New-to-us rescue Border collie!

posted in: Dogs | 20

We have a new member of the family.

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The addition seems sudden to us, although it feels really right, and only the last couple hours of the process took place in a hurry. We went to meet a dog. Within minutes, we knew she would fit into our family (although we spent more time with her before we said that out loud), and she ended up coming home with us directly from the first meeting.

Here's the slow part: Over the past nine months, since we lost our Border collie-ish Ariel to old age, I have on a handful of occasions tempted fate by browsing our region's Australian shepherd and Border collie rescue pages. Dogs of both breeds tend to end up in rescue situations when they are between one and five years old, most often between one and three—that's when people who thought they were SO cute as puppies or had a
romantic idea of what living with a herding dog would be like hit the
wall of reality and acknowledge that they don't have time to make sure
the dogs have WORK to do.

Early this summer, I noticed that the Aussies were being adopted out pretty quickly but there were a whole lot of Border collies needing homes. I downloaded an application from Western Border Collie Rescue, but didn't do anything with it. I just contemplated the possibilities, while acknowledging the relatively irrational choice to take on responsibility for another being right now.

Then I started filling it out, just to see what kinds of questions were asked and how we might answer them. I talked over the possibility of a new dog with my daughter. We both think Tussah needs a canine companion, although, of course, primary responsibility will be ours. My daughter added her perspective to the forms.

Eleven single-spaced pages later, we thought we just might mail the application. I'd put on the form that we wouldn't be able to consider taking a dog until the fall, because of my travel commitments. I knew the approval process would take time. Sent first class, the application took a month to travel from Colorado to Wyoming. I wasn't thinking about it, because of all those work and travel engagements.

Our packet did finally arrive at the rescue organization. They started checking our personal references; that took a couple of weeks. Just over a week ago we enjoyed the required home visit—a Border collie aficionado and one of her lovely dogs came over to talk about pups! The various checks include people and animals in the family, type of household (physical set-up and routines), and (very important) state of yard and fences. The goal is to have the placements for these dogs be their permanent, perfect homes. Our home visit coordinator told us not to expect final approval in less than a week to ten days, because the (all-volunteer) people doing the rescues had two big events to attend. (One was the Meeker Classic Sheepdog Trials.) So far, this whole endeavor had been progressing very deliberately (aided by the postal service) for about three months.

Following the home visit, though, our approval came through almost instantly and we found ourselves on the phone talking things over with a "matcher" (a person works on figuring out which specific dogs might be the best matches for a family). One of our top criteria was that the new dog must not bully or otherwise make life difficult for Tussah, our established dog (also a rescue), who is now, as far as we can tell, roughly 12 years old. Any addition to the family must enhance Tussah's life at least as much as ours. Tussah is kind of alarmed by puppies, so we have assured her all along we would not get her a puppy. Plus an older dog needs us more than the puppies do.

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After a flurry of phone calls and e-mails, we set out on Sunday morning to meet a dog whose shelter name has been Pebbles. (The page in that link will probably move once her status changes from "available" to "success stories." [ADDED Thursday, 9/15: her page has moved to "adoption pending." It will move again later.] She's one year old and unusually mellow for a young Border collie. We
were told that she got along well with other dogs and with cats (we
might have a cat again in the foreseeable future).

We drove about 2.5 hours to the meeting. Mapquest and Yahoo seriously underestimated the time to drive to the meeting location, an error that I should have picked up on before we were actually driving but didn't. My daughter practiced texting on her phone to keep the rescue folks updated on our whereabouts as we got off the freeway to avoid miles-long traffic jams and accidents. We finally met Pebbles and her foster mom at a school yard.

And we took the little dog for a walk (and a ramble through the play equipment and along some stone walls), with Tussah nearby.

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This young dog is spicy, but she's also wise and she and Tussah seemed to feel like they already knew each other. So we decided (gulp) to take this particular rescue home with us, and her foster mom went off to get some of the food she'd been eating and an adoption contract for us to sign. We hung out in the only shade around and got to know each other more.

The only trick in getting photos was that initially every time I wanted to take a
picture, the little dog started running toward me.

