Hello, I'm recently new here, joined just so I could share this story, and perhaps someone else could learn from my errors.
This is another warning about Bairds Creek BC's, or Baird Creek BC's, or Baird Border Collies
As previously referenced on these threads:
Originally written July 14th, 2010
I am sitting here today, in mourning... My BC, Breve, is currently behind a gate in the hallway leading to a bedroom, where she has her toys, her bed, and food and water. She is 4 years old, and despite all her faults, we love her - But we can't let her out.
We got her, 4 years ago, at 8 weeks, from a Temecula "breeder" by the name of Baird Creek. She advertised having an "extra" - One who "hadn't sold" that she would be willing to let go for $600, or so the ad said. I e-mailed, and Sandy's Dad (Jerry, the "affiliate breeder mentioned on the website) answered, and immediately started jacking up the price, claiming a "misprint," etc. I politely acknowledged the possibility, but stuck to my guns on the price offered. I had raised BC's for years, and had been without for 5 years after owning them for 30, it was my birthday, and my husband had promised me a BC.
I hadn't seen this website. I did a search online for info on her, then searched her AKC kennel name, but nothing came up immediately to give me pause, so we went out. The place was a mad scramble of multiple dogs, all colors, not segregated by sex. The place gave me a strange vibe. Then we got to the puppy pen, which was actually very nice - Not even remotely "puppy mill." VERY large; a good 30 feet by 15 feet and partially covered. Then another disconcerting moment - There was not ONE puppy that "hadn't sold," there was at least 3 litters worth in that pen - Hard to get a count, as they were BC pups and enthusiastically BEING BC pups. But only one adult bitch. Odd. Sandy never did answer my question about where the other bitches were. All the pups were weaned in any case, so we let it go. The puppies all seemed very healthy and quite friendly, and Sandy gave us the song and dance of how she personally socialized each and every one from birth, and how her dogs were bred for calm dispositions (having had them for years, I raised a brow at THAT one, but let it go), and "family temperament," whatever that meant.
Despite feeling uncomfortable, a lovely little female had attached herself to me, and I was having a hard time letting my common sense outweigh my puppy love. She was quite attentive, had no issues with being picked up, held, handled, etc., and despite walking about the pen, looking at the others, she stuck to me like glue. It was a little bit of love at first sight.
Sandy agreed to the original price for her, and walked us around the property. On one hand, there was an amazing jumble of adult dogs, everywhere, seemingly doing as they pleased - More than BC's too, as there were Aussies and other breeds frolicking about. Yet, she had a lovely barn, with nice stalls, fresh bedding, and newborn litters in 4 of them. All of the puppies had tape on their ears. Odd. But, lots of space, fresh bedding, warm barn... THAT looked good. But those adult dogs outside were EVERYWHERE. It nagged at me.
We decided to go ahead and get the puppy despite our doubts, as it just didn't seem like a "mill," per se, with tons of dogs all locked up in tiny little spaces, it just seemed, weird...
While she was going over the paperwork and the health cert, we asked her about all the tape everywhere on the newborns... She told us that we should NOT look for the ears to go up, as she taped the ears folded at birth to "break" the cartilage. Well *$@&! Another weird thing.
By then the baby was sound asleep in my arms, and I was screwed. We named her Breve (Italian for half and half), and took her home. As we were pulling out, we noticed two BC's copulating... I pointed it out to Sandy. She simply laughed and said "Oh well, another litter..." and as the dogs broke apart, there were more males attempting to mount, she asked us if we could tell which male that had been on her first?
*sigh* Because of all of the above, all that follows is my fault...
From day one there were issues. She was a screamer. Even a week later she screamed constantly when not being attended to, hand and foot. Shunning or ignoring made no difference. Click training made no difference. She screamed all the louder. She house trained herself within 2 days, then realized that this mean she would have to go outside with the other dogs and not me forever and ever amen, and stopped immediately. Took a full 3 months to house train her. Not because she didn't know it, but because she didn't see a point in going outside if I wasn't going to go with her, ALL the way with her, EVERY. TIME.
