I believe it’s about time that I introduce y’all to Olivia, our trusty farm dog.

She’s a border collie, a dog that is celebrated for it’s intelligence, it’s strong herding instinct, and for being a great family dog. Olivia is all of that and more.

Yes, border collies are normally black and white. But Olivia is a beautiful chocolate brown color that contrasts dramatically with her white markings. Her coloring is an expression of the recessive color gene that must be carried by both parents in order to show up in their offspring. Genetics 101 in the flesh.

We think Olivia is definitely the best dog in Irish Grove and possibly in the whole Midwest. First off, she was the most adorable puppy ever.

This picture speaks for itself. I mean, can you get much cuter or fluffier than that?

She’s got beauty all right, but does she have brawn? Or, in border collie terms, does she have a strong herding instinct?

“Alright ladies, let’s see whacha got.”

You’d better believe she does. She’s a herder, through and through.

Olivia is in hog-heaven when we’re working the cows. (Please don’t ask me what hog-heaven means.) She lives for this very thing.

“Okay, mom. Just give me the sign. Come on…I’m in position. Where do ya want ’em?”

Yeah, Olivia will bring the cows in if we ask her to, but the most important thing to her is that they all stay together in a nice, tight unit. And she perks right up if she sees someone or something out of place.

“Is that a cow breaking away from the group? I don’t remember giving anyone permission to walk away on their own here.”

Recently, the cows got out of the pasture by pushing through an old gate in the fence. I was all alone. Trying to round up a bunch of cows with their minds set on adventure in a new field is easier said than done, and darn near impossible without a posse of farmhands to help. I manned the gate and sent Olivia out to fetch the cows. We got the cows back in the pasture in under 5 minutes. That never happens. Take my word for it.

Unfortunately, some situations require that we banish Olivia from the cowyard…situations where we don’t want the cows all stirred up. But it is the mother of all insults to make her sit out on the action, like we did on the day we beautified the cows.

“This is so unfair. And after all I’ve done for them. It’s a betrayal of my loyalty, really.”

I almost can’t even look. Almost.”

Sorry, Olivia.

Of course, she herds other things besides the cows….things like the kids, the other dogs in the extended family, and yes, the tractor. She accompanies the tractor out, and likes to think she brings it back in, too.

“Whew. Why don’t my humans just leave the tractor in place already!”

But Olivia’s most important trait is her wonderful temperment. She is simply a great dog. A love sponge, as I call her, since she will beg and whimper and cry until you can’t help but give her a good belly-scratchin’.

Olivia’s top-notch in Irish Grove. A real peach. Our number one canine.

Our first and most important addition to the farm.