Advent: December 15th

This is my young friend Oscar. He lives at a smallholding round the corner from me and he’s a proper working collie, not a pet. He lives outside in all weathers and when you pat him there isn’t a spare ounce on him and his muscles are like boards – a true athlete in canine terms. He is as fit as fiddle and born to work. Unlike some farm collies though he’s also a bit of a softie and he’s discovered that I have a weakness for dogs – along with sheep they’re my favourite animals. Although I love dogs as a species I do, like most people, have breeds that I like more than others and collies are not high on my list I’m afraid even though we’ve kept them for nearly 20 years ourselves as working dogs and as rescues. I’ve had more dog bites from collies than any other breed in the course of my working as a vet nurse as well as the over protective ones you encounter guarding farms and livestock.

But every now and then you come across a lovely character – and Oscar is one of them. When my walks take me past his home I always stop to say hello to him and now he waits for me to come back on the return journey. He starts towards me in the typical sheepdog slink ever-watchful waiting for me to give him permission to move and then I call him and he runs to me and sits pressing against my leg whilst I fuss his tatty coat and pat his muscly side and ruffle his ears and tell him he’s lovely. I never have a dog biscuit or treat on me – he comes purely for the love and fuss which is very endearing, especially in a dog that is purely working. His owners are very fond of him too and he of them. I think I look forward to fussing Oscar on my walks as much as he does!

Here he is waiting behind the hedge watching for me – he’s long heard my footsteps coming down the hill towards his home and he’s just waiting for me to call him over.

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