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starry777

How do I find the right Border Collie for me?

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Hello everyone :) I have been an admirer of Border Collies for many years reading, watching, and listening to anything about them that I could get my hands on because I wanted to further my understanding of this magnificent breed. I even had the pleasure of going to a big meetup once where I got to be in a sea of like 100 BCs running lose in a park, watching them and talking to many of their owners. I also got to watch them work in person when I was at a sheep ranch with my Pembroke Welsh Corgi for a herding event. The Border Collies were not participating in the event--they were just the ranch dogs who would move sheep from point A to B--but it was so cool getting to see them work in person. Previously I had watched a gazillion YouTube videos showing BCs doing all kinds of work from herding, to agility, to search and rescue, but there was just something special about watching in person.

From everything that I've seen, these dogs captivate me. I love their passion, their qwirkiness, their determination, their love of learning. I love how they move and focus in on stuff. I love how they're so tuned into their handlers and I love the relationships people have with them. These dogs are just on another level. They inspire me. 

But I also know that each Border Collie is an individual and a dog that is suited for one person could be completely wrong for another. So now that I'm close to being in a position where I can easily afford the costs associated with a second dog--we refinanced our house to pay off bills and are using the extra money to pay off what remains--I want to learn how to identify a Border Collie that would be right for me.

I am a 33 year old female and I am sharing expenses by living with my mother. It's just me and her in this house. I have no children nor have I ever been interested in having any--animals are what I love. The Corgi is the only pet I currently have. I work from home at the computer, so I am home most all day and have plenty of time for a dog that needs to get out and do stuff. I can pepper the day with little breaks to spend with the dog and give it extended attention in the mornings and evenings. I like to run, bike, hike, etc. and would be happy to have a buddy to come along. (My Corgi is a senior dog now and not up for strenuous exercise.) I live a five minute walk from a dog friendly park, so we could go there and play Frisbee or whatever. And dog training is a big hobby of mine, so I'd be teaching the dog gazillions of tricks. And I live about a 10 minute drive from an agility yard that does classes, so we could do that. I also know a lady who teaches Rally classes, so that's something else fun for us. I might even trial in Rally or something. However, I don't know of a place near me where I can do herding, so that might not be an option.

So anyway, what kind of Border Collie do I need to be looking for? Tentatively I'm thinking: an off switch, sound temperament, sound body and with a personality that meshes well with mine. I love cuddling, so I guess I'd go with the Border Collies that like to do that in their down time. But this is about as fleshed out as I have it.

What else should I be looking for? Any input is appreciated.

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I believe the best thing is go to where BC are - herding events, agility ect and meet several and their people.  Narrow down those traits that you are attracted to - outgoing, more reserved, quiet, not so quiet...  I find there can be difference in temperament of dogs working in different venues.  The next step is to start talking to folks that have bcs and may breed or know of litter.  Find someone more investing in placing their dog/pup in the right situation than simply selling the dog.

The other great option is the many bc rescue groups that have dogs in foster homes that are older.  You can see more of what a older dog is like.  Many to choose from looking for good homes and the foster family has a good idea of the dogs personality, strengths and challenges.

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Hi and welcome to the Boards.

Good suggestions from Denice. One thing I'd point out is that the dogs at many sports venues are much more amped up then they would be at home and you may not get a realistic picture of what they're really like to live with. I don't think this is so much the case at herding trials, but then those folks usually don't value a high strung do in the first place. ;) And that's why I generally steer people towards breeders of working bred dogs (that is, dogs that actually work livestock themselves, not just from so-called "working lines" that have never demonstrated any working ability themselves).

But I'm also a big fan of rescues too, especially if you don't specifically need a dog to manage your livestock. There are many great border collie specific rescues and all-breed rescues also get border collies from time to time. Puppies are even available occasionally, but there's a real advantage in knowing what the personality of an adult dog will be.

Best wishes in your pursuit.

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Greetings, and welcome to the boards!

I think the best way for you to find the right dog is to go through a border collie rescue. If you get a dog from a rescue, no matter what age the dog is, he or she will have been living for at least a couple of weeks and most often much longer with a foster home. The foster person will have closely observed the dog in various circumstances, probably done some training, and will know who that dog is and what kinds of personality and needs that dog has.

A puppy is always an unknown quantity, even from the best working breeders, and as you are a first time border collie owner I would recommend getting an older dog, say at least 6 months, so that you can know what kind of personality that dog has.  Rescues get dogs of all ages in all the time. Don't wait until you see a likely prospect on the rescue's website; put in your application now. Most if not all will need an interview and a home check, and you want to get those taken care of so that when the dog you are attracted to comes up for adoption you can step in right away to go visit and possibly adopt that dog.

Best of luck!

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I agree with Gentle Lake and D'Elle. Please consider a rescue border collie - for all the reasons mentioned above.

I would definitely urge you to try and adopt through a BC specific rescue since they are more familiar with the breed and can help you find a good match.

 

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Questions I would ask either a rescue or a breeder:   How is this dog to live with or how are dogs from this kennel to live with?  to work with?   Is there epilepsy or any other health issue in the lines?  (Hint: there are no perfect dogs.).    How well does the dog/do these lines get along with other dogs/with other dogs of the same sex/with non-border collies?  Are they reactive to cars and/or motion?    Are there any issues with thunderstorms or noise in general?   

I’d also ask about the strengths of dog or the dog’s lines, and why the breeder picked those dogs to breed — does the breeder’s vision of the perfect BC match what you want?   Why does the rescue think “this” dog is good fit for you versus another dog?

There are no right or wrong answers and there are no perfect dogs.   But information, honestly given, is always good.

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Hey everybody, thanks for the responses! I read them all.

