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Lily's progress


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#1 Zach

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Posted 31 July 2017 - 03:57 PM

Almost three weeks ago, my wife and I, and I suppose I should also say our other dog Zorro, brought into our home a "2yo" border collie we renamed Lily. Zorro is a 5yo German shepherd mix who looks like a BC, and we actually got him thinking he was (old thread about Zorro). So, this was our second attempt at getting a BC. I'm starting this thread to trace Lily's progress from a rescue we couldn't, in good conscience, leave where she was, to hopefully a happy member of our family. Along the way I will post links that have proved helpful, and probably post some questions. In addition to celebrating Lily, I hope that doing this will provide some help to others who run into similar issues.

 

Week 1 was a hard week. We weren't even sure we needed to get a dog, but she was so sweet and so emaciated, we couldn't leave her at the humane society another day. They told us she was in perfect health, but our vet was "very impressed" with how many parasites she had in her fecal sample. Of course, Zorro picked up some of it almost right away, and after two weeks of medication both our dogs are ALMOST through their issues. At 28lbs, Lily is well below her ideal weight, and it shows. From 10ft away you could count her vertebrae, and her pelvic bones are sharp with no muscle. We had to stop on the way home at a dog wash to get he stench of urine off her, and then some time with a brush to get the yellow-brown stained tufts of fur off her sides. Turns out, under all that was a pretty little thing.

 

I suspect she is a pure/pure-ish smooth coat BC, though her thicker tail and some hair on her rear legs makes me wonder if she'll get a little "rougher" with some time away from the shelter. I'll be here on the forums to refresh on the how's and why's of training a BC, as our dear Zorro was much much younger and more eager to please when we trained him. Now, he pretty well obliges anything we ask, sometime only realizing afterwards that we didn't know he knew how to do that! Lily, on the other hand, doesn't understand "no", isn't entirely house trained, and while she already has attached to us and loves attention, she loves our squirrels more, and isn't interested in listening to instruction for more and a few minutes at a time. Not to worry though, she is a bit of a different dog everyday as she adjusts. It's not clear what this will be like once we are all settled in, so for now we're focused on that process and on getting her healthy.

 

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#2 Zach

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Posted 31 July 2017 - 05:15 PM

Week 2 was a hot mix... With temperatures in the upper 90s to 100, and heat index up to 115, it was REALLY hard to entertain our new dog. Early every morning we would go to the park for a walk, and/or a visit to the "little dog" (<30lbs) side of the dog park. Then Lily would take a nap with Zorro until about lunch time, when we were faced with a daily choice - trick or treat... We either stop what we're doing and find something fun to do with Lily, or she would make trouble. Training is becoming a more effective outlet, but was not interesting to her at first, may have even been stressing her out. We tried to take her for some formal training to give her structure and remind us how to do the basics, but that didn't work out AT ALL (read here - Avoid "Marj the Dog Trainer" in Tulsa OK at all cost). Other efforts included long indoor walks at pet supply stores and hardware stores (Lowes is BIG and has A/C!).

 

Week 3 has been the first time we saw real progress. Honestly, in week 2 I was still thinking that this wasn't going to work out. Obviously it hasn't been a lot of time, but my work has come to a standstill as I am thinking and stressing about how to manage Lily all day. This week Lily really started enjoying the dog park, and finally coaxed Zorro into playing with her at home. Her need to go out for a full on adventure every day at lunch has subsided, though she needs some kind of activity. She'd just calmed down a lot this week. She is still very into the squirrels, but more capable of leaving them for something else (us). AND, she's gained 2lbs! She doesn't look much different, and it is likely in part that she can keep food in her body long enough to get nutrients out of it now, so the weight is surely part body weight, and part food.

