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Everything posted by mbc1963

  1. I've never used a dog walker or sitter before, but I think I should acclimate my (potential) new dog to a care giver early, so I can be away when I need to without worrying. Anyone have experience with finding a good dog walker/sitter? And... what rates are you paying these days? I would really just need the dog taken out in the yard or on a brief local walk to empty his or her bladder most days, but might need in home care other times.
  2. Before I got Buddy, I had read enough about BCs to know that I wasn't suited for one. Too active, too smart, too wily. I was actually frightened when I realized I had likely adopted a BC or at least a half-BC. (I kept denying it for weeks before I gave in.) But I definitely lucked out; he never chewed or destroyed anything in my house, and with a good walk in the woods every day, he could settle fine. I'm at the point now where I think I assume another BC will be wired like Buddy. I've lost my fear of the breed, to the point of seeking it out on Petfinder. Which really might not be a good thing! I'm 10 years older now than I was back then.
  3. When I first got my old, reactive dog, i took him to an agility traning facility. My focus was going to be using agility to further my dog's confidence and work on his reactivity. I met with the owner of the facility, and it became immediately obvious that she didn't have any interest in my dog's needs, but would be completely focused on the sport. I felt like she would see my dog as an annoyance in a class of "real" agility dogs. All of which is fine - it's her business and she doesn't have to be about special needs dogs - but it was just a sign that her classes wouldn't work for my particular dog.
  4. Thanks so much! Hearing your stories of also having "what did I do!?" moments makes me feel much better. (My own story: the first morning I had Buddy, he woke up and was so happy to find himself not in the shelter that he spun insane zoomy circles in my living room for about 5 minutes. I think I actually said out loud, "Oh, no, what have I DONE!?") Sometimes I think the process should go like this: the dog-stork knocks at your door, passes you a leash, and says, "This is the dog you get. Do your best!" It'd work out more or less the same, in the long run. Anyone else who has a story of a "what have I done?" dog decision that ended up with a beloved companion, I'd love to hear them.
  5. OK. I feel like I'm having pre-wedding jitters. SO MANY DOGS. Having to make a choice of a single dog is leaving me feeling overwhelmed and a bit panicked. I know I'm overthinking this. I do that. There is a beautiful herding-mix girl in a breed rescue some distance from me. I'm <this close> to choosing her and giving up my search. But suddenly I'm panicked about getting a dog I've never met. (I didn't know any of my previous dogs when I brought them home, and I loved them all, and they all became the light of my life!) Talk me off the ledge, people. Talk me off the ledge. Has anyone else ever felt this overwhelmed by the endless possibilities? I feel like I'm getting brain freeze, where I don't dare to just make a decision!
  6. Yeah, I was reading your post and thinking, "THEY WON THE DOGGIE LOTTERY!!" My dog used to bark at noises on the street (postman, etc.) when I was home, but my neighbor insists that he never barked when I wasn't home. Like it was 8-hour nap time for him, off-duty time, break time.
