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  1. Hi all, I haven't posted for a good long while. I have two Border Collies, Turbo and Merlin, both six years and some. The first year I had them (they are both lost dogs, so they were both about 18 months old at the time), I took them to a weekend herding seminar in Northern Germany, about a six hour drive from here. It was fascinating, but no one was offering training any closer, so I basically let it go and worked on basic obedience and playing games with balls and frisbees for almost five years. This summer, my obedience trainer offered a seminar with a woman who trials with Aussies--it was interesting again, but the sheep had never been worked with dogs and were as sticky as they possibly could be, so it was quite frustrating for all of us. However, another one of the participants mentioned that there was going to be another seminar offered nearby a couple of weeks later. It was taught by Anita Hermes, a shepherd who has done quite well at European trials, particularly in brace. Among other things, it was the first time I got to see well-trained dogs work--amazing! One thing has led to another--I now train every weekend I have the chance, and attend seminars when I have a weekend and the cash. Trying to figure out how to slow Turbo down and get him to work wider--he's keen and biddable, but definitely needs a low gear. Merlin has proved to have extremely good sheep sense--he had a tendency to dive and grip, but we've taught him that isn't a good idea, and he works very intelligently and calmly--at the seminar this weekend, I was on the field with him and Anita said the sheep needed to be switched out, then looked at me and said, "Take Merlin and lead them to the far corner (300 meters across the field), hold them there while the new sheep are brought in, then drive them down the fence line, out of the field and pen them." And we did it! It was a bit ticklish for a minute or two when we had left the training field (which was fenced) and were out in an open field, with the folks at the seminar and their dogs on the right, and cornfields up ahead. Merlin likes to head the sheep, and he was standing between them and the pen--I told him to lie down, walked through the sheep to him, sent him away, the sheep started for the pen, he drove (escorted is probably a better word ) them in, then lay down at the mouth of the pen until I could close it... Don't think I've ever been so proud of a dog! MR
  2. Germany is very dog-friendly. Well-behaved dogs are welcome in almost all restaurants and hotels, and there is an amazing amount of public green space (forests, meadows and farmland) where the dogs can be off-leash. Most German dogs are quite well-trained. Make sure your recall is really good if you let your dogs off-leash in the forests--a dog that chases game can be shot--most of the Forstmeisters/Jagdmeisters (forest/hunting "masters") are not so hardline, but it is always better--and more responsible--to be safe. Agility is pretty common over here--look for a club in the area you will live in. Herding opportunities tend to be concentrated in Northern Germany and in the far south--down in Bavaria--I haven't found anyone close to me (I live near Heidelberg) that offers training/lessons.
  3. I have a futon, aka the world's biggest dog bed. Turbo usually sleeps on his bed right next to my pillow, unless it is really cold, at which point he gets on the futon--he also sleeps on the futon during the day when I'm at work. Merlin usually starts off on his bed, at the foot of the futon, and moves onto my bed when he thinks I'm asleep. On warm nights, Turbo will occasionally go downstairs and sleep on the leather couch, or go into the bathroom and sleep on the tile floor (cooler, I think). In the morning when I get up to shower, he inevitably moves onto the bed where I've been sleeping.
  4. I think, because the vet felt like he had to do something.... He made some vague noises about trying to limit activity, but his heart wasn't really in it because he could see that there was no pain. MR
  5. Here's an odd one--and I'll preface it by saying that Turbo has been under the vet's care for a week now. I came back from two weeks vacation last Thursday--my dogsitters gave both dogs a bath Thursday night, before I came home, and didn't notice anything. I had Friday off and spent it with the boys for the most part--didn't notice anything. Saturday afternoon, I notice that Turbo has a pretty good sized swelling on the inside of his rear right ankle. The swelling is hard. He shows NO signs of pain, limping or anything else, either when running free or when the swelling is examined and his leg is manipulated. Take him to the vet Monday afternoon. Multiple X-rays show bone/joint is fine--no signs of tumor/cancer (thank God!). Vet manipulates leg, palpitates swelling. No reaction from dog. Vet puts a bandage on him and gives him an anti-inflammatory shot. Go back on Thursday, same thing--swelling may have gone down a little, but it is still there--still no signs of lameness or pain. Turbo gets a new bandage, another shot of anti-inflammatory, and another appointment (for this coming Monday). Has anyone had a similar problem with their dog? My vet is really puzzled. MR
  6. Whenever anyone asks me what owning a border collie is like, I tell them it is like driving a Porsche, as opposed to a station wagon--you have to know what you are doing, and be very attentive, but you get an unmatched level of performance. I love Melanie's picture of Skeeter, Solo and Fly, by the way.... MR
