Saturday, April 20, 2013

Pets and Their Author: Tess and Hardy a brace of border collies

PHS editor and Harlequin Historical author Michelle Styles explains about two other very important members of her family --her Border collies

Border Collies are an experience and not for the faint hearted. They do require exercise and mental stimulation.  We started our dogs with a Labrador, Chile but then my husband got seriously into running and wanted a dog who would keep up. Labradors are very laid back and easy going btw. So we got Joss. Before Joss went, we used to say -- we love him, but we will never get another Border Collie because...add any number of things that collies do. Collies are manic and in your face. Then Joss went very suddenly in 2009 from a blood clot.
Within a day, my husband decided that we were getting another Border Collie because the house was far too quiet.  He also suggested that since Chile was older, we ought to get two because we didn't want to go down to one dog. Chile died in November 2012 so we had him for much longer than expected.

Tess and Hardy in mischevious mode as puppies
It was my daughter's 16th birthday, and so I agreed to two.  She also had the honour of naming them and was highly into Thomas Hardy at the time. Hence Tess and Hardy.
What I hadn't realised doing a pair of puppies is like doing twin voluntarily. If one dog doesn't think up the mischief, the other one will. This is why they got into the store cupboard and became flour monsters. They also discovered the raisins my eldest had been snacking on, earning  Hardy a trip to the vet when he was very small as raisins are poisonous to dogs.
Tess and Hardy grew and learned to be better behaved but they are collies and highly intelligent. And we decided that we were indeed Collie people after all. Either you get collies or you don't.
The other day, my husband forgot and left some cheese out. (You'd think after all this time...) Cue no cheese and two happy collies. Possibly one happy cat but Heathcliff had the sense to be scarce.
Hardy decided quite early on that the place for him was under my desk. Now the collies take in turns to sleep there when I am working. So I have Heathcliff watching from the desk and a dog sleeping at my feet.

Tess in playful mode
The collies are very good at wanting to go for walks so that I can sort my thoughts out.  However they tend to try and anticipate your next move and are apt to think they know where they are supposed to be going. They also can get utterly focussed on one thing. This is why they are good sheep dogs. Tess and Hardy do not have anything to do with sheep. They do put the ducks away at night.
They are good listeners when I want to hold forth on a plot problem though.
Because Tess likes to sleep by the Aga, I have been known to sit on her bed and do my initial note board. She will normally curl up next to me.
One game my daughter invented was Advanced collie spotting. She was away at university and missing her dogs and she noticed if you look, you will often see collies in the oddest of situations. My husband's spot of a collie seeming to drive a motor scooter in Sicily currently holds the top position but you do see collies in ads and other unlikely places.
The great thing about collies is that they are dogs with personality and a whole lot of heart. And once you take a Border collie into your home, you will never be the same again.

Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romance for Harlequin Historical. Her latest An Ideal Husband was published in April 2013. Her  next Paying the Viking's Price will be published in November 2013. YOu can learn more about Michelle at


  1. Lovely post. I have a Border Collie /German Shepherd cross Jazz who features on my Twitter account and my blog. He is very intelligent,loyal and great fun. Even though he is nearly nine he still behaves like a young dog. Guess that's the Border Collie in him. :-)