 

Here is a working list of issues (trouble) that have come up, some have since subsided:

  • Defecating in the house - mostly resolved with meds to stop diarrhea
  • Urinating in the house - mostly resolved with her stress level going down and learning to use the doggie door - then worsened again when we had to close the doggie door and leash her for outside time...
  • Hiding - under the coffee table, under my wife's desk, in the back of our walk-in closet, upstairs in our guest room, behind a chair in the corner of the livingroom. It wasn't predictable when she would hide, but it was never from us, she would actually try to hide near us. This was the worst in week 1. She still runs to the bedroom when the stove is turned on, but "hides" on our bed. She still likes to sleep under the coffee table, and under my wife's desk when she's working, but it now seems more like she's resting in hideouts, and not like she's taking shelter for safety.
  • Humping Zorro - This subsided after the first week, but it deterred Zorro from wanting to be around her for most of the second week too. She had humping issues that were out of control, and it would come out when she was anxious around midday or in the evening before dinner. She humped toys, pulled pillows off the beds to hump them, and even bunched up the blanket in her crate and tried to hump that. One day she tried it on me right after I let her out of her crate, after she had some "settle" time after trying to climb the kitchen counter to look out the window.
  • Windows at night - one night she started growling and barking at something (reflections?) in the windows after dark. No longer an issue at night, now it's just the squirrel issue...
  • Watching squirrels out the windows - discussed in the windows thread (here), she was becoming obsessed with watching for squirrels out the windows, and would do nothing else. This has been largely resolved by the installation of (a lot of) opaque "frosted" window film. She still tries to check, but after a moment she walks away calmly. Our front door, almost all glass, has shutters and no film. We had to block it off to keep her from opening them. Still without film, we can now leave the (still-shuttered) unprotected and she won't try to open it, usually.
  • Jumping the fence - this is the newest problem. Zorro enjoys bolting after squirrels in the back yard, a past time that has been handicapped by the new film on the window by his favorite squirrel-watching chair. Still, sometimes he would dash out the doggie door after them and bark at the fence once or twice after the squirrels escaped over it. Lily just climbed right over. The neighbors aren't very eager to make friends, and Lily was not at all interested in coming back over the fence. This has happened twice now, so she has to be on a leash when she goes out....hopefully not forever. The HOA doesn't allow for taller fences or adding anything onto the top of the fence (like coyote rollers). Now we are all working on our communication skills. At the moment, her "hi, i'd like to be pet" signal is the same as her "I gotta go" signal. 
  • Saliva beard at the dog park - Predictably, she shows stress around big dogs, or groups of dogs of any size. We've been working her up to longer visits with more dogs, and bigger dogs. When she's stressed, she can sometimes just distance herself and cool off, but other times she drools so much she grows a foamy beard almost to the ground. Beard was present around all groups of 2+ dogs at first, then it would only come if there were A LOT of roudy small dogs (small groups were OK), then became ok with mellow big dogs and big puppies, and now we're totally OK with all little dogs and chill big dogs in small groups. In fact, we often had to cut the visits short initially so she wouldn't get too stressed, and now she dashes in to see her favorite regulars. 
  • Thunder and lawnmowers - VERY VERY VERY afraid of thunder. She was shaking for hours a few nights back when we had a storm. We're going to have to experiment with thunder shirts or something. Lawnmowers across the street are scary too, but only enough to send her under the desk, to my feet, or to the bedroom.


#3 Zach

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Posted 04 August 2017 - 12:29 AM

Week 4 began with a newly understood fear behavior. When Lily gets super excited, like when we have company or when we come back after leaving for a couple hours, she is just so happy she can barely contain herself and then suddenly goes and hides in the bedroom. By "newly understood" I mean that we now see the pattern, not that we understand WHY excitement turns to fear. When we go back to the bedroom where she is hiding on the bed, she is usually happy to see us, but also appears very nervous and is not willing to move or come out. We haven't pushed her, we let her stay there where she feels safe until she's ready. We're wondering if she has an association, perhaps with being scolded, when she would get too excited in her previous home. Or, maybe sort of a crossover, like anxiety and depression seem like opposites but they are linked. 


If anyone has a clue about how to help Lily move forward on this, I would love to read it.