  7. I don't have much advice... but wanted to jump in and strongly agree with the recommendations of a private trainer. If possible, look for one who has some experience with adolescent behaviors like snapping and growling and food possessiveness. I was lucky enough to call the trainer my vet recommended, who happened to be very knowledgable about what was going on with my old dog. Talking to a person who really, really understood my dog's triggers and how to manage them gave me confidence that I needed. I think I paid for a couple "training walks," where the trainer and I could see the dog in real-world situations (dogs approaching, people talking loudly, bicycles), and this helped immensely - more than the typical puppy classes could. With multiple dogs in an obedience setting, focus is divided and is on relatively "simple" things like the sit and the heel. When I read about the way your stepfather acts, I see an adult whose behaviors have a negative impact on another adult (you) but who doesn't change his behavior. It is VERY, VERY hard to change the dynamics in a family; you are definitely in the "child" role, and he is in the "adult" role, and good luck with the transition to co-adults. (My 90-year-old father tried to give me directions to get around my own neighborhood the other day. I have lived here for 12 years, and grew up one town over. But Dad was my driver ed teacher in 1979, and has never really left that role behind!) It seems as though your stepfather is trying to fill the void created by your simply not knowing what to do. After you work with a trainer and get some confidence in what you are doing - after you have a solid plan - THEN you can logically explain why you want to do X with the dog instead of Y. "I am not going to push the dog to be even more stressed in this situation than he already is. He can't learn when he's stressed. So, I'm only going to bring him around when my niece isn't here. I need to be in charge of managing his behavior, and he needs consistent, predictable responses to different actions, so I will be the one giving corrections. Here is what I'm going to do." I think you can work this out. I think you need an expert eye to help you. It's no shame! Heck, I'm bringing a new dog home in the next few weeks, and I'm going to call my old trainer ASAP and go to the local park with him just to get a very experienced eye on the situation. I was an expert at my old dog, but this new dog will be a complete stranger, with new issues and quirks. I am willing to pay good money to have a smarter person than me zoom in on the situation! Keep us updated! Mary (P.S.: I am someone who has also been known to cry when very frustrated or stressed. I like to think of it as my being over threshold, the way my dog used to be. If I get a great deal of sleep and have enough time alone to process stuff, and if my boss isn't unreasonable and things are generally fair, and my old dog isn't sick, my friends aren't snippy at me because they are also at the end of their ropes, I don't cry. But - life isn't always so nice, is it? And let's throw the adolescent-level hormone shifts of menopause into the equation, shall we?!)
  8. Thanks for the info! I think I'd mainly use the crate for making sure the dog can be safe home alone. I think for the first few days, it would be great to put the dog in the crate for some down time, and let him or her adjust to the new environment, knowing that there's no pressure to take it all in at once. It would also provide shelter from scary things like fireworks and thunderstorms. Long-term, it would be delightful to have a place to put the dog if I have company or workmen in the house. (One thing I wished I had done with Buddy was train him to settle in and relax in a predictable way when something odd was happening in my house.)
  9. I find the human/canine parallels fascinating! As a new 8th grade teacher (30-some years ago) I often heard the "don't smile till Christmas" line. In other words, be extremely stern and strict and don't let the students see you have a sense of humor, or they'll ride roughshod over you. After a few years, I realized that MY best weapon (given my personality, etc.) was to make THEM smile the first day. A kid sassed me a bit? I said, "Hey, are you sure you want to sass your teacher on the very first day of school?" WITH A SMILE. In general, I have found that disarming them by not threatening them - in fact, by revealing to them deliberately that I would not threaten them - has won me a lot more good behavior and happy acceptance than any sternness or threat would. Another teacher? This might not work. The strict and stern deal might win kids over in a different way. (In fact, on my team, the history teacher is adored by the kids because of his formal and stern approach.) A lot of leadership is about using your natural wiring and skills to get what you want out of people. I imagine there are various dog leadership styles, depending on which dogs find themselves in the position to need to lead. Dictatorial leaders do exist - I've had a few jerk bosses - but I'm not sure they thrive in their positions.
  10. I've never had a crated dog before, but since I'm going to be bringing in a new dog, and many of the rescue dogs are well crate-trained, I figure it's a good idea to get one and learn. It will certainly allow the early days to be more predictable, even if long-term I let the dog loose in the house. So - imagine a dog the size of an average border collie - 30 to 50 pounds. What size crate do y'all experts use for a dog that size? Also, any types or brands that you prefer, and reasons why? I'd like to find one or two on Craigslist over the next few weeks. Thanks in advance!
  11. I went to the local shelter today (just browsing!), and they have a beautiful, soft, blue merle 8-month old Aussie or BC mix. He's long and lanky. (Maybe Aussie/hound?) I took him to the little "meet and greet" pen, and once inside, it became obvious that he was the dog equivalent of Noah, a student I have this year. Noah is a delightful and incredibly smart student. But I have him every day after lunch, and he simply CANNOT get himself to focus on any academic pursuit. He just wants to run and wrestle and talk really loudly. Super ADHD. I realized that it would be best for both of us if I didn't bring home a canine eighth grader. Good luck!
