this work and carry what I learn here forward.
Bentley waits for me to throw the ball