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A couple rescue questions


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I am thinking my first BC will be a rescued adult. I like the idea of really knowing the energy level, etc of the dog before I get them. I have gotten adult dogs before (not BCs) but they were all from breeders, never rescues. So I have a couple questions if you don't mind.

 

First I'm in Oklahoma. I know of two rescues in Texas, but I wasn't sure if there were any others I should look at around here. There's also always the option of non-border collie specific rescues too. But where should I look that would adopt up this way?

 

Also, I notice most BC rescues also tend to label dogs as 'companion', 'active companion', and 'sports competitor'. Now, I want a dog with some drive and energy or else I'd be looking at another breed. But I have met a few BCs (albeit they all came from the same huge sports breeder around here) that were just not my cup of tea to put it lightly. I saw so many problems in temperament with them and inability to settle down ever. Lots of drive and no control basically. I do wonder if some of it is not just owners and handlers encouraging the dogs to never settle. My youngest papillon (I know she's not a BC but for comparisons' purpose bare with me a minute) will not settle down ever when I've had to have my dad watch her while I am gone. I can handle her just fine but when she is being cared for by someone else, she tends to railroad them into throwing the ball for her for literally hours. The last time he watched her he ended up calling me to ask how to get her to settle down. So I understand handling can be a problem. I know Mia has the potential to be a calm dog but in others' hands she also has the potential to seem insane. But I don't want a dog like those I saw.

 

Whew, this is long winded but what I was really getting at is what specifically causes a dog to be labeled as a 'sports competitor' versus an 'active companion'?

 

Just for some background on me: This will be my first border collie but far from my first dog. I have had 2 shelties and 2 papillons personally but my family has always had many dogs growing up. (a lab, GSDx, colliex, 3 shelties, and 7 papillons plus the foster terrier I have now). My dogs are pretty much my life. I do train some in sports however right now I am having some trouble getting into classes that fit my work schedule. I am considering going back to my old agility trainer even though I really liked my new one. But right now I'm not really doing anything training wise. There's also a disc dog club I've looked at for the potential BC even though disc isn't really a sport that I've considered before. Flyball is out because there is only one team that practices around here and they practice on Sunday mornings and I have church. There is also a rally class I've looked into. I do train quite a bit outside of classes though and we do quite a bit of exercise too. My current two and I go offleash hiking a few times a week. I like to swim and have access to a pool and lake. My current dogs loathe water but I'd absolutely love a dog that swims. We also have horses and my dad has a place I can go whenever I want to ride, hike, or just spend time at the lake and the dogs would be welcome too of course. Right now I'm over there many weekends. My own yard is going to be rather small but there's a lot of opportunity to give the dogs room to run around here. But basically I don't need the next superstar canine athlete but I do want a dog willing to try things and with the drive to do things. I won't be horribly disappointed if sports don't work out though as I get my dogs primarily for companionship. I'm just not sure where I fall on the 'active companion' versus 'sports competitor' spectrum.

 

I'm hoping to start looking around december/january so I have some time to really narrow things down.

 

I am so sorry my posts are so long!

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I think you'll do good with any dog you end up with. In fact I think I'd love to come be your dog!!

 

FWIW, my dogs would be the "working/sports competitor" type. They can go-go-go, but they don't have to. They chill just nicely. What they really want is just to do things with me - even if it's just ride in the car! They love to work, and need some quality physical and mental exercise, but once they get that, they don't have to be the next active dog extrodinaire - they're happy to just hang out with me.

 

Your youngest Papillion sounds like a mini active BC. If you can handle her, you can probably handle whatever dog you get just fine! And have you considered heading to some trials in the area? Once BC people in your area know that you're looking and what you're looking for, they might be able to help you find the right dog for you!

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I think you'll do good with any dog you end up with. In fact I think I'd love to come be your dog!!

 

FWIW, my dogs would be the "working/sports competitor" type. They can go-go-go, but they don't have to. They chill just nicely. What they really want is just to do things with me - even if it's just ride in the car! They love to work, and need some quality physical and mental exercise, but once they get that, they don't have to be the next active dog extrodinaire - they're happy to just hang out with me.

 

Your youngest Papillion sounds like a mini active BC. If you can handle her, you can probably handle whatever dog you get just fine! And have you considered heading to some trials in the area? Once BC people in your area know that you're looking and what you're looking for, they might be able to help you find the right dog for you!

