It was with heavy hearts we had to say goodbye to Rowan, then four days later, with broken hearts, we had to say goodbye to Abbey.
Abbey was our second border collie, a red tri-colour. She was, to me, everything a border collie should be; pretty, loyal – but independent, smart – but biddable, energetic – but able to chill, and very very empathic. We got her from a working farm that had two litters of pups round the same time. One litter was two months old and the other four months old. We had gone with the intention of getting one of the two month old ones but had narrowed our choice down to one from each litter. We went with the farmer’s wife, into the kitchen – where the dogs were not supposed to go – to talk about them and Abbey, the one we were thinking about from the older litter, quietly followed us in and lay down under Melisas chair. It appeared that Abbey had made the decision for us!
Evidence of her smarts wasn’t hard to find. I remember, when we lived in Clevedon, leaving the hall way door ajar and, from the stairs, balancing a ball on top of the door. All the other collies would run up and down the stairs trying in vain to reach the ball through the banister railings. Not Abbey, she simply went down the stairs and pushed the door closed to knock the ball down to her feet. I used to take a ball and three waste-paper baskets, hide the ball under one of them and let Abbey watch me shuffle the baskets… she always picked the correct basket, pushing it over to retrieve the ball.
We did breed Abbey once, her delivery was difficult, but she had four surviving pups. Prue had a litter around the same time, but it was Abbey that looked after the all the pups long after Prue thought they should looking after themselves. Even years later, Prue’s pups looked up to Abbey more than they did Prue! We kept one of Abbey’s pups, Cinnamon, and the two were inseparable to the very end. Now Cinnamon has taken over the pack as the lead Collie.
Abbey was always leader of the pack and the one that looked after Melisa, she was really smart and used to watch tv intently whenever there were animals on. She would watch soccer on tv and if the ball was kicked out of view on the screen, she would go round the side of the tv to try to find it! She had my father well trained.. yes, I did get that the right way round. When we visited ‘Granddad’, Abbey would go into the living-room and sit down in front of the tv. She would then look over her shoulder at Granddad and give a big sigh and look back at the blank tv screen. After doing this a couple of times, Granddad would get the hint, switch on the tv and start the video tape that had Abbey’s favourite soccer game, Aberdeen versus Celtic. I wasn’t sure, but I always thought that Abbey was rooting for Aberdeen – the team in red-, even though they always lost!
I remember one time in Colorado, we were walking through a playpark and Abbey watched intently as a child climbed up the short, but steep, stair like, ladder and slid down the chute. With no prompting, Abbey walked over looked at the ladder, then climbed up it and followed the child down the chute. We couldn’t believe that she managed climb the ladder!
But now she was an old girl, almost sixteen, and in the past year or so had started to fail, developing a heart murmur after having to have a tumor removed. She was slowing down, in increasing pain and struggling to control her leg movements. She knew it was time to go, but didn’t want to leave us. It was a beautiful day, when we had to say goodbye. We spent it pottering around the garden with Abbey close at hand. For a long time she wouldn’t settle, wandering here and there, but then she laid down on the ground. Melisa took a pillow and laid beside her in grateful companionship for a while and we felt that Abbey was finally at peace with having to leave us.
We are heartbroken now that she is gone, but she still manages to mess with our heads. On several occasions I have looked round and thought I’ve seen Abbey, only to look back and see Cinnamon her daughter. Cinnamon has a similar build to Abbey, but is a completely different coloring. I think it’s Abbeys way of still being with us.