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Future Sheepdog Seeks Position with Sheepdogger (or Sheepdogger-in-Training)


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Geonni,

I hope I'm not overstepping here, but I worry that in trying to do your best for Maid, you're forgetting about yourself. You're right, 63 is plenty of time to change things around. Don't go sending Maid on her next big adventure and leaving yourself behind. I feel as if you're giving up on one of the big reasons you got her - to help change your life, too. It can't always be all about the dogs.

Just another perspective.

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Geonni,

 

I hope I'm not overstepping here, but I worry that in trying to do your best for Maid, you're forgetting about yourself. You're right, 63 is plenty of time to change things around. Don't go sending Maid on her next big adventure and leaving yourself behind. I feel as if you're giving up on one of the big reasons you got her - to help change your life, too. It can't always be all about the dogs.

 

Just another perspective.

Actually, this is sort of what I was thinking.

First, you were going to give up Sugarfoot. Then you got a new perspective and in the process ended up adopting another dog. Your posts were all about how she got you off your butt and moving and it was really good. Now you are considering letting her go.

 

Of course I don't know your situation, really. But I agree with the folks who are saying that it really won't matter to Maid if she doesn't get to work sheep. And it sounded for a while there as if she were really good for you. A challenge, but a positive one that was making badly needed changes in your life.

 

Sometimes a dog comes into a person's life and you think it is your dog but it turns out that the dog came to you just so that he or she can get to someone else. That happened one time in my life. But at this point you don't know if that is the case here or not. If the perfect working home came along and they really wanted her I think it would indeed be tempting to let her go and fulfill a passion she clearly has. But that's not the most likely thing to happen, and Maid will be happy either way. Seems to me it would be good if you kept her, too, and let the two of you continue to help each other to grow and live life to the fullest.

JMO

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Actually, this is sort of what I was thinking.

First, you were going to give up Sugarfoot. Then you got a new perspective and in the process ended up adopting another dog. Your posts were all about how she got you off your butt and moving and it was really good. Now you are considering letting her go.

 

Of course I don't know your situation, really. But I agree with the folks who are saying that it really won't matter to Maid if she doesn't get to work sheep. And it sounded for a while there as if she were really good for you. A challenge, but a positive one that was making badly needed changes in your life.

 

Sometimes a dog comes into a person's life and you think it is your dog but it turns out that the dog came to you just so that he or she can get to someone else. That happened one time in my life. But at this point you don't know if that is the case here or not. If the perfect working home came along and they really wanted her I think it would indeed be tempting to let her go and fulfill a passion she clearly has. But that's not the most likely thing to happen, and Maid will be happy either way. Seems to me it would be good if you kept her, too, and let the two of you continue to help each other to grow and live life to the fullest.

JMO

 

Well, they're not lining up at the door to take her away, so we have some time together ahead of us. :P

 

I get what the "don't give her up" contingent is saying, but I look at dog ownership a little differently than most people. I don't think of them as belonging to me so much as just sharing the road with me. I did rescue for a long time, hundreds of dogs, and the ones I met who pined for a surrendering owner could be numbered on the fingers of one hand. ( and yes, many of them came from loving homes who were forced to part with them.) Yes, dogs forge bonds with people and look to them for guidance and love. But dogs are not people. They are a pragmatic species. They are always in the moment. When things change, they adjust without a lot of the attachment angst that humans have.

 

Because of my upbringing, (or lack thereof) I inherited a very animal-like attitude toward my fellow humans. I enjoy the company of some, am very fond of a few, and when they die I do not mourn in the accepted sense. I have no family. Don't feel a void where they were, and live alone happily. Growing up, my family were my animals - a donkey, dogs, cats, pigeons, ducks, chickens, rats, snakes and for one season, a praying mantis. For that reason I tell people I was "raised by wolves."

 

Which is all to say that Maid may or may not stay with me. She will stay with me if nothing that will markedly enhance her life comes along. If she goes I will miss her for awhile, but I will remain grateful for what she has given me and taught me forever. Sugarfoot, Maid and Mugen give me love, laughter, exasperation and surprises every day. If Maid goes to a sheepdogging home, the light will not go out of her life or mine. If she doesn't, we will share the road longer.