Despite the health cert and worming schedule Sandy had insisted was the case - She threw up a MASSIVE belly full of multiple worms the second day she was home. Looked like spaghetti dinner for 12 at the Sopranos'.
She was aggressive with the other dogs (a female Greyhound/Shepherd mix named Mickey Mouse, and a female Pappillion/Chihuahua mix named Phoebe), and to my everlasting regret, I did NOT allow Mickey, who had raised a dozen strange puppies and kittens and taught them proper doggie socialization, to do what needed to be done. I was madly in love with the little troublemaker, and overprotected her.
We began to notice other things. She was utterly unable to keep her "eye" on anything - She had zero "gaze." Balls, Frisbees, sheep, us, etc. Her attention span was non-existent. She would lose every ball we threw, because she was utterly unable to keep her eye on it. Often she would forget she was playing ball halfway through, and start something else. If she was prevented from running hell bent for leather ahead of a ball throw, and made to "watch" the ball, she would get infuriated, aggressively so, to the point where she would turn on and snap at us or the other dogs. Yet when allowed to simply start running, she wouldn't look up, or back, to "sight" the ball. Then, because she hadn't sighted the ball, she would end up in another part of the yard, not listening when it came down, not seeing it when it came down, and with not enough attention span to go look for it. Sometimes she would even forget, mid throw, that we were playing ball. We spent years with behaviorists and trainers working to focus her attention, having them turn to us confidently at the end of lesson one, again and again, saying "See? You just weren't doing it right...", only to have them come back on the next visit and see how she had NO idea what they were asking her for. That whatever she learned within a session, would literally have to be re-taught on the next session. Flyball was a travesty, and agility was a joke. Sheep was loads of fun until she realized she was supposed to work with them, then she was done. Eventually we started taking out a bag of 10 or more balls, and would get a session of 45 minutes or so 3 times a day out of it. At least she was running. She loves chasing a laser light at night, but inexplicably runs the OPPOSITE direction from whatever way I'm directing the light. At least it's movement.
She got "angry" at little things. Other dogs playing, quick movement by either of us, like running for a phone, sounds - Typical BC issues, normally easily focused or trained with positive treat or reward or with clicker training. The oven timer would send her into a full scale attack frenzy on any dog or person standing nearby. We tried several methods for the sound issues including rewards to replace the sound, forgotten by the next day, despite daily repeats for 2 months... Next we tried making her remain in the kitchen while the button was pushed over and over until she let go of the fear, and simply relaxed and lay her head down, or rolled onto her side and went to sleep, mid-button push. This would take 30 pushes on average, over and over. By the next day, the original reaction returned. On the quick movements, she's a BC, so we knew where that came from, but we worked for two solid years with 4 different trainers/behaviorists on moderating this, only to have to RE-teach the same lesson on the next session.
She started charging people at the end of the driveway, baying, scaring the living daylights out of them, and occasioning more than one threat of a lawsuit. Adults and children and other dogs. In one of her odder moves, she never went past the end of the driveway, as all my dogs are taught THAT lesson from day one, as well as the others, like sit, lie, stay, etc. So not crossing the line stuck, while so many others didn't. So she never actually touched another person/animal outside of those in the home, but she would charge to the edge, full speed, baying.
We changed her exercise level, again and again... Eventually my husband was running 7 to 10 miles with her every morning, while a dog walker ran the same in the early evening. We played ball, and laser "bug" every day, for hours. Her energy level went UP, as did her aggression. She started snapping at us instead of just the other dogs, disliking being told what to do and where to go. In addition to the exercise, we tried giving her "jobs", as all the other BC's in my life had been given, like putting toys away, fetching specific things, getting into kitchen drawers, turning on lights, etc., but her attention span wasn't long enough.
She started wolfing her food and charging across the room at other dogs who were calmly eating theirs. She would growl at either of us as we simply walked past while her food was down. This came from nowhere as all of our dogs have set places to eat, and ONLY, EVER eat from their own dishes, period - None have ever poached, nor have any had food aggression issues. After the driveway, it is the second thing I teach - Eat from your own place, don't poach. She never poached on anyone else's bowls, but she was suddenly certain, starting at around a year old, that EVERYONE was out to get HERS. We tried feeding through a treat ball, in the hallway where no other dogs could go, feeding with a slow eat feeder, hand feeding, "owning" the bowl, etc. NO changes in behavior, lessons forgotten as soon as they were learned, aggression only getting worse.
