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Everything posted by mbc1963

  1. I agree with those who have said, "Just say no!" It's not as much fun having a dog that can't play with random strangers, but it's better than having a dog put to sleep because a stupid kid and litigious parent put you in a bad situation. My dog likes calm toddlers. I've had great success asking kids to give him a treat instead of patting him. They love to feed the dog, and they almost never want to pat him afterwards. My neighbor's little toddler loves Buddy. One night he was out in the yard "helping" his dad. He had three large wrenches in his hands, saw Buddy and ran at us. Sensing potential disaster (when the wrenches all hit Buddy in the head!), I put my hand out to catch the child at his chest. Alas, he held tight to the wrenches, and their inertia was enough to carry him forward. He landed on his chin, and scraped both his knees, and screamed bloody murder. I'd still put my hand out to stop him - at least this way, it wasn't Buddy's fault the kid ended up wounded. Oy. Mary
  2. That sounds familiar. My dog will every once in a while ask to go out at 1 or 2 in the morning. Now, he's a good dog and can hold it forever, so I often assume that because he's asking, he must have a digestive issue. So, I get up and let him out - carefully checking the yard for skunks, and monitoring him closely so he doesn't bark and disturb the neighbors. But the thing is... the next night, he decides he needs to go out at 1 or 2 in the morning again. And the next night. I definitely feel he's testing the waters: "She let me out last night, so this must be OK now! I'll ask again tonight!" I just end up saying "No!," sending him to his bed, and sucking up the whining and fussing that goes on for a few minutes. That puts the pattern to rest for 4 or 6 or 8 months. Mary
  3. I have read about this in this forum. When my sister set out to adopt two sister-pups a couple years ago, I conveyed my concern based on what I knew. She (naturally) chose not to heed my limited advice. The girls are FINE. They wrestle and play and sleep on the bed together. One is dominant, yes, and one is submissive. Maybe that's the key - there is no struggle because the submissive dog never tries to gain top position. So... just some real-world experience to soothe your friend's worries. Mary
  4. So, we like to talk about how smart our BCs are, and compare other breeds to our own. But I've owned Buddy for 8 years now, and there is one thing he simply can't seem to master: Finding HIS car in the parking lot as opposed to any car. There can be two widely-spaced cars parked at the local park in the morning. One is my red Corolla sedan, and one is a white hatchback. Buddy will go to the hatchback and stand by the rear driver's side door and wait for me. It happens all the time with sedans of any color, which I guess is more understandable. But it has also happened with vans and pickup trucks. I have never owned anything but a sedan. So, there. A fly in the border collie ointment. Others? MBC
  5. Oh, yeah! Huskies! Buddy has a weird love/hate thing with them. He wants to be their friend (I think they look like BCs to him), but they tend to begin relationship negotiations with head-over-back, the prelude to "I'ma hump you." The first real fight Buddy had (about a week after I adopted him) was with a 6-month old Husky puppy, who was wrestling with him and must have nipped too hard. I had to pull Buddy off by the skin of his ruff. OTOH, the best dog in the world - Buddy's god-king - is Joey, the same Husky, 8 years later. There is a singular bark reserved for that magical time of day when Joey walks by my house: a bellows, almost Beagle-like in its duration. If I don't take Buddy out to kiss Joey and fawn over him, it's a very bad thing. Mary
  6. As far as dogs go? Pull back. Go gently. When he trusts you, he'll start trusting the world. As far as life goes? I could write a book! Mary
  7. For the sake of my dog, I will throw Golden Retrievers under the bus along with labs. One night, I had Buddy leashed at the park. An off-leash, clueless young Golden glanced across the field and thought, "Oh, look! A new friend! I will go jump on him to start a gleeful wrestling match!" So he charged at us. I released the leash, because I didn't want to be in the middle of the dog fight that was about to ensue. Buddy chased the Golden off with the appropriate amount of snarling and snapping, and the dog headed back to his owner. Only... he turned to look back, and thought, "Oh, look! A new friend! I will go jump on him to start a gleeful wrestling match!" and charged back at us. He would have come back a third time, had his owner not gotten control of him. And THAT is why my dog cannot stand retrievers. Mind you, he also hates boxers and all the bully breeds - dogs who walk with a barrel chest and swagger. But it's clear that he hates them for entirely different reasons. (I think he believes their posture is aggressive?) Mary
  8. http://www.cvm.umn.edu/vbs/faculty/Mickelson/lab/EIC/bordercollieEIC/ That's the website of the most cutting-edge research on BCC. Mary
  9. "Border Collie Collapse is likely a unique episodic seizure disorder that can occur in sheep-herding or ball-chasing activity." From this website: http://truedogblog.blogspot.com/2012/10/border-collie-collapse-bcc-syndrome.html Not an expert, but I've been on the forums long enough to be familiar with the condition (BCC). Good luck! Mary