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I've done the same. Especially after having a lot of foster dogs, you don't forge the same bonds with all of them. You realize you don't have to hold on to every single one, especially if the dog would fair better in a different situation. Your slight mismatch could be someone else's perfect fit. That's not dumping the dog, that's being honest with yourself. There is no rush involved here. Good luck! She'd be a perfect fit here lol. Again, across the country and I just adopted an abused one.

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Laurae, I think your comment is a tad rude. Genonni is doing her best. She loves her dogs and is doing what she thinks is best for them.

It makes me think of how I raised our kids. I was not a mother who cried when each went off to kindergarten. I did not get depressed when each went off to college. I am not despondent because they all now have lives of their own.
Yes, I am thrilled when they visit - love the fact that they keep in touch online and on the phone. And I don't think that I failed them because I sent them off to be who they needed to be. I felt that my job as a mother was to raise my children to become independent adults who did what they could do best for the sake of the world. No, none of them are missionaries or saints or whatever. But they are using their talents to the best of their abilities to serve where and how they can best. Sometimes, part of truly bonding is knowing how and when to let go.

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I have changed my mind. I believe Maid might do better in the home of someone who might forge a bond with her.

 

People love their dogs in different ways. I don't believe Geonni said anything about not forging a bond with Maid. She simply said that that bond lives in the present, like they do for most dogs.

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I think Geonni is doing the right thing. Maid obviously has a bond with her - I saw it with my own eyes. Geonni is not shutting her away in a crate for life, nor is she rushing to hand her off to anyone who says they'll take her.

 

Maid will stay with Geonni unless/until a much better home is found for her. That seems like a loving and reasonable path to take.

 

Ruth and Gibbs

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Laurae, I think your comment is a tad rude. Genonni is doing her best. She loves her dogs and is doing what she thinks is best for them.

 

It makes me think of how I raised our kids. I was not a mother who cried when each went off to kindergarten. I did not get depressed when each went off to college. I am not despondent because they all now have lives of their own. Yes, I am thrilled when they visit - love the fact that they keep in touch online and on the phone. And I don't think that I failed them because I sent them off to be who they needed to be. I felt that my job as a mother was to raise my children to become independent adults who did what they could do best for the sake of the world. No, none of them are missionaries or saints or whatever. But they are using their talents to the best of their abilities to serve where and how they can best. Sometimes, part of truly bonding is knowing how and when to let go.

Yesterday my middle daughter complained that I don't call her enough but I don't want to make her feel responsible for my wellbeing. It doesn't mean I don't think about her or my other family.

 

I'm not cold and unfeeling, just self contained, independent and pragmatic.

 

I understand completely what you and Geonni are saying and don't get why anyone would think of criticising what she may or may not with the best of intentions. Lots of us have revoked dogs for various reasons but it doesn't make us selfish or irresponsible.

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Laurae, I think your comment is a tad rude. Geonni is doing her best. She loves her dogs and is doing what she thinks is best for them...

...Sometimes, part of truly bonding is knowing how and when to let go.

 

Not to worry, Nancy. Everybody's different. Just Like every dog is different. We all feel differently in large and small ways. With every relationship there is a different amount of "need" on each side. Anyone who has been married can tell you that. Relationships with dogs are the same. Letting go for some people is unthinkable - it feels like a betrayal to some. To others, not so much. I used to think the girls who sold their horses to move up to a more competitive mount were terrible. But it all depends on how you go about it. If you take them to an auction and let the canners buy them, that's bad. If you get them into a home where they are appropriate and well cared for, then that's a different thing.

 

Somebody said to me at the sheepdog place on Sunday, "Sheep are stupid." They said it more than once. Not wishing to be rude, I said nothing. But I thought. The know everything they need to know to be sheep. How is that stupid? It just depends on your point of view and your definition of the word. Bonding, stupid, smart: they all have different shades of meaning for different people. It's all in your point of view.

