I’ve neglected to post my fosters up here but let me say: it has been an adventure!
Since owning Io I’ve wanted to involve my spare time with fostering for a rescue, mainly ARCBCR. I volunteered at events, transported, and helped in other small ways but I was never able to foster. I wanted to train, work, and care of herding dogs but mainly border collies. I have a fanatical obsession with the breed (working style, natural ability, instinct, athletic ability, jump height, weight, male/female, breeder/rescue, genetics, health…) and wanted to help the poor degenerates that no one wanted.
Until joining Eastern Herding Dog Rescue in 2014 I thought dogs lingered in rescue. ARCBCR moved (maybe) 10-15 dogs a year. Maybe. I had thought all rescues functioned in this capacity.
EHDR is nearing there 100th adoption in just 10 months. Let me say it this way: that’s 10+ dogs a month that they’ve moved since starting in February 2014. Since signing on as a foster at the end of August I’ve fostered and adopted out 9 dogs.
It has been incredible and fulfilling (and, some days, challenging) to foster with the rescue. I admire the group for what they have accomplished in just 10 months and I’m hoping for their continued success in the future.
It has given me the opportunity to train different types of dogs and enhance my experience, it has opened the doorway to new friendships, and it has completed a dream: fostering!
If you want to support EHDR head over to their Facebook Page and give them a like.
I asked on my Facebook a week back, mainly to irritate my roommates:
“How many is too many?”
I have 3 dogs and between my roommates and I we have 4 cats(… 3 of which are mine). Our furniture has a collection of hair, furballs are always creeping along the tiled floor like frightening creatures (these lumps put dust bunnies to shame), and there is always a suspicious smear that may or may not be drool.
Despite the hair and the mud and the lingering wet dog smell my dogs have never done their business anywhere but outside (I’ll ignore the times my roommate gave all natural cookies to the pups and I slept through an explosive accident) and I treat monthly against fleas and ticks for all my crew. Heartworm prevention for the dogs, toys, raw/high priced kibble. I want to make this point as I take the care of my animals very seriously.
My youngest pup will be a year in August and I’m training him for agility and herding both which he does beautifully in. Seeing him work is incredible and it drives me to start my own breeding program to ensure that the instincts, drive, and ability of the border collie are preserved.
The question came about because I had started debating on buying my next border collie in the next 6-12 months to start the foundation of my own breeding program.
The Facebook response was EXPLOSIVE! And the response was basically the same: as many as you can care for.
In some cases, I’ve seen where 1 dog is too much for one household. In other cases someone who has five dogs, is competing and caring for them, is looking for the newest member of their canine crew.
So, the analytical organizer inside of all of us (or is it just me?) started making lists the moment I considered bringing another puppy into the fold and here is what I devised (minus the cost of the puppy):
Puppy Vaccinations ($150/2 visits)
Flea/tick preventitive for a year ($268/ 12 month K9 Advantix off of 1800petmeds)
Heartworm preventitive for a year ($72/12 months)
Good Quality Food ($80-$600/12 months)
Bedding ($50/1 bed)
These are the immediate expenses that your puppy/dog will incur in a year. This does not include emergency visits, boarding, training, and costs of showing/competing with your dog.
Not only is there a financial expense to owning a dog… do you have the time and energy to care for a puppy and dog?
This is a topic I’m passionate about, that I’m driven to fight for. The only way to end this trend is to make the people who support it aware that they are supporting the continued breeding of sick and ill puppies.
As much as I support rescue I also support responsible breeders who take time to produce quality, healthy puppies. This could easily turn into a ramble but I’m striving now to reach out to the public and explain the differences between a reputable breeder vs. puppy mill breeder vs. backyard breeder.
