Let peeing Dogs lie

There is a rumour that animals, but particularly border collies - never lie and are always honest and true. This is complete nonsense. I was made aware of this fact for the first time about thirty years ago when our first border collie Tudor used to go on regular walks not only through the town and the surrounding countryside but - judging by the length of his excursions - through most of the north-west of Ulster as well.

Where have you been? Meg and I are both college lecturers and the dog was such an accomplished liar that he synchronised his return from these forbidden expeditions with our timetable. Hence he was generally at home, welcoming us on every return and it took us a long time to realize that he wasn't actually glad to see us, but overjoyed that we hadn't caught him roaming. I remember wondering why he was always out of breath on our return but put it down to natural collie exuberance.

What led to his downfall was a photographer who had taken a picture for the local paper to commemorate some anniversary or other. The picture featured a Limavady street scene and in the foreground of the scene was - you've guessed it - a large black and white border collie called Tudor.

Once we had read the paper the game was up and we started to watch the little criminal. Every once in a while we would come home a few minutes early and catch Tudor on his way back home. He knew perfectly well that he wasn't allowed out because as he passed us he would accelerate, avoid us via a large half circle and race home like the very little devil that he was. We would shout and yell at him but - liar that he was - he pretended to be deaf and he ignored us completely. When we reached home a few minutes later he would give us a big welcome and pretend that we had met some other dog that looked exactly like him but wasn't.

This strategy always worked because you can't tell a dog off when he runs home - you'd only teach him never to return again.

Well, old Tudor died and many years passed and we now have another Tudor. Not only is he black andYoung Tudor white -  and brown to boot - but he is an even bigger liar than the old boy. We spotted the first indication of his sneaky nature when we noticed that he always hides when watching his football. Behind a bush, a tree, a car, a wall - you name it, young Tudor uses it for cover. I've seen that dog try to hide behind a lemonade bottle when nothing else was available and all this effort is used just to outwit an old football.

You would think that such behaviour is sneaky enough for any dog and as Tudor is a sheep dog, one could possibly manufacture a plausible excuse and so salvage his stained character. Alas, it gets worse and this last bit of evidence is the final clincher in the chain of proof that that disproves the claim of honesty in the behaviour of border collies. Since young Tudor was very young I have always told him - at a suitable time - to go and have a pee. Soon the dog learned to do what he was told and he will take a leak on command. This can be very convenient as it enables me to drain the dog for the night. At midnight, when I want to go to bed,Tudor and I go out into the garden and have a long game of football. Once he has lost I point at a suitable bush and say: "Go and have a pee", and Tudor does. As this is a simple drainage operation, he does not lift his leg but just squats and empties his bladder.

Every once in a while though he doesn't feel like doing this. Either he doesn't have to pee or he feels we haven't played enough football beforehand or whatever. Any normal dog would just look at you and pretend that he doesn't understand. Not our dog, he is a born fibber descended from a long line of liars. Tudor will march to the bush and squat in the attitude of a dog having a really good pee. This can last for several seconds and the only thing that gives the game away is the lack of an accompanying, suitably convincing noise. After a little while Tudor will rise from his squat, give a big smile and pretend that he feels much better.

This behaviour is obviously designed to make me think he is doing something which in fact he isn't doing. In other words, the dog is a liar.


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