Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Collies and Chorkies just don't mix

Max, my Chihuahua mix pound rescue, finally passed away at the age of 16. Of course, I had to get a "replacement". After searching high & low for the perfect pup, I wandered into my favorite pet store one day, & lo and behold, there was a litter of Chorkie pups! Already having a housefull of girl dogs, I asked if there were any boys in the litter. Only one was a girl, so I had pretty much my pick of the litter! There was one boy who stood out. He seemed mellower than the rest, and had the biggest ears I have ever seen! He was also very short-haired. Only the girl shared his short-haired gene. In fact, his hair was so short, he was actually bald in some spots. I picked him up and, well, as any of you dog-lovers know, that was it. He was coming home with me. I found out from the pet store owner that the pups are CKC registerable, & have a "pedigree". I further found out that dad is a 4 lb. Yorkie, mom a 7lb Chihuahua/Xolo (Mexican Hairless), so that explains the baldness! I brought the pup home to meet his new family.

"Chuey Chimichunga" aka "Scooter"

This brings me to the next part of my story. It became apparent that Border Collies (well, this one anyway) are deathly afraid of small dogs buzzing around their feet! Collie didn't quite know what to do. She'd growl, puff out her lips (I've only known Rotties to do this lip puffing thing), dance around like she was trying to get away from the little guy, then act fascinated all at the same time. It's quite comical to see the biggest dog in the house react like the biggest baby! A couple of months later, the Collie still seems somewhat afraid, but at the same time wants to play with the little guy. She never tries to hurt him, but just doesn't seem to know what to make of such a tiny dog.

Lucy on the other hand, she is laboring under the delusion that she had a puppy, didn't know it, & I found him & brought him home to her. She loves the pup & from day one nurtured him like he was her own! She shows him things (like how to get out of the back yard), shares her food with him, presents him with bones, & sleeps with him! She even allowed him to try to "nurse" when we first brought him home.

Then there's Peanut. As we all know, Peanut is the Queen & can't be bothered with such things. So, in typical Queen fashion, she seemed disgusted by the little man, & treats him with disdain. Well, she is afterall, the Queen.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Border Collie Update

Ha! As one reader noted, I am easily bored with blogging (lending truth to my profile). Truth is, I became sick shortly after creating this blog, & was out for the count for a couple of weeks. After that, things became insanely busy at work & so shamefully haven't blogged in some time.

Well, our Border Collie, Moon Unit, is now a 1 year old beauty. She loves tennis balls & frisbee, & is quite athletic & well-behaved (though she still tries to steal the cat food). And yes, she still has that foot fetish. Don't ask me why, but she has something against my feet & will nip at them if I move them in bed. So, sometimes she ends up in the crate.

I suppose I should post a few pics of the collie. We have reams of photos of her, you'd think she were our first-born child!

So, here it goes:

Collie "giving eye"...

Collie chasing frisbee...

And Collie's best friend, "Lucy", a pound rescue purported to be Basset & Terrier.

Since we got our Collie girl we have added a few new members to the fur-kid household :), & lost one. :(

On a recent adoption-blitz at the local pound, we acquired Lucy (pictured above), & Sunny, a Flame-point Siamese girl. Our beloved kitty, Hortense, met an untimely demise, and was replaced with a small solid black boy kitten...we just had to have 1 boy cat in the crowd! (Yes, Hortense was a boy). To watch the Collie interact with all these critters is an absolute hoot!

The Collie took 3 days to get used to "Lucy" (she didn't know what to make of her), but now the 2 are fast friends. As far as the Siamese goes, as Siamese typically do, Sunny rules the Collie with an iron paw. The two of them love to play, though, and you'll see the Siamese bat the Collie on the rump. This initiates the chase!

The Collie's reaction to the tiny kitten was quite a surprise....she is very gentle with the young kitty & also tries to get him to play with her, despite the size difference. The little kitten stands on the back of the couch & bats at the Collie, and does those little kitty sideways play hops. Good ol' Collie seems to be amused.

So "Moon Unit" is turning out to be quite the girl. She is my first Border Collie & I have to say that I am more pleased then ever!

One of these days I'll post a video of our girl, if I don't get too bored with my new camcorder in the meantime!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Border with a Foot Fettish?

Well this is a new one on me. I've kept dogs for years, and this is the first time I've had a dog who will "attack your feet".

I know what you're thinking...this is a Border Collie, they are supposed to "nip your heels" (although you see this more in cattle dogs & kelpies...collies control more with their gaze), but this is a little different.

Our spoiled collie, "Unit" (I know...it wasn't my choice), sleeps on the bed with us. Where the foot fettish becomes a problem is when I stick my feet out from under the covers. The collie does not like this. She'll perk up & stare, then launch herself at my feet, giving out a sort of "bear growl" in the process. I'll swing my legs over the side of the bed so she can't get to the feet. If I try to bring my feet back on the bed, she'll let out her bear growl, lunge at the feet, then "nip" my calf as I swing my feet back on to the floor, letting out a bossy bark to let the feet "know" they are not welcomed. Do they really smell that bad to her?!? (The nip is more of a playful closed mouth on my leg).

I should get a video of this, it is pretty comical...

This is just another insert into my "Growing Up Border" blog of one of the strange things dogs may exhibit. I'm certain that Unit is just playing, since she only does this with me. And like a little kid, laughing just eggs her on.

What a fun & goofy Pup!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Raising Moon Unit - The Challenges of Living with a Border Pup

Moon Unit at 5 weeks

Moon Unit at 6 months

Well, I've read the warnings! Border Collies are not for everyone...you will read this at just about any Border Collie site you go to. Of course, the same can be said for any other breed of dog. The trick is, getting a dog that fits your lifestyle and/or personality, and also your current situation.

