March Madness is All the Dogs’ Fault

by Emily Kemme

My sanity was called into question the other day by my sometimes loving husband. He accused me of “losing it” because I had talked him into owning four dogs — all at the same time. Accomplishing this designated idiocy resulted from adding two puppies to our two existing older collies. What Dr. K. doesn’t realize is that the decision to double dog ownership had very little to do with me. The reason we now have four dogs is all the dogs’ fault.

March Madness is less about basketball and more about dog’s birthdays.

There have been 7 dogs in our family. Adopting canines began with Molly, a husky-weimaraner-collie mutt adopted in 1988 from the Denver Dumb Friends League. A benign and gentle soul, Molly’s best quality was her determined loyalty. Other than making weekly rounds to Cherry Creek restaurants, a mere four blocks down from our house, Molly never strayed far.

We ascribed that loyal quality of her personality to her collie genetics. That, or she recognized she had a good thing going, living with a family who offered an easy path to some of the best bistros and bakeries in Denver. “Breakout Molly,” because no, we never could figure out how she managed to escape from our fenced yard, convinced us that collies were a good breed.

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We credited Molly’s calm acceptance of whatever two kids doled out to her collie genes. (Photo: D. Kemme)

Since then, the rest of the four-leggers have been collies of the Lassie sort: Lucy, Ethel, Flopsy, Mopsy, and newcomers, Lily and Luna. Curiously, all 7 dogs were born during the month of March.

This is not to say that other dogs are never born in other months of the calendar. I just haven’t met many of them. But I can state with confidence that the month of March is teeming with madness because — in my experience — it’s when collies are born.

Spring time is a good time for adopting a dog

Living in Colorado, if you want to adopt a puppy, it’s best to do that in early summer so the little cutie won’t sink into a snowdrift and be lost and gone forever. That means spring is the optimal time to consult the collie catalogue. That requires scrolling through photos of cuteness tantalizingly displayed by our collie breeder on their Instagram and Facebook accounts. In the past, we’ve either had an ailing dog or at some point over the winter months lost one of our furry family members, necessitating that the dog search process ramp up. And while I’ll admit straying over to our breeder’s page now and again when I get into one of those must have a puppy right now sorts of moods, scrolling has been limited to the rules.

Rules of Kemme Dog Ownership, per the Boss

Those rules can be found in the Dr. K. Rules Of Collie Adoption and Ownership Guidelines, Vol. 1. Rule No. 1 states that no more than three (3) collies may be owned at any one time. Corollary A(1)(b) states that collie puppy adoption is wisest when accomplished in pairs. Proviso (C)(12.5) warns that this necessarily means (1) older collie (a beloved family member) must have moved on to Rainbow Bridge. Under the Terms and Conditions, the occasion of moving on to Rainbow Bridge is acknowledged to be accompanied by much sorrow and many tears, but hope for an eventual reunion is steady.

But, back to four dogs. You do the math. Collie (A) or (B) must be knocked off before Sweet and Fluffy Collie Puppies (C) and (D) can be invited into your home to chew on rugs, furniture, walls, baseboards, pens, any loose sheets of paper not properly filed away, and shoes. Shoes are a requirement for collie puppy ownership because new puppies need shoes to chew and destroy.

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Having four dogs can also make you climb the walls. Literally. (Photo: D. Kemme)

In the past, losing a collie happened frequently. Molly (who you’ll recall was part collie) limped to the Bridge (stomach cancer – age 12), followed by Ethel (epilepsy – age 7) and Lucy (odd lump on shoulder – age 9). Once Ethel had moved on to discover an endless array of rabbits and squirrels to chase in the green grass and meadows of Rainbow Bridge, Flopsy and Mopsy were adopted. Lucy was bestowed with an honorarium: Cottontail.

Rules are rules until you get into a pandemic

There we were in March 2020, suddenly finding ourselves in a massive pandemic with two aging 11-year-old dogs on our hands and five vacations to cancel. Bored and lethargic, Flopsy and Mopsy had seen better days, and our hopes for their longevity were waning.

An important note here in my sanity defense: while you might think it was humans who domesticated dogs, research has shown it was the wolf who started along the path of human domestication about 100,000 years ago. A nice fire pit, some good woolly mammoth scraps to gnaw on, and cuddly bearskins for curling up upon at night encouraged cohabitation. It was the wolves who perfected that, “Let me gaze into your eyes” trick and talk you into telling me you love me gimmick that sealed the deal. The wolves — now morphed into golden retrievers, huskies, Yorkshire terriers, and collies, of course, have never looked back. Why would they? They’ve got Italian leather shoes to gnaw, and gourmet bistros and bakeries to plunder.

Point 2 in my defense: I happened upon our aging collie-wolves in the kitchen one afternoon in the late spring of 2020. The two were deep in conversation.

Flopsy: Mom looks kinda down, ya think?

Mopsy: Ya, maybe. All I know is she sure is home a whole lot these days. And she doesn’t get dressed up anymore. I haven’t found one Italian leather shoe in the kitchen to stuff my nose into for weeks.

Flopsy: I gotta tell ya a secret. Promise you won’t tell?

Mopsy: Hhrummmpf. Wha?

Flopsy: Mom and Dad were talking about us the other night at dinner. They’re making a bet about which one of us is gonna — (gulp) — go. . .

Mopsy: As in “pee on the floor go” or . . . wait . . . it’s gotta be the other go. (said with hangdog expression).

Flopsy: I know! All because we like to lie around and do nothing all day.

Mopsy: Well, screw that. I’m not going anywhere. How ’bout you?

Flopsy: I’m in. But let’s look really old and sick and then they’ll think we’re going and we’ll make them get new puppies!

Mopsy: Wooooooo! Somebody to play with!

