Ike was part of our lives from July, 2012 until July, 2021.
We got Ike as our then-teen son Tad's dog. We chose a dog the stereotypically misguided way -- Tad thought border collies were cute and was set on a border collie even though we lived in a city, and were all off at school or jobs for most of the day... a terrible situation for a border collie's intelligence and activity levels! We explained this to Border Collie Rescue in Minnesota and could feel them shaking their heads over the phone, as they let us down politely. Then they called a couple months later and said "We think we have the dog for you! He is a smooth border collie, but is very soft. He was picked up as a stray." She sent this adorable photo, and we were off to Minnesota where Tad fell in love with this very shy dog, and they bonded on the ride home. Border Collie Rescue guessed his age at 3-5 years old. Ike was so timid at first that he rolled over on his back in submission every time anyone looked at him.
When Chip and I moved to New Mexico, we all decided Ike should join us, since Tad's city apartment couldn't take dogs, and we had our retiree life which meant Ike would have more freedom. Below is Ike's cover photo from our first blog, and the first attempt of the same photo with his more typical trepidatious bearing.
Ike had taken off whenever he got the chance back in Madison, and he was clueless... found in the middle of busy University Ave dodging cars on more than one occasion. So on the mesa where coyotes yip through the night and our neighbor's goats were eaten by a mountain lion, we were over protective at first and kept Ike leashed. We fenced the "yard" around the camper so he could be off leash at "home." We leashed him whenever we went on a walk. We worried about him overheating. He would dig out cooler spots in the shade, but slept away the whole afternoon and seemed lethargic. We were worried about our old dog!
As we got more comfortable we let him out of the yard during the day and found that he would wander, but never too far, and always came back. So he had the run of the mesa, and we only closed up the yard gate at night. We decided "border collie" was an apt name, since he seemed to take the job of walking the perimeter to heart, whether inside the fence or in the yard. He had his well-worn paths. Whenever either of us went into town, Ike could hear the truck coming from far off, and would wait attentively until it pulled up.
We took him on hikes around the land. He was always eager to join us, but not for long... he was very independent and would wander ahead or behind or away, and would join us on and off throughout the hike. He would run up and down the mesa several times while we made one climb up. If it got too hot for him he would take refuge in a culvert. We got in the habit of leaving water for him in a culvert and showing it to him before we started hiking.
Whether heading in to town for errands or going on a road trip, Ike was never crazy about spending time in the car. If we went to Albuquerque for the day we usually left him behind, but brought him with us if we were staying overnight. Albuquerque has dog-friendly restaurants where we could eat on the patio. Still, they weren't very fun trips for him. Sometimes we let him spend the day with a Rover.com friend rather than slog around with us.
We took him for a hike at nearby Bluewater State Park. We took him with us to Canyon de Chelly on the Navajo Nation for a Diné Food Sovereignty event, where he could stay in the dog-friendly room at Thunderbird Lodge while we attended meetings. He went hiking with us before and after.
I brought him with me for a hike at El Morro National Monument, and he came along when we went to pick up our greenhouse kit in Nebraska.
At home, he was always mildly interested in our construction activities from the tipi, to the greenhouse, to the house. He often took over new infrastructure as his own, and had a disconcerting habit of standing behind back-up-beeping vehicles watching them.
Ike was always game for a snuggle or a snooze!
Ike gave us a few scares. There was the time he ran down the mesa and popped a hole in his skull.
Then in May 2020, he tangled with a rattler and spent two nights at the emergency vet hospital in Albuquerque. $2000 later we learned that our neighbors usually give their dogs benadryl when they've been bitten, and the dogs have recovered on their own in a few days. We learned through the blood tests done after his bite that Ike's kidneys were failing. We had had hints of that earlier, so it made sense to us. We put him on a kidney-supporting diet which helped.
In July this year, Ike's owner Tad came out to visit for the fourth time since we moved here. We hiked around the ridges and hung out in the house shell. We also did something we hadn't done before: took a full hike on an unknown neighbor's land (most of the 140-acre lots around here are owned by out-of-state folks).
Ike disappeared when thunder clapped, as he had often done on previous hikes. This time Chip and I weren't too worried because we weren't that far from the truck and it was a gradual descent. But when we were done hiking he wasn't at the truck, and didn't come home. While Chip and I had a brief contractor meeting, Tad went back out to the cliffs and searched with increasing concern.
We searched for 4 hours and finally Chip found Ike's body at the base of a cliff. He apparently got lost in an area (different direction from the truck) with a couple of canyons cutting through, and he either fell or tried to jump down 20' and hit his head on the rock wall on his way down. Tracks showed that the poor guy was panicked running back and forth, but at least when he fell he was killed instantly... No sign of struggle at the bottom.
We are obviously super sad about losing Ike. He has been such a sweet and quirky companion. We buried Ike under one of his favorite trees. He did live a good and varied life, and he loved the freedom he had out here.
To end on a happier note, here are just some random pics of Ike being Ike!
We like to think he enjoyed his years with our family in Madison, and the freedom he got with our move to this land. Below is Ike here in New Mexico, in June of 2020. 56 dog-years older than when we brought him home from Minnesota, but still smiling!