Above, black-and-white Westwood Fenn in her classic pose.


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Fenn was bred by Suzanne West of Oliver Springs, Tennessee. I was looking for another working dog. Fenn was supposed to go to someone else, but that person backed out and I got her instead. We picked her up at Logan Airport in Boston and when we took her out of the car and she saw my other dogs waiting in the yard up the driveway, she began to bark right away, and that began her shaky relationship with other dogs.

Fenn was never very interested in sheep, but she was a whiz with a ball and lived for having the ball thrown, so we decided to do flyball with her. We joined a team in the area with three of our dogs, Bess (who was 5 at the time), Flash (who was then 4), and Fenn (at a year old). Both Bess and Flash were very slow, but Fenn was very fast. All three dogs earned their Flyball Dog Excellent (FDX) titles but Fenn earned a Flyball Dog Champion (FDCh) rapidly (pardon the pun). Eventually, the team told us they were happy to have Fenn but didn't much care for Bess and Flash (because of how slow they were: after all, they had started late in life). We felt it was too competitive and no longer fun, and quit.

Fenn was a rather wild card in our dog pack. Once, when I was picking up a foster dog from a vet's office that was perched on a tiny lot in the corner of two busy roads, she jumped out of the car window and started to run in circles around the very small parking lot. It was rush hour and I very nearly had a heart attack, visualizing her being hit by a car right in front of my nose. Another time, we were attending some sort of dog event at a training center that was next door to a gun club. Someone fired a gun and Fenn took off. I went after her and found her at the house next door playing ball with the neighbor's children! Obviously, ball came before fear for Fenn.

None of that would have mattered for us except for Fenn's dislike of other dogs, and that came to a head when she began to pick on Bess when she was three years old and Bess was eight. Almost every day she managed to nail Bess and roll her on her back. At that point we decided to find Fenn a new home, and we did so with Kathy and Craig Chittenden of Sugarbush Farm in Stephentown, New York. Fenn was Kathy and Craig's first agility dog, and they have gone on to become extremely active in the sport and have built their own training facility.

Here's what Kathy said of Fenn when she died on Tuesday, 9/6/11: "We will miss our little girl...she was the one who kept our household in order. She taught me so much about dogs and Border Collies in particular. She was a quirky little thing with a clear 'don't enter my space' rule with other dogs. We used to joke that at birth her brain was removed and replaced with a tennis ball because that is what she lived for. We told her there were lots of tennis balls in heaven. Rest in Peace our dear girl." Fenn was just three months short of her 14th birthday and was having seizures from a possible brain tumor when she died. We had her for just three years, but the Chittenden's had her for over ten years, so she was more their dog than ours, and I'm sure Kathy has many more stories about her than I do. Still, I will always consider Fenn as having been one of my dogs.

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Last modified: July 9, 2013