And now for something completely different I would like to introduce you to Bindi who I adopted from the Portland RSPCA, Easter 2010
It was time for me to get a dog
When I moved to Portland in January I had just one scruffy tabby cat Biscuit. This was the first extended period of my life without a dog and within weeks of arriving I began searching websites for a Border Collie. The universe provided an answer to my search. I spotted Bindi on the Portland RSPCA website and dashed off within minutes to inspect her.
She was advertised as a tri-colour border collie. Age 2 ½ I went into the cage and she would not look at me, She was timid and allegedly surrendered from a farm for chasing sheep. A detail I can now firmly believe!
In the pound cage she sat away from me, meekly turned her head away. I tried to get a photo of her and finally when she wasn’t concentrating I took this snap.
She was extremely underweight with ribs easily felt under her long coat. She was also smelly, dirty, and full of dreadlocks and prickles and I was completely and totally in love.
It was a few days before Easter and sadly the pound could not get her into the vet for de-sexing until after Easter. I felt such agony waiting those extra few days for my girl I was sad thinking of her still in that cage in the pound. No amount of begging would convince the pound staff to let me take her early and return for the required operation.
Bringing Bindi home
Easter passed and finally I got to bring her home. She seemed quite happy to jump into the car and travelled well, although she was still timid and apprehensive.
When I got home I stepped inside and called her to follow me but she stopped at the door in confusion. She looked meekly up at me with those beautiful big brown eyes but would not budge past the doorway. Instantly I realised she had never been inside a house before. I had to physically pick her up and carry her in.
Biscuit looked at her with bored disdain, turned her back on this new imposition and strutted away. Biscuit was one mean old thing when she wanted to be.
Bindi and obedience school
Because of Bindi’s shyness, I took her to dog obedience classes. This was not a good day. I learnt very quickly that Bindi did not like many other dogs, particularly Maltese Terriers. Those little white yappy balls of fur, in her books, are evil and must be destroyed at any opportunity.
A woman with such a beast approached Bindi and I and said “Oh hello Bindi” I turned around in surprise. “Do you know her?” I asked. She did and filled me in on a little more detail.
Bindi, along with some other dogs, hers included was seized/surrendered from a puppy farm. My beautiful girl had spent most of her time tied up and was bred from, having had 2-3 litters already in her short life. The woman explained Bindi’s dislike of other dogs of the small white yappy kind came about because they had been tied up in close proximity.
We tried obedience school 2 more times but finally gave it away to reduce Bindi’s extreme anxiety and the distress the other dogs were under. She would draw back her lips, snap and tried to attack them out of fear.
Bindi got me walking
Bindi got me walking daily, sometimes twice a day. Walking was and still is her favourite thing and we often went around the Fawthrop lagoon.
I kept her on a lead because she was still unpredictable around other dogs. She was shit scared of them. If she saw a dog approach she would hold back behind me and I would almost have to drag her along. She would avoid eye contact; take a very wide berth and when the danger was passed break into a trot to move away ahead.
As time progressed she became more and more confident. Now she can walk happily without a lead. I still watch her body language closely finding some breeds of dogs she immediately likes, others need protecting!
Bindi particularly loves golden retrievers He beloved best friend Riley was one and every time she sees one she hopes it is he. Sadly Riley passed away recently but she still looks for him.
I showed my friend Lauren a picture of Bindi and she said “Oh is she one of those Australian Shepherds” “No. I insisted, She is a tri-colour Border collie” I didn’t know what an Australian Shepherd (Aussie) was.
Bindi and fences
The yard I had at our first home was surrounded by 6’ colour bond fencing so I was pretty sure Bindi was secure in the yard. The neighbours next door had a lovely old black lab. Bindi met him and decided labs were good dogs and they played well together. The day after they met Bindi somehow escaped and ran next door to play. My neighbour rang me at work to let me know she had Bindi. Then it happened again the next day. And the next. Finally I hid and spied on her to see how she did it.
I would not have believed it if I had not seen it myself. When she thought the coast was clear she scaled the side gate with no effort. I installed an extra foot or so of lattice to the gate, she scaled that too. To Bindi fences were a mere inconvenience not an obstruction. Eventually , despite the fencing I had to resort to tying Bindi up for her own safety when she is home alone and have continued to do so ever since.
Bindi and Biscuit. The habit of rounding
Once Bindi learnt that Biscuit was no threat she decided it was her responsibility to monitor her movements. Bindi is a dedicated worker. Whenever inside she would follow and round Biscuit up. When Biscuit moved one way Bindi would follow. If Biscuit went outside Bindi would move to a window vantage to watch her. Then if Biscuit made for the cat flap, Bindi was there to meet her. She loved that old cat. Following Biscuit was her favourite thing.
