website, I'm so very lucky to receive lots of heart-warming and amusing
emails from sheltie owners
worldwide who freely share with me their experiences of living with the
Shetland Sheepdog. Because I felt that visitors to my site would
enjoy reading these stories just as much as I do, I decided to create a
page purely for the purpose of sharing these precious moments with you
all. The stories are written by genuine, ordinary people who have
experienced the joy of owning a sheltie and they illustrate so much better
than I can the hidden depths of love and emotion these precious little
dogs unlock from our souls.
This page was
created on 23/11/10 and is still in its infancy, but I hope to add to it on a regular basis - enjoy
grizzled 71 year-old bloke like me is not supposed to fall madly in love
– but I have!
best friend wouldn’t describe me as ‘macho’ or in any way
‘tough’, but like most men, I don’t wear my heart on my
sleeve, nor do I show my emotions too readily.
But nowadays I’m more than happy – proud,
even! – to declare to the world how I feel about my new puppy, who until
a few short weeks ago was a complete stranger.
dearly love my wife of almost fifty years, and my two children, and have a
passing regard for my grand-kids, but apart from these feelings nothing
has really tugged at my heart-strings until very recently.
somewhat-puzzled wife says I am besotted.
My children have used the words ‘obsessed’ and
waking minute is filled with warm tingling emotions about my new best
mate. My last thoughts
at night before I fall asleep, and my first waking moments, are focussed
solely on this young dog who has become the centre of my universe.
the day, if I’m not with him, I’m thinking about him, wondering what
he’s doing, if he’s happy, and how long will it be until I’m with
him again. Entire days
are at his disposal, and all I want to do is be with him, or at least near
him, preferably within touching distance.
recall when my daughter had her first baby, and we visited her in hospital
just a few hours after the birth. She
was up and about, and radiant, but as she walked and talked she took a
glance towards the new infant every now and
then, just to reassure herself that he was still there, and that all was
well. I’m now exactly
new love is the Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie) puppy who we recently took
into our home and into our hearts, and it’s fair to say that he has
transformed our lives. My wife
loves him – I adore him! I have
become a crushing bore on the subject, and will regale family and even
strangers with his story, his antics, his health, and what he means to us.
that we cannot transfer human emotions onto our pets, but I cannot help
wondering if he loves us as much as we do him.
What does this hand-licking and tail-wagging mean?
Why does he unfailingly lie at my feet wherever I am?
And what does it mean that he waits patiently at my bedroom door
for me to get up each morning? All
these things delight me – but I am probably guilty of implying feelings
that he cannot have.
read that dogs give unconditional love: is that what it really is – or
is it merely seeking another bowl of food, another tummy-rub, or more
play-time in the garden?
it may be, it doesn’t matter.
He has already brought more than enough joy and fulfilment into our
days, and it’s hard to think of life without our precious and much-loved
puppy. And as he grows
and develops, taking on even more of his own personality, our pleasure in
him can only grow too.
HONEY’S TALE – a true story
written by 'Honey' in her own words
I was just
three months old, and had only recently left my parents and brothers to
travel north to my new home, where I already felt loved and cherished even
though we were still getting to know each other.
was still learning to sleep right through the night, and trying hard to
master my toilet habits, but I know you left your bedroom door open so you
could respond to my needs, if any.
this particular night I woke up and knew that I had to go outside.
Uncertain, I gave a low whimper to alert you, and you responded by
immediately coming to my door and asking quietly what I wanted.
It was two in the morning, but you didn’t seem to mind.
slipped into the quietness of the night-time garden, and you walked to the
front fence and kneeled down on the grass to wait for me.
the road from our house is a small park, and beyond this a creek which is
lined with very old, tall gum trees.
There was a light breeze that night, and the only sounds were of
nocturnal insects going about their business and the soft murmurings of
the trees. The cool air
was scented by the Mock Orange shrubs in our garden, and beyond the
tree-line opposite the sky was black, but with thousands of stars
twinkling in the darkness.
crept beside you and sat down, and you put your hand gently on my shoulder
as if to reassure me that you were there.
I leaned against you and followed your lead, sitting quietly, just
looking up through the open fence at the night sky and the stars, taking
in the moment.
were there side by side for only a short time, but it was suddenly as if
our two minds, our hearts, and our souls joined together to become one.
