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I am being honest, and I am not kidding myself... Who are we to say that an individual dog would hate to be in a different home than the one I am providing for it, and that they will experience that the same way that you, as a human, experience rejection? Some dogs, maybe. Other dogs - life is an adventure, they are opportunists, bring on the better deal. The better deal that they did not actively seek ... or maybe they somehow did. Because the older I get, the more amazed I am at how some dogs seem to find the right places for themselves in their lives.
That said, my dogs and I have symbiotic relationships; I have expectations, even of pets. It's my responsibility to communicate these to my dogs through training, and the interaction and environment I provide.
My respect for dogs, especially those that come into our lives bringing some kind of partnership, has increased monumentally since I started working with sheepdogs. I believe that we are really selling these dogs, and our relationships with them, short when we choose not to accept them as sentient beings.
This is not rationalization or excuses, though I believe you will perceive it as such.


Laura, I don't think I made it clear what I was referring to. Whoever thinks they are actually making a deal with the dog and thus some of the responsibility is on the dog is kidding themselves. And if they are not kidding themselves, and the deal indeed took place, I want that dog's puppy, just name the price ;) . All I was saying is that we make the deal with ourselves about the dog. And in that I am sure you are very honest, reliable and seeking the very best for the dog. I just noticed that the semantics of "deal breaker" may be for some people a manifestation of what's going on in their brain. For some it is just rationalizing, but there is not need to take it personally. Working dog people as a dog-owner population are fine folks in general.


They are a pack animal and incredibly smart, and as you say you can communicate your expectations, needs etc and rightly expect them to comply or at least try. And we try very hard to make the right choices for them. But in most cases we make the choices for them.



My post was about people indicating as though the dog broke a contract, as if he/she applied for a sheepdog job. I did not write about that humans are breaking a forever covenant with their dog. I don't have a problem with a dog being rehomed in general. Really.


However, if I left Darinka at my friend's forever I would be still convinced that she didn't much care. Remember when I came to pick her up, apparently she was only moderately happy to see me. It was only later I realized what she had thought about the whole thing. I am sure, but if I had to give her away, she would get over me and form a new bond.



So I don't presume to know what's going on in the dog's mind based on them being casual about new/old owner and based on the fact that they adapted to the new situation; and most of the time we want the best for them and for us and hope for the best. And many time it works just fine. But we are the ones making decisions for them.

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I've seen it work and been convinced that romantic notions of the inseparable dog and owner don't necessarily apply unless that's what the human wants out of the relationship.

I agree that most of the time it works. Thank goodness too.


It is only rarely that we read a story where the dog goes to the new owner and works sheep just fine, but then realizes it's not a job, that he was moved on, and he never works sheep again (I don't remember where I read the story). The first owner was certainly not the type to build romantic bonds :). I think such stories give an important glimpse into the dog's mind, and all I'm saying is that re-homing is not something to take for granted offhandedly that all will be well for the dog every time.


The friend I took Darinka to has many border collies, and he tried to rehome one mature dog once, because there were people who came often to his place and really liked that one dog. The dog came back, and what my fired said is that she did not just form the bond with him, but that she came back to her pack. Personally, I am not the romantic type, nor do I think my personality is irresistible for forming unbreakable bonds :) , but different dogs have different personalities and needs. That dog in the UK that went back home hundreds of miles was not lost, it was sold.

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I dunno, this a bit too semantic for me. There is no "deal" at all imo. Using the term "dealbreaker" is just a way of saying "the dog didn't work out". It happens.


Yes, to a large extent it does, but cognitive linguistics would argue that how we think is reflected in how we speak. Of course this reflection is not clear when we use well-worn phrases: we think what we think, but use whatever phrase is handy and commonly used. But it had to start somewhere before it became a ready phrase and at that stage it was a reflection of some thought, a line of thinking.

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That is actually what I mean, this seems to be a bit more about language than about dogs. Interesting enough in itself, (alert, shameless brag ahead) I am a dutch guy, married to a german, living in Iceland with our two kids who were born here. We are juggling four languages in our daily lives, three of with are motherlanguages for someone in our family...

