Tag Archives: adoption

The Herding Group: Part I Border Collie Original post: November,2011

Rocket walking toward me


In Texas, the most popular of the herding group appears, at least in my area, to be the Border Collie, Australian Cattle Dog,(Blue Heeler or Red Heeler) and the Australian Shepherd.
I love dogs that belong to the herding goup. But I am drawn to these dogs in a special way. I suppose that I like their agility and intelligence. 
A little knowledge can help you make the right decision about whether to adopt a herding dog. Will the dog be suitable for his/her/family’s life style? Can you meet the demands of these high energy dogs?  If you adopt a herding dog please make a  COMMITMENT FOR THE LIFE  of these wonderful dogs. Don’t be guilty of adding to the number of animals surrendered to a shelter.

Rescue groups try very hard to save as many dogs as possible from almost always a sure death. But even rescue groups have limits and most times can only pull (take an animal from the shelter) as many, as these individuals can care for in their homes.

The number one issue with the herding dog is that (almost) all of them are extremely smart, highly energetic, agile, love to play, and require some type of activity that provides an outlet for their energy. Simply put, most of them need a job or an activity that gives the dog and the owner fun and satisfaction. IF THESE NEEDS ARE NOT MET- 98% of the time the dog becomes bored which leads the dog to become destructive,  bark incessantly, dig up the yard, might become a biter, and in essence will have become a nuisance and no longer a pet but a pest. At that point, the owner, will be tired of dealing with a dog that appears neurotic and is too difficult to manage.

1.  BORDER COLLIE-  These dogs are quite different from other dogs breeds mainly because their PATTERN OF BEHAVIOR IS HARD WIRED. This incredible dog comes in different coat lengths and various color combinations. The most popular color is black and white. Other colors include merle, white with spots/patches of black or brown, solid black, and red and white.  Some  Border Collies have been taught to follow more than 200 plus voice commands. One Border Collie in Europe can follow 500 word commands.  CHASER:  A Border Collie (in the USA) that is 7 years old and knows 1,022 words (nouns).  

This breed was developed  for herding sheep.  Arguably, the Border Collie is the best all around dog for herding sheep.  These dogs are said to possess the ability to make rational decisions: “think for themselves” or figure out what move to make that will result in a favorable outcome. And, as many people know, this dynamo is adept and excels at frisbee and agility. Some of the champion frisbee dogs in the U.S. were adopted from a shelter.

The Border Collie is rated as highly trainable, possesses a high degree of intelligence, and is  quick to learn.  These are dogs that are very sensitive and punishment or a harsh voice will get you no where fast. Good basic obedience is a must and if you do not have the time to train this dog and/or enroll the dog in an obedience class and give it plenty of exercise with a job to do, then PLEASE DO NOT GET A BORDER COLLIE. The Border Collie can become an integral part of your family. They make excellent pets and like being around people but always give them something to do:  catching a frisbee, chasing a ball, herding some sheep or goats or agility for at least an hour or more per day will keep your dog happy.  I can not stress enough, the importance of proper socialization and at least basic obedience combined with sufficient exercise.

The Purina Incredible Dog Challenge is shown on TV about 2-3 times a year. I watch the program each time it is aired. The dominant breed in agility and frisbee continues to be the Border Collie. The dogs, to me, are unbelievable. But so are their human owners/trainers. These dogs display a level of skill that takes years of training:  The winner of the frisbee contest was a BC from Japan whose owner/trainer is just 21 years old. Human and dog worked as one.  This dog performed some incredible tricks that were jaw dropping.

Where to find a Border Collie puppy/or adult dog?  Look no further than your local shelter or rescue group for a BC. PLEASE NEVER BUY A PUPPY FROM A PET STORE( these puppies most of the time come from puppy mills).  If you want to spend lots of money then do your homework and purchase a puppy from a reputable breeder. Never buy a puppy unless you can visit the breeder’s home and ask to see the mother and the father of the puppies.  The condition of the adult dogs speaks volumes.  Are they clean and free of ticks and fleas? Is the living area or the kennel clean?  Does the owner have a relaxed manner and does he or she make direct eye contact when answering your questions? Has the puppy received any kind of socialization ?  Can the owner produce authentic records of vaccinations?  Ask to speak with the veterinarian who handles health issues for the breeder’s dogs. Make sure that you are really speaking with a veterinarian or better yet visit the veterinarian in person and ask for proof of vaccinations, de-wormings, and other health issues. Unscrupulous breeders are known to give false vaccination and registration papers. (See story of “Saving Annie” and you will get a good dose of reality from this post). How does the puppy interact with you? Do some research on the Internet and learn as much as you can about dogs in the herding group.

