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Uh-Oh, Do Border Collies Have More Than 9 Lives?

I set out to write a recap post for newer fans who’ve only known Lilly since her adverse rabies vaccine reaction happened (now some 19 months ago). Our canine heroine — long famous for dangerous medical scrapes — cheats death pretty often. Except, when I added up her many health scares, I realized we’re at #9 … and it made me worry.

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Superstition flooded my veins. “You see,” I told myself, “it’s a sign. This really is our last stand.”

Unless, of course, border collies with magical abilities have many more lives than cats. While you ponder that gem, here is The List of things Lilly has already survived in her 9 years.

{Some of them link to blog posts from the time. Mouse over to see which ones are clickable.}

  1. Parvovirus at 6 months old
  2. Kennel cough that turned into pneumonia at 8 months old
  3. Fighting with / chasing off a coyote when she was  around a year old
  4. Getting trapped inside a trash bag (where she could have suffocated)
  5. Getting a cereal bag  stuck on her head (again, where she could have suffocated)
  6. Rattlesnake bite to the face #1 (Labor Day Weekend 2008)
  7. Rattlesnake bite to the face #2 (Summer 2010)
  8. Paintball poisoning (December 2010)
  9. Adverse rabies vaccine reaction (January 2012) that has forever changed Lilly’s brain and her life


(picture me shaking my head)

The blog began as a way to chronicle Lilly’s clinical-level fear and anxiety. We’ve gone public with our failures in agility and rally and herding. We’ve told our harrowing tales of medical miracles and worries.

And, now this long, complicated story of Lilly’s brain and that one doggone vaccine I wish with my whole heart I could take back. 

I cannot, and so we walk this road — knowing in our hearts where it leads.

best dog blog, champion of my heart, border collie in wildflowersI’ve always called Champion of My Heart a “real-time memoir.” Originally, I believed the story would be one of triumph (meaning success in competitive agility). Now, I know it’s more about how we remain standing amid a sea of various failures and how that … that resilience … that perseverance in the face of unrelenting challenge is the heart of our story.

It often isn’t pretty. We suffer low tides, and yet we remain.

Lilly under my desk as I write. Her ears tickling my bare legs in summer. Her chin snuggling with my slippered feed in winter. Her barks waking me FAR too early each day. Her smiles despite it all.

Thanks to all of you for witnessing our journey.


We strive to get back in the blogging saddle (at least weekly), following a tough summer.

We’re looking at several “new” things, including e-books and online events and more.

We may even do a special Gotcha Day Google Hangout, Sunday, October 20 … which is the 9th anniversary of the day we adopted Lilly. Holler if that’s of interest.

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Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I’m a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles … and, of course, all things pet related.

I don’t just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

maggie - September 19, 2013

just read the part about the rabies vaccine, we lost a border collie pup when we gave her a vaccine for rabies. started with massive infection in the neck then proceeded to swelling and infection in front leg with 105 fever. then dev. heart arythmia and had to be put down. necropsy showed the front leg had become completely necrotic and black(dead) overnight. she was supposed to be my husbands second agility dog. heart breaking, I feel for you soo much.

    Roxanne Hawn - September 19, 2013

    Maggie, I’m so sorry to hear about your puppy. Did they ever figure anything out? Was the vaccine contaminated or something? So sad!

Jane Boursaw - September 18, 2013

Well, if anyone has more than nine lives, it’s sweet Lilly!
Jane Boursaw recently posted..New on Netflix: Call the Midwife, Grey’s Anatomy & MoreMy Profile

Jackie Bouchard - September 10, 2013

You two are both amazing! Hope she’ll be by your side for a long time to come!
Jackie Bouchard recently posted..Monday Mischief: Book Mischief and a Giveaway!My Profile

HeatherL - September 10, 2013

Lilly truly is a miracle. Obviously the nine lives thing is only for cats, not her.
HeatherL recently posted..Have a Blast at Run of the River in LeavenworthMy Profile

Alexandra - September 7, 2013

I am just amazed by your dedication. There may have been a ton of health scares, but Lilly is one lucky dog to have you as her owner.

Sam - September 6, 2013

I think we started following slightly before the rabies shot – but I didn’t know that much had happened. Maybe getting bit twice by a rattler only counts as one?

Sam recently posted..Goodbye, sweet NicholasMy Profile

Donna - September 5, 2013

Wow – that’s quite a list! The good news is, she is NOT a cat – she is apparently a survivor – which means she gets many more lives than a house cat. 🙂
Donna recently posted..A Sniff Sniff Here and a Sniff Sniff ThereMy Profile

Melanie - September 5, 2013

Wow, that is quite a list. May you have many happy years together with less excitement.
Melanie recently posted..Are these healthy foods causing your migraines?My Profile

Pup Fan - September 5, 2013

Oh, lovely Lilly… I adore the photo you used in this post.

Here’s hoping that you and Lilly get a break from the health scares for quite some time and that things improve!
Pup Fan recently posted..Hold on to August a little longer with these 14 blog posts…My Profile

Joanne Keys - September 5, 2013

That’s really an inspiring story. Life is all about magic experiences . Let’s continue this road, smile and take the best of all the moments.
Joanne Keys recently posted..Cat’s Meow Toy ReviewMy Profile

Edie Jarolim - September 5, 2013

There are no dog-centered superstitions about near-death experiences so rest assured that nine is a number relating only to cats — and that the amazing care you continue to give Lily would thwart all odds in any case.
Edie Jarolim recently posted..The Frankie Diaries, 9/2: How I Learned Frankie had Doggie Alzheimer’sMy Profile

Maggie - September 5, 2013

I’m truly amazed at the perseverance you’ve shown throughout the whole ordeal. Lilly, too! You’re an inspiration.
Maggie recently posted..Accommodating a senior dogMy Profile

kenzohw - September 5, 2013

It truly has become a story of perseverance. The kind of perseverance you rarely see anymore. You are amazing and the best that has ever happened to Lilly.
kenzohw recently posted..What Every First-time Hovawart Owner Should Know: Not a Retriever, Still a Family DogMy Profile

Hilary - September 4, 2013

Wow, I remember the parvo–I though she was a little younger than 6 months, but I remember that whole incident vividly from your descriptions and my sinking heart. Then the pneumonia… another one so soon after parvo. But I always will remember her adoption day to the best doggie parents on earth, so count me in on October 20. (And I’m glad you renamed her from Daisy to Lilly!)

You and Lilly are both survivors, no doubt about it. xoxo

Sheryl - September 4, 2013

Lilly is definitely a very special canine!
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merr - September 4, 2013

I heart Lilly. That is all. : – ) xo

Living Large - September 4, 2013

Wow. I do believe Lilly has more than 9 lives and she will continue to amaze you, although I hope for your sake, that she doesn’t have any more health scares or near misses. You sure have been through the ringer with her!
Living Large recently posted..Beginning the Week with a Cold at Our Little HouseMy Profile

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