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  1. I concur with Hooper2 that inconsistency of your walking route should help you 'outsmart' your smart dog! My BC Roan displays a similar stubborn pattern: When we near the end of our daily walking he decides he wants to slow down and begin lollygagging. It seems he is quite aware the walk is ending and doesn't want it to. So, to extend the walk, or to delay the inevitable conclusion of the walk, his pace slows to a crawl and every scent needs to be explored in detail. To counteract this pattern I change up the routine by walking past the house, or by turning around or by taking an unpredictable course. These things work but I don't always have the time or inclination to put in the effort. I have just come to accept that sometimes he wants to exercise control where able and it really isn't destructive or negative. I realize Kevin's tugging and biting can be more challenging however I believe the cause is the same. Another suggestion might be to hide the leash from him. Is he capable of walking off-leash and in control? If so, this technique may confuse him enough for him to focus on the lack of leash versus where you are in your walk. My experience with BC's is that their intelligence contributes to coping behavior we may not always understand. What I enjoy is constantly trying to solve the puzzle whereas we both win and bonds are strengthened. Good luck
  2. Hey everyone, It has been just over 6 months now and I've been meaning to give an update. I apologize for the delay. Winter here in Minnesota was long and I'm finally getting caught up on things. I haven't reviewed Roan's pictures in a long time and I am shocked when I look now! I am so glad I documented his history. The dog that now receives compliments as to how rich and thick his coat is doesn't even resemble the one from September. His coloring is somewhat mahogany in color now as compared to the orange shading he had. His build has also changed. He looked so underweight and void of definition. I would describe him as looking full and fluid today. I think that may have to do with his healthy diet and regular exercise he receives daily. His emotional health has changed dramatically also. He is much more out-going, engaging and confident in his behavior. Within the last few weeks he has began to move to other parts of the house during the night after beginning on my bed. It seems he feels more comfortable exercising his independence not needing to be dependent upon where I am. He also doesn't follow me around within the house as much. Outside, he will always keep an eye on me but wander up to a certain distance doing his own exploring. At the dog park and around the neighborhood he has many buddies. He's comfortable approaching both people and dogs particularly showing favor to people. He seems like he may like them more than the other dogs. I have began taking him to a kid's counseling group. He will sit or lay down and allow everyone to pet him. I want to continue improving his therapy/interface skills with the goal of it becoming a regular part of his schedule. The pics attached were taken in March following the last (hopefully) snow fall of the year. His renewed spirit comes through clearly in his eyes. This is one happy camper. -DG
  3. Just my two cents and perhaps not applicable however my ex was adopted and it was very important to her to find out who her biological parents were along with accompanying medical conditions, personalities, general understanding of where she came from. What I learned from the time we were together is that in reality it kind of doesn't matter because none of those factors would change what is. Let me explain. Even if your dog's parent's were wacky or calm or had all the health problems in the world or none, treatment of the dog and training of the dog is based on what is present in that particular dog, not on what the dog's lineage might have told. Any good vet will check the dog based on the facts presented based on their testing and analyzing. If those tests present the need for further investigation those steps will be taken. The same goes for training: It is not useful in training to know how the parent's behaved. Training is individual and a good trainer will adapt and change their techniques based on the results gained or loss. I've never seen or experienced myself in training the need to halt training until a background check could be conducted. Dogs live in the present and we should be living in the present. An example would be if the sire was a nipper. If your dog nips, it won't be productive to know the father nipped. We deal with what the dog is displaying and modify techniques accordingly. I don't know what could be done with the knowledge that dad nipped. Interesting to know but not helpful. The same could be said for health. That same sire could have bad hips. So what? If your dog has bad hips we treat that dog for the bad hips. Treatment wouldn't be changed based on dad's bad hips. Again, interesting but not helpful. I think it's easy to put more weight on a dog's history than is reasonably necessary.
