Nonetheless, we had Sam, our Golden Lab, but he was facing his 11th birthday, and the only sheep gathering thing he knew was retrieving sticks thrown in a direction that would create mass confusion and stampede- like behavior on the pad of the sheep, which actually helped in some situations to get sheep moving.
I'd wanted a REAL Border Collie for years, but three dogs was all I'd really ever needed here in the mountains of West Virginia on cold, chilly, winter nights (i.e., "3-dog nights") It was hard convincing myself or my husband otherwise. So, I waited. Noni was failing. It would soon be time to look for a puppy to fill the void, and this time, hopefully, I'd end up with a puppy that would grow up loving sheep, and wanting nothing more than to gather them for me from hither and yon. I'd been thinking puppy when ''Wool-in-the-Wind'' showed up.
Mind you, "Wool-in-the-Wind" does NOT, however, fit the description of a puppy. In fact, "Wool-in-the-Wind'' fits the description of a critter we'd all most likely avoid no matter what the circumstances. Black and white, yes—like most Border Collies; cute, sometimes playful, yes—like most Border Collies; the smell, however, which we most associated with this black and white critter, is one to run from. A friend and I had been dyeing wool on an outdoor stove near our garden one lovely, but very windy, spring afternoon and noticed near our garden fence what she thought to be "Wool-in-the-Wind.'' As we approached, I yelled out, "Oh no, not Wool, but Skunk-in-the-Wind!!!'' This little skunk, whose back leg was injured but seemed otherwise healthy and quite intelligent I might add, had been visiting us all spring to take what remnants he could gather from our compost heap. And on those March/April nights we slept in our barn loft during lambing, he had made himself a home underneath our porch! We thought he might leave once we moved back to the house, but he seemed to like not only what we had to offer, but was willing to share to the extent that he never sprayed anything or anyone nearby. Still, "Wool-in-the-Wind'' had an unpleasant odor, and despite my tolerance of all critters, wasn't the most welcomed of visitors. His little black nose and the white tuft of fur that stood "straight up'' right between his eyes stayed with me, long after our repeated attempts to discourage his living under our house and porch had driven him, at least, to take refuge under one of the old barns up-the-hollow from the house.
It wasn't long after "Wool-in-the-Wind'' "moved'' that I dreamed of a puppy that wanted to come to live here at the farm. Seems we never get to pick our animals. They always pick us first! This puppy was the biggest bully and the fattest of his litter mates and he looked just like "Wool-in-the-Wind.'' The Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival was the following weekend and there had always been puppies of the Border Collie variety there for the picking, but I dared not say anything to my husband, Bev. Noni was still with us, and we both agreed "NO MORE DOGS 'TIL NONI WAS GONE." Every day I would see this little puppy in my daydreams and in my nightdreams. Still, I just kept quiet, but all the time, thought to myself, “Oh no, I'm not really ready for a PUPPY . . . and the PUPPY do's and PUPPY don'ts . . . HELP!'' But, still, I said nothing.
We drove down the following Friday afternoon to West Friendship, Maryland, to set up our Wild 'n' Woolly booth for the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. Still, not one word about PUPPY from me; my husband helped unload the truck and then took off to park in our usual camping spot in the back little field next to the stream where almost no one ever marks. In 30 minutes or so, he returned to tell me we had neighbors this year; a camper parked just 30 yards away. A camper whose owners had apparently brought their three Border Collies and what he thought might be a litter of pups because he'd heard them when he'd gotten out of the truck—hadn’t actually seen them, but . . .
And yes, the rest is history! The pups were there for the picking, the fattest was the bully of the litter, and he looked just like ''Wool-in-the-Wind.'' His eyes said, "Please take me home." We both said yes and later that night I told Bev about my dream. We'd have called him "Wool . . . ,'' but that's a bit much when you're working sheep and wanting an exuberant, most intelligent, not cross-eyed, wanting-more-than-anything-else-in-the-world-to-chase-sheep less than novice Border Collie pup to listen. So, we named him "Mr. Kohl," or "Kohl'' for short, after Mr. Kohl, our farm sitter and godparent back at the farm that weekend.