There are times I wish I had a radar gun to see just how fast our little girl, Sunny (AKC KaZes Rivendell’s Uptown Girl) can run. The credible literature on the subject says a Collie tops out at around 37 miles an hour. By way of comparison, a Greyhound can hit 45 miles an hour, and do it in three strides. So, while the Collie can’t catch a Greyhound, it will win a long race, because while Greyhounds are superior sprinters, Collies were bred to run all day in the hills of northern Scotland herding sheep.
I wish I’d had the radar gun on her yesterday afternoon around 4 o’clock, when I let Sunny and her older “sister” Shadow (AKC KaZes Shadow Tangled Up Heart) out for a late-afternoon break. When we opened the door to go out on the deck, Sunny spotted a rabbit in the back yard about 20 yards away and took off like a shot. The rabbit had heard the door open so it was already running when Sunny saw her. It was no contest. The rabbit was at top speed, performing elusive maneuvers to try and outsmart Sunny, who matched the rabbit’s every zig and zag at full speed, and about 45 yards out, a few yards shy of the western fenceline on our property, Sunny came right up on the rabbit’s “six” (directly behind it; the “six o’clock” position, as fighter pilots say) and scooped her up in her jaws.
Shadow was about ten yards behind Sunny, and I was about 25 yards behind Shadow when Sunny caught the rabbit. I feared the worst for the rabbit, but even after the thrill of the chase, Sunny immediately obeyed my shouted command “DROP”! The rabbit, no doubt stunned by the capture, lay breathing heavily in the grass. I praised Sunny for her feat, and the two Collies went into flanking formation on either side of the frightened rabbit. Satisfied that the dogs weren’t going to hurt the scared rabbit, I went off to get a flat-blade snow shovel from the shed, and lifted the rabbit over the fence. I expected it to run off, but it stood motionless next to the fence.
While I was attending to the chore of scooping the rabbit to safety, the dogs had found a baby rabbit near the original start of the chase. The dogs were merely curious, because the little thing – it was about four inches long – was terrified and hyperventilating. I scooped up the tiny rabbit and took it to the fenceline and deposited it next to the (mother or father?) rabbit, and the two made their way off toward my neighbor Anthony’s property,
A quick search led me to information that the fastest kind of rabbit, the jackrabbit, can hit 45 miles an hour, but the typical backyard rabbit probably maxes out at 27 mph. I don’t know how fast the rabbit Sunny caught was running, but it was no match. The only dog I’ve ever seen outrun Sunny was a Greyhound, at a visit to Badger Prairie Dog Park in Verona in May. It’s quite a sight to see a Greyhound in full stride, all legs and lean body; but to me, watching my Collies run, seemingly defying the laws of physics by changing direction effortlessly at full speed with their luxurious coats flowing in the wind, is a sight of transcendent majesty.
Sunny was bred to be a show dog, and she spent some time collecting awards on the AKC and CCA (Collie Club of America) circuit when she was a very young lady, but the economic downturn meant her breeders (KaZes Collies in Franklin, WI) were going to fewer shows, and when my wife decided it was time to find a companion for Shadow, we’re so glad Sunny was available. Our veterinarian, Dr. John Gustafson, marvels at Sunny’s perfect form and musculature, and calls her “a little Olympic athlete”.
Our little show girl is indeed quite the athlete, and my wife and I couldn’t be happier to have two such wonderful , loyal, loving animals sharing our home and protecting us and our property. Here are "the girls"(below)- Shadow, Toni, and Sunny, on the porch where the chase started yesterday.l