Brandy, a purebred Sheltie, started her life with my parents on their small orchard in the interior of British Columbia. Looking through old pictures, I’m pretty sure she was born in September of 1976. She was a beautiful puppy with a gentle personality and highly intelligent. Mom entered her in a few dog shows over the years and she always did well, eventually becoming a blue-ribbon champion.
A couple of years after my dad’s far-too-early death, my mom moved from the orchard to a townhouse. When she told us she couldn’t keep Brandy, we readily welcomed the lovely girl into our family. In June 1983, Mom brought Brandy with her on a visit to meet our newborn son, and when Mom left, Brandy stayed behind.
Right from the start Brandy appointed herself guardian to our little boys. It was almost comical to watch her do guard duty while the boys were having their naps. A short hallway and open foyer separated the two bedrooms and Brandy would plant herself right in the centre so she could keep an eye on each door, occasionally getting up to sniff one door then the other to confirm the boys were still in there and okay.
She patiently allowed them to pat her and snuggle her, never protesting if her long hair got tugged in the process. Wherever the boys were playing, Brandy was never far from sight, especially if they were outside. She also quickly learned a good place to hang out was right near their chairs when they ate.
Brandy loved to “patrol the perimeters” and was used to having free reign of my parents’ large yard, so the first order of business the summer we got her was to build a good secure fence to keep both her and two small boys safely inside. We designed the fence with Brandy in mind, making the spaces between the slats wider at the bottom so she could still see out, but narrower on top, so little boys wouldn’t be able to get a toehold to climb out.
Growing up, our middle son proved to be quite the escape artist (from the crib, playpen, sundeck, anywhere I tried to contain him) if I took my eyes off him for a moment. One summer day, the normally placid Sheltie set up quite the ruckus, frantically barking and running from the patio doors to the side of the house and back again. I quickly followed her to find my three-year old Houdini halfway up the front gate, clinging with one tiny hand to the lock on the latch. Brandy saw the danger and didn’t hesitate to warn me of it. She was our own little Lassie and I sure appreciated having another set of eyes watching over my young family.
Brandy’s birthday party.
In 1988 my husband’s business took us from BC’s north to BC’s coast. Brandy was about eleven at the time and starting to feel the effects of stiff arthritic hips. Worried that she wouldn’t cope well with the damp weather and large city, we made the difficult decision to have her move in with another family member, where she spent the last few years of her life in a dry climate with a large yard to patrol and two little girls to watch over. It was hard to say goodbye to Brandy. She was a wonderful, loyal old girl and we always made a point of visiting her whenever we were in town. She never forgot us.
This was the last picture I have of her, taken in March of 1990.