  4. I am so moved by others that have reached out to tell their stories, tribulations and journeys. When I originally posted this thread, I dare say, it was for purely selfish reasons while I struggled to deal with the immense emotions of overcoming such great loss. As time has gone by and I read other's stories I realize that not only as my posting helped me but it appears to have helped others. What a great unintentional victory! Had I known the impact or ripple it caused in helping others come to terms with some of their losses, I would have not waited nearly a week to have written it. This forum group, in my opinion, is a special place for people that are keenly aware of the extraordinary animals we are so fortunate to share our lives with. Border Collies are not a typical dog. For those who have bonded and grown with these animals know things which other dog owners don't. I have been amazed and astounded daily by the incredible drive these dogs have in wanting to bond and please and love. Since my last posting things have changed quite a bit in my life in the canine area. I decided that I would devote some of my time to volunteering for two dog rescue groups: One for Border Collies and another for Golden Retrievers. It seemed like a good way to be involved with and care for dogs while I healed and gained acceptance of my loss. I have met some great people and their dogs, got to help transporting and babysitting and learn more about the HUGE world of dogs. The Golden rescue I volunteer for adopts dogs from Turkey! I had no idea. Apparently there are several hundred homeless dogs in that country abandoned by their owners. Some are fortunate enough to be rescued and brought to the US and put in forever homes. It's been very rewarding to see how the process works and the positive effects it has upon all involved. Additionally, I have brought a new Border Collie into my home that was surrendered from a farm. You can read my story at my posting where I debated getting involved with another dog so soon after the loss of Mags: Needless to say the story has turned out MUCH better than I ever thought was possible. This dog is fantastic! I know it's cliche but I really thought I would never find another dog that I could share my heart with again. Within 3 short weeks this dog has turned around 180 degrees from a distant, worrisome and confused dog to become an incredibly warm hearted and bonded buddy! I have no hesitations in saying that he will be with me till one of us departs this life. I share my story on this thread because I want to give others that may feel like I did some hope and inspiration of what could be possible. Three months ago I didn't want to even think about another dog. Now, I wonder how I could have ever felt that way! I guess our hearts have much more capacity than we may even know. Roan (new BC) doesn't replace Mags. He is just another chapter in my life that includes room for Mags and Annie and Roan! Watching some of the many similar mannerisms of Mags in Roan has been one of the many gifts I have received. And yet, Roan has so many of his own characteristics that make him completely different than Mags; The best of both worlds. Additionally, his personality, as calm and intentional as it is, also reminds me constantly of my Golden Retriever Annie. It's been a great collaboration of each of these dogs combined. Pretty amazing stuff. Anyway, I work daily on assessing and training Roan to consider his potential as a Therapy Dog. He has an acute ability to quickly win people over and allow them to touch and pet him without hesitation. His healing coat also draws people in with it's fine, soft thickness. On top of that he has a friendly approachable presence that seems to melt hearts. It's all good!
  5. Thanks all for such positive encouragement and for sharing your personal stories. Each of these animals is so unique in character and mannerism like ourselves. Combining the two and creating unique relationships is ever fascinating to me. The potential for great relationships to be formed and grow and mature provides me endless, priceless enjoyment. GentleLake: I'd like to learn more about your experience with therapy training. I know nothing, relatively speaking and feel I need to be educated. I also can empathize with your situation with your beloved Bodhi. For myself, having lost Mags (see related pining thread I started) so unexpectedly and suddenly in July turned my world upside down. After much deep mourning I came to the conclusion that if and when I did find another dog I wanted him or her to be not be so similar to Mags. I felt that I would unintentionally compare or seek similarities. Actually, I have been considering Golden Retrievers as I had such a wonderful one. However, I also decided I would keep my mind completely open and 'browse' dogs from a wide variety of resources and trust in the fact that when the timing and conditions were right I would just know it. I liken it to parachuting out of a plane the first time; I had to just jump and trust that things would work out. I think this openness to vulnerability helped bring Roan into my life. Just my two (or three) cents. Roan continues to excel not quite two weeks into his new life. As structure is so important to BC's he has grown accustomed to going to bed and waking up at consistent times, go outside potty and regular intervals, eat at regular times and anticipate that I will return from another room so as not to have to follow me around. He is engaging with his ball and bone on his own and starting to lay on his back and wriggle and twist to scratch his back, what I refer to as 'doing the jig'. This seems to me one of the best signs of a dog's comfort level as it's usually includes happy sneezing and nose and face scratching with paws. One interesting thing I've observed about Roan is that he has only barked twice: Once when he was wrestling with a Golden Retriever puppy who frustrated him and another time when we went through the car wash and the mechanism scared him. Each time was only a bark or two. He seems very well mannered otherwise. He's kind and patient and loving! Attached are a couple, admittedly self-serving and braggartly pics of Roan enjoying the beautiful first days of autumn here in Minnesota.