Makes you wonder about all kinds of language related things you never gave a second thought while just using one language.

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Nice talking here. And the actual differences in views are small.


I also live ina mix nationality household, but not so hardcore as you, Smalahundur.


I just returned from a failed discussion trying to explain a person that treiball is not "herding". Somebody pour me a beer.

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Of course how you speak influences how you think too. So there is catch here, and my philosophizing idle is not ;) . If we consistently talk about deal breaking, after a while we may start believing it.

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I think it just boils down to the question of "Whose good is this for"?


Do you hang onto dogs just because you would feel guilty if you didn't or do you genuinely believe that it would be best for the dog?


Or at the opposite extreme do you let a dog go even though it breaks your heart because you know that it is going somewhere it will probably be a better fit?


I think people who started out as pet owners are more likely to worry about the guilt thing.


Honesty with oneself is what is needed whatever the situation. The only "deal" I enter into with my dogs is that I will try to do my best by them, whatever that may be.

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Maja said:

...he tried to rehome one mature dog once, because there were people who came often to his place and really liked that one dog. The dog came back, and what my fired said is that she did not just form the bond with him, but that she came back to her pack....


I think this idea of returning to the pack has merit. I think dogs are hard-wired to seek stability and a place within a pack. As a result, they tend to do whatever reinforces this.


There are people - pet owners included - that want mutual respect and a good working relationship with their dogs. There are others that are all about how they and the dog love each other. The latter type tend to want regular and marked demonstrations of affection from their dogs. They tend to have the kind of dog that practically bowls them over every time they return from an errand - even one as short as taking the garbage out. If the dogs don't jump around, lick, whine and propeller-wag, they feel that the dog is unhappy with them. Or it somehow doesn't love them as much as it did ten minutes ago.


When I come home my dog sometimes meets me at the door and seems quite pleased to see me. Sometimes she just rolls over, opens one eye, gives a lazy tail thump and goes back to sleep. I don't think either response is an indication of how much she loves me. Imagine what it would be like if you took the garbage out and your spouse reacted to your return by leaping about, showering you with kisses and wriggling ecstatically. I don't know about you, but I'd be thinking about calling the men in white coats...


But dogs pick up pretty quickly if such fawning demonstrations are important to their owners. So, in the interest of a stable and happy pack, they supply the theatrics.


I don't think my dog loves me any less that the throw-a-party greeter loves his. I just don't require that variety of "testifying."


I have cared for the dogs of others on occasion. Some of those dogs were the sort that did the throw-a-party thing at the door for their owners. What I found was that the party-throwers, while glad to see me, soon ceased the Wagnerian opera sequence at the door; nor did they have to be prompted to do so. Perhaps I anthropomorphize, but some of them seemed relieved to dispense with all that hullabaloo.


All of which is to say that the rehomed dog most often seems to insert itself into a new pack fairly easily - as long as that pack is not a dysfunctional one. If they have a new owner that can dispense love and stability in proportionate measure, they will likely settle well and fairly quickly. And if there is work to passionately immerse themselves in - so much the better.

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I use the term "deal breaker" in all kinds of situations where no actual two way deal was made; for example, when I was online dating, hearing a man complaining about the ex wife was an automatic "deal breaker" for me. But, there was actually no deal. There was every chance that said complaining man was not interested in me anyway. Still, there was that "deal breaker." Without the "deal."


If I'm looking for real estate, and the property has less than 20 acres, that's a "deal breaker" for me. Except ... I have not even made an offer on the property, there was no deal or even the beginning of a deal, yet, still, there was a "deal breaker."


My friend is a vegan. If a restaurant has no vegan choices on the menu, it's a "deal breaker" for her. Did the restaurant actually enter into any type of deal with her whatsoever? Do they even realize that she has rejected their offerings? Nope.


If I say that there are "deal breakers" where dogs are concerned, I'm using the term just as I am in the above examples.

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That explains a lot and is very consistent with the person making a deal with themselves: "I won't date a guy who complains about his ex" (very wise!) - "I won't buy a farm with less than 20 acres (no matter how cute the house is)". It's the same as "I promised myself to/not to..."


