Introducing the Scarlett Saga

How did a dog-fearing girl who grew up with cats become a dog person?

Editor’s Note: Jackson, of The Jackson Chronicles fame, is currently on sabbatical. Scarlett will be filling in for him.


“WOOF” says the sticker in the lower left-hand corner of my minivan’s rear window.

It’s obvious that I’m a dog lover.

To tell the truth, I wasn’t always a dog person. I had a profound fear of dogs emanating from the time a relative’s Boxer yawned at me – his huge tooth-filled mouth just inches away from my three-year-old face.

I grew up with cats, birds, and fish (yes, they co-existed somewhat peacefully) in a house with a mom who loved all animals and a dad who tolerated them only when they left him completely alone. Cats, he reluctantly agreed, were okay as long as they weren’t his responsibility.

A few years after Ted and I got married, we decided to test out our parenting skills on a dog. We rescued Hobbes – a shy mixed breed – from a shelter near our home in Virginia. We were told he would grow to be a medium-sized Terrier/Border Collie mix. As he grew, and became furrier and furrier, and larger and larger, he appeared to be almost 100 percent Bearded Collie.

We fell in love with him, and all the idiosyncrasies associated with Beardies.

When Hobbes passed away 13 years later, we thought we would get another rescue dog. But, in our hearts, we knew we couldn’t have a breed of dog other than a Bearded Collie. After unsuccessfully searching for a rescue, we adopted Scarlett from a Massachusetts breeder.

So, what’s so special about a Bearded Collie, you may ask? Do you know the movie The Shaggy Dog? The star of that movie is a Bearded Collie. It looks like a small version of an Old English Sheepdog, but with a fluffy tail.

A Beardie also looks like the “Bumble” from the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer animated movie, and displays many of the bumbly antics that the term brings to mind. Scarlett, just like her predecessor Hobbes, is always bumping into things. We used to blame it on her not being able to see because of the fur in front of her eyes, but now she gets a buzz cut every summer and she’s still bumbly.

Scarlett is an endless source of amusement for our family, and, like almost any dog, she is full of unconditional love. She chases squirrels – of the real and imaginary variety, freaks out when she hears motorcycles, and tries to catch airplanes.

She begs for tortilla chips and begins quivering uncontrollably at the first boom of thunder, and she has “woof attacks” for no apparent reason – for which the only remedy is letting her out into the backyard.

Scarlett is lucky enough to spend weeks each summer running along the beach in Nantucket, where she patrols the shore as a lifeguard (by barking at any member of our group who ventures into the water), chases seagulls, and rolls in the sand. I swear she actually purrs when you rub behind her ears at the end of the day.

I love Susan Schoenberger’s columns about Jackson, and am looking forward, over the next few weeks, to sharing some of the reasons why dog ownership is such an important part of our family life.

Cristie Needham June 27, 2011 at 04:00 PM
No other breed could take the place of a Beardie,for me anyway! What a cutie


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