Skye Finds The Perfect Home
by Carie Broecker
Collies have a wonderful reputation. Since 1943 when MGM immortalized a fictional Collie named Lassie in “Lassie Come Home," Lassie has been portrayed in media as intelligent, compassionate, loyal, and heroic. Who wouldn’t want a Collie?
Jeff and Martha Froke of Pebble Beach, California brought their first Collie into their family over 30 years ago while living on ranch land in Orange County. Jeff was managing a wildlife sanctuary and there was a “Collie farm” nearby. When the couple decided to add a dog to the family, getting a Collie was an obvious choice. The Frokes admit the Lassie series, as well as Jeff's past experience with the breed, had some influence on their decision to get a Collie.
Bell truly was an amazing dog. She lived up to anyone’s expectations of a Collie being just like Lassie. She was tolerant, protective, and loyal. When the Frokes brought home their newborn son, Ben, from the hospital, Bell touched his cheek and he tried to nurse on her nose! When Bell had pups, she raised them right alongside Ben. In fact, he learned to walk by holding onto the fur of a Collie pup on either side of him.
When Ben was five-years-old and he stayed over at a friend’s house on a neighboring ranch for his first sleep over, Bell was beside herself. She could not bear the pack being split up. Jeff and Martha got a late-night phone call. Bell was two miles away. Having jumped the fence, she had gone searching for Ben and she found him!
Although Bell was always gentle with people, she would show her fierce, protective nature when a coyote or rattlesnake ventured onto the property. She would-and-did fight off any animal intruder that might threaten her family.
Many years after Bell had gone to doggie heaven and the Froke’s already had their second Collie, Lady, they decided to adopt a rescue Collie. They contacted Northern California Collie Rescue and were told about Honey. Honey had lived her whole life as a breeder in a puppy mill. She barely knew life outside a crate. She was unsocialized and fearful of the world and everyone in it. She paced in the house like a wild animal for a full year before she finally could settle down, relax, and lie contently on a doggie bed to live the pampered life Jeff and Martha had in mind for her. Eventually, Honey would become a certified therapy dog. With the love and commitment Martha and Jeff showed her, she was able to blossom into the Collie she was meant to be.
Next came Skye. It was 2003, and Jeff and Martha got a call from Northern California Collie Rescue. They had shown such devotion to Honey where others may have given up, that the folks at Collie Rescue knew they were the kind of people that could not easily turn down another Collie in need. Skye was one of seventy Collies that were seized in a hoarding case in Yolo County. All seventy dogs were living in a locked barn. When the authorities went in for the raid, they found dogs in all states of ill health. There were dead dogs, dying dogs, starving dogs and dogs with cancer and broken bones.
Skye was roughly three-years-old and surprisingly friendly and very well behaved. He was forty-five-pounds underweight, but was still one of the healthiest dogs seized that day. Jeff and Martha agreed to foster him. They wanted to adopt him but could not do so until the case went to court and the hoarder was found guilty. It took a full year before Skye was officially their dog. It was nerve-wracking knowing that if the hoarder was found not guilty, they would be legally obligated to return Skye to the defendant. Jeff admits that that would never have happened. He said he would have taken Skye to Canada before returning Skye to the hoarder! Luckily, it never had to come to that. The hoarder was found guilty and forbidden to ever again possess an animal.
Skye became happy and strong and 110 pounds in weight. He loves being brushed, going for long romps on the beach, riding in the car, and hanging out on the patio in the garden just enjoying being a dog without a care in the world. Skye also became a well-loved certified therapy dog.
Jeff and Martha sing the praises of Collie Rescue and would love to see more Collies, like Skye and Honey and so many others, find a fresh start in life. Of course every dog is an individual, but in general, Collies tend to have great temperaments with people (including children), as well as other animals. They like to exercise but are not high-energy like a Border Collie or Australian Shepherd. Collies were bred to watch over a flock or herd, not to move them from one place to another, so they tend to be just as happy sitting around the yard -- like a grassy hillock in Scotland -- as running on the beach. Jeff and Martha advocate rescuing dogs, whether Collies or other breeds, with a gentle reminder that when you rescue a dog, you must be willing to make the commitment to work through the baggage they may come with. Do that and you just might bring out the “Lassie” in your next dog!
NorCal Collie Rescue was founded by a group of Collie lovers in August 2005. NorCal Collie Rescue serves northern California and adjacent areas of Nevada and Oregon. Their goal is to rescue every purebred Collie in their region from shelters, relinquishing owners, finders, or other sources, regardless of the age, state of health, or condition of that Collie. To adopt or donate, go to www.calcollierescue.org.