Sunday, June 7, 2009

Success Story - Beth

Beth came to PNW Border Collie Rescue through Joan at Idaho Domestic Animal Welfare Group (IDAWG). Beth failed to make the cut as a drug detection dog and they surrendered her into border collie rescue.

Beth's Original Listing on PNW Border Collie Rescue Site

Joan arranged for Beth's transportation from Idaho to the Washington Coast where she was fostered by Vivian in Greys Harbor County. There Beth started her journey into a new life. Beth showed behavior both in her foster home and adoptive home suggesting she had been harshly treated and abused (not by the drug detection trainers). But we fell in love with her. That dainty little nose and great big eyes & overly large ears melted our hearts.

We soon learned that Beth was your typical somewhat neurotic, high energy, fiercely independent & slightly insane Border Collie. Since we had experience with Border Collies we knew what we were getting into...but Beth topped out the energy scale!

It was obvious Beth needed a job to do. We enrolled her in obedience, then agility foundation training. While obedience and agility were fun for us, it was clear Beth was not enjoying it. She was nervous and jumpy. Her desire to please combined with fear of correction made her a bundle of nerves in each class. Our agility instructor suggested we try her on sheep. That next weekend we made an appointment at Fido's Farm in Olympia, WA for a herding instinct evaluation.

Video of Beth's first official herding lesson

There is absolutely nothing like watching your timid and shy little dog morph into a bold and happy dog confidently handling sheep. It was simply amazing and at the same time humbling.

Shortly after our first lesson the instructor said "You got lucky with that one, she is a remarkable little girl". That was the beginning of our sheepherding obsession.

To see this small little dog's light bulb of instinct turn on makes you realize what these dogs were bred to do. The generations of careful breeding reflected in your dog's eyes as they circle behind their sheep. To know that the one who needs the training isn't the dog as much as it is you...their handler.

The herding instinct is actually a 'controlled prey drive' carefully bred into the dog. Not every border collie has the right balance - but Beth did and we couldn't waste it. Knowing how to handle their drive and teach your dog how to herd sheep in a steady, controlled manner is not as easy as it sounds. It involves walking backwards for miles, falling down alot (sometimes into very icky droppings), hours of work in the rain, sleet and hot sun, frustration...yet unmentionable joy when all the planets align and finally you click with your dog in a symbiotic relationship as old as the hills.

Adopting Beth brought our family into a new hobby and inspired us to adopt more border collies. Now we have four amazing Border Collies all from PNW Border Collie Rescue. Each one has brought us immeasurable joy and love - and a fantastic new hobby that we can share together as a family.

I saw a car magnet the other day. It was a dog paw print and said "Who Rescued Who?"

I had to think about that for a while...I think we were rescued by a Border Collie.

Thank you to PNW Border Collie Rescue for enabling us to embark on a new journey and direction in our lives.