 

This happened last night, and she didn't want to leave the room to go out to pee. I eventually "talked" her into it, and she was happy to get outside for a few minutes. She pee'd, then she started looking for squirrels in the trees (in the dark) and bugs, we came back in, and she hustled back to the bedroom again. Woke up at 3am because she was suddenly not afraid and now bored and hungry (hid through dinner). She started trying to play with Zorro and I got up to save him from the crazy puppy. I gave her her dinner(we're still trying to get her up to a healthy weight, so she gets some leeway) and then found that she defecated on the carpet. I've been reluctant to use her crate because I didn't feel like I knew how to judge when and how to use it (discussed here). Tonight she'd going to sleep in her crate, because I can only remember one night that I didn't have something to clean up in the morning. 



#4 GentleLake

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Posted 04 August 2017 - 08:26 AM

I've been reluctant to use her crate because I didn't feel like I knew how to judge when and how to use it (discussed here). Tonight she'd going to sleep in her crate, because I can only remember one night that I didn't have something to clean up in the morning. 

 

This is an ideal time to use the crate. ;)

 

That is an odd behavior you describe. Hard, probably impossible, to know what's causing it (i.e if there's a past association or not). I had a dog once who I'd have sworn was hit with a stick. Shortly after getting her I found that someone I knew knew her previous owner and said unequivocally that he wasn't a person who'd ever have hit a dog with a stick or anything else. (Yet she wasn't afraid of a shepherd's crook while working.) Some fears are just irrational.

 

Keep in mind, too, that she's still new to you and learning what it's like to live in your home. Many rescues will tell you that there's a 2 week "honeymoon" period during which dogs are less settled and more likely to repress behaviors. There's a brilliant trainer here who specializes in working with rescues (actually he'd now a faculty member of the Karen Pryor Academy) who says that the honeymoon period is more like 3 months. Bodhi, who was probably about 1 1/2 yrs. old when I adopted him (we just celebrated his 10th Gotcha Day yesterday!) was still offering new behaviors up until he was with me for 6 months. A former stray, in his case he was more shut down than truly fearful like Lily, but it took him that long to really get over it.

 

Fear is different, of course, and Lily may or may not always have some fear issues, but it sounds like she's making a lot of progress in a pretty short time thanks to your patience and understanding with her. Kudos.


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#5 Zach

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Posted 04 August 2017 - 12:38 PM

Thanks for the notes.
 
Lily is improving, and doesn't resort to destruction when she wakes up bored in the day. I suppose part of it is that we know how to respond before she gets into anything we don't want her to do. Also, she has come a LONG way at the dog park. She now prefers big dogs, and seems more nervous about the little ones (curious reversal). She is better about moving on from squirrels (on leash). Today a dumb squirrel found itself trapped in a tree in the middle of the dog park. Lily was trying to climb the tree. I try not to call her when I know she won't come, but I wanted to see if, in this different environment (fun non-squirrel stuff available), she would listen at all. Nope. But, when I came to her and clipped the leash to her harness, she was immediately ready to move on, not resistance at all! It was almost as if she was relieved that I had broken the spell. 
 
She's an interesting dog.

#6 Zach

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 09:24 AM

"Really? A border collie?" I get asked all the time at the dog park. Granted, I also get asked some very silly guesses about Zorro, but Lily being the new dog, and BCs having been bred for behavior over looks, I am thinking about this a lot.

I don't think I've seen any herding tendencies at all from Lily. The closest thing might be starring when she wants to ambush another dog, but I've seen that in plenty of non-herding breeds. She also walks and trots around with her tail way up (almost like a huskies but with the BC j-hook), and always has her head up. Her lower lips hang loose towards the back, more like a big shepherd or lab, while Zorro's lips are always closed and tighter. If she didn't have the white markings, I don't think I would have guessed Lily was a BC. Others at the park are surprised when we say that she's a BC, but I have assumed that's because people around here don't seem to be aware of the smooth coat variety. Still, not seeing the classic BC postures or mannerisms has me wondering... maybe it's me who has it wrong...? Illl try to get some good current pics today and maybe get some comments from those with more experienced eyes.



#7 Zach

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 01:45 PM

Here's an image from today. I'd like to get her weight again this week. Her vertebrae don't show anymore, her muscles and conditioning have a way to go, but of course that will take some time. And, I think she is younger than the shelter told us, so she probably has some maturing to do yet.

