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Frogs & Dogs

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  1. Things are going well here. After just a couple of hours, he picked up a default sit. Today we worked hard on crate games (permission to exit the crate) and he's totally getting it! It's like 99% better than the behavior I witnessed when I met him on Saturday. As I type this, he's dozing in his crate with the door wide open - his choice to go in there. He also learned to jump into the back of my car today. I dug out my old basic obedience manual from the days when Kit was a puppy. It's full of useful exercises, so we'll be working our way through that. He pooped and peed twice today instead of only once, so that's progress. I think he learned to hold it when he was in the shelter. No accidents yet. He's still pretty quiet. I realize that could change as he gets more comfortable here, but he certainly doesn't seem shut down to me. I know everyone here liked "Quill", but I'm leaning towards "Tux". For agility, a dog that looks like his name is very useful - no one will look at the score sheet and wonder if they've got the right dog. And the T and the X are distinctive consonants - great for recall and grabbing attention on course. Vet check (including x-rays) is tomorrow. I'm really hoping for a positive outcome because I want to keep this boy. Badly. He'll be sedated for the x-rays, so tomorrow will probably be a loss as far as training.
  2. After losing my beloved Kit to cancer in April and deciding that I don't like my life without a dog in it, on Saturday, I adopted this boy from a rescue in the LA area: http://www.bordercolliesinneed.org/border_collie_rescue_and_adoptions/blackbart.html It's still early, but so far, I'm utterly impressed. Despite a rough start in life, he's remarkably stable. I haven't witnessed much fear. He notices everything, but isn't reactive. He loves people and other dogs. Good food motivation. Likes toys, but doesn't understand yet that it's a game we can play together. Very quiet. And really smart. Seems like he'll be a cinch to train. Going to try to get seen by the vet this week for xrays and physical exam. I don't expect to find much, but since he will hopefully be my new agility partner, the adoption is contingent on the outcome at the vet. I'm still working on a name. Under consideration: Tuxedo (Tux for short), Quill, and Pelé (like the Brazilian soccer player). Other suggestions welcome.
  3. Black Bart is mine. I'll be changing that name, though. And me keeping him is contingent on good vet check including xrays. We've only been home for ~6hrs. So far, I'm utterly impressed. This boy is a blank slate - no one has worked with him at all, so he knows absolutely nothing. On the flip side, no one has messed up his training yet, either. From what I can tell, he has no baggage. I keep seeing little flashes of brilliance - there's clearly a lot going on upstairs. He has already figured out what the clicker means and mastered a default sit since we've been home. And I've barely heard a peep out of him. He hasn't pottied yet - it could be a long night waiting for him to go.
  4. Well, I'm back from my month-long trip, and starting the search in earnest now. On Friday, I'm going to go visit this guy: https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/35990733 And on Saturday, I have an appointment to meet this guy: http://www.bordercolliesinneed.org/border_collie_rescue_and_adoptions/blackbart.html Fingers crossed.
  5. The reason I'm holding off is that I have at least one trip coming up in the near future. I absolutely hate being dogless, but it turns out that one small advantage is the ability to travel more easily. I'm definitely away thru Aug 12, and found out yesterday that I *might* be out of the country for a month after that. So trying not to get my hopes up about any dogs currently available, because they could be gone. In part, I'm testing the waters now to see how often a dog that I'm truly interested in becomes available. This might dictate how picky I can be when the time comes. Yes, I've got this on my side. In fact, this should apply to dogs in shelters, too, because any dog I'd be interested in will be too much for the average owner. And this *should* be immediately obvious to any shelter worker and potential adopter (unless they're just totally oblivious). Here's something else I have on my side: Last time I adopted a dog, I was a first-time owner and totally unproven. I would have had reservations about adopting a dog to me! This time, I have references out the wazoo. You want to talk to my agility instructor? Which one? How about the owner of the dog I currently run? Former landlord? Vet? Or even the shelter worker who adopted Kit to me? No problem - I'm in touch with all of those people and they're all on my side. Each and every one will attest that Kit was a dream dog and that I was as devoted to her as she was to me. I expect that this will be worth a lot. ETA: They're getting harder and harder to resist. https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/35598806
  6. Depends on where you are. Kit was in a public shelter. Even got returned there after a failed adoption. She was STILL there a week after I first met her (it took me that long to get up the nerve to say "yes"). Around here (southern CA), there seem to be plenty of large dogs including herding mixes languishing in shelters for weeks/months at a time. And if I need to go North to Oregon (land of border collies), I have a whole network of agility people there who would be delighted to help. I'm looking for a needle in a haystack. The chances that I'm going to find it in the shelter/rescue I choose to volunteer at are slim to none. I'd rather expand my search geographically to increase my chances. Besides, I DID fill out an application to foster at the local shelter. Any breed, any size, I don't care. It's been 8 weeks and I've fostered exactly zero dogs. So... I'm trying to hold off on contacting anyone until mid-August when I'll be ready. I don't want anyone to hold a dog that could otherwise start a life in a forever home. It's definitely hard, though! Thanks for posting - if you want to keep me in the loop as this foster gets dogs in the coming months, I'd appreciate that.