  10. Yes! You can absolutely get to a place where your dog manages the world and is happy. Chin up! My guy was so fearful early on (growling and acting aggressive at all strange dogs and humans) that I spent the first couple weeks with him driving around, worried he'd bite someone and I'd have to have him put down. Even months on, the thought of being able to take him into a strange environment and have him interact with strangers (especially men) was unthinkable - I couldn't imagine a world where Buddy could just relax and enjoy himself. And now, more or less, I live in that world. There are great, long threads in this forum about extremely fearful dogs and their progress. Here is a fabulous one - we all followed Kelso's story and happy ending: http://www.bordercollie.org/boards/index.php?showtopic=31080&hl=%2Bpuppy+%2Bmill+%2Bdog Keep a running post of what you do. I'd love to follow another happy ending with your dog. If you need advice, there are loads of us who've been in your shoes, too. Feel free to ask specifics. Mary
  11. I'm just sitting here thinking: How do you put the idea in the bears mind that he WANTS to learn to hula hoop? Never mind get him accustomed to the motions that will create the hula hooping thing. Oy. Mary
  12. Interesting behavioral side note: When I wrote my initial post last night, I was sitting on my couch while loud fireworks (bombs?) were going off two yards down. Buddy was literally stuck to me: sitting between my legs, head pressed hard against my thigh, front legs off the ground to make closer contact. Full-body, desperate hug. Typically, we're in bed during thunderstorms, and as long as I'm touching Buddy, he seems to be able to relax. Last night, he was over the top, and I thought, "Uh oh, here comes that worsening of symptoms with age that I keep reading about." BUT... I finally gave up trying to work and went up to bed to watch TV. Once I moved into our agreed-upon routine, Buddy settled right down and stopped pestering me. Go figure. Mary
  13. ... because the Fourth of July is probably the WORST night of the year to have to sleep with a shedding border collie plastered against me. And plastered against me is the only way he can bear fireworks without barking nonstop. ::Sigh:: Mary
  14. http://main.aol.com/2013/06/28/pavel-vyakins-amazing-rus_n_3528056.html?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000058
  15. Cool, story, Geonni! I definitely think animals have a consciousness and awareness. What amuses me is that humans imagine that we, of al animals, somehow sprung up possessing something that our ancestors back to infinity did not have. I'm sure the awareness is quite different - just as I'm sure my dog pities me my inability to smell the stories he smells as we walk - but I'm not sure ours is superior. For a few years, we had a mallard who nested in the courtyard of my school, right outside my classroom. (We used to joke that she was taking advantage of our welfare state: we cleaned and refilled her pool every day, and fed her babies poulin grain twice a day until they were big enough to march out to the "real world.") One year, there were twelve ducklings. I fed and counted them at 7 a.m.. Then, during my prep (around 10:00) there were only ten. I told the other staff, assuming that a hawk had swooped down and caught two of the babies. Very sad. Except... the babies were in the pool area, and the mother duck was way out in the grass of the courtyard. She stayed out there, away from her brood, which she'd never done before. I thought, "Ugh. Her babies are dead out there, and she won't leave them." I got a couple plastic bags and went out, preparing to collect the bodies so the students wouldn't have to see them. But as I moved closer to Mama, I heard the distinct peeping of baby ducks. Turns out that two of the little ones had tumbled down into a storm drain. A quick call to the custodian, and the babies were scooped up into a bucket and reunited with their siblings. Mary
  16. I don't have much help if this is an obsessive/imaginaryfly thing. But... just a thought... Is it possible something is happening at your house that you can't see or hear? Like... a mouse in the wall, or under the floorboards? Maybe a nest of some insect in the walls? (My sister put her hand on a drywall interior wall at her house and it went through into a massive bee's nest! Aiieee!) I ask, because my Buddy often responds to things I can't see/hear. There are bats in my walls, and they move in the winter when the temperature changes drastically. Buddy will stand and growl and bark at the wall, and if I didn't know about the bats, I'd think he was crazy. Sometimes when I come home, Buddy is all revved up and watchful - and I know there's a bee or flyin the house somewhere. A few years ago, Buddy began barking frantically when I took a shower - until one day, I got out of the shower, and he was staring into the basement, barking. Turns out the water heater had a tiny, pin-sized leak, which was apparently whistling. (Good boy, Buddy!) I wonder if your dog might also be responding to just the noise of a fly outside the house, since she already had a fly "incident." Good luck! Mary
  17. Is that Nick in your profile pic? Would love to see more shots of him, to see what a "blue not merle" dog looks like. I saw what could best be described as a "blue" pit bull last week - simply stunning variation on the typical black and white version. I guess they would have called him "silver" - I've seen a silver Weimeraner of late - but it's gorgeous. (Not that I think we should be breeding for it, of course.) Mary
