Our thanks to friends Ken and Linda German for introducing us to the wonderful world of Beardies. Ken and Linda have had two of them practically their entire married lives, and we were enchanted with Rags and Bothwell when we met them. Years later when we decided that we were ready for a dog of our own, it had to be a Bearded Collie. Ken and Linda put us in touch with Daybar Kennels, who just happened to have a 7-month-old black & white male puppy available, called "Dew". He was already house-trained and well-socialized from early on. We were thrilled when we saw that first photo below, and it was love at first sight when we met him in person.
Though we both grew up with dogs, Dewey was the first that we were totally responsible for. We never had kids, so Dewey was our "child". The few times we had to board him, we worried constantly about him, so we always tried to take him on vacation with us. This worked really well since we'd go to visit Ken and Linda with their dogs, and Conrad's parents in Maine, who like dogs. Dewey was walked multiple times a day and in his entire time with us he never once escaped, was off his leash or outside a supervised fenced-in yard. He made it easy because he had no tendency to bolt through an opened door. He probably ran our lives more than some would approve of, but we were willing subjects in his kingdom.
If you're a dog owner, these random thoughts and memories may strike a chord. When Dewey first came home with us he didn't know how to go down stairs. We spent a lot of time in our basement family room and would carry him down, and even up at first. He quickly learned how to go up on his own, but was scared to go down. We taught him to go down a step, then back, then a couple more. When he finally made it to the bottom on his own, and grasped his accomplishment, he raced up and down the stairs over and over to show us what he could do. In his younger days Dewey loved to climb. Be it the pile of firewood, a snow drift or a big rock, the name of the game was to have his head higher than anyone elses. King of the hill. Being on the smaller end of the Beardie spectrum, he was reasonably easy to carry and totally trusting. That trust still amazes us, as he'd allow you to do things that were moderately unpleasant, as if he knew it was for his own good. A small fold on each side of his lower lip tended to accumulate food, creating a stinky mess and irritating the skin. Even though it had to be at times painful, he'd lie quietly to have the area cleaned out and the hair trimmed. He'd let you remove the gunk in the corners of his eyes without flinching. He was ticklish so working on the bottoms of his paws was always tricky. No doubt he was bored with having his hair put up numerous times a day, and would shake his head the minute we were finished. Keeping a Beardie well-groomed requires persistance and we didn't always do as good a job of that as we should have.
It's hard to sum up a personality in a few sentences, but Dewey was a gentle and undemanding soul. Visiters often saw the excited and high strung side of him, but anyone who was lucky enough to spend some time with him discovered the sweet and good boy he really was. In his entire life he never chewed or damaged anything. Like all Beardies he loved to chase a tennis ball. In his prime he understood a remarkable number of words, dozens at least. He was somewhat aloof, preferring close proximity to his people, rather than actual contact. In his early days he had strong herding instincts. He instinctively knew to be careful around children. Though he had the famous "Beardie Bounce", he was also a bit of a couch potato. A creature of habit, his internal clock was set to the sun, waking us for his morning walk and trying to herd us to bed at bedtime. He could carefully take a treat from your fingers almost without touching you. His favorite addition to his dinner was chicken- he never got scraps, only the good stuff. He was terrified of thunder, hiding in a corner of the basement until all was safe. Dewey was a perfect match for us in every way and no one could ask for a better, sweeter dog.
The best summary of what a Beardie is comes from Choosing a Dog for Life by Prisco & Johnson: "If you're inclined towards a winsome shaggy dog who will lick you on your saddest days, vote Beardie!"
Sadly, Dewey had a seizure on Thanksgiving day, 11/26/2009. His condition deteriorated and, head resting in our hands, he was put to sleep two days later. After 11 years of gentle wonderful Beardieness, our hearts are completely broken. He will never be forgotten and maybe the photos on this page can offer a glimpse of what a special creature he was. There will never be another quite like him.
Our very best friend-
Some time ago we had recorded Dewey barking for a sound effect. Click here for a .wav file of Dewey barking in high fidelity (0.67MB).