Rocket in his favorite place      10/13/2011  12 years old in this photo

My rescue of sorts:  I read the pets ads in the paper each  day as well as the lost and found. About 6 years ago I noticed an ad for a BC to be given away. The ad said he loved to play frisbee.  Why would someone give away a frisbee playing dog?  They are such fun to play with and to own!!! I noted that the ad would be in the paper for a few days, disappear and then reappear. Of course that peaked my interest. Mystified- I watched for the ad for about two weeks or more. I finally called the number and the owner said she had given the dog away three times but that he was not working out for the latest adopter. She told me that he was (7) years old, loved to play frisbee, was terrified of riding in a car, and that ” we are giving him up because we are moving to a house next to a golf course.”  I could see that the family had little regard for the family pet. Her five year old daughter, she said, loved the dog and she wanted the dog to go to a really good home. “We don’t want to give him up but he just can not go with us to our new house.” I thought this was a poor excuse to give up a dog, so why not, I thought, continue to live where you are so that the dog can remain a part of your family? However it was not my place nor my intent to question the woman.  There was one thing for certain- she was adamant that the dog would not be moving with the family.

I had always wanted a Border Collie and even though I had four other dogs, I for some ridiculous reason thought I would be the one to save this dog from a  terrible fate that the owner could not envision. I reasoned that if he had not worked our for three other people then the woman would just give him to anyone and the outcome would surely not be in the dog’s favor.  So over the phone and sight unseen I said, “I will take him and give him a good home.” I  gave her a brief history of some of my  pet experiences and rescues, etc. and the woman seemed relieved. “A farmer has him right now. He was about to bring him back but I don’t want him back anymore. I’ll give him a call and tell him to bring him to you.”  Believe me that farmer and his wife brought the dog over within an hour. I was waiting in the front yard when the people arrived in a pickup with the dog in a crate in the back of the truck. I helped the man get the “orphaned” dog from the crate and the first thing that I noticed were his eyes: wild-eyed and glassy which to me denoted utter fright: a fear of the unknown and desertion- from living in a home where he was cherished by a little girl and then suddenly going to live at different homes all within a few weeks.  “Well, I’ll tell ya. This fella runs off and he barks at my wife’s cat.  Won’t stay at the house. No, I didn’t put him in a fenced yard. He acts wild.”  Thought he might be good company but he just don’t seem to like me. ” The farmer handed me a small bag of dog food,  leash,  frisbee, and a stainless steel food bowl.  As the man got in his truck his parting words were, “hope ya have good luck with him. I reckon he needs patience and we don’t have none of that. Too  much trouble to deal with a dog that acts  just plain stupid. ” And with his parting words, he and his wife were soon out of sight.  I stood in the driveway looking at a beautiful  black and white Border Collie who was very traumatised. He was shaking and I assumed it was from the ride in back of the pickup as I remembered the woman saying that he was afraid of vehicles.

I knelt beside him and looked into his eyes that seemed to speak volumes: sadness, fear, trauma; the whole works of a dog that had been thrown into the unknown. I ran my hands through his thick glossy fur and stroked his head for a few minutes. I hoped with all my heart that he would believe that he was here to stay. So, I was now the owner, of a very fearful Border Collie who was probably trying to understand what the past two weeks were about and why he was no longer with the family that he had known since he was a puppy. 