  6. It's been one week since I brought Roan to his new home so I thought I would give an update. In general, he has been doing wonderfully. He is following the new rules that come along with being my buddy. This includes just basic commands such as sit, lay down, stay, heel, etc. He also is doing well with general house rules and seems to be respectful of my pack leadership. We are continuing to do daily brushings which are still a slow process on his rear quarters, tail and swimsuit areas. I don't think I pointed this out before but his ears were so burred down that he couldn't raise them. It was like they were Velcro'ed to his head. Poor thing. Progress is being made though and he has been more resigned to the routine each day. Another bath will be coming in the next day or two as he still has well ground-in dirt. I have eliminated baby shampoo as it leaves his coat too dry. This round will be an Aveda product. I'm hoping to get some of his dingier colors cleaned and restored to their brilliance. I have also done much socializing with him including two trips to a wonderful, off-leash semi-rural dog park near me. It has a 5 acre parcel that is completely fenced with a 6 ft. high chain link fence. It's a great place to monitor your dog to see how he does on his own and with a wide variety of breeds, temperaments, etc. He did outstanding. He was neither too shy or too aggressive. He seemed comfortable in his own skin approaching other dogs as well as being approached with head up, full smile, and tail in the air, wagging slowly. He allowed others to sniff him and he did the same without incident. There were no fights over territory or balls. He was just as friendly and curious about the people. I'm thinking, based on what I've seen so far, he may be well suited as a therapy dog, visiting hospitals, nursing homes and the like. Time will tell and I will keep all up to date. Attached are some pics today of him feeling right at home on my bed. (Or is it his bed now?).
  7. I picked him up (rescued) yesterday, liberating him from the chain that held him anchored to a barn. He had no house or bed or anything of comfort. The only shelter from the elements he had was to walk behind a wall. It was hard to see such a beautiful animal being treated this way. His owners were a very simple, elderly farm couple that appeared to unawares as to the discomfort he was in. I felt a little sorry for them as I don't think they knew better. They are in their late 80's and, as I said, at least recognized that he deserved a better life. I kept my opinions to myself and tried to ascertain as much as I could about the dog's history/life. They knew a little, at least what they were told as they've only owned him for a month or two. It seems it was a 12 year old that took the shears to his coat. Perhaps there wasn't much parenting happening in that family. Anyway, I believe a dog lives in the present and his new life starts from this point forward. He greeted me quietly and sweetly, immediately giving me nose nuzzles to have me give him pets. He also sat respectfully while I did this and only jumped up a couple times after I stopped. The owners said the 12 year old taught him to jump up to his chest. He only did it while I was there and has not tried to do it again since. He also went directly to my truck showing great interest exploring it's perimeter and trying to get a scent of what was inside. I brought my past BC's bed with and had it in the back seat floor area. I think he may have detected it early. His interest in the truck never waned and as soon as I opened the door he jumped in and laid down on the bed and never left that spot all the way except for a rest stop break. He was as good as gold the whole trip. Once home, I took some pics of his horrible condition: His fur was matted with everything from burrs to sticks and hair. He was as filthy as any stray I've seen and his coat looked like it would come out in handfuls. He was a hard subject to shoot as he did a lot of pacing (which has now ended) unaware and unsure of what was going on. I did managed to shoot a couple good ones that I have attached. I cut huge chunks out of his coat, brushed him minimally as he would allow and eventually tried to give him a bath. He was protective of his belly and rear flank areas, gently mouthing my hand when I tried to attend to these areas. I could only a manage giving him an abbreviated bath. It was more of a hosing down some shampooing. He lessened his defensiveness as time went by but they never went away and I still haven't addressed all his areas. I will respect his timeline and do more as confidence and bonding grows. I will document his progress as his coat returns. I suspect he may be a tri-colored red and white as I see many hues in his coat. It's hard to determine with all his sun bleaching what will stay and what will go but I think there could be some dark, kidney colors along with more coppery, orange hues. He slept with me on my bed the entire night and was as calm as my 14 year old BC was. He really likes to push his boy against me and has no trouble giving endless kisses. He has been polite with his new inside life and hasn't tried to surf counters or jump on furniture. He also doesn't beg or stare at me while I eat. It all looks great so far. I'll keep you all posted! Oh, by the way. I decided to name him "Roan". It's Scottish and Irish in descent and is another word for the color red. I think it will fit him well.
  8. Thanks for the opinions. I have come to the conclusion that he is just suffering from neglect in brushing and bathing, a good, healthy diet, being around people that care for him and lots of lovin'! As I mentioned, he with an older couple that live on a farm in an isolated area. Why they decided to get him probably doesn't matter. The important thing is they recognized that they were not able to give him a life he deserves. They gave away alot of important indicators: He wants to come into the house with them, but they don't let him. He wants a lot of interaction. He is well-behaved when given direction. He has never ran away though he is given full freedom. All of these things tell me that he is just in need of a pack leader for direction. He is doing the best he can with the intelligence he has being under utilized in an atmosphere that doesn't stimulate him. Some of his fur's condition can be also from stress, just like people. I know people that have turned grey and then lost the grey after eliminating whatever stressor was in their lives. I have all the blades and brushes and typically use Baby shampoo or Aveda. What do you guys recommend for shampoo? Is there a name brand that can be found throughout the country that could be better than what I have used? I know Aveda has made my Border Collie and Golden Retriever look absolutely beautiful but realize it may not be the best for a dog. I agree that he looks like a nice guy and that he just needs a new opportunity. I was not able to go see him today or yesterday as I came down with something. I will probably go either tomorrow or Thursday and can let you guys know how it turns out.
