Dylan, my oldest, summed it up best: "Holly is the smartest dog we've ever had and sometimes, that's really irritating."
When we made the decision to get an Australian Shepherd, I knew going into it that they're the kind of dog that needs a job. Having owned an Aussie mix before I knew they were devilishly smart. With no other dog breed mixed in to temper them, there is something about a full-blooded Aussie that's a force to be reckoned with.
At three months old, Holly knows sit, stay, come, shake, settle, release, outside, pen, and leave it. She can open her cage to get her favorite toy or put herself to bed. She's potty trained (now that we've overcome the setbacks created by potty training pads - never again). She plays fetch like a champ and loves the game "where'd it go?"
But she also chases anything that moves (chickens are fun), forgets herself when excited (which is often) and is as bullheaded as a Missouri mule (you know she's going to dig her heels in when she gets "the look").
She's not a couch potato kind of dog. Holly is not the type of dog to be content in a yard by herself, either. I'm pretty sure that kind of life would literally drive her insane. This really, truly is a dog breed that needs a job or you'll both be miserable.
Because of the chicken thing, she can't be let loose on our 10-ish acres. She has to be walked on a leash until she's old enough to learn the ropes. But she's high-energy, so she needs lots of time to run and play. There are five people in our family and it takes every one of us to keep up with our little tornado. We work from home and homeschool and she is still exhausting. I can't imagine keeping up with her if I were working outside the home and she had 8 hours a day in a cage to store up energy. No wonder so many Aussies end up rehomed!
The thing about Aussies, and Holly specifically, is that they're deceptively cute. Everyone who sees Holly wants her - or so they think. But Holly's mind craves problems to solve, things to do, like most people crave chocolate. If she's bored, she WILL find something to occupy herself. Probably not something mom-sanctioned, though.
Her zeal for life is enchanting. Daily, she "helps" me with my chores with such enthusiasm I can't help but smile. Some of her quirks are super cute (like the Pepé Le Pew run). Some of her quirks are super irritating (like her need to dig to the bottom of her water dish every time).
Don't misunderstand the title of this post. I adore my Holly puppy. She brings me an incredibly amount of joy and has been a delightful addition to our family. When she and I have a training session, I know I'm incredibly lucky to have this once-in-a-lifetime kind of dog. Watching her mind work is like having a front row seat to a magic show. (And yes, you can see the wheels turning when she studies something.) And there's something special about being the person who's won the respect and loyalty of a dog like this. She didn't give it easily.
As my boys are growing up at break-neck speed, I look at this puppy and think she's going to be the one to go on adventures with me when the boys are off and gone. She's my baby girl and she's worth every second of trouble. But boy, there are lots of seconds of trouble...
Rolling hills that had been vibrant green just weeks ago were now muted in tone, as if they were taking a deep breath before bursting into the song of fall.