 

Thanks! I really do think my dogs have it pretty good. They're a little bit spoiled. ;)

 

My youngest papillon is a real mess. She was supposed to be a BC (that was the plan all along) but I decided that since I was still in college and in an apartment at the time that I should go with another small dog. She's from some pretty heavy agility lines and it shows in her. But I just love it. She's a load of fun to have around. I think it's been good practice having her before getting the BC though and I feel a lot more prepared now.

 

My dogs are the same way as yours. They love getting out and doing whatever so long as I'm there and I try to take them and involve them in as much as I possibly can. I like very interactive types of dogs. But I also love that ability to chill out too. I don't mind having to work to install that off switch though.

 

I've been to a couple trials but it's been 2 years now. I went to the last right after I got my youngest dog and really really enjoyed it. It is completely incredible to watch these dogs in action. I found the oklahoma stockdog association so I'm hoping to make it to a trial or two this year.

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Also, I notice most BC rescues also tend to label dogs as 'companion', 'active companion', and 'sports competitor'. Now, I want a dog with some drive and energy or else I'd be looking at another breed. But I have met a few BCs (albeit they all came from the same huge sports breeder around here) that were just not my cup of tea to put it lightly. I saw so many problems in temperament with them and inability to settle down ever.

 

IMO, a LOT of that is owner induced. Yes, some dogs can have a genetic temperament issues and there may be a genetic component that affects a dogs inability to be calm, but I know a lot of sport dogs whose owners think they have to have out of control up-up-up screaming maniacs to get speed and drive out of their dogs (which they don't need to).

 

I do wonder if some of it is not just owners and handlers encouraging the dogs to never settle.

 

Yup.

 

Whew, this is long winded but what I was really getting at is what specifically causes a dog to be labeled as a 'sports competitor' versus an 'active companion'?

 

It depends. Some rescues will list any high energy dog as a "potential sports dog" and others will have been evaluated by experienced people who see a great potential. I wouldn't put too much into it, I would just ask the rescue when you inquire about the dog: "why do you feel she would be a great sports dog?" All breed rescues and inexperienced BC rescue people may just see a dog who likes to play a lot, and other folks like RDM who do rescue and do sports may see a real potential in a dog they foster and want to help place the dog in a sports home as they recognize the dog would do really well there.

 

The reality is, many dogs end up in rescue who are really well behaved and end up there because of some owner issue (lie the owner dies, or loses a job or something) and some end up in rescue because they were owned by people who didn't provide a foundation for the dog to understand how to behave and have self control, so they end up with a dog that has behavior they can't handle, and the dog goes to rescue. These dogs have every ability to learn but they often initially present as wild and out of control so they may get listed as "needing a new job."

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I agree, sometimes the labeling is inaccurate. I have seen dogs labeled as companion level because they seemed to have low drive or seemed fearful so they were thgouht to not be much for working or sports. But when they are adopted and get settled into their new homes, they blossom. A friend of mine is fostering a BC that was labeled companion and told he would likely not be a good working or sports dog. She took him out on sheep and he was brilliant - seriously brilliant. he was a different dog - just needed to have a purpose and do what he was meant to do. He had been in a shelter prior to her fostering him and he was not having an easy time of it.

 

 

I think your best bet is to find dogs that are currently in foster homes and talk a little to the foster parent about the dog and how it is at their home and also find out a little about what they are doing with the dog. My friend evaluates each of her fosters on stock and triesnto expose them to different things to really evaluate their personality so she is better able to match them to the right home. Most of the BC rescues will be glad to talk to you and will put you in contact with the folks that are fostering the dogs so that you can find the right match.

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I have four dogs - one from an organization that pulls from high kill shelters, one from a breed specific border collie rescue, one from the county shelter and one that was dumped in our community and followed my husband home. The first and last adopted were young- around 5 months. The middle two - young adults. I would recommend getting a border collie because it is a breed you have been wanting a long time - you will always be wondering-- what if? So next step - I would get with the best reputation of a border collie rescue organization that you can. Educate them about you and I will bet that they would be happy to work with you. From my experience, this group of people are usually extraordinary in their ability to match dogs with people. When I got Cody - my really big BC - he is not what I wanted. He is big, not split faced , shy, timid, etc. After they showed me him - I must have looked at other dogs for a good four hours. Finally we went home with the first dog they showed us - our Cody. He is the perfect dog for me. He is soft, extremely biddable, loyal as can be, snuggles with me every morning to start my day, and LOVES to go for mountain runs with me. He has the most bullet proof sit - even from a football field away - allowing me the confidence to let him run with me in the mountains off leash. We have done agility for fun- and he has always been the best behaved dog in the class. So, I guess what I am really saying - find a rescue that has a good history and let them match you up. Good luck.