 I learned quite a few lessons from Rocket. He gradually adapted to his new home and eventually bonded with me. He was a quick learner and I wish that I had had more time to work with him. One of the first things I did was help him overcome his fear of getting into a vehicle. I used treats as a reward. Within two days time he was jumping into my vehicle and ready for a ride.  It was just as simple as that.
Rocket continued to bark not just in the morning but throughout the day. I had to do something about the barking- so I purchased a large metal crate from Tractor Supply ( which had the best prices). I put Rocket in a crate in a spare bedroom. This stopped the barking. It seems that Rocket just wanted to be in the house and to be part of a family again. I did not trust him with my cats so he was always supervised when out of the crate. I put him in the crate while I was at work.  During the day he was free to roam the fenced yard with the other dogs. It took several years before I felt he would be okay around the cats.
He goes wherever I go in the house and at night sleeps beside the bed near me. I am sure that all of this would have transpired much sooner had I not been working at the time. Rocket is not a perfect dog but then I never expected perfection. I just know that I have given him a good life- he gets to play ball- no more frisbee because he began limping and I realize d that his age was a factor. So, he gets to chase a ball around and doesn’t have to jump. His biggest love was to catch a ball or the frisbee but now, I roll the ball so that he doesn’t make any jumps to retrieve it. For the past 5 years the golf cart appears to be his favorite activity. Sometimes he beats me to the cart and is the perfect gentleman as he sits down opposite me and eagerly waits for the  ride to begin. Our property is a hill and a  shallow valley, so I use the cart several times a day and Rocket is always on the cart ready for a ride. I find it ironic that his former owners moved to the edge of a golf course and now the dog they once owned rides in a golf cart several times a day.
Rocket is now about 12 years old. My vet said he has the heart that sounds like a young dog. I really was happy to hear those words. HE DOES GET HIS EXERCISE. When I go out to feed the animals he races around and around the yard as if he is rounding something up. He has worn a path that looks like a cow trail. The trail  is quite visible. At any rate he is getting his exercise and he is a happy dog. He always comes when I call him to the house. That look of fear? Well that vanished after a few days. I believe that he knew he was here to stay . I am so glad that I made that rash decision to take him- sight unseen that day.
Photos and post:  Yvonne  
 Addendum: This post was written in the fall of 2011 about the same I learned that Rocket was in renal (kidney) failure. I was able to keep Rocket going for approximately 8 months. I used Ringer’s lactate IV fluids ( which is also given sub cu (subcutaneous) under the skin with the needle inserted between the shoulder blades. I also gave him vitamin B12 and B complex under the skin.  There are  two medications that can be used but one is very expensive. The other medication Rocket, could not tolerate at all. In June, 2012 Rocket was euthanized after 2 days of not eating and not  being able to stand up. I know he was ready to go to doggie heaven.  I miss Rocket a lot. He was not my dog for his entire lifetime but I think he liked his home with me. And, I would like to believe that he loved me, as much I loved him.

Rocket: declining in health but still very alert


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The Pitifull Pittie Puppy (and) How Could I Say No? (Original post: March 8, 2012 11:51pm)

Before you decide to peruse or read this, the puppy in this story was a foster.  This little story for me had a bittersweet ending for I had become attached to “Spotty” and knew that as soon as he was strong and had gained weight and provided that he did not get sick, I would have to give him up to another rescuer who drove him to Austin,TX and then turned him over to another rescue organization. To this day I worry about who adopted him and if he is in a caring home that can provide for his needs and not allow him to be stolen as a fair number of pit bulls are. I think I did a very good job of getting him to a healthy weight and vigor and a puppy that was socializing very well with people, dogs, and cats,  when I had to give him up.
For various reasons, I wrote this story in detail and it is a long read if you choose to read it in entirety. Scrowl to the bottom of the story for two pictures that were taken about 2 weeks before I gave him up for adoption.

 The last week of December, I arrived  at my vet’s office with one of my older cats that needed pre-dental labs. As I entered the office I noted that my vet’s wife was not behind the desk. In fact no one was in sight nor did I hear any voices. Then as if by magic my vet’s wife and another woman emerged from an exam room and as they made their way toward me, I could see that the young woman was carrying something wrapped in a blanket. They continued talking about the something that was in the blanket and then stopped about three feet from where I was standing.

