Happy Tail: This Border Collie mix is a top dog

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Sammy’s mother had been running wild for some time. People spotted her, but attempts to catch her were futile until she delivered eight pups in a ditch beside a road. That grounded the Border Collie mix; she wouldn’t leave her pups.

Sammy takes a breather.

Sammy takes a breather.

That’ll Do … Again, a rescue in Marshville, North Carolina, took the family in, and as soon as the puppies were weaned, they were listed for adoption on Petfinder. Shelton Milner of John’s Island, South Carolina, saw the listing, but it took her three months to convince her husband, Steve, that they needed a dog – not just any dog, but this dog.

He bowed under pressure, and Sammy came to live on their farm, joining the horses, mini-donkeys, and cats that call it home. Sammy fit right in because he’s good at making friends.

Gray Kitty is one of them. The feral cat showed up in the Milners’ barn. They fed him, trapped him and had him neutered, but he fled whenever they tried to interact with him. “Oddly, the cat let Sammy approach,” Shelton says. “Gray Kitty would rub all over his legs and face. If Sam lay down, Gray Kitty curled up with him.”

One day, Shelton was sitting on the grass near the barn with Sammy in her lap. “Gray Kitty, not paying attention to me, walked up to Sam and I reached around to pet him.” That was a turning point, and gradually, the cat grew comfortable with the Milners. When they installed a pet door in the house for Sammy, it didn’t take long before Gray Kitty followed him inside and soon was sleeping on the bed along with Sammy and Ernest T. Bass, Shelton’s fat orange cat.

To say life with Sammy is uncomplicated would be a misstatement. He is an escape artist who quickly learned to scale their fence and unweave chain link with his teeth. Unbeknownst to them, he began going over the fence daily after they left for work. He would go through a neighbor’s dog door and loll on the person’s bed or sofa with his best buddy, a bulldog. “The neighbor didn’t tell us this for months,” Shelton says. They’ve now installed new fencing that keeps him home.

He finds other opportunities for mischief. “He cleans off the kitchen counters and eats or tears up what he finds,” she says. “He loves to unroll toilet paper and shred it. He has torn up pillows, blankets and dog beds. If he can get to it, it’s fair game.”

But they can’t help but love his enthusiasm, and when Shelton suffered a horse riding accident and spent months in rehab, Sammy was there for her, calm and sweet. “He stayed with me day in and day out,” she says.

As her condition improved, they enrolled him in day care so he would have some “doggie fun.” If you say ‘camp,’ he goes bananas,” she says. He’s made lots of friends there, both dog and human. “He won Dog of the Year for 2013 and last month he won Wag of the Week.”

Sammy may have started life in a ditch, but now he’s a top dog.