 

FullSizeRender%207.jpg?raw=1

 



#8 Zach

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 01:56 PM

I'm having trouble with the photo embedding, they keep showing up upside down. So, for now, here's just one more.

 

smaller%20Lily.jpg?raw=1



#9 rushdoggie

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 06:07 PM

awww, what a face


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#10 urge to herd

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 06:57 PM

The curled tail w/the white tip say BC to me. I've had people tell me that my red/white dogs couldn't possibly be border collies, because they are black & white, doncha know.

 

Whatever she is, cute is high on the list!

 

Ruth & Gibbs



#11 Sue R

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 05:08 AM

Too cute!
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#12 Zach

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 08:06 PM

Week 5 has been overall really good!

 

Excitment-Fear crossover issues: Lily still has a tendency to get scared and hide after becoming VERY excited about something, but the threshold seems to be getting higher, and more and more it seems sufficient for her to just seek some extra reassurance and loving from us to get past it. So, that's a big, if incomplete, win. We have not had more people over, however, so we will have to arrange visitors soon to make sure her progress is not conditional on no company. It seems that this issue has evolved into a car/house version discussed in full here: Fear of exiting the car...

 

Thunder storms: Lily is still terrified by storms, but I've figured out what works. 1) Hallway light on to dull flashes from lightning, 2) wall-in my bedside table to make a little den where I can reach in and pet her, 3) play the relaxation dog music youtube channel (here). We tried a thunder shirt, but that just annoyed her and I returned it.

 

Squirrel issues: She jumped the fence last week when I thought that she had moved past her inability to resist the squirrels. So, for now, she has to be on a leash whenever we go out to pee. The windows are still blocked, and I still have to be mindful of her starting to check the window and break her focus. But, this doesn't happen often, usually right before or after we do something exciting, so she seems to be trying to find something to occupy her while I get ready to go to the park or something.

 

Dog park: She still has a drool beard for a few minutes of most days at the park with other dogs. It doesn't last as long, and she is now much more bold and curious with other dogs, and making more friends and having more fun. With new friends, comes new opportunities to run - like REALLY run, she is fast! So, that is great, and when she gets some good wrestling and running in the morning she is a very agreeable dog all day. I still really want to teach her fetch, but she's a little too focused on the other dogs at the park to get far with that just yet. Lily is pretty good at her recall in the park now, though better with "her" whistle call, and especially since my wife can't whistle, we really need her to be 100% with her name so we can move into some open places without fences (eventually).

 

Training: We're all the way into the game of trying to find a treat more interesting than the furry critters on our walks. Loose-leash walking and recall are our biggest priorities right now, and she varies from great to terrible at both. There seem to be very few positive-reinforcement trainers or classes in Tulsa OK, big shock collar country I guess. We're hoping to find something promising soon. We even considered petco, but they never seem to have control over the class, especially with people walking in and out all the time with dogs and kids. So, we're spending some time refreshing on my two favorite youtube channels that I discovered when training Zorro years ago: Kristen Crestejo and Kikopup.

 

In-house accidents: Lily sleeps in the crate now at night, except during thunder storms, and that put an end to night time accidents. Once, when there were squirrels outside, 15 minutes waiting to pee and she wouldn't go, then peed promptly after going back inside. I'm really hoping the squirrels become less novel and exciting with time. Stools are still not great, but improving marginally. It would probably be good to switch to a low fat, high fiber diet to firm her up, but the training works best with delicious treats that don't fit that description, and we are trying to encourage her to get to a better weight. We'll be getting her weight again this next week, and will adjust if we can at that point.



#13 urge to herd

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 08:59 PM

Nice progress! Experiment w/some out of the box thinking about the treats. Gibbs loves fruit of any kind ~ don't give any dog raisins or chocolate, those are very dangerous for them.

 

Other things that I've heard individual dogs love: popcorn, (no butter or salt) carrots, asparagus, (truly!) a dollop of peanut butter, cheese. Others might chime in.

