My oldest son picked him out in the fall of 2006. Jackson picked out the runt from a litter of eight beautiful border collies. He named him Oreo and he was so small that he could crawl through the spaces in our chain link dog pen.
I was actually more excited than my children were about the little puppy. I had border collies growing up and I knew how smart and athletic these dogs were at doing almost any task. He took to our family like a duck to the water. By the time he was 6 months old, he was jogging mile after mile with me around the neighborhood. He never got tired. If I ran six miles, he would want to do more when we stopped.
I trained him to catch a Frisbee and tennis balls. By the time he was a year old, Oreo was performing between doubleheaders at Childersburg High School baseball games. He performed at a few softball games as well and for two years he was the halftime entertainment of our annual powder puff football game at Childersburg High School.
If we were in the swimming pool, he constantly circled it making sure we were OK. He was a legend at 2 years old and fame had not spoiled him.
It was pouring rain early one morning and I had failed to put Oreo in his pen the previous night. I got a knock on the door at 5 a.m. The man came to the door with tears in his eyes and he said he had hit Oreo with his truck. My heart dropped to the floor. We found Oreo hiding in the bushes. I took him to the animal clinic for treatment. His right leg was broken in multiple places. We kept him in the basement with a big splint on his leg for six weeks. When the splint came off, his leg would not bend.
The right knee was so damaged that he would have a permanent limp in that leg. It never slowed him down, he would still run those miles with me and catch the Frisbee but his jumping ability had been severely compromised.
It was less than six months after Oreo broke his leg when I fell off a scooter and broke my leg. I would take him fishing and he would stand in the boat and stare motionless at the cork until a bream took it under the water.
Border collies are like gifted students in school; if they are not challenged, their behavior can sometimes become a problem. Oreo was no different; he constantly needed a task to perform. When I would weed eat the yard, he nipped at the string as I was cutting. He would chase the stream of water from the pressure washer for hours. This dog needed work and he loved a challenge.
I guess his one big weakness was thunderstorms. He was terrified to the point of a nervous breakdown any time we got a summer shower. We installed a pet door at the house where he could come in any time there was a storm. We also gave him medicine to relax him during the storms. Old Oreo had to be right beside a family member during these storms.
On Sunday July 29, 2018, I parted ways with Oreo. On the day before, he began to have violent
seizures. The seizures came more frequently as the day progressed and we tried to make him as
comfortable as possible during the attacks. I took him to the animal clinic early that Sunday morning. I cried the entire way to the clinic. I cried so hard the nurse could hardly understand me, but they told me he would not recover. I cried so hard in the waiting room that another person began to cry.
Almost 12 years with an animal will lead to a great relationship. This dog had watched my two children grow up and he saw me age into my 50s. My memories will be forever and I am thankful that this little dog came into my life.
Rest in peace, Oreo. You were a great dog.
I hope everyone has a great week.
Alvin Barnett is a history teacher at Childersburg High School.