As you can see, I’ve been had. We are living with four dogs, and March is as mad as mad can be.

I rest my case.

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32 comments

Patti Roseberry March 25, 2021 - 12:35 pm

I’ve always had border collies and Australian Shepherd’s and a collie. It’s the first time I ever had a collie in the house most of the time. What is the secret to the shedding????

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Emily Kemme March 25, 2021 - 12:35 pm

Well, the first secret is to acknowledge that collies shed. But in my experience, their fur is easier to deal with than dogs who seem to drop fine little hairs everywhere. Collie hair drops in clumps. The worst spots are in their beds, which I wash frequently. It’s easy to pick up clumps of hair as you’re walking through the house. I brush them weekly and they’re professionally groomed about 3-4 times a year. Think of it this way: spending time grooming them is quality bonding time. 💗

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Patti Roseberry March 25, 2021 - 12:38 pm

Thank you so much for your information regarding having a collie in the house. I love her so much it’s like having a person with me. We have conversations and I take her everywhere I go. The dogs I’ve had in the past, which were outside all the time, had similar personalities as far as being my friend and listening quietly and never having issues with discipline, but they were also working dogs with sheep. My Molly it’s just my friend and stays in the house with me.
Your response was beautiful and spoke to how much you love your dogs. That whole family of dogs ——-border collie, rough collie or Australian Shepherd are truly friends. 🍀🍀💚

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Emily Kemme March 25, 2021 - 12:39 pm

Our dogs are much loved members of our family. It sounds like yours are, too. I agree — collies have so much friendship and love to offer. I’m convinced they understand much of what I tell them. Have fun with your Molly.

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Janett Dutton March 24, 2021 - 9:50 am

Love collies!

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Naomi Kuttner March 22, 2021 - 9:04 pm

I guess I just got “taken”! Those were Dr. K’s rules! His vote doesn’t count anyway.

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Naomi Kuttner March 22, 2021 - 9:02 pm

Crazy rules if you would ask me. If someone love dogs as much as you do they should be allowed to have as many as they can handle. I guess the problem is that most people would not be responsible, dog owners. I guess it’s just to have a general rule out there. And then again who would be there to judge? I’d love to see all four of them together. Glad you got “taken” By Flopsy and Mopsy.

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Emily Kemme March 22, 2021 - 9:08 pm

I agree!And quite truthfully, he admits that the two new ones are pretty darned cute. He’s probably wondering if the rules are too harsh, I bet. Stop by anytime to visit the foursome — as long as we stay outside, it’s fine, for the time being.

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Sue Kading March 22, 2021 - 10:42 am

This is too hard for me to imagine, not being a pet owner! What a good person you are, Emily

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Janice March 21, 2021 - 11:11 pm

Made me smile. Thanks. But, still not ready for a puppy but love our grand dog!

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Leslie Lyles Sobek March 21, 2021 - 8:57 pm

Love this….especially how Flopsy and Mopsy conspired to get puppies! Your dogs are beautiful (and very lucky to live with you)!

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Emily Kemme March 21, 2021 - 8:59 pm

We love having all four. A bit of a dog circus, but it’s getting more under control. Collies are such sweet dogs. And Flopsy and Mopsy really perked up with puppies — they sure knew what they wanted!

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Barb Slobojan March 21, 2021 - 2:38 pm

Nice of you to have enough windows for each of them.

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Emily Kemme March 21, 2021 - 2:39 pm

And each and every window is marked by their noses.

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Cynthia March 21, 2021 - 12:08 pm

Love this one!

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Lorrie Dinner March 21, 2021 - 9:58 am

Love this

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Michelle March 20, 2021 - 6:25 pm

Curious, did you have an interpreter to tell you exactly what their conversation consisted of or was it kind of a wild guess?? Either way, yes you were played!!!

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Emily Kemme March 20, 2021 - 9:20 pm

I’m pretty good at collie-speak.

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Elaine Foe March 20, 2021 - 6:05 pm

We had 4 dogs when our kids were growing up plus 4 litters of various types of puppies. Our rule: maximum one dog per person in family. So we now have 2 covid dogs since our beloved bull terrier died last year. We also like 2 minimum so have a buddy. Life would seem empty without dogs! Yours are gorgeous!!

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Emily Kemme March 20, 2021 - 6:06 pm

I agree on the ratio of 1:1 with dog ownership. We goofed a bit here, but love them all. And yeah, we’re outnumbered.

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Kathy Newman March 20, 2021 - 6:02 pm

Loved this piece.

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Lynne March 20, 2021 - 2:07 pm

Love this one, Emily. Not enough to try four Labs, but love it a lot!

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Emily Kemme March 20, 2021 - 6:07 pm

Thanks, Lynne. I’ve always wondered, given how much you love dogs, why you only have one at a time. While four is definitely a bit much, two are great for dog companionship so they always have a playmate.

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Jill Andre March 20, 2021 - 2:04 pm

Sounds like a very “hairy” situation.

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Phyllis Alles March 20, 2021 - 1:34 pm

Wow! They are really handsome!

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Michelle Medina Jones March 20, 2021 - 1:34 pm

“Sometimes loving…”

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Cindi Bristol-Kerr March 20, 2021 - 1:33 pm

Before we left Greeley, we had 4. Boy was it fun!

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Emily Kemme March 20, 2021 - 1:35 pm

Houseful of fun.

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Joe Schumacher March 20, 2021 - 12:42 pm

A group of crows is a murder of crows. What do you call a group of Collies? A chaos?

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Emily Kemme March 20, 2021 - 12:42 pm

That, (because it is), or a chorus of collies? (bark, bark)

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Carol McConnell March 20, 2021 - 12:41 pm

Great story- love it!

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Loni L. Ferrier March 20, 2021 - 12:41 pm

You have 4 Wow

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