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Advice needed about adopting timid rescue collie


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Hello

My beautiful border collie died recently at 16 years 9 months and I have been looking for a dog to rehome.

One of two that caught my attention is a retired working dog - a lovely 8 year old red/white border collie who has lived on a farm all her life.

However she is very timid and scared of everything. The only time I have seen her wag her tail is when she is with other dogs. The rescue organisation is probably the highest regarded in the region with a dedicated skilled and caring staff but after two months in their care, she has not made a much progress.

I have been visiting and she will finally cautiously get near and accept a treat. When walking on a long leash she does come close but only if she can stay just out of sight. They are putting her skittishness down to the farm being remote. Whatever - can a dog like this at this age ever become confident or is that a miracle too far?

All my dogs have been confident and the last one just wanted to say hello to everyone.

Thanks

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I have never been in your position, but I know some of the people on this site have had some extremely shut down or timid dogs. There have been some long and incredibly detailed threads about the journeys of individual dogs.

 

D'Elle and Kelso spring immediately to my mind - search for "Kelso" and you will find the original thread.

 

Such a dog is going to take a lot of commitment, time and effort. If you decide she is for you, I wish you both all the best on your journey!

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I like to have great optimism regarding the ability of these dogs to recover. I have heard many wonderful stories of rehabilitation from dire circumstances and undesirable behavior.

 

Having said that, the questions you should ask yourself are what are your goals for the dog? Or alternately, what type of personality do you want, or don't want, in a dog? Are you willing to be flexible and love the dog she is without comparing her to other dogs? Are you willing to (most likely) expend a fair amount, or a lot, of time and energy in socializing and training this dog?

 

I have occasionally fostered, and one of the most rewarding dogs was a shut-down, unsocialized 2 year old BC female from a puppy mill. She made tremendous strides in the 4 months I fostered her before she was adopted. I continue to hear from her adopter and 3 years later, she is a happy dog and can be friendly with people, but is not super confident outside her known environment.

 

That is not necessarily a bad thing, because her adoptive mother wanted a loving, cuddly and attentive companion - which she is. On the other hand, she would never have been a confident agility dog.

 

Check out a recent post in this General Discussion section for a post titled 'The Necessity of Naughty'. It contains a link to an excellent blog post about rehabbing un- and undersocialized dogs.

 

Your description of this sweet girl suggests she is trying, but has not / may not be on the best environment. If you want a companion dog, please consider giving her a chance, but also be prepared to take things very slow. Every little improvement is a thrill.

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I have never been in your position, but I know some of the people on this site have had some extremely shut down or timid dogs. There have been some long and incredibly detailed threads about the journeys of individual dogs.

 

D'Elle and Kelso spring immediately to my mind - search for "Kelso" and you will find the original thread.

 

Such a dog is going to take a lot of commitment, time and effort. If you decide she is for you, I wish you both all the best on your journey!

I was just about to say D'Elle is probably the best to answer this one.

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Thank you this is helpful. I've just always had outgoing friendly dogs. The answer to 'or alternately, what type of personality do you want, or don't want, in a dog? Are you willing to be flexible and love the dog she is without comparing her to other dogs?' is that I am not 100% certain yet that I can make the leap. I want to give the two of us some time and not make any rash decisions for both our sakes but the rescue organisation only allows one person at a time to interact with a potential adoptee so I feel that every undecided moment spent with me is depriving her of the chance to interact with a more definite prospect.

I've had puppies plus mature dogs from rescue and I have always trusted to instinct/feeling of connection but it is hard to get the latter when there is so little feedback. The kennels put her fearfulness down to her rural upbringing and the change in environment but I am not so sure. I have seen a lot of dogs in rescue from some terrible backgrounds but which are surprisingly confident and friendly.

I'll go and look for Kelso!

I have also come across another, almost blind, collie but that's for another thread.

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Is there any possibility that the rescue would be open to a foster-to-adopt arrangement where she can spend some time (usually a predetermined length -- make sure it's reasonable and not something short like 2 weeks) with you without your having to make a commitment? Some rescues will do that, especially for hard to adopt dogs, which it sounds like she may be. It's worth asking, IMO. The worst that can happen is that they aren't willing to do it. But it could answer a lot of questions for you if they'll consider it.

 

Since foster space is often an issue, if you ask them about this you could offer to foster her until she's adopted or they have a foster home available again if you decide she's not the right fit. That could ease concerns they may have that they'll be stuck trying to find a place for her if it doesn't work out with you.

 

So sorry about the loss of your old dog. And kudos for looking for a mature rescue.

 

Best wishes for both of you.

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If you decide to go forward with the very timid dog I have some tips, but my girl was 12 weeks when I got her and still has lots of fear and timid issues at 3 with constant work. We got past a lot of it after the 2 year mark, but do occasionally run into things that set her off. I'm not sure it ever goes away to the point I would consider her 'confident' outside of the agility ring.

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Thank you. I may look into the fostering option suggested above though I am thinking they probably won't allow it. Not sure this is a dog which could deal with lots of possible changes and they are likely to hold for someone offering permanence.

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Hi there, I am D'Elle, the person others have been referring to. I worked for years as a foster home with timid and traumatized border collie rescues, the most notable one being Kelso, whose story is told in a very, very long thread in the Rescue Resources section.

 

Here is what I would say. Ask yourself, do you really want to spend the time and energy required to bring this dog out of her shell and into the fullness of her dog-being? I mean want to, not just be willing to.

 

When I had Kelso, I thought about him all day. He was my number one project, and all conversations eventually came around to him. I was constantly adjusting my approaches, trying something new, trying to make that delicate decision as to whether I should keep going in one direction or back off and try something else. I was constantly observing him, trying to see things from his perspective. It is a very special dance you must do, and you need support and advice and patience and persistence. Most of all you need love for, and faith in, the dog and a willingness to let it take as much time as it takes, without placing expectations on the dog or yourself. The dog you describe is not as bad off as Kelso was, but the same things apply.

 

Does that sound like something you really, really want to do?

If so, go for it. I and others here will be here for you every step of the way. I can tell you it is truly the most amazing experience and was the most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Will, if given the chance. Would do it a hundred more times.

 

But if you are not sure you want to do that then let someone who is sure take on that dog.

 

Best of luck to you no matter what you decide. Let us know.

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Hi D'Elle. How amazing of you to do that.

In the end I went for the affectionate responsive collie who is going blind. I guess because it was easier to feel an immediate connection with him. Also I had just come to the end of a 3 year period when I put my heart and soul into addressing the health issues of my previous ageing companion - she WAS my life - and I wasn't sure whether I had the capacity to start again on a known uphill slog. But what I have said to the Rescue is that if Floss is still looking for a home a few weeks on, I am happy to introduce Ben to see if they get on and we'll take it from there.

Floss is actually confident with dogs, it's just humans she is afraid of - and Ben so far has been excellent with other dogs. That said - when we talked about there being another dog in the household, they advised to bond with Floss before getting one as otherwise there was a danger she would bond with the other dog and not me.

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That's interesting, about Floss bonding with the dog instead of you. I have a cat, Himi, that is afraid of humans. Himi LOVES other animals and has attempted to bond with TuxedoDog (the BC mix) and TortieCat. Unfortunately, neither are taking a flame to her. `sigh`

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