More than a handsome face
My Hero, Boo

By Kathy Garcia, Kacia Corgis

Dog owners appreciate the magical bond shared between themselves and their dogs. Some people enjoy a stronger bond than others. Some of us click more with one dog than the rest of our pack. But I was blown away in early February of this year when it was made clear to me the strength of that bond I had with one very special young tri-colored Corgi.

Boo, Juels R'Bratt Midnight Express, came into my life through the generosity of Julie Sylvester and Lee Hulett. I was invited in on a co-ownership that I readily accepted. While meeting Lee at a puppy match, I was introduced to and captivated by Boo. After a wild trip around the ring in typical puppy style, he came home with me.

What a mischievous little guy he was -- always into everything. I started working him on lead and going to ring practice to prepare him for the show ring. He soon found his way into my photography studio. How could I resist that cute puppy face? At first he did not understand the concept of "stay" while I focused my camera on him for a portrait. He would get frustrated with me, but he soon understood what I needed from him. A model was born.

When I went herding with my other dogs, Boo came along from day one so he would be accustomed to the sights, smells and sounds of the sheep. I parked my van close to the field with his crate facing the action. Shelby Cook, my instructor agreed we should let Boo have a closer look at the gentle test sheep. We took him out. At first he seemed more interested in the "sheep cookies" on the ground.

Leave it to Moe, one of the old sheep in the herd, to get things rolling. When Moe wandered up to us looking for some grain, Boo took notice and barked at him. Moe, in fine sheep fashion, acted horrified at the "little black wolf" and bolted. Those of you who herd have all been there to see that light bulb moment for a new dog. I think it is one of the coolest experiences a person can share with their dog. "Hey! This is what I was born to do! Wha-hoo, what fun!" And off they go on their first herding experience!

From that point on, Boo had his turn with the sheep whenever I could fit a lesson in. He relished it. I would mention sheep, and he would be by the door ready to go to work. I had hopes of running him in the Herding Test Class at Nationals. Unfortunately, last summer, several things kept me from herding practice. The horrible heat and drought made it tough on all participants: people, dogs and sheep. As the Nationals drew near, I tried to rush Boo back with his training. Deep down, I knew better. He was a young dog. He started into a fear faze. He went sour on the sheep.

I was so disappointed, but I felt with time he would come out of it. So I stopped his herding training. I pulled him from his Herding Test Class at Nationals and let him grow up. During this time he made it very clear to me just how strong our bond had become.

I have adult asthma. Over time I've handled it as part of what I had to deal with. I developed a habit of forging on with what I wanted to do and trying to ignore it (not a good idea, I soon learned). One night I went to bed early. I had been having difficulty breathing. I was out of breath just moving from one place to another. Boo, always close by, was sticking even closer to me this particular weekend. At the time, though, I did not find that so unusual. I figured with a couple of days rest, I could ride it out as I had in the past.

That night I went into a very deep sleep that I welcomed, thinking it would make me well. My asthma attack took me into sleep so deep that it took me a while to realize my bed was bouncing. I could hear barking, but it sounded so very far away. I was in a good place in this sleep. No pain in my chest. I did not want to respond. I wanted to stay in that comfortable cocoon. But on the barking went. I could feel a wet tongue on my face, and a dog pawing at me, poking, prodding, whining insistently, and demanding I respond. It was like struggling out of a deep abyss. I opened my eyes to be nose to nose with a very worried Boo.

It was at that point that it dawned on me that I was in deep trouble. I was having the mother of all asthma attacks! I was in respiratory failure. I needed help fast. My inhalers were not working for me. I could not get enough of the medication into me to do any good. It was all I could do to dial 911.

I vaguely remember crawling to the front door so EMS could get to me. After that I was pretty much out of it until I came to in the emergency room. I had a second severe attack in the hospital which landed me in ICU for several days. I was in the hospital for five days.

Once home, Boo stayed very close. I was on the mend, but I was very tired. Boo would not leave me. When I dozed off, if I started to snore I would feel the familiar poke of a wet nose. I'd open my eyes to again be nose to nose with Boo, checking to be sure I was okay. Once I assured him I was all right, he would settle back down by my side. He would not let me out of his sight as I recovered over the next several days. He would reluctantly go out to potty, refusing to stop and play with the other dogs as he normally did.

But the day came when I was talking to Lee on the phone, and I told her, "Boo says I am okay now".

"How do you know that?" she asked.

"Because he is okay with going out in the yard for a good run with the other dogs now," I told her.

I am in awe of the strength of this bond I have with this marvelous boy. Of all the animals I have known during my life, I have never had something as deep as I have with Boo. That day I brought him home, I never dreamed of the impact he would have on me. I have no doubt that I would not be here today if he had not been so insistent that I respond to him that night.

This past Easter Sunday Boo and judge Jim Noe gave me another special gift. Boo showed his heart out for me at the Maury County Kennel Club show, going Winners Dog, Best of Winners, and Best of Breed over Specials, crossing over for his first major and earning his first points out of the 12-18 month class! I was overcome with joy and thrilled that Lee was there to share this moment with our co-owned boy.

Could it get any better? You bet! The following weekend I went to a herding clinic. I took my Australian Shepherd girl, Summer to work and let Boo go to watch. I asked if I could test him to see if the switch would flip back on. I knelt down and spoke to Boo. I talk to him all the time, telling him what I need. I swear he understands everything I say. This time I told him to not be afraid anymore of the sheep. We are a team. I would be right there with him, and I wanted him to just try.

Did he try? Boy, did he! Off he went to boss those naughty sheep around. He gave chase with such Corgi glee, looking back over his shoulder to make sure I was taking note. After his initial burst of sheep chasing, he soon collected himself and had the woolies moving with me back and forth across the field. I have my herding dog back!

Who knows why I developed such a strong bond with this one dog? Is it from our working as a team in the show ring, the herding field, or is it something more than that? All I know is that he was sent to me for a reason. He gave me the gift of another chance of living, and, believe me, I see life with a renewed appreciation. I have my own angel to watch over me. My guardian angel is a merry tri-colored Corgi who answers to the name of Boo. I am eager to continue showing him and competing in herding trials. Who could ask for anything more?

Boo going Best Opposite Sex at the 2007 Ohio Valley PWCC Puppy Match Judge-Dede Rodgers