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Rescues can use those "labels" for many different purposes.

 

For some dogs, it's obvious they need a "job" to not be holy terrors. They might need more structure than just chasing a ball in the yard every day. The rescue where I got Secret is very firm on placing certain dogs in sport/working homes ONLY. I'd say this particular BC rescue only labels about 5% of their dogs in that category, but they will deny applications on those dogs from anyone who isn't already actively involved in the sporting or herding world. They do this because their experience tells them that these dogs will not do well in a non-active home and they stand more of a chance being returned to rescue.

 

Another reason might be because a dog comes with certain issues -- mostly reactivity. With BC it could be motion reactivity, or perhaps some resource guarding issues. I think it is believed that someone with proven training skills might have better tools to deal with these issues. In the evaluations we do at our shelter, dogs are rated on a scale of 1-3, related to the type of home they would do well in. Ones are the general public (what we see most at a shelter). People with little to no dog skills and no desire to really get involved in training. Twos are a bit more enlightened, have more experience and seek to do active things with their dogs. Threes are essentially professional trainers or people with extensive training experience. Honestly, we usually transfer out a dog labeled as a 3 because we don't have the resources in our shelter to deal with them. They are better off in a foster home where they will get more time & attention.

 

Personally, I would not seek out a "sport home only" dog unless you are actively involved in a sport or herding. By the sounds of it, an active companion would get on very well in your home. And FWIW, "off switches" are harder to install in an adult than a puppy... So without the proper outlet, one of those super high energy dogs could easily become an annoying destructive pain in the butt. Just saying.

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And FWIW, "off switches" are harder to install in an adult than a puppy... So without the proper outlet, one of those super high energy dogs could easily become an annoying destructive pain in the butt. Just saying.

 

IME, this hasn't been the case. Dogs adapt to what you expect of them. Give them structure, an appropriate outlet, teach them what you expect and they learn pretty quick.

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I wrote:

 

It depends. Some rescues will list any high energy dog as a "potential sports dog" and others will have been evaluated by experienced people who see a great potential. I wouldn't put too much into it, I would just ask the rescue when you inquire about the dog: "why do you feel she would be a great sports dog?" All breed rescues and inexperienced BC rescue people may just see a dog who likes to play a lot, and other folks like RDM who do rescue and do sports may see a real potential in a dog they foster and want to help place the dog in a sports home as they recognize the dog would do really well there.

 

Just wanted to clarify that I wouldn't put too much into the label you see on an internet webpage as a "sports dogs" initially, not until you know more. I didn't mean that you should ignore it completely. Once you know the dog and people better you will know if the dog in question is a good fit.

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As a bc foster parent, I label "active companion" dogs that like long walks, runs, play fetch, frisbee, etc. but are not hyper or OCD. These dogs need a lot of exercise but can also chill out. "Sports competitors" to me are the dogs that are hyper or OCD - most of those dogs live to do the activity be it agility, flyball, herding, etc. and have a more difficult time with down time (although some can be trained to have an off switch).

 

Good luck in your search!

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Last year I was in the same position you are. I wanted a Border Collie, a young adult rescue. I had specific requirements so I wanted to get a dog from a foster home so I could talk to someone who lived with the dog for a while...not something you can really do in a shelter. The best thing you can do is find a dog you like and ask specific questions about that dog.

 

I came up with a list of things that I needed from my new dog (female, must tolerate the cat, get along with other dogs, not eat my chinchillas, and not take off at every opportunity), things I really wanted (active, potential for agility and other dog sports, likes to ride in cars, likes to swim, under 2 years old), and then things I would like, but could do without (potty trained, smooth coat, under 50 lbs). Dogs that did not fit the 'need' list were not an option for me (no matter how cute). The rest of the list was flexible and I had no intention of finding a dog with all the things on my list. You may end up throwing out 'the list' when you find the dog, but it gives you a place to start.

 

After checking rescue websites for over a month and spending a few hours on the phone talking to 'foster mom', I found my perfect dog. She's not a smooth coat and she'll only go near water if she's really hot, but she is everything else I wanted and more.

