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Everything posted by TxMom

  1. He could definitely do something like that if he was allowed, and I'm betting he'd be thrilled to have the job. I'm kind of daydreaming that eventually, when we have our dog and have gotten into agility, it might be that the younger two kids stay home with dad while the oldest and I go to the occasional trial (the other kids could come too as they got older, but it really strikes me as something the oldest would enjoy and take seriously).
  2. Hey, I thought it was a great question! I might or might not be able to volunteer somehow with the kids along just yet, but they'll keep getting older.
  3. Thanks for the tips and the link! I feel better going into a known situation, especially with the kids to consider.
  4. Chene, we do the pet store thing, but we're skipping on dog parks (I'm probably overreacting, but in the last month or so an unvaccinated Border Collie tested positive for rabies after interacting with several other dogs and children at a local off-leash park). The kids and I would love to watch an agility trial (the kids watched some Crufts videos with me and were enthralled). I did agility lessons with Oreo when I was a kid, but we never actually competed. My parents let me do the lessons because I paid for them myself and they didn't have to drive me there, but they weren't willing to take me to a trial. I'm completely clueless as to how those actually run, or if there's a specific type to look for, or anything else we'd need to know before just showing up (I'd especially like to be sure we have good manners). It does look like there are both USDAA and NADAC events within reasonable driving distances. I'd prefer to skip the AKC stuff, as I'm not fond of what they do with working breeds. Any suggestions for how we'd go about visiting?
  5. Thanks again for the thoughts. We'll see if we can pull off two crates, and/or experiment with where the dog seems most comfortable. We will definitely be very strict about the crate being a safe place for the dog with no one allowed to disturb him/her. I'm also hoping it will help that there are a couple hours of every day when the kids are expected to be engaged in quiet, individual activities. The house is really very peaceful during that time... it's my sanity-saver. They also go to bed at 7:30 (with some reading time before lights out) and stay quiet until breakfast time at about 8 a.m., so there's another couple of good chunks of peace and quiet in the morning and evening. I have started telling the older two kids that when they get crazy the dog will get crazy. My eventual goal is to teach them that when that happens they need to stop, calmy say "no," and tell the dog to sit or lie down -- something incompatible with being crazy, as a sort of reset. I know that will be a process, and I'll need to work with the kids and the dog together so they know how to give commands appropriately and the dog recognizes them as people who give commands. And of course I intend to be supervising anyway, but we do like to try to give the kids the tools to solve problems whenever possible. Sounds like our biggest take-away is that we just need to find the right individual dog for our circumstances. I know that won't be just any dog, but it'll be worth waiting for.
  6. GentleLake, thank you for the suggestions. We plan to be completely up front with the rescue and ask them to take as long as they need to find a dog they think will thrive in our home (it's the main reason we want to go with a rescue rather than a shelter or even buying a puppy). The dog-and-kids factor is one I don't have any real experience with, and we definitely want to handle it right. I'll ask about a trial period, because I do think that would make it easier if a particular dog didn't work out. Are there specific things we could be teaching the kids ahead of time that might help avoid problems? I know a lot of it will just depend on the dog, and some of it is unavoidable kids-being-kids stuff. They are active kids, for sure. But they're also pretty good about the boundaries we set down, and I'm hoping that will help. For example, the rule from day one has been that if the cats walk away from you, you don't follow. I have to remind the youngest sometimes, but the older two are good about it. And if the cats are in the master bedroom, they're completely off limits. The not-following rule will definitely translate to a dog, and I've been telling the kids that the dog will have a crate where it goes when it wants some quiet time and they may not follow it there, try to pet it in there, etc. Incidentally, I keep reading that the crate should go in an area of the house where the family is, but with young kids would it make more sense to put the crate in a public area of the house that isn't exactly where everyone usually is? We have two living areas. The main one has all the toys and the school/craft/Lego table and it's where the kids build with their blocks and make forts out of the couch cushions and all the usual crazy stuff. The other is smaller and has the TV and computers and bookshelves and board games, and it's not off limits to the kids but it's not Grand Central Station. We don't keep toys in there and we discourage them being taken in, so it's not where the kids tend to be unless they're doing something quiet like reading or watching a movie. It's where my husband and I most often hang out in the evenings, and it's open to the dining room and kitchen. It's quieter, but not isolated. I've been thinking it makes more sense to go with the second room, and that maybe the advice to have the crate in the room where everyone is isn't really accounting for young kids? I really want the dog to get along with the kids and be happy living with them. Again, ultimately it'll be my dog so it doesn't have to adore the kids, but we don't want any issues. When we got the cats, we took the kids with us to the shelter and waited to see which cats approached us and stayed near us even when the kids (2.5 years and 6 months at the time) got a little loud and crazy. The cats we ended up with don't LOVE the kids, but they aren't uncomfortable living with them or being around them, and they accept attention when they want it. On the other hand, the cats also don't deal well with just any kids. We had houseguests a while ago and found out later that their children so stressed our cats that they used our closet instead of their litter box. We won't be in a hurry for those guests to stay again, but if they do we'll move the litter box to a location where the cats can get to it without the chance of encountering the guests. I'm not sure if it's just that the cats are used to our kids specifically, or our kids are particularly decent, or the visiting children were particularly unpleasant.
