Saturday, January 8, 2011

Border Collies Take Over

The story of DreamCatcher farm continues....

When my first Border collie, McGuffin, died I decided that I wanted the next one to be a rescue. So I contacted Jennifer who was one of the co-founders of Mo Kan Border Collie Rescue. To find a dog that was compatible with Jenny, we agreed to foster (the infamous “foster to adopt program”). One foster dog Charley (short for Charlene) had let’s say a “difficult temperament.” We discovered that Charley had been sent to a "board and train" trainer that used shock collars for training…on a 5 mo old puppy. So despite being less than a year old she was now dog and human aggressive. It became obvious that she needed someone that understood her issues and was ready to deal with them. We set about finding out what kind of job she could do as well as taming the wolf within.

There were some difficult moments like when she tried to attack a Seeing Eye dog in training at PetCo. Then she jumped out the window at a sheep farm and performed unauthorized herding for awhile before she was recaptured. We discovered she had a gift for flyball and was pretty good at herding too. Although, surprisingly with her temperament, she could be bullied by the sheep and never has “gripped” a sheep.

Her temperament training yielded some results too. She learned to not go after a dog unless it put its nose in her face and to stay away from people she didn’t know or trust. She eventually learned to withdraw rather than nip when someone tried to pet her. 

Jen and I started taking other rescues to test their herding tendencies and continued to train our dogs in herding. That moment when a dog “turns on” and those old instincts kick is breathtaking and tears came to my eyes more than once.

Nora & Mick
After my former partner left he took Jenny with him (we won’t go there). What luck that her breeder had a litter of pups and I got my fourth Border collie Mick. Jennifer, after some practical reservations, got his sister Nora and training began in earnest when they were old enough. We went to many clinics-Jen much more than I as my bones have grown old.

Mick and Nora progressed beautifully and Nora’s walk up and Mick’s power were outstanding. Our friend Caryn took a third pup from the litter and bought some sheep to work on the ten acres she and her husband owned. This was also the site of the Border collie rescue reunion for several years.

We were able to work and train our own dogs on Caryn’s flock and the dream of owning our own sheep someday began and thus the connection between the Border collies and DreamCatcher Farm. At some point each of us began to see sheep as more than something for our dogs to herd and the wish to have some property began to grow in both of us.  So on an impulse we went to look at what is now DreamCatcher farm. What followed was life changing for both of us...

To be continued!

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