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Then she began getting used to us.

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So we returned to her foster mom the flexi-lead the pup had arrived on (we always have extra leashes in the car), packed up her food, signed the contract, and headed toward home.

All this took longer than we'd predicted, so I had to give up the idea of using the ticket I had for a special musical presentation that afternoon. Instead, we stopped off in Denver and got some lunch at Whole Foods, where our new addition charmed passersby, and my daughter took a side trip to the independent store Twist and Shout to get a couple of CDs that were on her wish list; I stayed in the car with the dogs and knitted.

When we got home, we introduced the new pup to her new spaces, inside and out, and we took both dogs for the evening walk. Then we did what we do on many Sunday evenings: went, with dogs, to visit friends, have supper, and watch a DVD (the final episode of "Firefly," in this case . . . my second time, my daughter's third, and our friends' first). The young dog acted as if she'd always done this.

In a number of the new dog's behaviors, it is quite apparent that she's part of the same family tree as our Ariel, although in both looks and personality she's quite different.

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For one thing, she's tiny: roughly 35–37 pounds. (Tussah is 43–45 pounds, and Ariel was about the same.)

We got home and I washed down one of our crates for her (while I was doing it, she settled herself into Tussah's crate a couple of times), put in a pad, and showed her where she could sleep. She seemed ready. It had been a big day for all of us.

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She'll get a crate like Tussah's for regular use in the house and this one will go back into the car, but for now we all know where we belong. It seems like she's always been here.

We just don't know what her "real" name is yet.

"Pebbles" is too soft to be a good call name, and Border collies need good call names: one or two syllables, not something that sounds like a command you'll want to be teaching, with some crisp-enough consonants to get attention. We're listing possibilities on a piece of paper on the bathroom mirror and are open to suggestions.

Our previous dogs have been:

  • Farley (big, goofy dog; borrowed—the people who owned a house we rented left him with the house)
  • Daisy (a miniature poodle, adopted at age 10 when our neighbors decided she had become senile; she was just lonely)
  • Heather (Aslan's Mountain Heather, adopted at age 6 after her retirement from producing show puppies)
  • Ariel (Tempest's Ariel Miranda, adopted at 7 weeks after being abandoned in December, with two siblings, in a field near Greeley, Colorado)
  • Tussah (Tempest's Tussah Redfurr, adopted at about the age of 5 after having been abandoned at a reservoir in South Dakota, adopted out of our local humane society, and then re-homed to us after being picked up running loose in traffic quite a few times; her name in her previous home was "Red," which wasn't feminine enough for her)

"Tempest" is the "kennel" name for our rescues. (It became official with Ariel's AKC ILP registration.) We might like to incorporate the "pebbles" aspect of her history into the name, although we haven't set that as a requirement.

We also don't know what her "real" work is yet. She looks like a great candidate to be a therapy dog, and I suspect she'd like recreational (though perhaps not competitive) agility and rally. She doesn't have the drive to be a real competitor, but she obviously likes to work her brain and she's pleasantly bouncy without being hyperactive. We'll start with basic obedience, which she's already got the hang of.

So we'll all be getting to know each other for a while, although it feels like we've already been together for a long time.

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20 Responses

  1. Oh, she’s beautiful! Congratulations. Yay for rescued herders! I’m so glad you found such a wonderful pup who is already fitting in so nicely!

  2. Absolutely wonderful. Congratulations!

  3. What a sweet pup she is! I love how she just flaked out in the crate. 🙂

  4. Awwww. She’s sweet from the photos. Congrats to the whole family.

  5. Ah, fortunate Pebbles, to end up with y’all! What a beauty! Give her a big kiss from me (or virtual kiss, if you don’t kiss dogs.) My dogs are used to getting big kisses right between the eyes.

    Long life, good health, and happy times to you all!

  6. Will deliver a kiss. Right between the eyes is a good spot.

    New-pup has got her place in basic obedience reserved, with our favorite, long-time training facilitator: we begin classes in four weeks . . . although since we’ve trained at this place frequently and know the ropes, we can also attend drop-in sessions while we’re waiting for class to start, if we decide we want to do that. We might.