I’ll break it down for you:
No health clearances on mother/father
Puppies are kept in an area that is not clean (either indoors, outdoors, or both)
Owner does not compete with adults
The bitches will are sometimes bred every heat cycle
No vet documentation clearing puppies as healthy pups
Adults and puppies are fed cheap commercial food
Price of puppy is “cheap”
Puppies sometimes sold as young as 6 weeks of age (which is illegal in the state of Virginia but still done)
No guarantees from breeder
They have no interest in your reasons for having a puppy
Puppy Mill Puppies
Breeders that advertise 4+ breeds of puppies for sale
Specialize in toy breeds
Parents not on premise
Parents do not have their health clearances
Puppies are sold through ‘companies’ or pet shops
Advertise “designer” puppies
They follow many of the same regulations as backyard breeders
Adult dogs are on premises
Female is not bred on each cycle
Contract is involved
Breeder asks questions
Shows the establishment where dogs are kept
Have titles competition
If you are considering buying a puppy do not feel that you are inconveniencing a breeder by asking them questions. And if they act like a jerk about your inquiries? Move on to your next option because dealing with them in the future could be somewhat of a hassle. What questions should you ask the breeder?
What is their policy if you can no longer keep the puppy?
Answer: The best breeders consider their puppies family and will ask that you return the puppy to them.
What is their health guarantee on their puppies?
Answer: All breeding stock should have had hips/eyes checked at the very least but research your breed and see what testing is recommended. In border collies many will have elbows checked as well.
Have the puppies had their age appropriate vaccinations and worming?
Answer: Yes, yes, yes. This is not a compromise. Breeders who have not had their puppies vet checked with
How long have you bred dogs?
Answer: The longer that a person has been breeding a dog, the better. It shows commitment and dedication to improving the breed. If they have not been breeding dogs for very long ask their goals and reason for breeding.
How long have they been living with this breed?
Answer: Typically you want a breeder who has been working and living with their chosen breed for years. There are a number of people who compete and see a quality in the breed they want to refine.
Are the puppies socialized?
Answer: Yes. Puppies who have been socialized extensively (and the goal should be 100 people before the age of 8 weeks) will make your puppy a happy, more well-adjusted companion to live with.
What have the puppies been exposed to?
Answer: This has more to due to the sights/sounds/experiences that the puppies encounter. Similar to socialization your puppy should come into contact with a variety of noises, textures, sights, smells, and obstacles. This not only exposes your puppy to day-to-day living but will also prepare them for the adventures of the world outside their home.
Meeting the parents/facility?
Answer: Breeders who care for their puppies and breeding stock should have no problem showing you where their dogs/puppies are kept, what their day-to-day living includes.
Answer: After contacting past puppy buyers the breeder should have no problem giving you the name, numbers, and information the breeder should have no problem supplying you this information. Another good reference would be the veterinarian who will give an honest, unbiased opinion.
Answer: All breeders should have a contract: this not only protects them but it should also outline the guarantees and services that are offered once the puppy is under your care. Some breeders have a limited registration contract which specifies that you spay/neuter your dog. Breeders who are hesitant or unwilling to draw up a contract might have something to hide or are unwilling to take responsibility for their puppies. A reputable breeder will screen their prospective puppy buyers to place their puppies in the best possible homes.
Does the breeder belong to the breed club/Kennel Club?
Answer: The dogs under the breeder should be able to produce registration to either the parent club/AKC and in many cases the dogs will be dual registered. The AKC has a Breeder of Merit award it gives to breeders after meeting specific requirements.
A responsible breeder will also want to ask you questions and may request references. Responsible rescues will ask the same and have you complete an adoption application before contacting you.
So, the problem is this: by backyard breeders and puppy mills continuing their bad practices they are placing unhealthy puppies into homes. By breeders not taking responsibility of their puppies they are allowing families to purchase their puppies and throw them into shelters when the family cannot handle the energy/personality once their puppy grows up.
Adopt first or purchase from a responsible breeder.
Body language… the key to understanding your dog. Every day owners and strangers mistaken the body language of their dog and sometimes irreversible damage is done.
With Michaux I never worried about her reaction with people: when we go to the dog park Michaux wants to gossip with the humans instead of sniffing butts with the other dogs. Io, on the other hand, was a different story. Up until about 1.5 years of age she loved everyone- and everyone loved her! For a border collie she was extremely petite, 26 pounds and knee tall, and everyone wanted to say hello to her wiggling hind parts.
When Io hit her full maturity she began to notice something and the only fault that came with it was her herding inheritance: crazy children under 6 translated in her mind to stupid sheep. The acute attention changed from submissive adoration to working border collie. On a few occasions she would lunge at children but I had the forethought to keep her under control. I began working with her, forcing her to sit in parks where children ran around and screamed and at 3.5 years of age she seems to have mellowed out with them.