She does not "self calm," nor does she wind down - She doesn't retreat into her crate or anywhere private, she advances and amps up. And I say attention span, but I think I really mean patience. She has zero, except with the rats.
We and the behaviorists, AND our vet, had decided by the time she was two that she had an actual mental issue. Circuits not firing correctly. Perhaps bad breeding, perhaps an accidental drop or catastrophic head injury while at the breeder, etc. Trainer after trainer, behaviorist after behaviorist threw up their hands on having to re-teach, "Flowers for Algernon-like" the same lesson, daily, with no chance to move forward.
So she became our "special" child. Something like our own autistic-savant, slow in much, smart in some, but loved. Frustrating, but cherished.
She became the "rat dog" - We have pet rats and she loved them. Worshipped them. She changed into an altogether different dog when around them. She was calm, quiet, careful. She herded with her nose only, until she had them all tucked under her chest, then she was happy. She was ecstatic with rattie babies. I could walk away from 20 popping, hopping, little rat babies on the bed, leaving her there with them, and know that she would watch them like a mother, and that no harm would come to any. She had a special rat named Templeton, who was HER rat. He was out and with her on the couch or in her bed most of the time. Not sure if she thought she was a rat, or if he thought he was a BC...lol! When he had a stroke, she stayed with him while we nursed him back to health. She would lay her head on the couch where his carrier was, and make sure he didn't fall off. When he had a second, devastating stroke a few weeks later, she lay on the bed, nose to nose with him, for 4 days until we had to take him in to send him to the bridge. She wouldn't even go to the bathroom or eat - We had to peel her away for her to go outside or drink water. She mourned him when he passed, and took even better care of the ones we still had.
Then Mickey and Phoebe both got "old" at the same time. Mickey was 14, with bone cancer, and Phoebe was just ancient. Nearly 18 and blind and deaf, with only 2 teeth (she still could act like a puppy tho', she was very special). Breve decided she couldn't tolerate them any longer, perhaps they smelled like they were dying or something, and began a campaign of stealth attacks. Not fake attacks either, but aim to kill attacks. No joking, "I mean you great bodily harm" attacks. It became a living nightmare, having to extract Phoebe from Breve's jaws, again and again, hearing the screams of that poor, ancient dog, who wanted nothing more than to sleep her way to the Rainbow Bridge in a spot of sunlight. There was no trigger for the attacks. She could be sleeping when Breve would suddenly leap to her feet, race across the room, and make every attempt to kill her like a fox terrier with a rat. I have owned dogs for 40 of my 50 years, and can read them like a book. There are NEVER any triggers given by the other dog when Breve goes off, one is usually doing something else altogether, facing away, or sleeping. 4 years of watching for behaviors that would trigger it, and seeing none.
It was harder with Mickey Mouse, as she was considerably larger (70lbs to Breve's 40), AND fought back, but despite being taught a few VERY angry lessons (before I could get there) by Mickey on being attacked, Breve would wait until her back was turned, or she was sleeping the next day, and do it again.
Our life became a walking, living, breathing nightmare of endless vigilance, screaming dogs, vet trips, blood, bites, etc.
We finally let Mickey and Phoebe go together with an at-home vet, earlier than they probably should have, but they were in constant fear, and it wasn't fair to them.
Throughout this, we had another dog, a German Shepherd named Kota, who was and is, VERY Zen. He instigates nothing, participates in nothing, causes no issues, and never, ever, pisses Breve off. He just puts off an aura of stability. Had a Schutzhund trainer tell us he was not suited for the sport, as he had no aggression, no blood lust, and was too Zen. Probably why he floated past Breve's angers so easily. She has never turned on him, nor paid him any attention whatsoever. They do not interact in any way.