So we have satisfactorily clarified the issue :) . But I still think my post was a darn good one and made a valid point :D

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I have cared for the dogs of others on occasion. Some of those dogs were the sort that did the throw-a-party thing at the door for their owners. What I found was that the party-throwers, while glad to see me, soon ceased the Wagnerian opera sequence at the door; nor did they have to be prompted to do so.


Chances are the owners are the ones who initiate the greeting crazies and reinforce it, whether knowing or not, but fussing over the dogs when they come in. I don't do that when I come home, not matter how long it's been, so my dogs greet me with the same ho-hum attitude as yours do. The dogs respond in kind.

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I understand what Maja is saying about the use of the term "dealbreaker." Remember, she's a linguist, so thinks about these things in a way the rest of us may not. Like Laura Vishoot, I tend to use dealbreaker to mean something that will simply end my consideration of or participation in a particular situation, and this difference in interpretation probably reflects our use of English vs Maja's.


With respect to dogs, I have been the recipient of dogs who were moved on. Yes, they had baggage they brought with them from their previous situations, but the "deal" I made when I took them was that I would work within or through that baggage.


I tend to hang on to dogs who don't suit me longer than maybe I should. In most cases, it's because I really worry about what will become of them if I move them on. Maybe it's controlling; maybe it's a pet mentality, but considering what I know of the working stockdog world, I personally can't just sell a dog on without careful consideration about where that dog will go and where it might end up on down the line.


That said, I have rehomed several dogs. The "dealbreakers" were (1) you don't get to attack and maim my oldsters, (2) I really don't like working a dog I have to micromanage because that doesn't fit my work situation at home (this was a good dog, fully trained although not solid on the shed, and I sent him to an active pet home on a recommendation from another handler who knew the person well, but also because I knew he wouldn't get passed on beyond that), (3) a youngster who has potential but who has some behavioral characteristics that drive me nuts (and in this case money is a consideration, but it makes me no less concerned about this fellow's ultimate fate).


I keep my old dogs because they are dogs who have worked hard for me and I personally feel that the covenant I make with them is that they *can* live out their lives with me after having given me the best part of theirs. Than again, my first open dog became mine because her owner was willing to let her go (after meeting me and realizing I would be a great place for the dog), so I have benefited from that side of the equation as well. I continue to use my dogs at home as long as they're capable. Running a large open course may become more difficult for the 11 year olds, but they can still manage to work at home (and set out if the days aren't super long or super miserable weatherwise). When realistically they've got just a few years left, I don't see the point in rehoming them (i.e., there's a difference between retiring a 6-8 year old--the age at which Jill came to me--to an easier working situation and retiring an 11-12 year old to such a situation).


A novice could learn from Pip, but I suspect he's beginning to go deaf at nearly 11, so his usefulness in training a novice handler would be limited (not to mention I can't imagine sending him anywhere). That said, if someone comes here for lessons, I'll let them work a retiree or near retiree to help illustrate a point in training and I will let my neighbors borrow them for chores here at the farm.


Anyway, I think from a semantics viewpoint, the use of the term dealbreaker is an interesting one.



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I always will keep my old dogs. I may let one go for the first time in the near future. He is not yet actually old (8), really really loves being the farm helper AND trialing, but I have 2 younger Open dogs as well as a third ready to move up, a Nursery dog with a promising future, and some avid youngsters who will benefit from doing chores with me. Key consideration is that this dog is terrified of my old male guardian dog and will not work around him, so he's not doing as much as he would like.


If he crosses over the threshold of another year here, he'll remain for the duration.


In this case, thinking of letting him go somewhere else is absolutely, 100% in consideration of the happiness of the dog. He is my companion, pet and trial partner. His presence enhances my life. I believe that he might want more out of his remaining vital years than what he might get with me.


If he did go, I would love to have him back with me for his dotage, if the person wanted that.


This was all just musing and rambling. He's snoring by my foot and it doesn't seem likely that he's headed anywhere soon.

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Great stories, Laura and Julie.


Concerning dogs and language: the first person I heard talk about how what we say about dogs "stays with us" was from ...Derek Scrimgeour.

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