  18. Interesting question! I have no opinions pro or con about anti-anxiety meds, because I have no experience. But the previous poster could be talking about my dog. I have no idea if he was born reactive, or if his two years as a street dog made him that way - I suspect it was the genetics compounded by the environment. When I first got Buddy, I had never heard about people's using meds - I think I might have tried them to help me deal with his great fear. This past Saturday morning, I was walking Buddy next to two dogs he knew and two he did not know. The two who didn't know him were a bit reactive and "in his face." Meanwhile, he strolled alongside them, looking for all the world like a normal dog. Eight years ago, he would have been growling and snapping and unmanageable. I didn't use meds for my dog, but the slow, long-term approach has just gradually pushed the "everything is terrifying" out of him and left him relatively mellow. It was all about his trusting ME, and then learning to trust the world. Space and time and familiarity allow one thing at a time to become normalized. It takes years for the world entire to become normalized. Good luck! Mary
  19. In my first two weeks with my (fear-reactive, shelter) dog, I read the Monks of New Skete and watched Cesar Milan, and started chain-yanking Buddy a LOT. Hey, he was growling and barking at everything, and needed to know I was the boss, right? All I saw in response was that he started to fear me as much as he feared everything else in our environment. So, I stopped with the yanking, and started giving him space to gradually tolerate stressors. Over a long stretch, he became very normal-looking out in the world. Now, eight years later I own a 10-year-old dog who's fairly confident in the world. But sometimes, walking down the street, he'll get an attitude and start growling at another dog he doesn't like. And now, I make him lie down and give him a verbal correction, and he understands that I'm telling him to stop being a jerk. He's certain enough of his world and confident enough in me that my correcting him isn't a big concern. So, yeah - different causes of the same behavior need to yield different solutions. It's possible that my dog would have been euthanized due to biting if I had continued with my CM-style training early on. And I could write a blog post about how aversive training is causing the death of many dogs every year. But it would be hyperbole and exaggeration. ::Shrug:: Mary
  20. In the last few months, Buddy has developed a brown spot on his eye, just below the pupil, and sitting above the iris. I'm attaching a photo. I'm ready to go to the vet for this, but I don't want to pay $200 at my regular vet to be sent to the eye specialist. (I'm lucky; there's a veterinary opthalmologist 10 minutes down the road.) So... what do experienced folks think? Regular vet? Eye vet? Anyone who's ever had this? I can find it online, and it doesn't seem uncommon. Thanks in advance! Mary
  21. Hmm... I have never had a dog who was NOT afraid of fire, and in my memory, I can't remember one who went too close to precipitous drops. I do think that some fears come hard-wired into us and into dogs. My dog Buddy took five minutes last trash day approaching a very dangerous looking BAG that had blown into my neighbor's yard. Having said that, humans are all born with the same instincts, and we still end up with... say... me, versus Evil Knievel. Thrill-seeking and an outlandish joie-de-vivre seem to exist in all species. That's no help, I know. But listening to you talk about your dog reminds me of seeing my 8th graders come to school wtih their limbs broken from crazy snowboarding tricks or dangerous football tackles. They sure have fun while they're breaking themselves. Mary
  22. I agree with most of what's been said here. I don't know if my dog is genetically fearful, or made fearful by his early environment (unknown, until age 2). Maybe the single biggest thing that helped me early on was knowing my dog's body language, and knowing when he was feeling over threshold. When I began recognizing that and backing off, my dog began to trust me a little more every day. At this point, he's almost nine, and when I ran into my nieces and their 3 (unruly) dogs the other day, he happily did a lie/stay about 15 feet away while I did the "meet and greet" with the yappy little terriers. He looks like the Best Dog in the World* when he does that - but really, he's just trusting me to not make him deal with the frustrating, rude little things. He's quite happy to stay just over there, knowing I'm protecting him from a situation in which he would (in his mind) have to snarl and flip one of the dogs over to teach her a lesson in manners. I started with books by the Monks of New Skete, and it only took me a couple weeks to realize that I (with my chain-jerking) was becoming just one more thing in the world my dog was scared of. Praise to instinct there, for so clearly telling me that THAT was the wrong way to go. My dog is a lovely pet for me - he'll never be a dog park dog or a social butterfly, but he's great at being who he is, safely and with cheerfulness. Mary *Well, he IS the Best Dog in the World... but I've learned that it's impolite to brag on it...
