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My husband and I wanted a Border Collie. We tried to prepare & do our homework. We talked to several people and read up about Border Collies. High energy dogs need plenty of exercise. Were we going to be physically able to handle such a high energy dog? We have a safe fenced in back yard, and keep our gates locked. We have a small back yard, so we take advantage of living near a large park. We knew leash walks, playing ball, running with the dog, (exercise in general) is necessary for all dogs, especially a high powered working breed like a Border Collie. When we got our Yorkie, I had back surgery and couldn’t walk. I tried to learn everything I could to train this high spirited little dog. Training starts the day you bring your dog home, ALONG WITH A VISIT TO YOUR VET. Dogs are social animals. They need to be in your home and they need you to socialize them with other dogs and people.

I found several books, and a puppy training video by Dr. Ian Dunbar very helpful. (the video is available, as are many good dog training books in the library) We had also taken a Basic Obedience class where our Yorkie received a “Top Dog” award. I have given beginner classes myself for Basic Obedience. We both had knowlege of basic obedience and experience in helping dogs with certain behavior problems. My husband is excellent in agility training, as he has been in AKC Nationals. We had fostered different breeds of dogs, and had an idea of what type of dog we wanted. I think I’ve checked out most of the training books in the library, plus, purchased a few.

After contacting Mo-Kan Border Collie Rescue we decided to look at a “shy, little, Border Collie” On a snowy, cold, winter evening we drove out to the country and met what we now believe is THE BEST little Border Collie we could hope for. Freedom was more than shy, she was afraid of everyone and everything. Some well intentioned people told us Freedom could never be trained. She was 2 years old and hid in the corner of our family room for three months. It was hard just trying to get her to go outdoors, where she also seemed terrified. Freedom just turned 6 yr. old this month. She now loves to play ball, and run in agility. My granddaughter has been extremely successful in running Freedom in agility. Freedom is in AKC, Excellent A now and will soon be in Excellent B, and working on her Master Agility Championship. My granddaughter is 12 years old and having Freedom enables her to be an AKC Junior Handler and receive points toward a scholarship. Having Freedom made us try harder & learn even more about dogs and shy submissive behavior. It was an extremely tough job to get such a fearful dog to do agility, my husband has helped both my granddaughter and our dog to achieve this very tough accomplishment. In the beginning she was constantly struggling with fear issues. Now we are seeing some happy tail wags!

We’ve had people come to us expressing certain ideas about different breeds of dogs. Our Yorkie has never been yapping & barking, nor has he been a “lap dog”, and our Border Collie has never been hyper. She is calm and gentle. We love them, and know it is best for them to be treated as dogs, not humans. We do not feel sorry for Freedom because she is overly fearful. That would be nurturing & make it worse. Instead we try to give her the leadership she needs. For those first three months, we got down on the family room floor, facing sideways and away from Freedom. we threw toys out, which my Yorkie gladly played with. The first time I lifted my arm to throw the toy, Freedom ducked as if I were going to kill her! I ignored her fears and had a good time playing with my Yorkie. After days of doing this, FINALLY, one day Freedom slowly, quietly came out and softly picked a toy up in her mouth and took it back to her corner. This was the BEGINNING. I knew then, I could help Freedom. Now, a few yrs. later, with her tail up, instead of between her legs, she fetches toys and balls for me. We’ve taken this POSITIVE training to the front yard, the park and other places. It really helped us introduce Freedom to more people, and to the sport of agility. Freedom was afraid of the teeter, in agility, but having the ball in front of her pushed her forward in a positive way (leaving the fear behind). We added peanut butter to the end of the teeter, to enforce the “touch” command. We keep dogs experiences positive. Our dogs respect us as their human leaders, because we took time to study and learn what their particular needs were.

Freedom needed to play, she needed obedience, and she needed agility to bring her out of her fears. She slowly gained confidence. When my granddaughter comes over, she runs away & hides from Freedom. Freedom gladly runs to find her. I hold Freedom back and my granddaughter runs around the pond in the park, then I release Freedom with permission to “GO!,” she quickly catches up to Jordan where she is given tummy rubs and/or some yummy treats. Freedom chases us, we never chase her. Freedom sits by the front door and WAITS till we tell her it is OK to follow us out. Freedom WATCHES us. She watches our body language and connects it with a word. She wants to please us. If she misunderstands, it is because we aren’t giving the right signals. She has learned several tricks, her favorite is DEAD DOG (I can see her smile when she plays like a dead dog) She also thinks she’s pretty cool when she jumps up high to fetch a ball. Freedom occasionally will walk up to people, to smell them and see who they are. She’s had so many people in agility approach her and give her treats that she’s forgetting her fear of people, and starting to check people out. Freedom may always have some fear problems, but she is 80% better and happier than she was. AND, we will always be there for Freedom to help her go forward away from her fear zone.

A comment by Dr. Ian Dunbar in his video really stuck with me. It was something like this: “ You can jerk a dog around all you want and he will probably do what you tell him to do. BUT, he won’t like it. More important he won’t like you for treating him this way.” My husband and I love our dogs, we want them to respect us. We are persistent, yet, gentle in our training. We believe our dogs see us as their human pack leaders.

I worry about all of the homeless dogs that were once PURCHASED from breeders. A high price to pay for a piece of paper. I can’t help but believe if money weren’t a part of this, there wouldn’t be much breeding. To take a puppy away from it’s mother and put it in a cage in a Pet Store doesn’t have anything to do with love. It is a sad sight. Purchasing a pup from a Pet Store will only subject more pups to the same fate. Shelters now claim to have 40% specific breed dogs. A shelter dog is being euthanized an estimated every 6 seconds. If you want a certain breed LOOK, buy a photo. If you want a living, breathing, best friend, get a dog from a Rescue Organization and learn about it’s needs. You will receive much more than you give. We know, we have Freedom.

Dan & Linda


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