  12. Interesting read! Linking it to humans: I have long suspected the dual power structure (male and female) system exists in humans, too. I watch male coworkers, who all seem to be currying favor with "important" guys, striving to climb some power-structure ladder that for me doesn't exist or matter. I'm sure my male coworkers watch as the females in the building likewise dance around our power structures - who is alpha female? whose decisions get enacted?! - and don't really understand what's happening there, either.
  13. Yes! He got much better with time. But he was completely as you describe here: the FUN POLICE. Turid Rugaas has a great video of a BC policing the play antics of other dogs - watching that video made me calm down a LOT about Buddy and just not put him into a group of active, playful dogs. He didn't like it, didn't want to let it go on. There was no point to trying to get him to play with more than one dog at a time. When he was young, he'd play one-on-one with very specific, chosen dogs... but never with more than one. He was, as they say, "Not a dog park kind of a dog." I will second and third what recent posters have said: once Buddy trusted ME to help him avoid confrontations, he let down a lot of his guard. One of my favorite memories is of him out-thinking me. I began taking him off the street/trail and having him do a "lie down" when I sensed he was nervous about other dogs approaching. I had been using this trick for a couple weeks. One day, we were walking and two big bulldogs were heading at us. Buddy moved himself off the street, up onto someone's lawn, and did a lie down all by himself. He had so fully internalized the lesson: "When scared, move away and lie down, and the scary dogs will leave you alone." I was so happy and proud of him that day! I hadn't even known he'd been learning; I thought he was just following my orders. Also, identifying the triggers was huge for me. Before I knew what set him off, he seemed like a loose cannon to me. Scary stuff! But after I realized what the triggers were (direct approach, eye contact, certain types of dogs, certain types of play), Buddy became predictable, and I stopped being scared. I would just call out, "He won't be friendly" and people would leave us be. After some time (3 or 4 years?), we were able to walk in crowded parks just like normal folks, as long as I made sure no dogs got in his face. (Note: there are always going to be stupid people who let their "friendly" dogs run loose and charge everyone else. I figure if those dogs get a nip in the face, there's no one to blame but them. I can control my dog's behavior, but not mine AND yours!) One last thing - the most important lesson I got was about keeping the dog under his threshold. Once he was over it (dog too close to him, noise too loud, too many scary stimuli at once) it was too late to train him or manage his fear. Early on, it could just be a bicycle riding by us. He'd shake, his tail would go between his legs, and he'd do that panicked, hunkering walk. So, for your dog, pay attention to how close you can get to each specific dog before the growling starts. Back him up if he starts to tense. Then you can do the rewarding for good behavior and stuff. I read ALL the books: Patricia McConnell was my #1, and Suzanne Clothier, and Ian Dunbar. They all teach a lot about threshold. But if you Google an image for "dog training threshold," you'll get a bunch of cool online posters that explain the concept really well. It was THE idea that helped me more than anything else. Sounds like your girl is really just new to this world, more than terribly scared or reactive. I look forward to hearing a lot more about her adventures. Good luck!
  14. I am listening with so much empathy - I should be bringing a new rescue dog home within the month, and am trying to anticipate the challenges he or she will face. My old guy was very fearful of other dogs, and would always growl if he thought they were approaching too fast or with the dreaded "direct gaze." I could always feel the growl through the leash, and would just walk out in a circle to avoid the other dog. I really think feeling protected from unwanted contact made my boy feel less fearful, and then he would growl less, feel safe, growl less, etc.. I'd say let the new dog seek her zone of safety wherever she needs to. The GSD is a big, strong stranger, and your Maddie is a shy wallflower at this point. She might not be up to many interactions, even if he's a great dog.
  15. I accidentally closed my old dog's tail HARD in the screen door. He swung around, in a huge amount of pain, and stared straight into my eyes and let out the meanest growl I've ever heard out of him. For about 30 seconds, I knew that if I moved a muscle, the dog was going to bite me. Then he came out of his pain glaze, and acted quite contrite, trying hard to be friends again. Pain does crazy things.