 

Thanks for the updates, it's nice to know how you all are progressing.

 

Ruth & Gibbs



#14 Zach

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 09:21 PM

Thanks for the tips. I will try some of those. Lily has some predictable likes (bully sticks, hotdog, cheese) and some surprising dislikes (greenies! - Zorro's favorites!). Zorro likes carrots, but Lily doesn't. Zorro loves anything peanut butter, Lily will consider the real thing, but not peanut butter treats. Ugh.



#15 Zach

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Posted 13 August 2017 - 12:02 AM

do all BCs LOVE to be loved on all the time??

 

Growing up I always had dogs that would love to be pet, but Zorro really is more cat like - he wants contact on his terms. Lily, is the other extreme. We joke that even though Zorro disappears into shadows (all black), Lily sticks to us like one. Several times a day she is ALMOST stepped on, sat on, laid down on or kicked. If she's a little nervous, which is a lot of the time, she's even closer. She appears out of nowhere and is sitting pretty waiting to be pet, or to climb into your pocket, I think she would take either.



#16 Maralynn

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Posted 13 August 2017 - 08:05 AM

Have you considered online training classes? Fenzi Dogsport Academy is well worth checking into https://fenzidogsportsacademy.com

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#17 urge to herd

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Posted 13 August 2017 - 11:53 AM

Do all b collie's love physical affection? No. This, along with many other things about border collies, varies a lot.

 

Gibbs loves some wrasslin, pushin' him around, playful contact. When he's done, though, he vants to be left alone, thank you.

 

Sammie was a cuddler. Buzz NEVER met a human he did not adore. And noodge for physical contact. Met a man & woman while I was walking Buzz one day. Chatted w/them briefly, the woman knelt down to pet Buzz. I continued to talk to the man. Looked down to check on the Buzzard. He had pressed himself into the woman's bosom, tucked his head under her chin and had his eyes closed in bliss as she stroked his back. This was a dog who would have done that every single moment of his life if he could have.

 

Shoshone was stand-offish in the extreme, unless you had food. W/out food, humans were of no use to her.

 

So all over the map.

 

Ruth & Gibbs



#18 GentleLake

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Posted 13 August 2017 - 01:31 PM

So all over the map.

 

That's been my experience as well. I've had dedicated cuddlers and others who've been content just to be near but not actually in physical contact.

 

Even the least cuddly of my border collies were always devoted and very affectionate in their own ways though. They just didn't need to be Velcroed to me to express it.

 

The one I think I've found to be the most interesting in this regard is my current border collie. Bodhi's not a snuggler with me at all (unless, of course, there's a thunderstorm, fireworks or gunshots; then all bets are off and he needs to be very, very close :rolleyes:). It's not that he's indifferent to me. In fact he's utterly devoted, never wanting to be more than a few feet away from me. And everyone should have someone who gives them the looks of adoration that he gives me. People comment on it all the time. But he's not cuddly with me as a rule.

 

Yet as a therapy dog, he'll snuggle for hours with kids in schools and libraries while they read to him or lie with hospice and nursing home patients in their beds. He's also not a dog who gives me affectionate kisses, though he'll sometimes offer them to other people. But he takes his job as a therapy dog very seriously, and I truly believe that he just accepts that cuddling and giving occasional kisses are part of the job so he does it. :)


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#19 Zach

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Posted 13 August 2017 - 03:03 PM

Have you considered online training classes? Fenzi Dogsport Academy is well worth checking into https://fenzidogsportsacademy.com

 

Thanks. I haven't considered an online class. Part of the benefit to me of taking a class is having the structure and hands-on demo and coaching. I've been through basic obedience with enough dogs now that I don't need the introduction to it, so much as the ritual and practice with an instructor around other students. 



#20 crumcake

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 07:53 AM

My dogs use to react to doorbells on TV, but they would chill out when I would say, "It's just the TV." Zag use to react to thunder storms and loud noises. He would get very stressed and shut down. Then I started saying "Boom" in my deeper, louder, but still girlish voice right after the thunder or whatever. It worked!




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