When Mickey and Phoebe passed, we were gifted with a female GSD in their memory. As Breve had never shown any aggression towards Kota, we hesitantly accepted her and hoped for the best.
Kallan (the female GSD) is now 4 months old, and the attacks are daily. Like with the old dogs, they are stealth, pointless, and with no single triggering indicator. Kallan rolls over in abject, peeing submission on attack, but that doesn't temper Breve's fury.
Today, Breve attacked me. I am writing this covered in dog bites and bandages. She turned on Kallan earlier, for no reason. I happened to be watching, and Kallan was standing, looking out the front door, back to Breve, with a toy in her mouth. No, not one of Breve's toys, nor one she had ever played with. Just standing there. Breve went trotting past and just whirled and attacked her. Went straight for the back of the neck. Tore her open again. Kota walked over to see what was going on while I was still at full run towards them, and she turned on him as well, clamped her jaws right on his face, across the eyes. I grabbed her lower jaw, yanked, disengaged her, and slid her down the hall while I made sure Kota's eyes weren't impacted, and Kallan's wound wasn't an artery, then went down the hall to shut her behind the gate while I took them to the vet for stitches. As I reached her, and bent over her to reach the gate latch, she went for my face. Leaping straight off the ground into the air jaws clamping shut on my left temple and right side of the bridge of my nose. I pulled her off, and she went into a BC flying fury. Biting everything in reach, while I tried to grab a towel from the bathroom door right there. I eventually got it on her and dropped onto all fours on her. I scooped her up and tossed her into the bedroom, closed the door, staunched the bleeding, ran for the vet's with the GSD's, where they put some pressure bandages on my arms and one of the receptionists took me to MY doctor.
Me, 14 stitches, mostly single puncture wounds, one gash, leg.
Kota, no eye impact, but 2 stitches to the face.
Kallan, 7 stitches and a penrose drain to the back of the neck because it was on top of the last attack - Several puncture wounds, not stitched.
So I sit here today in mourning, while I wait for tomorrow. Our vet, the same one who let Mickey & Phoebe go so peacefully, is coming back. I will love Breve, hold her, pet her, speak gently to her, while she slips over to the other side of the night, and onto the Bridge, where no one is damaged, and you CAN, magically, keep your eye on the ball.
And I will curse Sandra L. Madigan until the day I die.
I originally wrote this a month ago...
I changed my mind then, out of fear, and guilt, and just the unfairness of it all. I thought to myself, "She's so good alone, so loving, so gentle, so eager to play, even IF her attention span suffers, she's still willing... Maybe, maybe I can find someone who has no other dogs, and is patient, and doesn't NEED a flyball champion, and doesn't mind going and getting the ball, again and again... Maybe it's MY fault. Maybe there IS a trigger, maybe I'm missing it... Maybe I'm just the shittiest dog owner ever..." But that can't be right, I've owned 8 BC's, at least one a full flown nut case (lol!), and another who was my heart dog (Freddie) and never had these issues. I've owned other breed rescues and aggressive dogs, I've owned rescues that were fearful dogs, I've "fixed" them all. I took a dog slated for the death chamber because she couldn't be trusted with any dog or human, and made her my best friend (Mickey Mouse above) and a dog I would leave alone with kittens, puppies, and babies any day of the week.
So I put it off, and I kept on watching, and I kept on working with her, and I looked, again, for someone who wanted a disturbed dog to call their very own... Someone with no children, of any age, not even any in the neighborhood, or that visited, with no other pets except for rats, no other dogs...
But I can never let her go to another home. If she hurt or disfigured a child? Or killed another beloved dog?
And while I was waiting, and feeling guilty, there were 7 more attacks, the latest just now...
So again, I sit here today in mourning, while I wait for tomorrow, which has been rescheduled. I will love Breve, hold her, pet her, speak gently to her, while she slips over to the other side of the night, and onto the Bridge, where no one is damaged, there's no need to be afraid, no one wants your food, no one is crazy, no one has too many thoughts buzzing through their head at any one time, and you CAN, magically, keep your eye on the ball.
And I will again, curse Sandra L. Madigan until the day I die.