 

If you are in a rowboat and you see someone 100 yards away in another rowboat bailing water furiously into their boat, you may think, “Well, that’s pretty stupid!”

But you only think that because you can’t see the fire burning at the bottom of their boat…

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Dear Doggers,

 

I bought Jake 18 months ago and he's been my go to sheepdog for a year. I've trialed, trained, traveled and flown with him across the country. In the last couple months our bond has changed for the better. Some of that is Jake, perhaps more is me.

 

I've had dogs that bonded strongly the day I picked them up, most took 6 months to a year, Jake was a slow maturer and had to grow into himself as I did into our new singular relationship. I've owned two dogs where we didn't bond - one I rehomed after six months (he was bad with the other dogs) the other lived out her life with us and won open trials and we never did get it right.

 

Donald McCaig

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For the record, I don't think letting go is unthinkable. But Geonni didn't take this dog in as a temporary caregiver. She adopted her very, very quickly (and got lots of cheering on by many members here) after publicly discussing her decision to perhaps give up her other dog due to being unable to handle the demands of keeping one. It was perhaps a little ill-conceived to have adopted a second, young dog under such circumstances, and I am not sure I believe this desire to rehome the dog after less than three months is because the dog needs to be "fulfilled."

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It was perhaps a little ill-conceived to have adopted a second, young dog under such circumstances, and I am not sure I believe this desire to rehome the dog after less than three months is because the dog needs to be "fulfilled."

 

First point, you could be right. It happened very quickly indeed and if I wanted to, the rescue would allow me to bring her back. But I don't. That would be a bad thing to do. But as I have said many times, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. Maid will stay with me unless a working home that is an excellent match appears.

 

And I could be wrong, but your closing statement seems to me, not only incorrect, but unkind and unnecessarily "superior." Forgive me if I misjudge you. The Internet is often truly a blunt instrument when it comes to conveying nuance.

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Obviously I may not "get it" all, but here's one thing I'm wondering...

 

Why are the only two options a stock-working home or staying with you? Honestly, as others have pointed out, finding her a perfect working home is a long shot. However, what if she could be a shining star in someone's agility home? Or disc home, or dock diving, or obedience, you get the picture. Or how about a well loved pet in an active pet home?

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I think to some degree, it bewilders me too. Largely because of the notion that you'll let this dog go only if the perfect home comes along and the home is better specifically by virtue of allowing her to work.

 

...if a better home came along for your older dog, would you also give her up? Is a home a better home only when it comes to working sheep and border collies? Is keeping a border collie who can work in a home where they are 'unemployed' something that's 'bad' (by some definition of the word - which is overly simplistic) enough to consider rehoming whereas other considerations wouldn't even enter the equation? Why is sheep work different if there is otherwise a mismatch?

 

Those answers are going to vary by nearly every individual, of course. But I'm still left scratching my head a bit, even with knowing that.

 

I have no problem with people rehoming animals, ever, provided they do it responsibly. It's just that in this case, I truly *don't* get it. I don't need to not get it not to be judgmental about it, but my minor bewilderment remains.

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Capt. Jack & Psmitty:

 

I can't fault you for your confusion. I'm sure it seems odd to many. But here it is: I am of the opinion that Maid could be a very good working dog. I could be wrong. Further exposure to stock will tell.

 

There must be a number of young - or maybe not so young people starting to learn stock work who would be well-served to have a rescue dog that was a good candidate for learning stock work. I don't have the fantasy that a working farm with several hundred head of sheep is going to say, "Boy howdy! That's a pretty little bitch! I think I'll bring her home and put her to work!"

 

If I keep taking her to sheep I may meet with such a person - someone who gets guidance from a good trainer that can see what Maid's strengths and weaknesses may be. Someone who will understand what kind of treatment she needs. So far, Joyce Shephard seems like that kind of mentor. So I will go as often as I can - partly for Maid and partly for me. I can't do much physically, but I will give it everything I have. It was an almost transcendental experience for me. It seems to have been for Maid as well. For instance:

 

I am very encouraged by Maid's behavior in the round pen, but even more by her behavior in the day and a half following that experience. She is less jumpy and more willing to make eye contact.

