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I have not made all that many posts in the past few months. For those who remember I went through a terrible period with my guys early this year and I was very concerned. I got a lot of great advise from fellow board members and you guys were right so I would like to give you an update. You May recall Dave being fear aggressive, he is much better. You may recall Pete having all kinds of problems and the dogs being frequently sick. You may also recall that I moved to the east from the middle of nowhere in the west where my dogs had nothing but open pasture and wildness and now they are flooded with people and e very busy life. You may recall that an article was written about my dogs following which we were swamped with people. So, I took the dogs out of service which someone suggested. I took them out of goose work and I removed them from most public contact. All we have been doing is eating sleeping, playing and working with stock. I can proudly and very happily report that the dogs are not sick, they are happy and appear to be stress free. The difference is amazing. Since we never did find anything wrong with the dogs although I still suspect Giardia I am going to chalk most of our problems including mine up to stress. We are going to continue our break over the winter and I will slowly bring the dogs back into public for this spring. We will be back to our goose work in the spring but I have even limited that to avoid high stress and high activity public areas. I have discovered that Pete loves to work on beaches so he shall. We had no idea, I had no idea that we were all stressed out and of course my dogs could not tell me they were. Thanks everyone, I have my wonderful dogs back again and I will keep you posted on how they are doing. We will be doing some public training this year and that should be fun. Here is a pic I hope of the guys. I took them fly fishing a number of times this summer and they seemed to enjoy it as much as I do.



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What a great update! I do remember the various challenges you faced last year, although, since I didn't have any advice to offer, I don't think I posted on those threads. I am so pleased to hear that folks' advice was helpful and that you and the dogs are all feeling much better now. They all sure look happy and content in those photos! :rolleyes:

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What great news. I'm glad you wrote to let us know and shared the photos. Sounds like you have a very good plan in place for gradually resuming public activity.


Our dogs can be more sensitive to change and our own emotions than we realize. I went through a very hard time in November when my father passed away. I was gone for several days, then back a night, then gone for several more days and when I was home, I was basically a wreck. When I got back after my second trip, I was surprised to find Quinn not only had terrible diarrhea but he was grumpy as heck with the other dogs and getting into fights with the Lhasa. His vet felt he was responding to my turmoil both physically and mentally -- though some of the snarking at the Lhasa was extremely self-reinforcing for him and took me a month to convince him to knock it off. Meanwhile, the Lhasa and Sheltie were perfectly fine despite my emotional upset and comings and goings (I have a fabulous dog sitter). But Quinn apparently is very tuned in to me and so my hard time was a hard time for him too.


Good to hear from you. Please keep the updates coming!

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We had no idea, I had no idea that we were all stressed out and of course my dogs could not tell me they were.


I think this is such an important point. Stress--and a stressful atmosphere--is such a frequent cause of issues that can easily be misperceived as intractable, intrinsic temperament or behavioral problems, especially in dogs as sensitive as border collies. And it's all too easy to fail to recognize the stress when you're immersed in it, and so focused on the behavior. Somehow find a way to reduce the stress, or get the dog out of the stressful environment, and he becomes "a different dog."


Very glad to hear things are going so well.

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Really good to hear you and the dogs are doing much better! And good for you for allowing the dogs (and yourself) to de-stress by pulling back from your working commitments. Amazing how changes in environment and lives really can manifest physically -- both for our dogs and for us too.

Don't be a stranger :rolleyes:


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Hooray for a good update! My girls are very sensitive to whatever is going on with me, a little less so with DH, but still they're pretty much like canaries in a coal mine.


Many many attaboys to you for seeing the big picture and giving yourself and your dogs more time to readjust. I don't think I see that sort of thing often enough.


Enjoy the beaches and everything else,



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Thanks everyone, our break has given me time to reflect and plan a better future for my guys. In some ways I think I had lost track and had some unrealistic objectives but through all of this something has been bothering me. I have been up all night. I have tried to write and post this several times and backed out but I think I need to get it off my chest. I hope you don't mind. I hope I do not offend anyone, that is not my intention. I thank you for participating in this thread so far, your comments are kind. I thank everyone for helping me along but here goes.


When I lived in the west I had access to and associated with some great trainers, handlers and breeders some of whom I am sure you will know. Just before moving I was given some advise by a fellow handler whom I respect very much. I was taken to task for not clamping down on my dogs harder, for being too soft with them with the best advise, they would be better working and trials dogs if I was not so soft. I was taken to task for taking a full working ranch dog and placing him in goose work. My top dog Pete was downgraded. I was taken to task for breeding Pete but that is another story. I think in many ways I took that advise and raised my expectations of the dogs. I put my dogs in situations that were stressful for them not realizing they were also stressful for me and I was out of my element. Let me explain, I will try to be careful.


When I got Pete he was already trained and working. I will not elaborate but he comes from a top line, from a top breeder and trainer. I was thankfully aided in my transition with the Pete by another top handler much more experienced than I whom I felt looked down a little on me and my intention to take Pete into goose work and he was a little hard on Pete. Suddenly Pete's status as a working dog was downgraded to farm mutt. I was not well received after this and attended only a few trials. I became very attached to Pete, I love him very much and I am very proud of him. I worked very hard with him to understand him and prepare the both of us for work and trials. He is a great working dog, a good trials dog and an outstanding goose dog. I have done my very best to give Pete a great home and environment and treat him with kindness and respect. In some ways moving Pete from a tough ranch environment to golf courses in my wife's view was something of a rescue if you will.


