• Last modified 1615 days ago (Jan. 22, 2020)


Cattle dog adjusts to life on the sidelines

Staff writer

Meggi, a registered border collie, gazes longingly over the pastureland from Rex and Carolyn Savage’s truck emitting the occasional whine from the back seat as she spies the cattle she used to herd so well.

Multiple health problems have forced the 13½-year-old Welsh Scottish herder into a retirement she is still adjusting to.

Problems started for the dog when she suffered a stroke in September.

“We had just returned from an evening run when she sat down, looked away, and fell on her left side,” Carolyn Savage said. “Her eyes and ears were droopy.”

Savage panicked. She had lost an older herd dog earlier in the year and now was afraid she would lose another one.

“Oh, Lord, I can’t lose two of them,” she thought.

She gave Meggi a body massage before taking her to a veterinarian. The stroke had affected her eyesight and hearing.

“Meggi couldn’t see or hear for a week,” Savage said.

The dog gradually recovered and has regained 40 percent of her hearing and 60 percent of her sight.

Meggi was dear to Savage’s heart because she had owned the loyal Border collie from the time she was 9 weeks old and trained her to follow commands and herd cattle. Meggi was specially chosen because of her bloodline, self-control, and intelligence.

“If a dog has no self-control under stress, she is useless,” Savage said.

Visitors to the ranch from all over the country and as far away as Australia and New Zealand had made offers to buy Meggi after seeing her in action, and the answer always was, “No.”

Savage often ran with Meggi through the grass. Now, all Meggi can do is sit in the farmyard and gaze at the cows in the adjoining pasture.

The stroke wasn’t Meggi’s only problem. At a monthly checkup, she was diagnosed with cancer. She underwent surgery in December to remove it.

“I hope it won’t come back,” the veterinarian said.

The Savages hope it won’t be found in an upcoming six-week checkup.

When Savage brought her home from the vet, Meggi had to wear a cone collar to keep from bothering her stitches. She tried to get rid of it by swishing her head back and forth.

Savage said she talked to her and said, “Meggi, you need to calm down. You need this to get better.” After that, she never did it again.

Meggi loves to play ball. A grandson spent time with Meggi during Christmas break. He worked with her and was successful in teaching her to catch the ball.

The Savages found another border collie just like Meggi in Tennessee. “Azzy,” at 9 months old, will join the Savages in March.

“This was just the one I wanted,” Savage said. “She’s a twin. She has the same genetics and looks just like Meggi. I’m excited to train her.”

As for Meggi, she will live out her days on the ranch and will content herself with taking walks and just gazing at the cattle she once herded so well.

“She’s a beautiful dog, and she’s amazingly healthy,” Savage said.

Last modified Jan. 22, 2020