Though Io was never categorized as aggression many people would allow their children to rush up to her and STICK THEIR FACES IN HER FACE!!
No, NO, NO!
People are making strides to enforce certain precautions to not only to ensure the safety of their dog but to alert the people around them that they need space. Called “The Yellow Dog Project” it is designed to alert people that the dog needs space. There are a multitude of reasons to give any dog space and by placing the yellow ribbon in plain site people will know that your dog needs space.
A diagnosis of aggression in a dog can be a fatal sentencing, especially if that canine is with a family that doesn’t want to bother rehabilitating the dog. After all, just as people are not born evil many dogs are not born knowing aggression.
It is a trait that is learned and then reinforced as the dog is able to obtain what they want through this behavior.
I pride myself on socializing and training my dogs and both my girls love attention when we are out in public. Loki is a little different and the fact that he is not a social dog complicates his life since he is considered a “flashy border collie”. When we are in public he will approach people but it needs to be his idea and if the people turn toward him he shuts down.
When attending social events Loki has never shown aggression and with reassurance his anxiety lessens.
The issue came up when I took him to a vet that is local to my home for emergency care on two occasions. The first happened with my roommate when she took him up for a rashy spot on his hindquarter and the vet tech said he tried to bite her when she tried pulling him on the scale. The second time I went after he had a vomiting episode and the tech instantly wanted him muzzled despite the lack of aggressive response. Once dubbed as an aggressive dog the attitude changes toward the canine.
I’ve been raised with dogs my whole life, I’ve been around aggressive dogs, and in the past 4 years of working rescue I’ve seen dogs with different levels of aggression come and go. I’m not an expert at dog behavior but I’m fairly confident that Loki, while fearful, has no aggression. I left the vet feeling infuriated and injured. I came to the conclusion that I would never return to that vet and if my boy had a problem I would work with him to help him recover.
While I brooded over the possibility of my boy having aggression I made an appointment with Joyce Sobey, K9 Tutor located in Powhatan, VA who I admire and trust her opinion. I told her the back story and my concerns and she began trying to aggravate Loki to see if she could spur him into action. He never once acted out against her, both while I was in sight and out of sight.
She told me I had made the correct decision in leaving the vet.
Over the last few years I’ve had many people ask if I can help them train their dogs.
Until I had my own I never realized the importance of training dogs and many people who have never had a trained dog understand the difference it makes. When I moved in to my current household the family living here (who has since left) had an obnoxious Dachshund and an ill-mannered JRT-Chihuahua mix(they tried to convince me that this dog was a Chihuahua and while a small fraction of it may have been it looked and acted like a JRT). These dogs had no potty training experience and they were certainly never taught manners.
I couldn’t believe the amount of requests I had pouring in from people to “help” them retrain their dogs to go potty outside. Being in rescue, many often threatened that they were simply going to have to “get rid” of the dog because they couldn’t train him/her to go potty outside— this only infuriated me. I’m thinking: Hello! Where were you 5 years ago when this cute little puppy needed someone to take it out every 45 minutes to an hour to go potty? Oh, you just little the cute little baby piddle in the floor and cleaned it up? Before I get off on a tangent I’ll say this: many of the small dog owners I’ve talked with have this number one complaint about their dogs.
The second complaint?
People have a hard time understanding that even though they’ve worked 8-10 hour days or have been out on a shopping binge that when you come home worn out and tired your dog needs EXERCISE! Many breeds are content with 30 minutes of thorough exercise every single day to meet their fulfillment needs. Higher energy breeds require more where toy breeds may require little to none depending on your dog. If Fido doesn’t enjoy fetch or Frisbee taking a stroll through the neighborhood is perfect for many reasons.
Dogs love exploring. The more interesting the sights and smells, the better.
Exercise. Even if it is a leisurely stroll they are given the ability to walk stretch their legs.
Bonding. Nothing strengthens the bond between human and beast than a little one-on-one time with your pup.
PLEASE DO NOT use this excuse: “My dog pulls me everywhere”.
Simple solution: buy an easy walk harness or gentle lead if you are still working on a loose leash walk with your pup. Have children? Turn off the television and video games and get everyone outside. You, and your pup, will be happier after exercise.