 

The best example would be her behavior when being crated. She used to come very reluctantly when I called her to "kennel up." She would stand six feet away, and I would coax gently. At some point she would charge at the crate and throw herself in at the back looking scared.

 

She has been crated three times since Sunday, (sheep day) and she walks in quietly now. Seems calm, and is fine if I reach in to pet her. (I never tried before, since she was always so scared. Sometimes scared dogs bite. Neither of us need that!)

 

Maid herself has shown a desire to work stock. She went into the round pen frightened and nervous. She stared out, looking for me, but when I went in with her, at Joyce's request, and another dog, an experienced dog went in too, she started to calm down a little. But there was a moment, clear to everyone there, when she suddenly dropped all her fear and connected with the stock. She listened to Joyce and responded without flinching. She was in another frame entirely.

 

In that frame she was a happy dog with a clear purpose.

 

Now, maybe I can find a way to make that happen with her and me. I have no money, and I have other limitations that would make country life a hard one for me to find my way into successfully. The odds are much longer even, than me finding another, younger, person with the same yen to work a dog skillfully and forge the bond that occurs only between a sheepdog and a stock person.

 

With Sugarfoot I spent over four years pulling the happy dog that she is now out of the frightened shell she was in when I got her. (Another impulsive choice - a pup off the Internet, and a Border Collie to boot, which I had never had before)

 

I don't think Maid would walk onto an Agility field and suddenly be swamped with the knowledge - I know this; this is part of who I am! Ditto a diving dock or a flyball venue. Don't get me wrong. There are all kinds of sport dogs that love to leap over hurdles and other stuff with their owners. But I can do things that would be fun and engrossing for the two of us too. Things like, as was mentioned to me earlier, scent work. And perhaps that is where her future lies - with me, finding lost ferrets. (I did that with my Doberman once, after just a little training. :D )

 

But any dog can do those things. Not any dog, not even any Border Collie can do stockwork well. And if she doesn't stay with me, then I want it to be so she can do that. If she shows that kind of potential in further experiences with stock, then I want that for her.

 

Clear as mud? Well here it is in simple terms. I'm happy to have Maid as my pet. She can stay with me as long as life allows it. But if she is lucky enough to encounter that other life - the life she was bred for, then who am I to stand in her way?

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Obviously I may not "get it" all, but here's one thing I'm wondering...

 

Why are the only two options a stock-working home or staying with you? Honestly, as others have pointed out, finding her a perfect working home is a long shot. However, what if she could be a shining star in someone's agility home? Or disc home, or dock diving, or obedience, you get the picture. Or how about a well loved pet in an active pet home?

 

Well, I'm confused too. I'm confused that just a few months ago, you were looking to place your 7 year old, because you were going to move into assisted living, and most of those facilities don't accept dogs. Then you got the dog certified as an assistance dog, so that even if you did move to assisted living, you could bring your beloved dog. Then you adopted a young dog and she was going to be the kick in the pants you needed to get active again so that you didn't need to go into assisted living. Then, you decided that you would take the young dog for an instinct test and if she showed good instinct, you would find her a working home.

 

I don't have a problem at all with rehoming dogs. Of the six dogs I've owned in my life, only the first one was purchased as a pup. The next two were adult rescues, the last three were purchased as trained adults. I have no doubt that dogs can transfer their affections quickly and without emotional harm. What I don't understand, I guess, is this romanticized notion that the young dog has some sort of genetic destiny to fulfill and that it would be a great disservice to her if she were to live a sheepless life. From your description of her, it sounds like what she needs is what she has with you: stability, leadership, boundaries, and safety.

 

I have three sheepdogs and one sporter collie currently. Two of the three sheepdogs learned to do agility after they learned to work sheep. I don't think that they really prefer one activity over the other. I don't think dogs work that way, I really don't. When I load them in the truck, I don't think they are talking amongst themselves, hoping that we're going to the field instead of the barn. Wherever we are, that's where we are. They are with me, they are hoping it's their turn, whatever that turn might encompass. And sometimes, we do nothing. For days. Weeks, even. And that's cool too, because we do silly tricks to amuse ourselves, we take funny photos, we just hang.