  23. Well, so true in every venue, yes? I train 8th graders. But my success has very much to do with my 28 years of dropping practices that failed and repeating practices that worked. Tweaking, modifying, shoring up. I imagine that's how people improve in every line of work. In fact, I'd say that people who can't succeed are the ones who "keep on doing what they're doing and expect different results." (I think I'm quoting Dr. Phil there.) One of my ongoing frustrations as a teacher is the public perception that new teachers are super because they're so excited and enthusiastic about their jobs, while we veterans are "cynical" or "jaded." New teachers, for all their excitement and enthusiasm, are like new trainers, or like puppies - hardly knowing up from down, hardly recognizing whether their lessons work or don't work. I thought I was great at 22 - and now I look back at my old lessons and groan with the retrograde knowledge that I was setting myself up for the failures they produced. I may have had the core of a good teacher in me, then, but I needed to grow up and grow wiser before she could find her way out. (Seems that in all other fields, experience is valued - who would choose a brand new brain surgeon, or plumber, or - heaven forbid - endodontist!?) There's no path to knowledge and skill except practice and hard, dumb experience. Mary
  24. LOL. Well... My parents are cleaning out their home in preparation for moving to an elderly housing complex. In my old room, I found a box filled with all our report cards from our childhoods. This is the summative report by my first grade teacher, Mrs. Wilcoxr: "Mary is a very sensitive child and a worrier, I'm afraid. Perhaps by fall she will be more relaxed."* Um... I'll be 50 in June, and I'm pretty much wired the way I was in first grade. Perhaps by 75 I'll be more relaxed? Anyone who says that genetics has nothing to do with temperament is a fool, just as anyone who says environment has nothing to do with it is. My dog is decidedly fearful. I got him at 2, and he's much, much better now after nearly 8 years of a calm, stable home with no unpredictable things happening to him. His early life is impossible to know. Was he dumped on the streets because he was high-strung and tough to manage, or was he high strung because he was dumped on the streets? It's most likely a combination - you hear all the time about "bomb-proof" dogs who simply love everything and everyone despite their circumstances; meanwhile you hear of well-loved and well-treated dogs who are skittish. Mary *PS: The bathrooms in our primary school were between classrooms, but the sinks were in the classrooms. Mrs. Wilcox didn't let us use the sinks because it disrupted class. This grossed me out - my mother was a nurse, and trained me well to wash after using the lav. When my mother complained, Mrs. Wilcox's solution was to pull me alone out of the lunch line and make me wash my hands in front of the whole class before we could proceed to lunch. (Seriously - she'd line us up and then say, "Mary Beth, wash your hands now" while the other kids waited for me.) Even in first grade, I understood that she was punishing me for my mother's daring to challenge the handwashing issue. That - along with her trying to get us to say "hwale" instead of "whale" - is my main memory of my first grade year. And she wondered why I found it difficult to relax in her class!? Ahem. May she rest in peace.
  25. My first instinct upon reading this was that the attack was redirected aggression at the coyotes. I wouldn't get near my dog if he were, say, in the middle of an altercation with another dog, because his mind isn't processing things calmly and rationally, and I'd worry he'd swing around and bite at me instead. (The one time I was scared of my dog was after I accidentally slammed his tail hard in the screen door. He was in so much pain - I could tell he wasn't seeing me or the situation - and he was staring me down with a deep, warning growl. Luckily, it only took him about 30 seconds to come back to himself.) But I think there's so much going on there with your dog that it'd take a live, experienced trainer observing the behavior to get the causes right. Doesn't sound like coyotes were a factor in the previous bites, which were resource guarding and something else. Good luck!
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