The Dog Who Saved My Daughter’s Life

It was all in a day’s work for him

Beth Bruno

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Patches, the faithful Border Collie by Beth Bruno ©1997

My youngest daughter had just been born when we finally found a small farm to buy. About that same time, we found a 3 year-old Chocolate Lab that needed a new home. She was beautiful and had a sweet disposition. She moved to the farm with us, becoming our very first family dog. We were in love with her and she with us.

She quickly befriended the neighbor’s Rotweiller and they had a grand time roaming the hundreds of acres that surrounded our farms.

Then one day, they didn’t come home.

The land adjacent to our farm was leased as hunting land. One of the hunters, for inexplicable reasons, shot both of our dogs that day.

I had not had a dog since I was a kid. The grief of losing my first dog still lingered, even as an adult. Now, I felt the loss of this new love like a kick in the stomach. Before we found her body, before we knew what had happened, I stood at the kitchen window every day, crying and praying she would come home safely. We had only had her for a few weeks and now she was gone.

When we found their bodies dumped behind the church down the road, my heart closed, and I decided I would never have a dog again. The pain was too great to bear.

Even though I had been perfectly clear that I never wanted another dog, one day my husband brought home a Border Collie puppy. He had carried him in his lap all the way home. When he got out of the car I began yelling at him to take it back. Take it back! The pain was still too raw. I did not want to give my heart to another dog — ever.

But this little black and white, waggly baby dog with a patch on one eye begged to stay. He loved it there with us and I had no choice but to love him right back.

Border Collies were bred to be herd dogs. With a little training, they can gather up an unruly herd of sheep and put them into a pen. Without training, he could herd a bunch of kids anytime they came out to play. He didn’t have to be taught this — it was instinct. The kids were his herd, and he took his responsibility seriously.

There were many, many days that the kids came running to the house and said, “Mom, put Patches in the house…

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Beth Bruno

Human learning to be human. Writing in hopes of getting there.