When Pete was downgraded for whatever reason I was told not to expect much or any fine training such as a look-back. When I started working and training with Pete on my own I began to discover things. I was working with Pete in my training field one day. My flock had split, my own fault so I had Pete fetch the remainder. I had hold the sheep. I was going to send him for the other sheep and it struck me to ask for a look-back. I did and away Pete went. To make a long story short I very quickly discovered that Pete could anything I asked for. I set up a course and Pete and I had a blast training and playing every day. Pete had been a cow dog so I suspected he had power. I was on a golf course training with him one morning when we encountered a herd of Elk. I reluctantly sent Pete and not much to my surprise he did an amazing job. Working Elk is scary, really scary but he did it. He worked the big males like they were steers. When I called him off and he got back to me I got down on my knees and hugged him with a tear in my eye.


My pride in Pete went up dramatically. I had a dog who could do anything. When we moved to the east perhaps I felt I had something to prove, perhaps I felt Pete could do anything and I plunged him and my other guys into situations that I now know were not right for any of us. We still worked stock and of course we did our goose work but we plunged ourselves or I did into a life of too many people, too much traffic, too many public appearances and of course too much stress. Most of you know what happened next, one disaster after another. We are on a break.


I have done something else with Pete that I have taken shots for and perhaps have been made to feel guilty for. I took this big and powerful working stock dog and turned him into a pet in the eyes of some people. Evil of me. When we got Pete he had no social skills. He was very subdued and knew nothing but work. He was not clean and not in perfect health. I do not want to go so far as to say he was not well cared for or provided for but I can say he is cared for very differently now, my way. I have no problem with working dogs in ranch life, that is what they do, that is what they are bred for and I am thankful for those breeders who stick to the goal of breeding the best working dogs, border collies in the world and doing the best job they can. That is just one reason I went to a top breeder when I was looking for a dog. After all there is nothing I like better than working my dogs on stock every chance I get. But Pete went from the ranch to the country club. He does not belong to that ranch owner any more and he is my dog and I shall raise him and work him my way and my way is to provide Pete and my dogs with the best, loving, healthy and happy life they could possibly have.


For those who do not know, goose work is real work at least for the dogs, it is precision work with no room for errors and if anyone ever thought me or Pete can't do the real work, invite us for branding. In any case Pete had no idea what a ball was, he thought rocks were toys and would fetch them from nowhere begging for a little play and attention from someone. We introduced Pete to ball, frisbee and soccer. He now plays like a puppy and loves it and I will play with him every chance I get. He plays with my other dogs Mac and Dave like a puppy and I love watching them. Pete is allowed up on my bed for a visit any time he likes. He can sit on my couch and curl up with me while I read or watch TV any time he likes and he likes to watch TV. He can have a big hug any time he likes and he can jump up on me when I come home any time he likes. He can have all the love and affection he wants, the best food I can buy and he is entitled to the best life I can provide for him. Funny though, this new pampered life, this new soft lifestyle and all of these evil things I have been doing with Pete that were supposed to destroy him forever as a working dog so I have been told have had no negative effect on Pete. Pete does not seem to be the slightest bit aware that he is no longer a real working dog, a top bred border collie or a ranch dog or pet. When I take Pete to work he goes to work geese or stock. When I give Pete a command he takes it and he is dead on and quite frankly Pete is a better working dog and I have a better relationship with him now than when I first got him. Pete and I will be back training for trials this spring, perhaps you will see us. Pete's son Dave will be working stock and training in agility. My oldest dog Mac will be ripping up golf courses and running down frisbees like a rocket and loving it and we will all be lounging around at the country club and on beaches, perhaps you may see us one day.


What we will not do is change our lifestyle except for the better. For anyone who may think that I have taken the working border collie and changed it into something else you are right. For anyone who may think this is a bad thing, you are wrong. I have three happy and healthy working stock dogs / goose dogs / agility dogs, and whatever else they want to be border collies. If it is a day with stock they can come back tired, dirty and hungry. If it is a day on a golf course they can have treats at the clubhouse after a hard day of work. If it is a day at the beach removing geese they can have a few pats on the head from the nice folks. If it is a day of trials or agility or just play they can have all the fun they like. I don't care if they win or miss a toss I just want to see them enjoy themselves in their border collie way. I am dedicating my life to. I am not going to feel slighted or guilty any longer. My dogs have a good life and working bred or not I will allow them and encourage them to be what they can be and as far as I am concerned that could be anything that makes them happy because they are capable of anything.


Sorry for the rant and thanks for listening. I hope I did not make any enemies and I hope you will respect the choices I have made for my guys. I very much hope you will continue to participate in offering advise, suggestions or comments and help me raise Mac, Pete and Dave.

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I don't get the whole "downgrading" bit. Dogs do not care if we live in a 2500 sq ft house or a shack. They love us unconditionally. And Border Collies love work (well, most) be it sheep, cattle, goats or even chickens. They only see a job to do. They have no concept of "status" of work. People are the ones that get hung up on the "status" deal. My step-daddy used to tell us kids, I don't care if y'all grow up to be ditch diggers, just be the best damn ditch digger there is. The job is not so important as it is how well you do that job. I don't believe a working dog is going to go home after working geese thinking, man this is so lame, I should be working sheep. No more than a shack living dog going to a mansion to visit will go home thinking, man I wish I lived there. Now, a cat would be a different matter.


Keep loving your dogs, working WITH your dogs, keep them happy and balanced, and tell the nay sayers to go piss up a rope!

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