Lilly Elizabeth Hawn was the original canine heroine of Champion of My Heart. She is greatly missed!
Lilly died in 2013 following a 23-month life / death struggle with vaccine-induced brain inflammation.
People stopped me all the time to ask what kind of dog Lilly was. Some guessed Canaan dog. Others thought Kelpie. Both of which are not common at all.
Those without a guess usually said, “What kind of dog is that? She looks like a fox.” And, when I would say, she’s a smooth coated border collie, countless people (including those who work in pet businesses) said “border collie mix”? or “Really?” … like I was making it up.
While border collies with smooth coats, rather than rough ones, are not as common nor as familiar, they are well known in border collie circles. They simply have smoother coats and more angular features.
And, here’s a shocker, they’re not all black and white. Some are even tri-colored.
Yes, Lilly came from a shelter without any pedigree papers. However, thanks to the AKC’s ILP (indefinite listing privilege) program (now called something else, like PAL), she was recognized as a pure-bred smooth coated border collie. That meant she could have competed in AKC events like agility or herding, but not conformation. That’s the formal name of what regular folks call a “dog show.”
To receive this green light, I had to prove she is spayed. I also completed a detailed application that included information about her height at the withers, her weight, her build, and her instincts to show how she met the breed standard. I sent photos, and I included a letter of recommendation from the Rocky Mountain Border Collie Rescue volunteer who evaluated Lilly before she was put up for adoption. She essentially wrote … “Yep, that’s a border collie.” And, Lilly was approved.
Now, it honestly never mattered to me if my dogs are pure-bred or mixed breeds. The only reason it was important for Lilly to have this designation was so that she could have competed (BUT NEVER DID) in the regular class at AKC events. There are other venues who allow dogs of all breeds and mixes, but in Colorado there is a preponderance of AKC events. So, if you want to do this a lot (and not have to travel out of state), there you go.
So, to recap my answers to the most common questions:
Yes, she was a border collie.
No, she was not particularly small. She was dead-on the breed standard for size.
No, they are not all this shy, but (as I’ve mentioned before) they each have their own brand of crazy.
Yes, she was very smart and very active.
Yes, she really could jump (as high as my head) and did it all the time when she’s happy. In fact, if I didn't see it coming, she gave me bloody noses, a fat lip, and broken sunglasses.
Thank you. Yes, she was the Champion of My Heart.