  16. When I switched from grainy kibble to grain-free, I ended up paying about the same amount. I was feeding 3/4 cup twice a day on the grain stuff... and the grain-free required only 1/2 cup twice a day (or else the weight went up). So, a bag lasted several weeks longer. (Side note: I was diagnosed T2 diabetic in December, and went online to read a LOT of diabetics discussing their way of eating to avoid taking meds. I cut way back on the carbs, and started eating lots of meat, veggies and good fats. Weight is falling off me with very little hunger. My blood sugar numbers today wouldn't qualify me to be diagnosed diabetic, though obviously i have to live with the label. Makes me really think about our corn-based diet - human AND dog!)
  17. My old dog Buddy (the one in my avatar photo) was a street dog in Puerto Rico, rescued down there, and then brought to a shelter in Massachusetts. I don't know where he lived in PR; probably another shelter, but possibly a foster home, since for a few weeks after I brought him home, he would walk up to houses that had a specific kind of porch, and wait at the door, as if we were going home to the porch houses. Anyway, he did horribly in the shelter, with the noise and chaos, and while he would let me pet him and comfort him in my home, he moved with fright through the world, always looking around as if waiting for something (a dog? a human?) to surprise him and cause him to defend himself. Walks were scary events, with tucked tail and panic. He was always happy to get back home. BUT! After a couple weeks, I was walking him, and he did that thing dogs do when you're walking them: he looked back at me, as if checking that I was still there, and relaxed his ears and let his mouth smile a tiny bit - just as if to say, "Oh, you're still there! Excellent!" I knew at that point that he was my dog.
  18. I'm on the hunt for my next dog. (T minus 4.5 weeks and counting!) So, I've been looking at every possible BC as well as every other possible rescue dog in a reasonable distance of me. I'm realizing it's gonna be more a temperament and energy level match for me, rather than a breed choice. (Though... PLEASE let the perfect BC show up in rescue at exactly the moment I am ready to choose!) What I'm finding clear is that I don't want a dog who "loves everybody." I frankly find those dogs exhausting! Give me a dog with some reserve. A dog who doesn't go with just any stranger. (When I was a kid we had neighborhood dogs who would come with us on our adventures. I used to think it embarrassing for their families: that their dogs were so indiscreet that they'd go off with just anyone.) As I look for a dog, a lot of people are advising me to get a lab or a golden mix - something much "easier" than Buddy was. I didn't honestly find Buddy terribly difficult: I understood his reserve and desire to be left alone. Probably, his personality mirrored mine, so understanding came easily. On the other hand, I have a good friend who almost DEMANDS that everyone she meets engage her with bright eyes and jokes. You might call her naturally flirtatious. My old dog (and my other good friend, who is quite reserved and private) drove this woman CRAZY! She just wanted Buddy to run to her, wiggling and excited to see her, ready to PARTY! Consequently, she got in his face, tried much too hard, made way too much eye contact and (I think) appeared desperate to Buddy, who had little use for her. I'm from the east coast, and my family is not huggy. I lived on the west coast for several years, and learned to mimic the hugging behaviors of the culture out there. But it never stopped feeling false and forced. (I always wanted to say: You are a STRANGER! You do not love me! You cannot hug me!) I think part of that is cultural - I wasn't raised hugging. But I wonder if part of it isn't also natural wiring: I don't like noise, crowds, strangers. I'm a strong introvert. As was Buddy. So, as I look for a dog, I'm marking the ones whose listings say "shy" or "reserved." I'll leave the social butterfly dogs to be adopted by the social butterfly humans.
  19. Yup, I jump in line to agree wth the others. My old boy was he KING of intolerance for bad behavior. He had friends he would wrestle with... but any dog who crossed into his personal space area without being a good friend got flipped, pinned, and scolded. All very gently, with no biting. It was horrible to watch, but after he'd done it a couple times, I learned to just let him scold. (Mind you, I also learned to avoid places where strange dogs were going to charge at us... because in terms of human interactions, one dog's pinning another one is not acceptable. The other owner was always freaked out. And Buddy's idea of what was "rude" was much more strict that other dogs' idea... so he had a hair trigger.) Once, when I was in the woods with Buddy off-leash, an adolescent boxer pup came CHARGING down a big hill at us. Luckily, he saw me first and came to me; I put my leash on him and held him till his owner came. Buddy was fine with my walking the strange dog - because it kept the dog out of his face. The boxer's owner apologized, because she realized that putting others in the position to manage her dog was not a good thing. The bull dog is going to keep getting that reaction until it learns to watch other dogs' body language and approach respectfully.
