Once again I'm quietly fuming because there is a stray Border Collie dog on the bog road and the poor creature came down almost as far as the cottage with his tongue down as far as his paws...I've left a big bowl of water out at the side of the road in case he ventures back this way. Himself saw him this morning when he took our dogs out for their walk...but he wouldn't come anywhere near.

He might just have got himself lost...he may have been after another dog in heat...but I know we are kidding ourselves when we say that. He'll have been dumped during the night when there was no-one about to see those responsible for their actions.

It drives me to total despair when people won't,can't or simply don't, look after the animals under their care. If you honestly don't want the dog anymore and you can't re-home then take it to the vet and have it put down. That sounds incredibly harsh when I write it but the situation here in rural Ireland is plain abysmal...Collies are two a penny and the dog's homes are stuffed to over-flowing...the dog Warden is run off his feet trying to catch the stray dogs...and no-one ever wants to take on an adult Collie dog...we did, but then we're daft.

I've always said, and will continue to say, that it is far better for the dog itself to be put quietly to sleep than spend it's entire life tied up at the end of a bit of rope with the odd bit of bread thrown to it when someone remembers...or to roam about the bogs where there is nothing to eat and only brackish water to drink. A contact in the past used to accuse me of encouraging murdering dogs...if having a lethal injection is classed as murder then I'm guilty. I've seen far too many strays bewildered, hungry, thirsty and lost without a hope in hell of finding a nice new home to worry too much about the niceties...

Sweden used to take our Collies...the Swedish airline flew them for free and they were absolutely guarenteed a decent home once they arrived...now the airlines charge us €1,000 for the flight. Every Collie has to be neutered, micro-chipped, wormed etc before it travels...can't be done. With the best will in the world, it is simply out of the question to send our stray Border Collies abroad.

The answer is neutering of course, so no Collie bitch ever has eight puppies looking for a home...the answer is not to own a Collie in the first place if you can't be arsed to look after it...the answer is to take the rangy dog which chases cars and sheep to the vet...not to tip it out of your van in the middle of the night and hope no-one is around to see you doing so...

Border Collies are highly intelligent dogs who need to work. Their in-born instinct is to herd which is why they make excellent sheep and cattle dogs...if they are properly trained. They are not designed to be tied up in a farmyard or shut in a shed...they have great stamina and can run for miles up and down rough terrian...they are always willing to please and like nothing more than to have praise heaped upon them. They chase cars and tractors because they don't have a flock of sheep to herd down a mountainside...a car is the next best thing as far as the dog is concerned...and that is a public nuisance and can cause an accident.

So, when we see yet another stray looking hot and hungry and lost...we'll continue to rail against the thoughtless eejits who left the dog to their own devices...Breege will put some extra food out when she feeds her dog...Henry and Mary will leave a cooking tin with some of their left-over dinner in it at the bridge...Marian will try her level best to catch it when she takes her dogs for a walk...and eventually one of us will manage to catch it...and we'll 'phone the dog warden and he'll come and take it away and our conscience will poke us as we help to put the frightened dog into his van and we'll sign his bit of paper and wish we were somewhere else entirely.