  7. My older dog had a similar problem recently. He has now gotten over it--took about two weeks of restricted activity--no frisbee. He was improving when I took him to the vet, who recommended against hip X-rays at the time and suggested a joint supplement--I've been giving both of my dogs the supplement since. I think he just had a pulled muscle, but it was pretty frightening. Like your dog, he's very high-energy and focused when playing. MR
  8. I found Turbo abandoned on the street in front of my office. I adopted Merlin from a family that couldn't keep him anymore. MR
  9. My younger dog doesn't like boxers. He tangled with one once, and now gives any boxer, especially ones that are the classic tan color, the evil eye. Another case of a dog recognizing breeds--in this case, a breed different than he is. Different dogs have different abilities to categorize information--the smartest ones clearly have the ability to think within abstract categories. Some recent research in Germany (on Rico the toy-recognizing dog, among others) appears to show that at least some Border Collies have cognitive abilities similar to those of a human three-year old. This is very reassuring to me, quite frankly, because it means that I no longer have to dismiss some of my dogs' behaviors as being impossible--that no dog could be that smart. Border Collies, evidently, ARE that smart. I had a Border Collie cross several years ago who hated motorcycles, but only if someone was on it. She wouldn't react to a parked bike at all, but would go nuts if she saw someone straddling a bike, even if it wasn't running. She also hated hot-air balloons and would growl and bark at them, even if they were miles away. (She was a pound dog and came with a lot of issues). MR
  10. The Australian Shepherd is an American breed, according to the (ugh) club propaganda: "Would it surprise you to learn that the Australian Shepherd is the only livestock working breed developed in America? Contrary to his name, the Australian Shepherd is not an Australian breed at all. We can trace his early ancestors to sheep herds, many of which were brought from Australia. Basque shepherds on the west coast were known to have "little blue dogs with bob tails" in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Sheep were imported from France, Spain, England, New Zealand, and Australia along with shepherds with dogs. In the western United States the Basque shepherd and his little blue dogs came to represent shepherding as much as the Scotsman and his Collie in Britain. In Australia there are dogs similar to Aussies called German Coolies. Other breeds have been observed in the above countries exhibiting some of our Aussie's characteristics. Although their exact origin is unknown, there is no doubt that the breed was developed in the western United States by livestock producers who used the dogs for working. The fact that the dogs also excelled as a cattle dog made them ideal for our many diverse farm and ranch operations. The breed evolved to the demands of their farm and ranch owners."
  11. My younger dog, Merlin, has issues with people he doesn't know and with children. We work off-leash almost exclusively, but I always am very aware of who is around us and what they are doing. I have no hesitation in calling him over and putting him into a down-stay to prevent a situation from developing--an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That being said, I also do not encourage people that I don't know to pet my dogs. Merlin, as I said, has issues. Turbo flinches when someone he doesn't know tries to pet him on the head (I can imagine what kind of puppyhood abuse that comes from ). In fact, I actively discourage it, unless the person is willing to squat down, turn their face away and extend their hand so they are totally nonthreatening and the dogs can smell them (which is what I do when I meet a strange dog). And I don't encourage kids... On the subject of strangers wanting to pet your dog, a funny story: A woman from my dog group was walking her dog, when a couple came up to them, and the woman of the pair (girlfriend) just grabbed her dog and started cuddling and petting it--so the woman with the dog grabbed her boyfriend and hugged him and messed up his hair--then told the girlfriend that she was only returning the favor.... MR
  12. Thank you all for posting these--I love to see border collies working. Mark--Merlin, my youngest, can get that shade of green down by the river, where the geese hang out (UGGGGHHHHHH). MR
  13. To add to what everyone else has said. Rescue is the way to go, unless you are planning to work sheep with your dog. They'll help match you with the dog, and there are more than enough border collies out there looking for homes. At least, most of the time, rescue will help match you with the dog--for an opposing point of view, see SoloRiver's story about how she got Solo.... I walk my dogs for about 40 minutes in the morning before I go to work--at least 20 minutes of it is frisbee time, which is work, not play. I walk them for an hour to an hour and a half in the evening, much of which is also work/play of some sort. Border collies don't just want to go for long walks or runs--they need things to do. I also have a dogsitter who comes every day and takes the boys out for an hour or so. Evenings, I throw balls in the house while I read, and we do ten or fifteen minutes of focused obedience training right before bed. There is a range of activity levels within the breed, but if you expect about this level of activity, you will probably be prepared correctly. And to emphasize again--it isn't enough to just give them a chance to run. You have to do things with them that challenge them mentally. MR
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