  20. https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/32179742/ Another very small, lovely little BC girl! (Sorry to keep showing them... but I'm six weeks out from being able to bring one home and I can't help rooting for all the other ones I see!)
  21. I'm also looking for a dog and pondering coat types and energy levels! My old dog was a medium-coat dog - beautiful, soft and alluring to the touch. Everyone commented on it. In the last years of his life, I called him "Bunny" as often as his real name, because he felt so wonderful to touch. He shed twice a year - Novemberish and Juneish - and during those 4-6 weeks I swept a lot. But the rest of the year, there was little hair. Now, my neighbor has a hound mix who visited me a week ago. I loved on her for a while. After she left, I swept the dining room, and found a softball-sized pile of golden undercoat - decidedly not left over from my old dog (whose gray undercoat is still cropping up here and there after 3 months!). I've noticed that on several dogs at the flea market, too - pit bull mixes. When I kneel down and pet them hard, they shed constantly - those little bristly hairs. The owners tell me it's year-round. I'm thinking I"d rather have two hard sheds a year than a constant stream of little bristles! There are a few east coast rescues hosting BC mix pups right now - one of them has a beautiful litter of 3/4 BC babies waiting for homes. If you go to Petfinder and search for BC puppies around your area, you might be surprised how many nice dogs pop up. One thing I've learned in my search is to mark rescues' Facebook pages - lots of good dogs get snapped up via Facebook before they're even posted on Petfinder. Here's Mid-Atlantic BC Rescue's link (they have the 3/4 pups): https://www.facebook.com/mabcr.org
  22. So beautiful and so orange! If my home were right for a high-energy dog, I'd take her in a second! But... I'm away 8 hours a day... so will have to continue to look for a low-to-medium energy dog. Good luck finding the right home. She will make someone a great sports companion!
  23. https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/32021398 There's the link to one of the specific, little BCs brought in by Big Fluffy Dogs Rescue. I had thought this one got adopted... but she's back on their Petfinder page...
  24. Howdy! Just wanted to say a public "thank you" to folks who have kept me in mind when they've heard of different dogs coming available. I really appreciate the thoughtfulness of the forum members! In a month of intense browsing of shelters and rescues, I've realized that I need to choose a dog based on energy level above anything else - even above Border Collieness, as much as I'd love the right BC to be my next dog. Any dog coming home with me will realistically have to manage 8 hours of minding the castle while I work every day. Ideally, he or she would be eventually reliable when loose in the house. I will do 2 walks a day, generally one in the woods off-leash, but I am not going to be able to provide a sheep farm or enter disc championships with a dog. So! Medium energy with a solid off-switch. That's the new dream. (There is this fabulously beautiful, shy, and sweet-looking BC/Beagle mix I've got my eye on. He's so dreamy. And a gorgeous shepherd mix of 4 years whose former owner died. She's STUNNING. I'll keep you posted. I have to wait until school lets out... six weeks... and all my dog crushes keep disappearing from my "favorites" list as they get adopted!) And! Here's an interesting thing I've learned. When people know you are looking for a dog, EVERYONE will tell you what to do. "You should really get a lab! They are so smart!" (Have you read "Marly and Me?") "You want to get a dog way easier than Buddy this time!" (Um. I really loved Buddy and didn't find it "hard.") "You can't go wrong with a Cavalier King Charles!" (What can I say? They're not my type.) "If you don't get a puppy, you'll never really have that same bond!" (Grr!)
  25. Al, I'd love to see your write-up. I tried to send you a PM, but it says you can't receive new messages? (Maybe your box is full?) Thanks!
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