  7. Oh yes, a very wide chest is probably just as bad (if not worse) than a very narrow one. I ordered Helen King's book "What's your angle" last night. I'm eagerly waiting its arrival so I can learn more. Thanks, PSmitty. I saw Maggie on one of the many FB pages I've recently liked. She sounds cool. Doesn't Cate look amazing? She'll probably be gone by the time I'm ready, but *swoon*! TxMom, Maissi sounds awesome! I love it when rescues take the time to type out everything they know. You just get a much better picture of what you're getting into.
  8. From what I've read, risk increases with depth but decreases with width. Hence a narrow-chested dog is at higher risk. http://www.goldenrescuestlouis.org/Bloat.asp
  9. Oh believe me, I'm not one of THOSE people. In my 7 years of dog ownership, I never gave a single cent to AKC, and have no plans to do so in the future. I think the conformation ring is slowly ruining breed after breed, and as a biologist, I worry about the long-term effects of inbreeding. That said, a narrow chest seems like a bad thing for a sports dog. Think of a dog leaping for a frisbee and then landing. Distributing weight across a larger area is going to help prevent injury. In agility, the A-frame is notoriously hard on dogs with weak front ends. Lastly, I've read that a narrow chest can increase risk of bloat. Happy for others to chime in here with more specifics... Here's a pic of Kit on a contact. Note the chest width. And another.
  10. Yes, PSmitty, I'm open to shelter dogs as well as those in rescue. I'm also 100% open to mixes. It will still be over a month before I start a search in earnest, but here are a couple of dogs I've got eyes on: http://www.bordercolliesinneed.org/border_collie_rescue_and_adoptions/cate.html She sounds pretty awesome. https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/35377662 I'm not convinced about physical structure - chest looks quite narrow. https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/35452479 Interesting story. I've been watching the Adoptable Sport and Working Dogs page on FB, but haven't seen Molly. If she's still available, can you post a link please?
  11. I think I'm getting a clearer picture. Kit had very high toy drive - at 7mo (when I got her) nothing would make her disengage from a ball. It took me months to teach her that the ball was her reward for other stuff, and it was only hers if she could focus on something else and perform in its presence. She was not easily aroused, though - she was confident enough to ignore just about any kind of environmental trigger, and was especially good at doing so if her focus was elsewhere (toy, food, me). Starting this search is breaking my heart all over again, because it's making me realize just how special she really was.
  12. Interesting. Scrolling up, I think I see a difference of opinions here. Previously, drive was defined as focus and intensity, and arousal as bouncing from one thing to another. Here the definition is nearly opposite - drivey dogs disengage from an object more readily, while aroused dogs don't. Or maybe I'm misunderstanding?
  13. Excellent! Looks like the majority of posts in this group are in CA, and many in southern CA, which is perfect! I currently live in Santa Barbara, so my new addition will get regular trips to the beach. My search officially starts on August 13th. ETA: Stumbled upon this video. Very helpful!
  14. I appreciate this perspective, and most of the sports enthusiasts I know would agree. However, I am committed to go the shelter/rescue route now and into the future. Here's article listing some good reasons why: http://teamunruly.com/?p=3399. I'm fully aware that a similar article could be written from the opposite perspective. That's all I'll say about why - I'm more interested in having a conversation about how. Several people have said it's difficult to evaluate a dog in a shelter environment. I'm curious to hear perspectives on false negatives vs. false positives. In medicine, if you get a test for some disease, there's an error rate associated with the test. If you have the disease and the test comes back negative, that's a false negative. If you don't have the disease and the the test comes back positive, that's a false positive. The developers work hard to minimize the rate of false negatives, even if that means a higher rate of false positives, because it's worse to have a disease and not know than not have it and think you do. I'm wondering if this might apply to the task at hand. Shelters are stressy places. A lot of dogs aren't going to be themselves there. You might get a lot of false negatives - dogs who fail your temperament test but actually do have the temperament for sports. But I don't think you'd get a lot of false positives - dogs who pass your temperament test but actually don't have the temperament for sports. In other words, if they can hack it in the shelter, they can hack it anywhere. Thoughts? Thanks for the thoughts on drive vs. arousal. It occurs to me that our definitions of the perfect sports dog might differ. Most people would describe Kit as "a bit nuts". In fact, a friend of mine liked to call her "your psycho dog". But she was nuts in all the best ways and none of the worst ones. Maralynn, can you share the names of those FB groups? Or PM me if you don't want to do so publicly.
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