  9. Disregard that last question. I understand: You were tying the shearing done to him with shaving done for surgery.
  10. What made you research post-surgical alopecia to begin with? There has been no indication that surgery was performed other than he is listed as being neutered. I hadn't mentioned it though. I am familiar with sun bleaching in this breed and thought, like you, that could be present. That would not be of much concern to me.
  11. Thanks for the feedback and advice. I was hoping I would hear that his coat is more just a cosmetic condition and nothing more serious. Based on what the two of you are saying it's more or less like the dogs getting haircuts. As evidenced by your pics, your little girl is in full coat within a relatively quick period of time. The people that have him said they keep him outside all the time and that he sleeps in the barn. That would explain his rather 'stray dog' look. I would be bringing him indoors at least at night They said his previous owners kept him indoors. That alone would have a lot to do with how his coat rebounds from it's current condition. Love the action pics of your dog. The photographer does a great job of capturing her.
  12. Hi everyone, I have stumbled across a dog that is in much need of a good home and am looking for some opinions and feedback. This dog was adopted only a month ago by an older couple that lives in a relatively isolated area. They believed they were getting a more docile, less active dog like their previous BC and have at least recognized that they cannot give this dog the activity and attention that it deserves. The area I'm needing help in is of the current condition of the dog. I have not visited the dog yet but the pics and story they are sharing indicate the previous owner sheared the dog before selling him. He is a 4 year old who appears to be all BC as they were told. I was curious as to the long term effects of the shearing of the dog's coat. In the pictures it is obvious, besides being extremely filthy, that his coat is uneven and appears to be in a heavy shedding, unbrushed condition. They said they have never tried to brush him or performed any other kind of hygienic activities. I have done a little research and have heard contradictory opinions. Some say the coat could be damaged forever and that it will never return as nicely as it was originally. Others say that it should have no effect on the dog or it's coat and that it is performed regularly by some. Please see attached pics. I am interested in hearing from those who really know about this and can offer real advice and opinions. I'd appreciate this other than just speculation. I, the eternal optimist, sense he has lots of potential and I see a strong spirit and character in him. I would like to remove him from his current environment and show him a different, hopefully more fulfilling life. I also want to be realistic and educated before taking on a cause that may be beyond my capabilities. Thanks in advance for your feedback.
  13. I'm so glad others are finding value in my posting. I was hesitant to write anything because I thought it could be perceived as self-serving or indulgent rather than the therapeutic value it was intended. I'm grateful that I pushed through my hesitations as I have received such valuable advice. Thanks everyone. NW Montana: I am so sorry for the loss of your beloved Hershey and am glad that you found some solace in that which I have written. Being that it was difficult for you to read tells me you share a lot of those feelings I had for Mags with your BC Hershey. By the way, I love the name Hershey! A name like that evokes visions of a dog popular with children. One that is playful, engaging and endearing. I hope that was the case with your precious Hershey. Jami74: My veterinarian niece resonates what you state that Mags could have been brought into an unfamiliar environment, with unfamiliar faces adding a level of trauma to his already difficult situation. She said that he would have been put on oxygen for a while to help his breathing but the conclusion would have most likely been the same. I struggle to see the positive aspects of how he passed in my arms sometimes. It was such a lonely, isolating experience that I'm not sure anyone else would understand. I have never felt as vulnerable and helpless as I did in that moment. I am so sorry for your loss too. The daily crying and howling you describe sounds so heartfelt. I think losing a younger pet, like you did, would be more difficult. Your story helps me appreciate the extended time that Mags had on this earth. I am glad that you were finally able to come to terms with the loss by looking at it the way you did. The concept of after life and sentient beings sharing basic emotional needs is powerful. Kudos to you for seeing things in that way. D'elle: I had a conversation with my best friend this weekend that went, unfortunately, similar to what you describe. He had a much more pragmatic approach to dog's lives and the emotional impact they have with people. I felt very defensive of my sadness and I didn't like it. I don't feel like I should have to defend my feelings. I agree that I will never be the same person I was before Mags' passing. It was too traumatic and sudden and unexplained. Though others may not feel as deeply as I I am not going to curtail or bypass this horrible process of healing as this is my reality and not anyone else's. We earn our scars in life and like