THIS in my father. My father and his entourage. My parents happen to be the equivalent of your average crazy cat lady with their animal collecting, except they collect…Collies. Full-fledged, bona fide Lassie dogs. They have 5 of their own right now, and they also participate in a collie rescue program where they foster unwanted collies until they can be adopted by worthy families. There can be up to 7 of them in their house at any given time.
I grew up with a house full of Collies, so I’ve never known a different way of life at my parent’s house. Since I’m an only child, my parents had me convinced that these hairy, slobbery 4 legged beasts were really my brothers and sisters until I was about 12. This is probably why I love to have my hair stroked and petted now.
My favorite childhood collies out of the many that have passed through my life in the 38 years since my birth were Jaica, Mica, and Nick. We had them all within the same time frame, and my parents thought that having 3 collies at once was really pushing the limits of sanity back then. That must make them certifiably straight jacket and padded room crazy now because they’ve expanded their brood to 5 plus the occasional extra.
Jaica, or “Jake Break” as she was called by my father, was a schizophrenic nutball of a critter. She was scared of her own shadow. I’ve found out over the years that most female collies are. She ran away for 2 weeks once because she heard a gunshot while she was outside. We put up lost dog flyers, and several people spotted her, but she’d run from them in fear. My mom was driving home from town one day when she spotted her crossing the street and called to her. It took her a minute or 2 to recognize my mom, but she eventually came to her. I was so happy to see her when she got home, that I ran to her and hugged her tight, and we fell on the floor in a big bundle of arms, legs, and fur. The fur was mostly mine. Yep, she was nuts, but I loved her. She would sleep with me every night, and she was the best cuddler. She had some wicked dog breath, though.
Mica, “Mr. Mica-phone” as my dad later dubbed him, and Mikey to me, was my buddy as a kid. He was trained to go into my room, jump onto my bed, and lay across me to wake me up on Saturday mornings. There was no sleeping in with him around. We’d play house. He was quite the hairy husband. We’d play office. He was my boss, I was his secretary. We’d try to play barbies, but he wasn’t very adept at upholding his end of the relationship as Ken. So, I’d use him as a barbie, and dress him up in beads, purses, dresses, and hats. My dad came downstairs to yell at me once for something that I had done, saw Mica in full ‘bag lady’ regalia, and laughed all the way back up the stairs after he had forgotten whatever atrocity I had committed. Mikey tolerated it like a trooper, too. I once dressed him up in a white T-shirt and a bow tie, put Jaica in my favorite dress, and held a wedding ceremony for the 2 of them. It was a teary-eyed, beautiful moment.
Nick, a.k.a “Nickymeister Burger Bear”, as was his ‘Nick name’, will always hold a special place in my heart because he was discovered by me. I was Christmas shopping at the mall with my friends and decided to go into the puppy store, where I stumbled upon 2 of the cutest little collie pups I’d ever seen. I went home and told my parents that evening, and we went back up to the mall to see them. By that time, one puppy was already gone, and there sat Nick, staring up at us with his big, forlorn ‘please love me’ eyes. We didn’t stand a chance at that point. We went home with a bundle of fluffy collie pup, complete with hernia that had to be removed by the vet. He kept us all up howling that first night, and several nights after that, and I remember my dad saying, “Maybe we made a mistake?” Not my darling Nicky! We all grew to love Nick quickly, though, even as obnoxious as he was. He developed into a huge ball of fur with the shortest, stumpiest legs that I’ve ever seen on a collie. Nick, our Christmas dog. That’s how he got his name. Saint Nick. I miss him so much.
My parents refer to their current herd of hairballs as “The Bears”. There’s Malibu, a.k.a “Boo”. We say that she ‘can’t hold her licker’, and your toes are fair game. There’s Bella, or “Bells” as my father calls her, and she, like my beloved Jaica, is afraid of her own shadow. Then there’s Savannah. She’s deaf and blind, has seizures, and her hind legs don’t work the best, but she’s my mom’s favorite so they do all that they can to make her comfortable in her old age. There’s Wyatt, or “Erpster” as my dad has dubbed him, (he happens to have a nickname for almost every dog that’s ever passed through their home, if you haven’t noticed by now.) Wyatt is a grumpy old man, and king of his domain. Then let’s not forget Gus, the skinny escape artist that’s a favorite among all of the grandkids, and the reason that the chain link fence surrounding the yard is now lined with an electric wire on the top. There’s nothing that can contain Gus, he’s pushed his way out of a screen window before in his efforts to be free.
These days, as my parents have grown older and softer, the collies have gotten considerably more spoiled than the ones they had when I was growing up. Most of them are fat enough to feed a starving family of 7 for a month. I call them couches with legs. They weren’t allowed on the beds without special dog blankets when I was young, and that rule went out the window years ago. My dad feeds them from his plate, too, so “no people food” is a foreign concept to this batch of furballs.
There isn’t anything that my parents wouldn’t do for their dogs. They spend top dollar on the best food, frequent vet trips, treats, toys, and medications to keep the whole herd happier and healthier than your average wet-nosed companions.
I could be jealous of my 4 legged siblings, getting all that special love and attention, but nah. I have a life of my own now, and the thundering herd not only keeps my parents busy in their senior years, but they’re all just too cute for animosity. To each their own, I suppose, and for mom and dad, with the wall to wall canine carpet, ‘Crazy in Colliewood’ is just the story of their lives.