Ruby is not a purebred Border Jack, if you can even call a hybrid creation 'purebred.' Her DNA test results indicate that her parents were most likely a Jack Russell terrier mix and a Border Collie mix. Or, perhaps one parent was a 50/50 Border Jack and the other was a mutt...whatever the case, and however much skepticism and humor there are surrounding dog DNA tests, I don't have one shred of doubt that Ruby's results are accurate. "That explains it," I thought when I opened the eagerly-anticipated email from Wisdom Panel. She embodies so many of the physical and character traits of both main breeds as well as looking similar to Border Jacks I've seen. I belong to a Border Jack group on Facebook and follow every Border Jack I come across on Instagram. I delight in looking up pictures of them (mainly on flyball team pages) as well as reading everything I can about the terrier and herding group members. Ruby is scarily smart, relentlessly energetic, endlessly determined and more than a little bit crazy. I love her with a ferocity I didn't know was possible and yet I would never recommend a Border Jack to anyone.
Prior to adopting Ruby, I distinctly recall discouraging more than one person that casually mentioned they might like a Jack Russell terrier. Jack Russells are not casually anything. According to her book Perfect Puppy in 7 Days, after seeing the work Dr. Sophia Yin put in to her impeccably trained dog, Jonesy, many of her colleagues determined they would never get a Jack Russell terrier. The feisty fox-hunting dogs are well-known for being nippers of ankles, chasers of cats and instigators of dog fights. The Jack Russell Terrier Club of America has a lengthy list of caveats called The Bad Dog Talk on their website. They are definitely not for the faint of heart, and I never would have considered one for my moderately-active suburban town-home life.
Nor would I have considered a Border Collie. Known as the workaholics of the dog world and widely accepted as the most intelligent breed, there is a reason they are a favorite of professional dog trainers. You know...the people who love to train dogs in every waking moment. It's hard to ignore the disproportionate number of Border Collies guardians who commiserate in many of the reactive dog groups I belong to. They were bred to herd sheep, anticipating the flock's movement with an unparalleled intensity - nothing gets past them and they aren't the sort of dog content to lay about the house. They very often end up in rescue, and one Border Collie rescue group implores potential adopters to carefully consider the breed.
Combine the two and you have, as one critic of the cross calls them, "world's most effective ankle biter." Ruby's personality leans heavily toward the terrier side of her family tree, which is not surprising if Wisdom Panel's suggestions for her mixed heritage are true: three of five are other types of terrier. She would have been a nightmare for a family with children - before her bite inhibition improved I came away from games of tug with a bloodied finger on more than one occasion. She likes to goad me along at my heel like a collie with the extra encouragement of her terrier teeth if I'm not moving fast enough toward the morning walk. My blessedly bold senior cat is not a big fan. Ruby passionately loves to dig, she is hypersensitive to motion, and she is perpetually distracted by sounds, sights and smells outside. For all the challenges she presents, though, I still wouldn't trade her for an easier model. She constantly dares me to be a better dog person, and her intelligence is beyond measure. Trick-training is one of our favorite activities and she has learned an impressive number of cues already. Those amber-grey-green Border Collie eyes of hers have depths that can be disarming and there is nothing better than her sweet, finally-tired body snuggled up close after she's burrowed under the covers at bedtime.
Border Jacks, thankfully, are not among the popular crosses in the designer dog rage like the doodles, the puggles and the inexplicable cavachons. Their reputation as the ultimate flyball dog seems to so far reserve them for the dog sport enthusiast niche, and these are usually the sorts of people with full-time dedication to training that can handle a rocket-fueled canine. I hope for the sake of their safety and everyone's sanity, that Border Jacks remain a lesser-known hybrid and don't end up in pet stores and thereby shelters. Ruby's high-pitched barking has been heard far and wide, her thirst for rabbit blood has been witnessed by anyone residing near my townhouse common lawn and her maniacal spinning and lunging has caused alarm for quite a few cyclists and joggers. Vet techs and store owners nod with informed sympathy when they find out what she is. My Border Jack, bless her crazy little heart, is the very best anti-ambassador for the cross.
Is there anything about your breed that isn't for everyone?