Just a quick update on little miss Kestral.  She continues to do very well and to fit in quite nicely in my household.  Well, as nicely as any foster dog can possibly fit in after only being here for 10 days.  Ross still dislikes her, and my cats are getting very tired of her.  She has become completely obsessed with them and is happy to spend her entire day “working” them.  

This, of course, is not good and I am starting to do some work at building value in other things.  This extreme obsession with cats could become problematic if she doesn’t get her brain trained for other things.  I think she might work sheep, and really wish I had some sheep to try her on.  Even if I could, the snow is too deep right now.  But next weekend I am going to a conference around 5 hours away.  I think they have less snow there, and I know two people in the region with sheep farms.  Since I’ll have her with me (nothing like going to an academic conference with four dogs in tow!) I will see if I can at least walk her up to some sheep and see how she does.  

Of course, even if she does want to work sheep, it will be tough finding her a home that will do so.  Such homes exist, but most herding people are not interested in a puppy of unknown lineage and working potential.  So it probably is a waste of time to introduce her to stock, but I want to do it anyway.  Something tells me that this dog has a mission and I need to figure out what it is.  

Today Kess started to be a lot more outgoing than she has been since she arrived.  She either was sick, or (more likely), she is finally starting to get over the stress of her previous life.  I can’t help but wonder if that has anything to do with being fed raw.  Her poor body was so pudgy and out of shape when I got her than she could barely drag herself around in the snow for more than a few minutes.  She still has very poor stamina, but she’s definitely slimming down and toning up.  And at the same time, she’s perking up mentally.  The sluggishness of her brain seems to be clearing along with the sluggishness of her body.  

Of course this means that I have more puppy on my hands than I started with two weeks ago, but that’s ok.  Border collie puppies should be fiesty and get into trouble if you don’t pay attention.  Today she was pacing around the kitchen, harassing the cats and trying to get them to run.  Fat chance with my cats – they just ignore her completely until she bugs them so much (by biting them, for example) that they turn around and SWAT!  Then they look away as if it was just a fly they whacked and ignore the puppy now cowering on the ground.

But Kess comes right back for more and is not easily deterred.  This is one reason I think she needs to go to a home with some skills and that will give her a job.  Left to her own devices she will find her own jobs, and she will not be easily deterred from them.  She is a perfect candidate to develop the sort of neurotic obsessive behaviours that many border collies have.  I hope to avoid that outcome for her, so will be introducing her to agility and herding, hopefully over the next couple of weeks. 

I really get myself into trouble when I start putting this much into my foster dogs.  I long ago stopped doing much training with them, and mostly just teach them basic house manners such as how to be quiet in a crate, how to sit, not grab food, not charge out the door and to walk nicely on a leash.  Basic pet stuff.  Beyond that, I leave it up to their adopters to do more.  Most people don’t do much more with their dogs, and I have trained so many dogs now that putting a foundation of obedience or agility into a dog is no longer something I care to do unless it is my own dog.  If the adopter doesn’t care for the dog to be trained beyond the very basics, then it doesn’t really matter to me either.

When I put a lot into a dog, I start to get very, very picky about where it goes.  I make sure I am always happy about where the dog goes, and my number one criteria is always that the dog be loved as an equal and a family member.  But if I’ve put a lot of time and energy into either training, or getting them healthy, I start to set the bar higher and higher for the adoptive home in terms of raw feeding, holistic health care, how much training they’ll do and so on.   If I put too much into them, they don’t end up going anywhere.  Case in point: Mira and Evie (my second cat).  I don’t have time or resources for a fourth dog, plus I have plans for when I’ll be adding that fourth dog, and where I’ll be getting it from.  

Nevertheless, every now and then a foster comes into my life, looks up at me and says “teach me.”  This puppy is saying that to me now.  Damn it.

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