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Shelter "Barbie" Collie??

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I hope this doesn't come across as offensive 'cuz I sure don't mean it to be.


How can a person tell if a BC is a "real" BC who is maybe depressed from shelter life or a not-so-smart Barbie Collie?


It's been a hard month since I lost Lewie. But, I'm ready to start looking for another BC. I've filled out apps with two BC rescues in the state just to get the paperwork out of the way, but neither has anybody whose picture speaks to me. The closest rescue is having a Meet and Greet on Oct 21 but the waiting is starting to make me feel like a victim (dumb, I know). I've been stalking Petfinder.com and AllPets.com looking for somebody who could be The One.


Today I went to one of the local shelters to look at a Border Collie from Petfinder.com. He is beautiful but is very small. His head only comes up to my knee and I don't think he weighs 30 pounds. Being used to Lewie's height and 60+ pounds the shelter dog seems tiny to me.


I asked about him: transferred from another shelter, 5-ish years old, neutered male. He's very pretty, has an adorable face. The shelter peeps got him out of his kennel so I could interact with him. He seems to be very low key and a bit of a Velcro dog but that might just be from being in the shelter. I took him outside into one of the runs to let him off-leash. He wasn't interested in any of the toys, didn't really do much sniffing, just stayed close to me. I sat on the ground with him, petting, cooing, touching. He didn't seem to have any issues with being handled, feet, ears, privates, didn't really like having his teeth looked at but no snarky or warning behavior, just turned his head away.


I asked him to sit with no response, even gave a little push on his tiny butt. I patted the ground asking him to lie down by me. He did, and tentatively rolled on his side to expose his tummy.


At one point, I did see a tiny spark go across his face while I was petting him, like maybe he had a glimmer of hope? Maybe he's just depressed and needs time to come out of his shell?


To everyone who has way more experience than I do, is there a way to determine if he has the "real" BC intelligence and intuition or if he's just a pretty face?


If y'all think I'm silly or too superficial, or anything, please tell me. Sometimes I need it.

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I think you draw reasonable conclusions yourself; probably depressed and somewhat withdrawn, and from your description it sounds like a very sweet dog. If I was looking for a dog from a shelter, or as in my situation would be more likely rehoming from last owner, I would not hesitate to take a dog that reacted like this on "first contact".

Actually my current stockdog fit that behavior description pretty well when we first met.

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when I was looking for a dog in a shelter, way back when, I stopped at a pen with about 8 dogs in it. all of them came to the front barking and wiggling, except one. he sat in the back corner looking sad and forlorn. he was a skinny white dog with black spots and giant ears. I asked the attendant to see him. as she went in to get him, an aussie puppy slipped out. he was adorable, bouncy and friendly. the b/w just kind of sidled up next to me and eventually rolled over for a belly rub. the aussie continued to bounce around the room. I knew which one I wanted. I took home the b/w. I knew the aussie would quickly be adopted. In fact, I saw him with his new owners around town a short time later. the black and white, now Twitch, bloomed at home! he became my first agility dog and my heart dog. I have never, in the 13 plus years we have been together, regretted taking the smelly, sticky, skinny, shy dog home with me.

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Assuming I am not buying from a breeder (I wouldn't support the breeding of 'Barbie Collies'), or that I'm not buying a dog to work stock, I wouldn't care if it was a Barbie Collie. While I'm sure they lack the instinct to work stock, I wouldn't assume they're dumb. My Aussie/BC mixed breed is as intelligent as my well bred Border Collie and sometimes 'seems' more so, depending on the measure. However, after seeing how a 'real' Border Collie behaves around sheep, I wouldn't bother taking my beloved Hannah to sheep and expect her to teach me anything. She has taught me loads about human/dog communication though.


I also wouldn't go entirely by the dog's behavior in the shelter. Some dogs do more poorly than others in that type of environment.


I got a thirteen month old Whippet many years ago that was so shut down he jumped up on my couch, trembling, and pretty much stayed there for the first six months. With time and patience his personality really blossomed and he became my hiking partner, reliable off leash (a sighthound even!), comfortable walking with me through crowds and easily trained in basic obedience. My brother, who had seen the dog when I first got him, then not until maybe a year later, remarked that he was "a different dog". He was one of the best dogs I've ever had.


ETA: I should add, *I* wouldnt take ANY dog to sheep without an experienced mentor! Just thought I should clarify.

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Actually. as both a shelter volunteer and Border Collie rescuer, I have noticed that the more sensitive dogs crash and shut down in a shelter environment. Some even act terrified. Get them out and they blossom and turn into different dogs. One female BC that we rescued even turned on immediately after going through he front door of the shelter and into the parking lot. They are smart enough to know that the parking lot means they are going somewhere else, while the play yard in the shelter doesn't necessarily mean anything!


There are a lot of Barbie Collies at my training club. There are also working bred BCs. Of the two of those that I love the most one is working bred and one is sport bred. Either would make wonderful pets/companions. They both do agility and rally.