  7. Hi folks! I'm yet another hopeful future Border Collie owner coming to pick your brains. I've been reading here for a little while, but thought I'd go ahead and post something so y'all know who I am when I eventually come up with some specific questions that aren't so easily findable in the archives. Or, if my introduction inspires any particular advice, I'm all ears. We're looking at adopting a dog (young adult, from a rescue -- looks like All Border Collie Rescue is the place to go in central Texas) around January, so we're still trying to learn as much as we can and make sure we turn up any red flags that are out there saying this isn't a good fit for us. The dog is for me -- my husband likes dogs but wouldn't go to the trouble to own one for himself. He does understand the responsibility (that's WHY he wouldn't own one for himself) and is willing for us to take it on, but by and large I'll be the one doing things with and for the dog. We have three kids who will be 3, 5 and 7 this May. They'd like a dog, and they have pretty good animal manners. We have two indoor cats and they and the kids get along well -- the kids pet them nicely when the cats are inclined to seek attention, and leave them alone when they aren't. We talk about how to recognize when an animal does or doesn't like what you're doing, and letting animals have their personal space, and so on. I figure I'll also include the kids to some level in some obedience training -- enough that they can effectively communicate no, leave it, drop it, sit, and that sort of thing. I've also started explaining to them that a lot of their toys look a lot like really fun dog toys, and we're practicing keeping things picked up so we can minimize that particular issue. We homeschool, so the kids and I are home during the week aside from an hour or two of outside lessons or errand-running a few days a week. The most we're regularly gone from home is Sundays -- about three hours in the mornings and two more in the evenings, less during the summers and on holidays. Our weekday morning routine is that we have breakfast, do a little bit of school, go walk a mile or so (hoping to increase it to at least two miles), then come back and finish school with backyard play breaks to keep us all fresh and sane (believe it or not, 6-year-old boys don't sit still and think about spelling or math for more than 10 or 15 minutes at a stretch). On nice days, we do a lot of our reading-based work outside. My thinking is that a dog would be in and out with us during the school day. It wouldn't be a lot of really intense exercise, but there also wouldn't be any really long periods of inactivity/boredom. We do have a quiet rest time for a couple of hours in the afternoon (usually from 2 to 4) and I'd like the dog to learn to settle in the house for most of that time -- most of the year it's too hot to be outside then anyway. But we'd probably also do a bit of training while the kids are all quiet and out of the way, and I'd be up for trying a puzzle toy or stuffing a kong or something to give the dog something to do. When we get a dog I'd like to start with a basic obedience class and eventually move on to something like agility -- not necessarily on a competitive level, but for the exercise and the fun of working together. I figure we'd also do regular short training sessions throughout the day, whether refreshing on obedience, doing silly pet tricks, games, or working with a few jumps in the backyard. Just things to keep the mind busy. I could take more vigorous walks or bike rides in the evenings without the kids at least a few times a week. We're specifically looking at a Border Collie for a few reasons. Mostly, I had one growing up, and he was a dog I really connected with. We got him as a puppy when I was 8 and I did a lot of his obedience training homework and eventually got started in agility with him for a few years before my family moved (the course was across the street from us, but once we moved I didn't have a way to get there). Officially, he was the family dog, but as far as he was concerned he was my dog. He liked everyone else just fine, but I was the one he worked with. And for that matter, we had other dogs and I liked them just fine, but Oreo (original, I know) was the one I worked with. I know a lot of people who have nice dogs that hang around in the house or the backyard and sit in their laps or go for walks, but I loved having a dog I worked with. (Just to be clear, I'm unfortunately not talking about work with livestock, but training together and challenging ourselves -- having focused tasks and goals.) In addition to that, the average size is good for us, we feel confident a good rescue can help us find a dog who will be good with the kids, and while I know some Border Collies can have trouble with cats I also know it isn't universal (especially with training). I think that more or less covers things. Again, just wanted to say hi and introduce myself because y'all have been very helpful so far and I hope to continue learning from you!
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