The crux of the conversation: Ms M. “well I can’t keep him here because we have some parvo puppies that are being treated. So that is out.” The young woman, “well you know that I do fostering for the shelter and I had some parvo puppies and the germs are still in my house, so I can not keep him either. I just can not bring myself to take him to the shelter because his chances of making it would be pretty slim since he is so young and undernourished.” As I stood there next to my cat in the carrier, suddenly both women looked at me. Ms. M. did not hesitate for more than 30 seconds when she took the puppy from the woman’s arms and said, “here Yvonne, you are perfect and you’ll take him won’t you?” My mouth wanted to say no but the puppy was already in my hands. I looked at the puppy and then at the two women who now were looking at me with pleading eyes.  Of course, I knew that I had been had. Well, to get on with this little story. Ms. M. told me to hold on and  then ran to the back and got a small fuzzy blanket which she wrapped around the puppy. “Yvonne, I’ll vaccinate him for free and do any labs or what ever if you take this puppy.” I looked at the puppy again and saw that it was no less a white pit bull with a black spot above his tail and some small black dots scattered over his back. Right then and there I should have made another deal to get free lab work for my cat but I did not have the sense to even think about it. I simply blurted out, “this puppy is so thin and looks pitiful. He’s going to need some fast care to turn him around.” Ms. M. then told me that, yes indeed, the puppy’s temp was 2-3 degrees below normal.  I knew that he needed some rapid intervention.

I ran from the clinic to my truck, put the puppy in my lap, turned the heater on high and made my way home. I took quick peeks at the puppy as I drove and he looked up at me with dark listless brown eyes that seemed to say, I’m safe now.” Yes, I projected human emotion into the eyes of this pitiful puppy. Swaddled in a warm blanket he still felt cold as I ran my hand over his body. I had never seen or touched a puppy so thin.

I just happened to have a helper that day. I asked him to set up a large wire crate in the den.  I filled two hot water bottles which I wrapped in towels. These were put in the carrier which was placed in the large wire crate. I put the puppy that was still wrapped in the fuzzy blanket on top of the hot water bottles and closed the door of the carrier. I then hastily soaked some Purina EN canine in warm water and then added a tad of feline Purina EN to that mix which was then placed in a shallow bowl. I offered  very small amounts about every 30 minutes until he had eaten about a cup and one half.

For additional warmth, I used portable reflector light with a 75 watt bulb that I rigged above the doorway of the cat carrier. I then opened the door of the carrier so that the puppy could feel the additional heat.  I replaced the hot water bottles with a heating pad. That evening I removed the heating pad after he was suffiently warm but left the hanging light in place.

The puppy was dehydrated.  I warmed a liter of Ringer’s Lactate in hot water in a small bucket and gave him about 75 ml  (2.5  ounces).  An 18 gauge needle is inserted under the skin between the sholder blades. Sub cutaneous is a quick method to hydrate. IV is better but the process is more difficult and involved. The warm fluids helped increase his body temperature.

By mid-afternoon of that first day he was more alert. I continued to offer small amounts of food every 2 hours. Clearly this puppy was starving and would have died that day had he not been rescued him.  Ribs, hip, and shoulder bones protruded from his frail body. There were probably too many puppies to compete for his mother’s milk. Being the runt of the liter he should have been taken into the house and given supplemental feedings along with allowing him to be the only puppy to suckle for a few minutes. That way he would be getting immunity from the mother’s milk. The temperature that morning was about 38 degrees and windy. That is when she intervened and took the puppy to my vet’s clinic. The day of his rescue the young woman who had been feeding he neighbor’s dogs noted that the did not eat nor attempt to suckle. He was lying next to an old shed. The weather that day was windy and 38 degrees.

I have yet to figure out how people have such disregard for an animal, that only wants some food, water, a warm place for shelter and at least a pat on the head now and then. These individuals had purchased a pit bull female and then a male but said to the rescuer, “we had not intended for her to have puppies.”  What a crock of dodoo. The town where I live has pit bulls coming out of the kazoo. It seems to be a status symbol among some groups of individuals. They just get a dog and toss it out or chain it in the back yard. This city has animal control but the laws are not enforced- just for some people. 

After his little body was warm he either slept or watched the action in my house.  He lay on his stomach with his head barely visible. I could see that he was taking in all the sights and sounds of the house and of my other dogs.  Spotty adjusted completely that first day. He did not whine, yelp, or bark for attention or food. Of course, I did not give him a chance to cry for food. His cage was cleaned with fresh newspaper at least twice daily.  I gave him lots of attention so that he would be accustomed to handling and petting. And lastly I allowed him to socialize with my Australian cattle dog and to come in contact with the cats.  

 I am still angry that I had to give him up even though I knew I could not keep another dog. I become too attached. I have other animals in my care. I am too busy. It is too demanding emotionally and physically.  I vow to never foster another dog.

Spotty the pit bull foster puppy

Spotty the pit bull foster puppy

Post and photographs Yvonne



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