The only way to know that a dog is working bred is to buy from the breeder. In rescue, we don't know, either, thought we can observe behaviors and talents and make an educated guess.


Kathy Robbins

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You've gotten some great feedback here, especially that border collies do tend to go into what I call shelter shock pretty quickly, and when that happens you're not going to get a true sense of the dog until he's out of that environment.


10 years ago I adopted an approximately 1 1/2 year old border collie who'd been a stray and was taken to a shelter. He reportedly wasn't doing well in the shelter at all and was transferred to a rescue after about 2 weeks. Pretty malnourished, lots of changes (shelter, 15 hr. transport with lots of hand offs, foster home, vetting including neutering) in a short period of time. I met him 13 days after he'd come into the rescue. He was still very wary of people but there was that spark of possibility, so I took a chance on him. At first he had no interest in toys, didn't seem to know how to play with another dog or with me, didn't seem to have had any training at all, including house training. But every day he interacted more and more and regained his confidence. It didn't all happen within 2 weeks, which some people believe is the "honeymoon period" for dogs to acclimate to their new homes (an excellent trainer here who works extensively with shelter and rescue dogs says realistically for any dog it's more like 3 months), but in 6 months time he'd regained his confidence and learned everything he needed to become a therapy dog. For the 10 years since then, I've thanked my lucky stars every single day that I took a chance on this guy who's turned out to be a once in a lifetime dog for me.


As for his size, remember that border collies, especially the working bred dogs, have a huge variation in size. So a 30 lb. male may smaller than average, but it's certainly not unheard of.


As to your last question, I don't think there's really any way for you to know for sure if he's just a pretty face or has the true border collie personality and intelligence. You might consider visiting him daily, volunteering to take him for some walks and see if he opens up to you more as he gets to know you. Of course you risk someone else snapping him up in the meantime.


And/or you could ask the shelter if you could have a trial period with him, even if it's only as short as a couple of weeks. Some shelters will do that, though some do not. Shelters' adoption fees are usually pretty reasonable and lower than most rescues. If they won't permit a trial period, you could always adopt him with the idea that for you it's a trial period and if you don't bond with him the way you'd hoped you could return him and consider the adoption fee a donation to the shelter.


Best wishes for the best outcome for both of you.

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Thank you all for your wisdom and input! I am very encouraged to hear your experiences. I have a feeling that I will be going back to the shelter to take another look at this petite shelter boy at the beginning of next week. I work weekend nights so Monday is the soonest I will be able to get back there. I have a feeling that if he is still available, he won't be after I get back there! :wub:


Thank you again all so much! I can't tell you how much I appreciate hearing your experiences!

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This little terrier mix I have now was pretty much kennel-bound and shaking for two days after I brought her home. At one point, I just picked her up and held her on my lap for five minutes or more, hugging her and assuring her she was safe, as she trembled. I honestly thought maybe she had Parkinson's.


She is so ridiculously spoiled and feisty now; I can't believe she was every that scared dog.


Go get that little man. :)

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If I came across such a dog in a shelter, I would not hesitate to adopt him if I were in the market. He sounds fine to me, and I would bet it won't take long to bring out the confident active dog in him.


As for Barbie Collie, if he is to be a pet dog and you found him in a shelter, there's no reason not to get that dog if you want him.


Barbie Collies are generally not that small, so in this case I would tend to doubt that he is one.


Please let us know if you got him.

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Apologies for the radio silence. I'm currently suffering from some kind of gastrointestinal bug and have been down for a week.


I did go back to the shelter intending to adopt the Little Shelter Dog, but he had already been adopted. Good for him, not so much for me. So, my search continues.


I scour petfinder.com daily, sometimes multiple times a day, and have search parameters set for email alerts. I may be too hung up on finding another BCx like Lewie. I know that's a long shot but I also know I'm still grieving for him.


This too, shall pass, but damn, I miss my right-hand man. :(

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I'm sorry -- for your sake -- to hear that. But like Jovi I believe you'll find a great new companion when the time's right.


Sorry about the GI bug. I had it too (in upstate NY, so it really must be going around). It was awful. Don't be surprised if there's a brief but intense round 2 about a week later. Or maybe I just got a double whammy with a second GI bug.


And, yeah, it can make a very long time to get over a loss like that . . . if we ever really do. But it will gt better. Probably never go away, but it'll be less intense and more manageable.

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D'elle, yes, I have put in adoption apps with both Border Collie Rescue of Texas and also Border Collie Rescue and Rehab of Texas. I did that shortly after I lost Lewie so the paperwork and legwork should already be done. I do follow BCRT on FB and check both their sites pretty regularly.


And, as the wonderful folks here have said, the right dog is out there, somewhere, maybe waiting just as much for me as I am for him.


Again, I can't tell you how much your words and shoulders are appreciated. *tears*

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