You love me and Bearded Collies best of all dogs. You tell me all about my 4 runners who were yours before you got me, and how wonderful they all were. I know them by name: Samoset, Cinnamon, Gizmo, Shadrach, Misha and Cedars. I have a reputation to follow. One thing I know:  Beardies are regal when we flow through the air, our hair waving like tall wheat in the wind. We are funny, smart, beautiful, and mischievous.

A neck scarf, a harness, and a leash are my office attire. I love that word. It reminds me of my favorite place to lift my leg. A tire. My American office moves around. Dog therapy work is perma-lance- no job security, no vet benefits. You pay all my expenses out of your “pocket.” But, I love my job. When you dress me for work, I fill up with joy. I am eck-static! My paws tingle. My chest expands. I begin to twirl. I’m like a Turkish Sufi without the white dress.

Samoset saved people from falling in the ice. Cinnamon made you six puppies. Gizmo was a goose chaser. Shadrach was gallant. Misha was always there for you. Cedars took care of your son. I know me best. I am silly when we play hide and seek, smiling at you when you can’t find where I’ve stashed your favorite shoe. If you are sad or tired, I lie down next to you without saying a bark. If one of us gets lost or confused, I find us. I let my long tongue hang out when I am extra happy.

There are times when I wish I didn’t have such long hair. We pass by dog parks and you keep walking. I pull you toward other dogs running and playing and barking, but you won’t let me off my leash. Sometimes I whimper—not very grown up, I admit. You tell me I take too long to groom when I get all muddy. It makes sense to you, but not to me. After all, what better use of your time than to pay attention to me for several hours, washing, brushing, and combing me? You tell me my coat is a magnet for thistles. I’ve never seen a magnet. But I am on close personal terms with thistles. My long hair is a pain under the tail, but that’s the way I was born. I can’t help it.

Thank you for not taking me to dog shows where dogs stink of perfume and have every hair in place. Just watching them makes me itch all over.  We both know I would take all the prizes and trophies for my enormous good looks and happy prance, so we don’t need to prove it to anyone, especially not to those judges in fancy suits who talk funny. What we do together as a therapy team is the best thing. We spend time together making other people feel good if they’re one of three things: stressed, sick or sad.

Herding sheep is traditional. I’m a progressive, up-to-date Beardie. As a therapy dog, I believe in bringing what the world needs now—comfort.

Oliver’s Advice: Help me be the best Beardie I can be and keep loving me exactly as I am.