 

FWIW, to me an 'active companion' is in good shape physically (or could be with proper care) and will go for hikes, long walks, jogs, and could dabble in agility and other sports. A 'sports competitor' is a dog (probably younger) in great physical shape with good athletic ability that can go for hours, that really needs a job, and is not a 'beginner' dog. They need someone who has training experience who can make good use of their energy.

 

I don't know how I'd class my own dog Meg between those two categories. She's a thinker. She's not a dog that's bouncing off the walls on a daily basis (though she'll get to that point if she doesn't get her exercise). She is a bit shy in new situations and with new people. While she is capable of walking/running for hours and hours, training or things that require a lot of mental work wear her out quickly. In all of the classes we've taken, she's been one of the best dogs in class and certainly the most focused.

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Just to be clear, I have been training agility for over 2 years now. But I haven't competed. My older dog ended up washing out relatively recently due to some joint pain as she's gotten older. Right before we were ready to compete. My youngest has taken about a half a year then we went back to redo foundations. She's had some impulse control/reactivity issues so I did lots of obedience and started her agility later. I'm having some issues right now with scheduling and making classes work with my schedule but I am hoping to find something out soon. In the meantime I have some of the equipment to work on in my back yard but not the full course (yet!). There's a sports club I used to be a member of I might rejoin so I have access to the equipment at all times. But i'm not a fan of some of their training styles and they're UKC based so it's weird agility and not the venues I'd want to compete in. It really depends on if I can work out the private lessons with my current trainer or not. Right now it's not looking too great and I'm pretty disappointed as she's so great and has trained many top teams. So it's not like I have no experience and am just expecting to suddenly start up in dog sports. It's already been an interest to me and I've dabbled quite a bit. I'd like to go further in the future. I would like a dog that can do well but I was just trying to point out that dog sports aren't my MAIN concern nor the driving reason I want a border collie. If the dog washes, it washes and I will enjoy it just as much. But I'd like to do what I can to pick the best match possible. :)

 

I was a bit concerned that this: "As a bc foster parent, I label "active companion" dogs that like long walks, runs, play fetch, frisbee, etc. but are not hyper or OCD. These dogs need a lot of exercise but can also chill out. "Sports competitors" to me are the dogs that are hyper or OCD - most of those dogs live to do the activity be it agility, flyball, herding, etc. and have a more difficult time with down time (although some can be trained to have an off switch). " would be true. To me there's a difference between OCD and crazy and then a dog being a good sports competitor. I was really wondering if was more of a 'wow this dog is insane and hyper' category versus a 'this dog has a lot of drive' or another characteristic that would make it a good sports potential dog. Or if it had been evaluated for a certain sport or something. To me the two are not the same.

 

I have met a lot of the really hyper, OCD, and reactive BCs at our club that are actually not all that great at sports compared to some of the calmer and more stable dogs. My first trainer had a dog like this- very active, very intense, fast, and completely crazy aggressive. The dog is actually not a good agility dog at all.

 

That said, my younger pap is definitely on the hyper/OCD/reactive side and I manage her well. But as you said that might be more difficult if she'd been grown out somewhere else and not given direction then I got her as an adult. Since I had her as a puppy I was able to direct her to be more suitable and really work out her issues. I also expect that type of personality would be a little more difficult in a larger dog too.

 

Anyways, thanks for all the advice so far! I know the right dog will be out there.

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I think how the labels apply to each dog depends entirely on who is doing the labeling. You could probably expect that a dog labeled "active companion" or "sports competitor" is going to be more suitable for your lifestyle than one labeled "companion" or whatever the couch potato description is. Your best bet would be to read the actual description of each dog that might interest you. Most rescues/fosters are quite honest in their assessments of individual dogs, and those assessments are available in the written descriptions. Consider the larger categories just to be convenient catch-alls--someplace to put the dogs so that someone looking has an idea where to start. If you are looking at a particular rescue's site and the descriptions of the "active companion" dogs all seem to describe dogs that don't fit your criteria for an agility dog, then it might be safe to assume that their "sports competitor" category will contain dogs you are looking for. I don't think that rescues automatically put over-the-top, out-of-control dogs into the sports category, because sometimes those behaviors exist simply because of poor training, but don't really reflect the individual dog's drive, etc.

