Tess - a dog of independent spiritRSS feed

Posted: Monday 22 December, 2014

by Rosemary at 9:59am in Dogs 8 comments Comments closed

Back in the summer of 2000, Dan and I had just moved to our brand new smallholding at Longcarse, in Alloa. In fact, it wasn’t really a smallholding; it was a newly renovated cottage with some grass inside the fence (which we laughingly called a garden) and some grass outside the fence. But we had plans.

My birthday is in July so when Dan asked what I wanted, I said “a puppy”. He agreed and we spent some time discussing the merits of several breeds – but when it came down to it, I really wanted a Border Collie. So Dan duly tracked down a litter of pups in Comrie, Perthshire and, on the 16th July (a day late, which may have set a trend for the future), Tess arrived home. Born on 21st May, she was the only bitch in a litter of five.

She looked like a Border Collie pup – a tricolor – but as she grew, she looked less and less like a collie. Dan’s folks bought her litter brother and he looked nothing like Tess, except in colour. Dan never saw the parents and we guess that she was a bit of a mix. Given her propensity for digging and her convenient deafness, I think there might have been a bit of terrier in there somewhere.


Tess was always a dog of independent spirit. She could be incredibly obedient – I took her to obedience classes and she progressed to advanced very quickly. But the rules of obedience only applied in the ring – once outside, a different set applied. We tried agility too but I couldn’t convince Tess to expend the effort to jump something when she could go round or under it. Such was the pattern of our relationship. ☺

Later in 2000, we got Meg; then in 2001, a series of cats. Tess was both fascinated and terrified of the cats, herding them or staring at them. She spent a lot of time watching “Hen TV” when we got our first hens.

Tess watching hen TVTess watching hen TV.

Our first Tamworth weaners were also a source of great joy for her – she spent hours watching them through the fence but was also happy to get in the pen and play with them – until they got big enough to lift her off the ground with their snouts; then she reverted to staring through the fence.

A committed but largely unsuccessful rabbit hunter, she would spend ages excavating a bunny hole then lying inside it, in the forlorn hope that a bunny would run into her waiting jaws. That never happened ☺ One day she spent so long, motionless, down a hole with only her back legs and bum showing that our neighbour was on the point of coming to tell us that he thought she was dead.

In 2007, she ruptured a cruciate ligament and underwent surgery to correct it. And then again in 2008 with the other leg. In truth, she was a funny shape with a barrel chest but really spindly back legs. As she got older, she developed arthritis in all her legs and was latterly on an anti-inflammatory drug. Other than that, she was pretty healthy for most of her life.


When we moved to Dalmore, she loved it. By then she was ten and spent a lot of time staring at the ponies, the pigs, the hens, the cattle. Funnily enough she wasn’t that interested in sheep – although she did dig a hole at the back of the old lambing pens (before we concreted the floor) that was big enough for a newborn lamb to fall out of the pen. Fortunately, we heard it crying and rescued it. Tess wasn’t trying to hurt it – she was just digging ☺

Tess relaxingTess relaxing after a hard day's digging.

About ten days ago, she was quite sick. The vet gave her a drug to help but said if it continued he’d do some blood tests. After a few days respite, she started being sick again. I took her to the vet on Friday; he took some bloods and called on Friday evening to tell us that Tess was in acute renal failure. We could have put her on a drip for 48 hours to flush out toxins, and then put her on a course of multiple medications that might have given her a wee while longer but we took the difficult decision to have her put to sleep. So on Saturday morning, in front of the fire, Tess crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

One of the lovely things about keeping a blog is being able to look back. On Saturday afternoon, Dan and I went back through the TAS diary and remembered Tess’s life. We got out the old photo albums – from when she was a pup, through her first Christmas and through her life. It was a good one, we hope.



Tuesday 23 December, 2014 at 2:35pm

Fantastic read a true champion Tess.

Sue Oliver

Tuesday 23 December, 2014 at 2:45pm

I'm honoured to have met Tes several times. As a fellow Collie lover, I understand just what amazing character she showed. Her and Skully had a lot in common!

Thank you for sharing such wonderful memories, I love the video of "pig tag" - such fun times :-)

RIP Tes xx

Mad Goatwoman of Madeley

Tuesday 23 December, 2014 at 4:22pm

She reminds me of a border collie who shared my life and heart - lots of energy, lots of character, lots of love to give. Tess will never be forgotten but may your memories be happy ones.


Tuesday 23 December, 2014 at 9:13pm

Lovely to read a summary of Tess's life with you - and I have no doubt that she would give you a big 'thumbs up' at being the pup you chose to bring back and share your life.


Wednesday 24 December, 2014 at 4:32am

Heaven rest her. A lovely life and a kind end, what more could a dog ask for.


Sunday 4 January, 2015 at 7:03am

Sorry for your loss as a owner of BorderCollies since 1992 I'm very much understand the joy and love that exist between owners and this wonderful breed of dogs it is very hard to let go.I will be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. James


Friday 9 January, 2015 at 9:44pm

Sounds as if she had the perfect life. Still such a loss for you both x


Monday 20 April, 2015 at 8:12pm

arh how lovely that was to read she sounded like a nice loving dog and very ambistious im really sorry that you had to come to a horrible decision but atleast you still have the memories to hold onto x

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