your analogy of a tree's branches growing around an impediment we have to keep living. I come from a family where emotions are not acknowledged or accepted. For me to display such sadness would be ridiculed and criticized. So, I have learned to keep emotions in check to prevent this from happening. Ultimately, as you state, the love we give and receive is all we have. I believe Mags felt that from me as I told him every day that I loved him and that he was 'the best Border Collie in the world'. I am so glad I was able tell him those things now. Though I wish I could have been prepared to do it for the 'last time'. I'm certain some of that love got through and positively influenced his life. A tail wag from merely winking at him across the room tells me there was a connection. His desire to push his cheek next to mine in the middle of the night or the way he would prop his chin on the couch cushion and stare at me lovingly both told me I meant something to him. Ruth and Gibbs: Thank you for encouraging me to continue sharing. Granting that permission to mourn and miss Mags helps me accept that which I'm going through. Some of my deepest crying has come from the best memories of Mags. His obstinate personality and sweet goofiness created many of those recollections that are now movies in my mind. Sometimes they run on a loop and are hard to end. I don't want to forget them and wish I could relive them, just one more time, if only for a moment of that happiness. It feels like a drug withdrawal. My body aches so much to be in a place and time with my buddy that's now only in my mind. It's very bittersweet. The healing continues...
  14. I thought I would give an update as all of you have been so compassionate and helpful with your replies. I know that it takes effort to reply to this post and I appreciate the fact that so many have done so. As Starry777 conveyed, I have been in and out of the healing process. I feel like I had made great strides but sometimes the impact of the loss hits me right between the eyes and knocks me down emotionally. I feel particularly bad because I think I should have recognized the severity of his situation though he remained stoic until the very end. I find myself reliving the horrible end of his life and trying to understand why I didn't know it was as bad as it was. I find no solace. I hadn't had him to the vet for a routine checkup in 3 years as he was 'healthy as a horse' from all accounts. He ate both of his meals the day before as he always had. His stool was normal, he was engaged and participating his normal activities, etc., etc. etc....... Now I'm starting to feel like I killed him because I took his health for granted. I have a niece, whom is a vet that tells me it's not quite that simple or straightforward. She say's he could have just passed because his poor little heart just gave out. I'm having a hard time accepting that. I feel like he was suffering from a cancer or heart worm condition that could have been prevented. Has anyone else felt this kind of guilt before? People have referred to me as a 'Dog Whisperer' because of my ability to connect and relate to a wide variety of breeds with a myriad of emotional conditions. Now I'm starting to feel like I'm like the cobbler who's own children don't have shoes. Was I ignorant to Mag's physical health? It all hurts. I'm in and out of acute pain. I feel like I should NEVER have a dog again as I was a horrible owner. Has anyone else had these types of feelings? If so, what did you do to come to terms with them? Any input would be appreciated. My Golden, Annie, live so long and I thought Mags would certainly outlive her. Maybe I'm hung up on the 'one up-manship' thinking I've carried. I just don't know..... This is a picture of her when she was within the last year of her life at Split Rock Lighthouse in the Arrowhead of Minnesota. Thanks for listening to my continued babble.
  15. Grief is definitely not a linear process. It can and does circle back onto itself seemingly without reason. For me, the depth and frequency of the pain has lessened though the sorrow remains and will, I'm sure, forever. Yesterday, for example, I went outside to work in the garage and the silence was, as they say, deafening. He was always out there with me exploring, patrolling, watching me. I was a little unprepared. I have been somewhat sequestered inside with the hot, humid weather and work so I have adjusted to the quietness there. Being outside together was just another part of the life we had built that I took for granted. The one thing I haven't done yet which I have been dreading is going for a walk without him. That was the highlight of every day for him. He had his spots, his dog and people buddies, his routes that he preferred. I read somewhere about how one's identity can be lost as neighbors typically identify us first by the dog we're walking with. They are the first topic of conversation or comment. I was also proud of walking him as he behaved so well. Not unlike a proud Dad, I liked to hear people praise his behavior. It will be very difficult when I decide to resume my walks. That's why I have delayed it for so long. Thanks again for all the thoughtfulness everyone. Couldn't help post these two very first pics of him. He's the only Border Collie I've seen that the black mask on top of his head doesn't connect. Instead, he had a lone spot which made him uniquely who he was.
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