Missi Roland of rural Mantorville has raised dogs as far back as her memory can reach. At age nine she won her first competitive obedience event and at 18 she was showing dogs when friends were out partying.
"These dogs are my family and they fit my personality. I have trained and bred them all," said Missi. Her family consists of four male border collies, Tripp and Repo are 13, Glitch is 18 months and Syphon is six months. Glitch and Syphon are the nephews of the older two dogs.
Repo is probably the most well known because Missi brings him to the Kasson Public Library each Monday evening for "Read With Repo". Children will take turns reading as Repo calmly sits and listens and gives each reader his complete attention. "He loves kids and likes to greet everyone who comes into the library," said Missi.
The four collies make the perfect therapy dogs. Missi has taken them to several public places, from visiting care centers to performing tricks for elementary school children. As Missi has the dogs demonstrate tricks each is eager to take a turn. Turn left, turn right, shake. When Missi calls out "police dog" one of the dogs clamps down lightly on her wrist.
Border Collies are best known for herding and given the opportunity they will herd the sheep and cattle on the farm. "They have tried to herd the horses, but they aren't very cooperative," said Missi.
What Missi loves about her dogs is that they are so non-judgmental. They are also a very good judge of character. "People could learn a good lesson from these dogs," added Missi.
Training and working with the dogs is ongoing. Because they are so intelligent Missi insists it does not take them long to catch on. Missi quickly admits she is competitive by nature and likes to win. Repo has amassed many awards and titles over the last 10 years. He is an AKC Utility Dog Excellent, he was an Obedience Trial Champion and has won numerous High In Trial awards. Arthritis is slowing Repo and is slowly losing his hearing so Missi has been working with him on sign language.
A favorite for the dogs is a sport called barn hunting. Live rats are placed in PVC pipe containers with holes so the dogs can't grab the rats. The containers are hidden in the barn in a bale of straw or bedding.
The dog is on the clock and when it finds the container with the rat the handler hollers "Rat!". The dog will initially circle the container or will paw at it.
As the dogs improve in barn hunting skills they advance to higher skill levels of hunting. Missi said the dogs get very excited. The rats are unharmed and they are raised in cages with food and water.
Missi insists that barn hunting can bring out the competitive spirit of her Border Collies. "I'm always teaching them new things and they are eager to learn,"said Missi. Missi treats them like family and knows they thrive on physical and mental challenges.