Bindi is HIGHLY motivated by food
Bindi loves food, any food, human food, cat food, scraps, treats, bones. It’s all good in her books. Really, I have never had a dog quite like it. I quickly learned to defrost meat in the safety of the microwave or else she would pinch it off the bench. Bread left on the counter was at risk of being nicked too. For a brief period I had a midwife friend live with me. She rang me at work one afternoon asking me to pick up more lamb chops from the supermarket. “You dog just ate our dinner” she said.
Being so highly motivated by food makes her a dream to train. Anything for a treat! Yes, you guessed it. Food is her favourite thing.
Bindi and Rod
Rod and I met online. I took Bindi with me on our first coffee date meeting for a few reasons. There is always the safety aspect of online dating of course and then she would be a pleasant distraction or point of conversation if we were stumped for words.
However, the main reason I took Bindi on that important day was to see how they reacted to each other. I wanted to know what Bindi thought of him but more importantly I wanted to watch how this man interacted with animals. An important barometer of character in my books.
Rods instructions were to meet the woman in the red jumper with the tri-coloured Border collie. The date was a huge success. Coffee turned into a walk, then lunch and 5 hours later we parted. Rod passed the dog test greeting her with his gentle friendly manner, scruffing her pretty ears and giving her his full attention and Bindi loved him at first sight. She still jumps for joy when she hears his ute pull in. Riding in Rods ute is certainly her favourite thing!
Bindi is special
I often remarked that Bindi was the best Border collie I had ever owned. She was very quiet and never barked. her nature was gentle and timid around strangers but loyal once she gets to know them. I find her more affectionate than most and attentive. If I am upset she tries to comfort me.
NOT a Border collie?
One day I was walking with Bindi in Geelong. A woman stopped me to say “Oh what a lovely Australian Shepherd”. My ears pricked up because this was not the first time someone had made such a comment. Instead of correcting her with my usual response, “No she is a tri-colour Border collie” I asked her why she said that and I had others say the same thing. We ended up chatting for some time. She told me she was an Australian Sheppard breeder and had just come from Echuca where she had collected her new breeding female. My new friend assured me that my Bindi girl was indeed an Aussie.
This new information took me some weeks to process. Bindi was not a Border collie but an Aussie.
I investigated the traits of the breed and several things fell into place. The description of the temperament fit Bindi to a tee, the obsessive rounding, the loyalty, the quiet nature. Apparently Aussies are notorious for being the Houdini’s of the dog world, fences a mere inconvenience to be overcome.
Bindi and the chooks.
When I finally brought my own home in Portland I promptly got some chooks. I was not sure how Bindi would go with them. It was wonderful to learn that the chooks were safe with Bindi. She takes her role of guarding them very seriously. She watches them for hours and hours.
If the chooks are out she will follow them everywhere they go and her primary goal seem to be to herd them inside to me which she has successfully achieved a few times. Occasionally she will take a break, run to the water bowl but then dash back as quickly as she can to continue her watch. Chook watching is her favourite thing.
Bindi and Sammie 3rd and Sammie 4th
One day Biscuit, who was of undetermined age simply disappeared as old cats do. We waited for weeks to see if she would come home but it never happened. Bindi fell into a depression so I went back to the Portland pound and collected a beautiful adult black cat. Sammie the 3rd Bindi’s personality came alive again and she rounded Sammie with enthusiasm.
One week I was away in Wangaratta and Sammie the 3rd disappeared and both Bindi and I were both so sad. Door to door knocking, calling out at night, Facebook posts all drew a blank. She was gone.
Finally a few months later after both of us moping around I returned to the pound and this time brought home a kitten. (Black of course) The antics of this adorable kitten delighted Bindi no end and within days Sammie the 4th became Bind’s favourite thing.
As she has aged, Bindi has blossomed. Her insecurities have all but disappeared. Well she still hates small dogs bit apart from that she is gentle and calm. My beautiful girl has even found her voice of late. If she thinks she is alone she will bark at an intruder into her yard and she “Talks”. She is quite the conversationalist at walk time, telling us to hurry up and at 7 pm she wanders in and nudges Rods leg with a woooo woooo (It’s time for my dinner)
Bind can and does walk for hours. Oh yes, Bindi does love to walk. When we grab a lead or dress in walkie type clothing she bounces like Tigger. She love a walk around the block, the street or the lagoon. Any walk will do, a long walk, or a short one.
While she love watching the chooks and rounding the cat, food and rides in the ute, walking definitely is her favourite thing.