Highland News Leader

Highland woman herds border collies to new homes all over Midwest

Elaine Wilson has always liked dogs. But there is one breed in particular — border collies — that has corralled her affections. She has four of her own and has made it her mission to find good homes for as many others as possible.

The Highland resident spends countless hours each week volunteering with Come Bye Border Collie Rescue, a non-profit, no-kill rescue and adoption group based in rural Highland.

Wilson, who started as a volunteer in 2008, now oversees the organization, which rescues border collies and border collie mixes — exclusively — from all over the Midwest, including Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee. In 2014, they took 80 dogs into the rescue and found homes for 60.

“Our adopters come from all over the U.S., but most typically from the same Midwest states,” Wilson said.

The rescue is like any other. It is an arduous, demanding endeavor that challenges the physical and mental stamina.

“It is almost like having a full-time, unpaid job,” Wilson said and laughed.

And it’s never done.

“Unfortunately, the more our name gets out in the public, the more dogs we receive from either owners, kill shelters or from people who know us,” Wilson said.

But it’s worth it.

“This is fun,” she said. “This is our passion.”

Come Byes places all of the dogs they rescue in foster care. Once a dog is in foster care, the rescue arranges veterinary care to ensure each dog’s health. Each dog is also given a complete exam, spayed or neutered, heartworm tested, brought up to date on vaccinations and treated for any medical problems they might have.

Foster families, in turn, provide love, veterinary care and training to each foster dog, Wilson said, before they can be adopted.

Wilson said there are now a number of people who are interested in adopting a border collie because the breed has been labeled as the “smartest dog.”

But with intelligence comes responsibility, she said. To that end, the rescue tries to educate people about the border collie breed, which she said is “very misunderstood.”

“When border collies are not fully understood and given a proper outlet, it might result in destructive and undesirable behaviors ranging from chasing cars and incessant barking to ‘herding’ small children or chewing on furniture,” she said.

Wilson said the rescue group’s biggest challenge is now to find additional foster homes. They are no longer accepting dogs at this time, because all of their foster homes are full. Throughout the Midwest, the rescue has 17 foster homes, including seven in Illinois.

If you are interested in becoming a foster home, you must be able to provide a loving and caring environment.

“You will also need to complete an application, provide references and complete a home visit,” Wilson said.

People looking to adopt are encouraged to check the available dogs at www.comebyebcrescue.org and click “Available Dogs.” It is the policy of the rescue that only approved applicants can set up meetings with available dogs. The application process takes one to two weeks, on average, but can be longer depending on reference checks and the scheduling of the home visit, Wilson said.

For more information about Come Bye Border Collie Rescue, go to the website or call (618) 532-7289.