 

What I'm trying to say is that you shouldn't get too hung up on the actual categories themselves; instead read individual descriptions and get a sense for how each rescue or foster within that rescue tends to describe dogs. Then you'll get a better feel for what the larger categories mean (for that rescue). Also I think that once you are in touch with specific rescues and discussing with them what you're looking for in a dog, they will steer you toward appropriate dogs, no matter what category they initially listed them under.

 

ETA: Another thing: Why not talk to the folks you train with? Someone might know of a rescue dog that meets your criteria. For example, there is one rescue in this area that is run by someone who is very active in agility. If you met her at a trial or during training and asked her about available rescue dogs, she would certainly be able to point you in the direction of appropriate dogs in her rescue. I imagine the same is true of other rescues.

 

J.

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I have met a lot of the really hyper, OCD, and reactive BCs at our club that are actually not all that great at sports compared to some of the calmer and more stable dogs.

 

FWIW, these dogs might be total couch potatoes at home. I know a lot of people who have "crazy" BC at trials but the dogs are actually super easy to live with. What you see at an agility trial is not indicative of how that dog is every day -- but it's obviously something you'd have to deal with if you ended up with one of those dogs.

 

Personally, I think those "crazy" dogs have a heck of a lot of potential. Often they are late bloomers (ie: they aren't going to come out of the gate at 18 months knocking everyone's socks off -- but by the time they are four they are phenomenal). Not everyone wants to put in that kind of work and that's understandable. But some of us enjoy the "thrill" that type of dog offers.

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I don't think a dog has to be hyper or OCD to be labeled "sports competitor." I don't use those types of labels, per se, but I do try to describe in their bio what kind of home I think will work best for them. If they are somewhat laid back and not particularly active, then I will probably describe them as being a good companion dog but not necessarily a good sports candidate. If they are pretty laid back but need to get out and run every day to be happy and settle well in the house, I might say they need an active home that is willing to give them daily exercise (more than just a walk around the block in the evening). I might even say that they have potential as a sports dog. If they are particularly drivey and crave activity, I would probably say they would make an excellent candidate as a sports dog. In that case, I would specifically be looking for a home that is very active and that activity includes the dog, whether it is sports or some other activity. That doesn't mean that it's a hyper dog or it has OCD behaviors. It just means that the dog would NOT be happy in home where it gets minimal exercise/stimulation and really needs a home where it'll get "worked" a lot.

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Most the agility people I'm with are into shelties mostly. Almost our entire class was shelties and GSDs. My trainer runs shelties but might have some BC contacts. I've run into a lot of issues that the BC people at the other club all go to the same large scale sports line breeder and recommend them. But I've not been very impressed overall with the dogs coming from there. Some are outstanding and then a lot of the rest are not what I'd want to live with (to put it lightly).

 

I know a lot will depend on talking to them thoroughly about the dog in question. I just was wondering mostly what it means in general. Reading descriptions there are dogs in both categories that have really caught my attention.

 

FWIW, these dogs might be total couch potatoes at home. I know a lot of people who have "crazy" BC at trials but the dogs are actually super easy to live with. What you see at an agility trial is not indicative of how that dog is every day -- but it's obviously something you'd have to deal with if you ended up with one of those dogs.

 

Personally, I think those "crazy" dogs have a heck of a lot of potential. Often they are late bloomers (ie: they aren't going to come out of the gate at 18 months knocking everyone's socks off -- but by the time they are four they are phenomenal). Not everyone wants to put in that kind of work and that's understandable. But some of us enjoy the "thrill" that type of dog offers.

 

Well, yes, I have one of those dogs right now. She's absolutely wonderful but it's taken me 2 years to get her some self control and a brain. :P If we trial, we probably won't start till she's four. Everyone else is trying to ramp their dogs up and I have the dog that was 2 days into agility training and figured it out and decided to scream when it wasn't her turn. That's why we are redoing foundations right now because she needs it. At two though, I'm starting to see the dog she will become (given the right direction) and it's amazing.

 

These dogs I'm thinking of aren't like that though at least in my experience knowing them outside of sports too. Might be handling mostly, I'm not sure.

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Yup. As you've read labels are not always easy to decipher. My crazy hyper dog would be labeled sports home and my quiet little girl was labeled companion only. She is great at herding and at agility. He is very hard to get focused. Talking to the foster parent is a great way to go, but remember, dogs in a shelter don't always behave the way they would in a safe and loving home. Good luck!

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