I could read your thoughts and you could read mine – I was
thinking “this is lovely”
while you thought “this is
perfect”. I felt
your heart swelling with pride and joy and love at my presence as we
seemed to become two images carved from the same piece of stone or timber
– separate, but one.
early morning we really, truly
bonded, and as I lay down to sleep again I knew, as you did too, that
although in future there may sometimes be some distance between us, we
will never, ever, be
our beloved Shetland Sheepdog (they are also known as Shelties) was
brought home as a tiny ball of fur when he was just eight weeks old.
He’s now reached seven months – a young teen in human terms –
a handsome, alert, intelligent, inquisitive and playful companion,
still changing and developing of course as he nears adulthood.
And - not quite perfect, as we still have a way to go with some
aspects of his obedience training!
are amazed at how he has changed our lives and brought so much joy into
our home. We are both
retired and well into the autumn of our years, and with our children long
gone and no other pets at home Honey provides a huge amount of interest
and pleasure in everything that he does.
as rewarding are the admiring looks and complimentary words that he gets
when we are out walking with him – he loves attention from strangers,
especially children, and he certainly gets plenty of that.
watch him constantly, whether he is chewing a bone, chasing tiny lizards
around the garden, digging holes at the beach, or running around the park.
“Gedda life!” I
hear a cynic cry, but then Honey has become such an important part of our
when he sleeps, which is still quite a lot, we can find amusement and
delight in his behaviour. Mostly,
his sleeping is quiet and still, but sometimes he launches into what we
believe, quite unscientifically, to be the equivalent in humans of REM
sleep – REM standing for ‘rapid eye movement’.
Apparently REM sleep is particularly deep and restorative, often
accompanied by dreams and deeply-mined memories.
Of course, in dogs it may be nothing to do with this human sleep
pattern, but if it is, then with Honey REM stands for ‘rapid everything
transition from normal sleep to this REM sleep (or whatever it is) is
quite abrupt, and starts with a very deep and loud sigh.
Then everything starts moving: his legs twitch spasmodically, and
he extends and then contracts his claws.
His breathing becomes very deep and very rapid, with his chest
rising and falling markedly as he draws air into his lungs to fuel his
obvious are the expressions on and around his face: his nose twitches and
his whiskers move around in a random way, he wrinkles and flexes his brow
above his eyes, his eyelids remain closed but constantly flutter, and most
amusing of all he often exhales vigorously out of the side of his mouth
causing his lips to ripple and flutter with an accompanying strange noise!
movement is accompanied by a constant array of other vocalisations -
little squeaks and yips, soft growlings and quiet muffled barks, and an
occasional full-blooded yelp as he lives through whatever is going on.
little episodes last for a very short time, maybe only twenty or thirty
seconds, but they are clearly very meaningful for Honey, or so we choose
to believe. We also
choose to believe that Honey is experiencing vivid dreams while he is in
this sleep pattern, but of course the question is – if so, what is he
read that historically the background to the Sheltie breed was their use
as working dogs, herding sheep and other animals in the harsh and
unforgiving terrain of the Shetland Islands, north of Scotland, and close
to the Arctic. It would
have been a very hard existence, with little human interaction most of the
time, and a considerable degree of self-reliance probably making the
difference between life and death for the individual dogs.
No pampered pooches here – they were an important asset to the
islander sheep and cattle herders and those that didn’t perform were
most likely discarded without much sympathy or sentimentality.
– are Honey’s dreams of the distant past, of chasing sheep up rocky
hills, of fording icy streams to get to another part of the island, or
maybe of finding some shelter, warmth, and food – maybe even a little
affection – from his owner? In
his dreams, can he go back that far in time?
And what does it all mean to him?
is he dreaming of our outing together yesterday, when he frolicked on the
beach with other dogs, feeling the warm soft sand between his paws as he
ran around, barking excitedly in that “I
want to play” behaviour? Is
he recalling his swim in the balmy crystal waters of the Coral Sea here on
coast, swimming now being his second-favourite pastime after eating?
And is he re-living the warm bath that he so enjoys back at home,
cleansing his lovely copper-coloured coat of sand, salt, and scraps of
is all this activity and noise while sleeping just the outcome of some
random electric impulses deep in his brain, or something else unknown and
unknowable to we humans?
joy there might be if we could only understand and share his thoughts, as
we vicariously share the pleasure of watching Honey’s dreamtime.
and Brenda Watson
January 13th 2011
is owned and loved by Lawrence and Brenda Watson, Australia, who kindly
submitted these photographs and allowed me to publish their stories