Many people get the latest "fad" breed, which the Border happens to be right now. I remember when Rottweilers and Akitas were all the rage, now it's Borders. Unfortunately, this also leads to a lot of otherwise, perfectly normal Border Collies winding up in shelters. I've noticed recently a great number of Border Collie rescues popping up (I remember the days when it was difficult to even find a Border Collie breeder), which is an obvious indicator that the Border has achieved "fad" status.

That being said, we bought a Border Collie pup. I was surfing the net one day, & saw an ad for Border Collie pups in my area. I was intrigued, since "my area" isn't known for having a proliferation of Border Collies, let alone breeders. So, like any fool, I went to take a look. As everyone knows, you can't just "look" at a puppy and not wind up coming home with one...or two. Well, I ended up taking home a little black & white ball of fur. In my defense, I had been considering replacing my two passed-on Australian Shepherds, but wanted to try a different breed. It was between the Border Collie & the Australian Cattle Dog (Blue Heeler). I had the yard for it, & our situation was appropriate for adding another dog (we thought).

I'm here to tell you my experience raising a Border Collie pup. I can sum it up with one word. "YIKES!"

The Border, like I've read, needs to be "kept busy". Unit is always in perpetual motion. My nic name for her is the Perpetual Puppy. The girl just never stops. If she's in the room with us, she is on top of us, pawing at our faces, pulling my hair, poking at the cat (she loves to instigate), or tearing wallpaper off the walls (yes, this is true) and tearing apart favorite pairs of flip-flops. Take her outside & she's either "playing" with the cats (rather roughly), or running around with a tennis ball in her mouth.

Now having experienced a Border Collie, I would sum up the characteristics of the Breed as follows:

I find the Border Collie to be exceedingly smart. Being an experienced dog person I can say that they are, for sheer smarts, at the top of the doggie IQ chain, and may only be surpassed, in my opinion, by one other breed that I've had experience with...the Australian Cattle Dog (this breed is incredibly coniving & clever, and has the best problem-solving ability I have ever seen). Our Border Collie pup learns very quickly. She listens when you talk to her (cocks her head), & can learn simple commands & sentences extremely quickly. She's also very, very good at telling us what she wants. This is a dog, who at 4 months of age, would pick up her food dish, bring it over to you, drop it in your lap, then walk over to the feeding bin & put her paw on it. Amazing. I've kept dogs over the years, & I know when they are hungry or thirsty, but I've never had one who was so capable of communicating this to me so clearly, and at such a young age. Normally, you have to "train" a dog to do this. The Border Collie, on the other hand, will come up with something like this on their own. Her ability to learn at such a young age is very much accelerated compared to the rest of the doggy world. Borders don't take 5 years to fully train like other breeds, they take 5 minutes.

Our Border Collie is extremely friendly, out-going, and happy-go-lucky. I've never seen such a constantly happy dog before in my life. She gets along with cats, and greets strangers with a wagging tail. She will do typical guard-dog barking, though not excessively. She gets bored easily, and needs to be kept busy. Even though she needs to be kept busy, she crate-trains well. But if she is loose in the room and you leave her in there and go to another room, she'll commence with her "brat barking"...she's a dog that always wants to see what you are up to and always wants to be "in the thick of things". She's very loyal and listens well.

Energy Level
We call her a freight train for a reason. This dog is in perpetual motion. She can keep going for incredible long periods of time, even when playing fetch on hot, muggy Florida days. She's athletic & coordinated (for a pup). She can hardly contain herself when she sees a person or a cat. She is very friendly & her energy level is expressed in this fashion as well...she likes to jump up on people, & pounce on her feline friends.

You typically don't see this category when you read summaries of breeds, mostly because people don't consider dogs "creative". Well, I've met a breed that is. Collies aren't just smart, they are "spooky" smart, and this is expressed through their ability to be creative. Unit, at a young age (4 months), "invented" a game from a foot rest we have out on our porch. She was not trained to do this, nor did we even suggest that she do this, she just came up with this silly game on her own. She discovered, one day, that she could get a tennis ball to roll down this foot rest, which is shaped somewhat like a ramp. The interesting thing was that she would "experiment" with different angles, seeing which way the ball would roll the best. She has perfected this game to where she will bring the ball over to the "ramp", set it at the top, aim it toward us, & release. The ball rolls down the ramp & over to us. She will then get into the typical collie crouch & wait for us to throw it. I don't believe I've ever owned a dog who's invented a game before, but now I have.

Sense of humor
Another category you usually don't see on dog breed sites. I have met a few other breeds that exhibit this trait (Jack Russels, Aussies, Cattle Dogs). Well, you can add Border Collie to that list as well. I swear some times I see a twinkle in Unit's eyes when she's done something to humour either herself, or us. I'm not surprised she has a "sense of humour", as this is a trait seen in truly intelligent dogs (and people). (Note I said "truly" intelligent).

Ease of maintenance
The Border Collie's coat seems to be "wash & wear". Unit has a medium coat (& an amazingly looong tail!) & those goofy sometimes up & sometimes down ears. Her coat is silky smooth & not the sort to tangle, & her ears are rather small & very mobile, and aren't prone to gathering dirt & burs. She's easier to maintain than my Aussies were, and just as easy to maintain as my smooth-coated auxilliary doggie, my wee Chihuahua mix.

Overall I love our Border Collie. The warnings I've read are right, and this is definitely not a breed for everyone, but I believe this is a breed suited for us.