  7. Our Border Collie, Kipper, found us. He was living in a big field behind our house and followed my husband home when he went walking back there. He had a chip in him but it had never been registered. He was so wonderful that we decided we had to make him a part of our family and he agreed readily. That was about seven years ago and we have not regretted our decision for even a moment. He was well trained and I can’t help but feel that someone has really missed him. It has been fun to discover a new trick that he knows that we are not aware of. We discovered just the other day that the word “girlfriend” means something to him because he begins making crying sounds and paces in circles!

  8. It’s a wonderful story! We’ve never had a rescue dog. All of ours have come to us as puppies (though Jilly was 8 months old). I’ve never been sure how I’d manage a rescue … though, of course, since I’m now addicted to Boykin Spaniels that would be hard, anyway. There aren’t THAT many of them around! (And besides, what would Chappy say?)

    Anyway, welcome Pebbles! (No matter what her permanent name becomes. ) She sounds like she’s going to fit right in.

  9. What a beautiful dog!

  10. I am not much of a dog person but she is lovely!

  11. What a great story on the new addition to your family. Pebbles sounds so “Flintstones”. Maybe it’s a bit too masculine, but how about the name “Stoney”?

    Have you read any of John Katz’ books? Izzy and Lenore is about a hospice therapy dog. http://www.librarything.com/work/5838368/book/37297389
    Great true dog story.

  12. She is so lovely :-}
    How about Carlin, named for these?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlin_stone
    (as a Pagan, I think being a witch is a good thing)

  13. We think this pup ran away from a home somewhere. She understands basic obedience commands, and had already been spayed. If she’d been microchipped (she will be), she likely would have been returned to her former home. The good news is that she has survived to find a new home.

    Pebbles *does* sound like the Flintstones. A major problem there. Stoney was one of our Aussie’s sons! (She was not bred while we owned her: we were her retirement home.) Carlin is an interesting idea. . . .

    I’ve read some of Jon Katz’s books, but not the one about therapy dogs.

  14. Ohh, congratulations!! She is so lovely! I am itching to reach through the screen and give her a cuddle.

    For some reason, I thought of the name Penny when I saw her. (as in, lucky Penny) I am sure you’ll come up with something great on your own. Mazel tov on your new family member. 🙂

  15. Hi, Joanne–Penny would be a delightful name, except that there’s already a Penny-pup in my daughter’s extended family (one of her stepmom’s dogs). And to reduce confusion, we’re not going to double up on that. There’s also a Peerie that I know of recently among knitter/spinner friends, or that would be an option, too!

  16. Ohmygosh, Deb, Pebbles is the spitting image of Molly. Please do not change Pebbles’ name. Who are we to decide a name is “wrong”? I hated my name for years and wanted to change it, but now I wear it lovingly and proudly. Doesn’t Pebbles have enough to deal with without adding in an identity crisis? Have you figured out what her outside and inside tasks will be? Oh, excuse me, has she TOLD you what her main jobs will be? If you have a paper shredder, she may do as Molly does and sit quietly by as you type, then when she hears the stapler, she will know you have produced a “final” and she will move to the shredder, where the draft is about to be deposited, to be sure the shards of paper do not escape from the waste basket. Oh, what fun to have a new border collie! Do keep us posted on PEBBLES’ progress, and congratulations from Priscilla and all the creatures at Saltmarsh Ranch Soay Sheep

  17. Meeting her on Monday evening was a delight! She seems very sweet and I bet you are spot on about her being a good therapy dog!

  18. I'm glad you got to see her in person. Fun to share a new member of the family with good friends. Any dog who is this calm (but not boring) at one year at least wants to be given the *option* of training for therapy work. When we took her on her first walk with us, she was completely placid around a little kid with a tricycle.

  19. She looks lovely!

  20. She’s a delightful little dog, and Priscilla I’m not too concerned about changing a name she might be used to. I doubt that she’s terribly familiar with “Pebbles” since as far as we know she’s probably been called that for the most recent four weeks of about a year that she’s been on the planet.

    One of her main jobs is making sure I play tug with a silly little dog at least twice a day, preferably three times.

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