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Don't know if this is in the right place or not. Please move it if it isn't. Thanks! I am looking for someone to evaluate Maid on stock. Cattle, or better yet, cattle and sheep. I would like to bring her to someone and leave her for as long as they deem necessary. It must be someone within an hour or two of the SF Bay area. I know nothing about the process, and I have no vehicle, nor do I drive. Hence the wish to board her with the trainer through the evaluation period. I can get someone to bring us up, and take us home, but repeat visits are going to be very difficult for me, as I will have to pay for them, and scheduling could be difficult. If this is all asking too much, I'm sorry. I don't know what's the usual arrangement. I don't know about prices for this kind of thing, but I'm not expecting it to be cheap. About the dog: 11 mo. old spayed female, allegedly bred and sold for cattle work. The rancher was going to return her to the breeder, but she went to rescue instead. She has allegedly been started on cattle. When she came to me about 3 mos. ago, she was a nervous wreck. She's still shy of new people, but great with other dogs. Seems to have a lot of prey drive, very biddable. VERY SOFT.
We have an organic vegetable and hair sheep farm in the subtropical Caribbean. Just 40 acres and about 40 sheep + 2 LGDs at the moment but looking to get up to about 100 sheep. Also turkeys, chickens. Over the New Years holiday a pair of young stray border collie crosses (BCCs) showed up at the farm. We're trying to decide whether we should hang onto them, I'm looking for help evaluating their potential ...and management tips so I don't ruin their potential! (I'm a total newbie to stockdogs but have a couple years experience with LGDs, moving sheep, and obedience training shelter mutts. I'm working my way through the FAQs and archives on this site.) We immediately registered these BCCs at the local animal shelter and passed their photos around online, but no one claimed them. Two separate people recognized them and contacted me, said they had been feeding them for months at two different industrial sites a few miles from the farm, one even sent us pictures they had taken of them at one site. The vets and shelter staff did not recognize them. The female (18lb.) had a spay scar, the male (30lb.) unneutered. Clean white teeth say they're 1-2 years old. We had a pretty immediate offer from a BC rescue group in TN who is willing to take these dogs if they don’t work out for us, so we’re willing to give it a little time. We had a full workup done at the vet after a few weeks, they had no RFIDs, were clean bills of health, we had them chipped/vaxxed etc. They tamed up to me and learned the names we gave them pretty quickly. Recall with a special whistle has been pretty good. We had the boy neutered last week and have had them in a recently acquired 10x10' dog run and only on leashes for walks this week for post-op, they've been good sports about it. Prior to the neuter surgery we were just letting the BCCs hang out in the yard by the house/work area. When they’re home, they follow me and/or otherwise keep tabs on my whereabouts. If I go out to the pasture areas to work with the sheep/LGDs (the LGDs don't come to the house), I leave the BCCs at the gate. They are almost always waiting at the gate when I come back. Once I’m through the gate they are jumping up greeting me, the male gripping my hands and legs gently and getting underfoot pressing up against me. I’ve been discouraging all that, but wonder if it means herding potential? I didn't go looking for herding dogs, but since they are ‘homeless’ but otherwise young and healthy we are thinking of keeping them if they might learn to work and be happy here, and we have the bandwidth to manage them. We are busy people but we like dogs. We have the LGDs out in the pasture areas (old one passed away, currently a new pair of 16 week old pups) to keep our sheep and poultry safe from feral dog attacks, and a 4 year old 40lb. shelter-adopted shepherd mix house dog. Our family next door has a 6 year old 60lb. shelter-adopted house dog. Our home is extremely tiny so I'm not optimistic we can add two more highly energetic indoor dogs, but it's hard to imagine bonding closely with a dog that isn't in the house some. The BCCs are entertainingly playful with each other and mostly a team/inseparable. This is great as they keep each other busy. In the first month or two when we had them loose, at night they'd sometimes hunt rats. On the other hand they had started a habit of going off on walkabout (6:45am departure, return between 9:30-11:30am) each morning, wandering off into cattle pasture areas beyond our farm borders for mucky pond or beach swims and vermin hunting and - as of last week - picking up lots of deer ticks (luckily no lyme or RMSF here but they can get tick fever). So I’m trying to figure out what to use for tropical-strength flea/tick prevention for these guys, and wondering how much independent activity I should be allowing them. I have introduced the BCCs through a fence on leashes to the LGD puppies, who barked at them nonstop. The BCCs yawned and avoided looking at them. Through a fence, with the LGD puppies present, they are unexcited by my sheep. The male showed strong interest in our tractored (movable coop contained) poultry. Once he discovered the chickens I had to carry him out of the pasture. I’m feeding them the same thing I’m feeding the LGD pups = the breeder’s recipe = modified Pitcairn recipe = 24% protein from grains par-cooked with added fresh raw blended garlic and vegetables and nutritional powder mix (yeast, kelp, calcium etc other stuff) and some cheese/sardines/other treats added. They are cleaning it up. They get raw beef bones 1-2x week. I’m guessing the wrong food with too much energy in it can make BC’s unmanageable. So maybe this recipe for growing big dogs slowly is coincidentally a good mix for the BCCs too. I don’t currently have a fenced yard near the house to keep them in other than the 10 x 10' dog run. We have a lot of people coming and going from the farm for vegetable sales including wholesale customers and a farmstand a few times a week on the property, and they don’t usually bark at people coming and going (unless they have a dog in their car). They watch everyone and are either standoffish or tolerant. They’ll let some visitors pet them now. I have a small (1-2 acre) pasture zone I could fence them into but it's possible they could find a way out. We use electric netting on the farm, could that be a possibility for some temporary fencing for them...? In the first weeks I occasionally used XL airline crates by the house when I needed them contained for an hour or two. Ideally I’d like to be able to use the BCCs to be farm ambassadors (keep morale high), and help us work the sheep and maybe also poultry in the future. I do weekly rotational grazing so don’t need a lot of help moving the sheep in general - we just open a gate and with the small numbers we have the sheep are pretty well trained to come when we call them to the new grass area and move through the gate quickly - but once in a while there’s a recalcitrant ewe that makes it more difficult, and there are times we want to catch them in a small pen for processing or treatment or examination and that’s where I thought maybe a helpful dog might help us pen up/catch/hold a ewe or a nervous lamb and move things along. Once in a great while we do a big move across the farm with one of the sheep groups and it would be nice not to have to build netting chutes for that. It would be helpful to have extra dogs to keep deer out of the gardens at night and chase rats. And I’d like my 7 year old (human) to work with the BCCs, help me train them. I’m not sure how to start training them, how best to see what their potential is… figure out what would be the best strategy for keeping them happy. They seem very different - softer, more intelligent and more independent - from the shepherd mixes I have obedience trained in the past. They are a bit more like mature LGDs, always sizing things up. Soooo… I’m looking for ideas or tests to evaluate their working instinct/potential. If they're not going to work out for us, I'd like to get them moving toward the right situation/fit. They are not terribly interested in playing fetch, but love chasing each other. Summer is our slow season when I have more time for these kinds of projects. Where should I start? Sorry for the length of the post!! Trying to paint a picture of us and the dogs...