Let me introduce the latest member of the Corradini Clan. Hugh, (it is quickly becoming Hughie) a nine-week-old Border Collie. I know what you’re thinking, “Oh My Gosh, a Border Collie. Why a Border Collie?” Although I have had a variety of breeds in my life Border Collies are my dog of choice. But that’s a topic for another edition.
Everyone thinks as veterinarians we are the experts and have all the answers on everything from how to train a pup to fish Ick. Well, I’m quickly becoming aware that I don’t have all the answers and solutions when it comes to training a pup. Oh ya, I’ve been trained in all the pat methods, taken behaviour classes, and have picked up tips and tricks over the years. But I have to apologize to all those clients I have consulted with on training pups, because depending on the dog, breed, environment, etc., sometimes these methods just don’t work.
Often when clients come back to me and complain that what I told them to do didn’t work I tell them well I guess your pet just didn’t read the book or watch that video.
So here is my payback, I’m going to try every couple of days or a least every week to chronicle my trials and tribulations on raising Hugh, a 20lb, 9 week old Border Collie. (BC)
So I didn’t follow my first rule on selection and timing. Hugh was acquired on an impulse.
Decisions, decisions, decisions…
For the past thirty years or so we have always had at least 2 dogs (usually BCs) but due to the nature of my job, there have sometimes been a few others of non-discriminating breeds in there.
We lost Basil, my seventeen-year-old stud dog a couple of years ago (he was a great BC but that also is a topic for another day). We still had a nine-year-old BC, Poppy, a daughter of Basil’s. Although I really missed Basil, (Poppy really was my wife’s dog) I wasn’t really looking for another dog. The kids were basically gone and we didn’t have much on the farm to tie us down. Poppy was getting older and when we were dog-less we would have more time for travelling and doing the things we always wished to do.
Well, a neighbour of ours brought an eight-week-old BC pup in (they had just lost their old BC the month before). This pup was huge for 8 weeks, big stocky, cute as a button, and apparently pretty quiet and well behaved (as well as an eight-week-old BC, 2 days in the new home can be).
It was vaccinated and wormed. So I did a general puppy exam and this little guy checked out really healthy. I always ask about the parents and litter during my exam, and it was mentioned that the pup was from working stock, this was the mother’s first litter and she had 8 pups, all alive and thriving (I didn’t know at the time this was her first litter, on her first heat and not a planned breeding at all, something I would never advise). It was also mentioned in passing that they only had one left, a male and the biggest. I didn’t pay much attention, wasn’t really looking for a dog.
Well over the next few days I got to thinking, Poppy was getting older, she would be an asset in training a pup (not really), a farm should always have a dog, security, companionship etc. So I talked it over with my wife and she was onboard. Since there was only one left, now it became an obsession to get not any BC, but this dog. What if he was gone? Better call right away… Well, that didn’t work – farm phones, scheduling and kids cell phones and whatnot, but eventually we did get hold of the farmer, he still had the big boy and in 4 days of seeing his brother, Hugh had a home.
Do your research
Just to clarify – do as I say not as I do when considering getting a dog, especially your first. Give it some thought and do some research:
- What is your lifestyle like?
- In a relationship?
- Working hours?
- Where do you live, city, country?
- How much time is someone home?
- Amount of time you have for exercise?
- Your fitness?
All these will come into play with the type/breed of dog. Small lap dogs are good for apartments and small homes (not a terrier though). Next think about budget, food, training, grooming, health care. I usually recommend that once you have decided on a breed or type of dog, check out friends or family that may have that type of pet. Where did they get their pet?
Within certain bloodlines, there can be certain traits or faults you want or don’t want, especially if you are looking for a puppy. My BC’s came from working lines but the breeder also bred for a family dog, and they were all quiet and relaxed with the family and in the house. Check out the breeders, see if you can get references or see any of their dog’s progeny that are older and already in homes.
Rescues and humane societies are excellent places for getting pets. Be leery of those that bring in dogs from overseas. It is very hard to get histories on these dogs or medical information. Make sure they have been thoroughly vetted first. Remember all dogs in rescues have a story, or else they wouldn’t be there. Not all are bad stories, but you’ll probably never really have the whole story. No matter what the story, usually with the proper care, training, kindness and patience even the worse delinquent will be a great pet.
P.S. I would like to thank Officer Jeronimo for that wonderful welcoming home present he gave me when we went to pick up Hugh.