 

I sense that you might be overwhelmed. Two dogs is a lot of work, especially if you have limited mobility. I don't think anyone would judge you for looking at options for Maid that you feel would be in her best interest. I just hope that you can let go of this idea that only a working home would be appropriate for her. While it looks so lovely on One Man and His Dog et.al., the life of a working dog isn't always unicorns and rainbows either.

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Any dog actually really can't be an agility superstar or flyball superstar. I see people say this all the time but it's really not true. But that's probably another thread.

 

I have a dog I've been told by people much more into agility than I am is possibly one of the most talented agility dogs they've seen. Constantly I've been told this...

 

Realistically I don't have the resources to really trial him to that level. I just don't. But it's not like he cares or sits around thinking about how great he could be if only he had a capable trainer. Dogs don't think that way... IMO wasted potential is just a human thought. Hank is equally as happy bumming around the house and playing as doing agility or nosework or even his favorite (and also instinctual thing) which is lure course. Sure he LIKES being able to do those things when we get out to do them but I don't think he wallows away wondering 'what if' or that he gets depressed if we don't do those things for a certain period of time.

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Any dog actually really can't be an agility superstar or flyball superstar. I see people say this all the time but it's really not true. But that's probably another thread.

 

Maybe I shouldn't have used the word "star", but in the context, I said "someone's shining star", not a world team super star. I consider Alex my agility star, and he's far from a national champion. What I meant, is the dog could go on to be someone's #1 in some capacity, and not remain in a home where the owner might feel the dog has "settled" by being there. I hope that makes sense, it's hard to put in writing sometimes.

 

PS. I'm not saying Maid would be "settled" by staying with GB, I'm saying it sounds like she thinks Maid would be settling. I just don't see it that way.

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. I just hope that you can let go of this idea that only a working home would be appropriate for her. While it looks so lovely on One Man and His Dog et.al., the life of a working dog isn't always unicorns and rainbows either.

 

One more time... It has yet to be proven that a working home is even to be an option for Maid. She hasn't had enough exposure to stock - not nearly enough - to make that predictable.

 

And there's no such thing as a life for any dog (or person) that's always unicorns and rainbows. :)

 

Any dog actually really can't be an agility superstar or flyball superstar. I see people say this all the time but it's really not true. But that's probably another thread.

But just about any dog can do and enjoy sports. Not so stockwork.

 

 

I am perfectly willing to plead guilty to a romantic streak. And I'm also clear on the idea that the life of a sheep farmer and his or her dogs is heavy on things like mucking out pens, frozen mud, pig-headed sheep with a death wish in the worst possible weather, missed meals, lambs that die and take their mothers with them, and fences that seem to be more holes than fence. The dogs have their troubles too. Scattered flocks in blistering weather, torn and abraded pads, stroppy stock kicking them in the head or slamming them into a wall, and ill-tempered owners who will fling them over a fence and just about anything else to keep their legs a-goin'. The list is endless, and some dogs are repaid for a life of toil with a bullet, when they are past work.

 

I believe that if a thing is always easy and happy, it soon cloys. Well, it's that way for me anyhow, when I don't have my head stuck in the jaws of agoraphobia...

 

I don't believe I've ever read "one Man and His Dog."

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One more time... It has yet to be proven that a working home is even to be an option for Maid. She hasn't had enough exposure to stock - not nearly enough - to make that predictable.

And yet this thread is called "Future Sheepdog Seeks Position with Sheepdogger (or Sheepdogger-in-Training)" and in the original post, you write:

Maid was clearly meant to be a sheepdog and she is now in the market for a sheepdogger in need of a dog to train and work.

 

Also, One Man and His Dog is a BBC show. You'd like it, I think. Top handlers and their dogs in picturesque settings. There's usually a castle. Here's Johnny Wilson and Spot.

 

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errr... ?

 

Sorry - I had typed out a whole response to a quote and then something happened with my computer.

 

I didn't realize anything had posted, but I guess that much did . . .

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