A rescue BC is actually my #1 choice because the personality match between me and the dog is the most important thing to me and like you guys said, I can't know how an 8-week puppy will turn out. Plus this is Border Collies we're talking about and adjusting to living with this breed is not going to be without its difficulties so it makes sense to stack the odds of success in my favor. I hear that if I get a little bit older dog, some of the Border Collie edge is gone, so that'd probably be good for me to start with. (But when I'm savvy I wouldn't mind taking on a crazy puppy haha.)

The dilemma though is that I live in Southern California and it doesn't seem like Border Collies are very common out here. Most of the dogs I see in rescue are mixes and of the purebred dogs I do see, they virtually always seem to have issues making them unsuitable for life with me, such as intense fear of strangers or wanting to bite at everything that moves. I want to have this dog out in public and not have to worry about it getting me sued, you know? I want to be able to work it off leash at the park and out in the fields around here.

Does it seem like I'll have to go out of state to get a dog? How would that work? Do you fly out to a rescue and visit with all their dogs or something?

 

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Southern California is home to several border collie rescues, and there are also several listed online as being available in shelters.

Please also remember that not all dogs are in rescue because they have issues. In fact, most of them are there through no fault of their own. I got my Jester from BC Rescue of Southern CA, and they had wonderful dogs for adoption all the time.

If you don't see a dog that interests you right away, have patience. Also remember that a dog might be fearful at first, but can learn not to be. The process of bringing a dog out of his or her shell is very rewarding and creates a strong bond . Be patient and keep looking. And fill out your application forms now and get approved ahead of time. If you wait until they have the dog you think you want, it will be adopted by someone else while you are going through the home check and application process.  You won't have to go out of state; there are lots of border collies needing homes right where you are.

Best of luck.

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Are the dogs I see on the rescue websites only a small percentage of the dogs needing homes? Like for example on this site, I might only see one or two dogs on there at a time: http://bcrescue.net/bcr_available_dogs.html

Oh and the reason I'm thinking Trinity is not good for me is because my Corgi doesn't like dogs that get all up in her face--she'll snap at them. When we had our GSD-mix and they first met, the GSD-mix wanted to sniff her constantly for the first couple weeks and the Corgi didn't like that very much but once the GSD-mix lost interest, they were fine together. Well it seems like a dominant dog would push my Corgi's buttons and maybe cause a fight?

And Clyde seems like maybe he's not a 100% Border Collie? I have nothing against him finding a home I just have my heart set on a full BC. He also seems like 10 years old or something? He's probably got arthritis or something or will have it soon, yeah? So not probably not good for me when I want something I can go out and play frisbee with or do agility or whatever, yeah?

I'm trying to practice sizing up rescue dogs. I probably suck at it right now, but if anybody wants to give feedback then at least I can learn from my mistakes.

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Often rscues doesn't put all the dogs that are available on the website for various reasons, although I am surprised that there are only 2 up there right now. 

 However, this is why it is so important for you to put in your application now, no matter whether you see one you like or not. Be very complete in filling out the application, explaining what you plan to do with the dog. It will help the rescue folks to know what dog will be good for you. I suggest that you contact the rescue directly as well as putting in an application and ask them about the dogs they have available and if there are some not on the website. Don't be impatient, as they are all very busy and may take a while to reply to you. It might take several weeks or even months to find the right dog for you, but what does that matter when you will have and love that dog for 10 to 14 years? You want to take your time and get the right dog.

Also, that rescue organizes "fun days" for the foster dogs and their people, and for all the adopted border collies and their people, usually coinciding with the major holidays. I started going to those events months before I got my dog. By doing that, I let them get to know me and that helped. Plus, those fun days really are a blast.

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That is one rescue. Not all rescues are large or have a lot of dogs at any one time. And even busier rescues will have times when they have more or fewer dogs.

You should expect that finding the right dog, whether it's through rescue or a breeder, will take some time and be patient with the process. You've got to do some research and wait for the right dog to come along.

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Well, it's fine with it taking a little while to get a dog because I was wanting to wait about a year anyway so I can finish paying off my credit cards. :)  We refinanced our house and we're using the extra money to pay off the credit cards that couldn't go on the house (they would only do the new loan up to a certain amount). The loan paid off like 12 credit accounts and we've been using the extra money each month to pay off the rest. It's going good (my credit score is ~790 now, whoa o.0) but I was thinking I'd wait until everything is paid off to get another dog because then there will be plenty of money for vet bills and training classes and gas and just whatever. 

But still given this I should submit an application now to each rescue that I know of in So Cal? 

What do I do if in the meantime they do find a really great dog for me? Should I let it go? Or should I take it on and let it take longer to pay back the credit cards? Or is that a bad financial decision? I'm kinda leaning toward making credit cards the priority but I'm not a financial expert or anything.

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IMO, if you're really not ready for a dog now it doesn't make much sense to start looking now. No rescue's going to hold a dog for you until you've gotten things together. . . .

. . . . unless you're willing (and able) to go ahead if that right dog shows up.

And as for your considering fostering, keep in mind that many rescues will pay medical expenses that crop up, but you'd be responsible for feeding and whatever incidental expenses that you'd incur for another dog. So make sure you know what you're signing up for before you apply to foster.

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No advice on paying off CCs or get dog and taking longer to pay off CCs, but when you DO get a dog, one piece of advice: health insurance.

Either self-finance -- put some money into a separate account every month for emergencies, not so much for routine care which you may want to budget/pay for with regular household account

or look into pet insurance. I am doing that right now, but haven't decided which company.

Depending on how far you are willing to look/drive for a new dog (and depending on the policies of the rescue), you may also want to keep an eye on Arizona BC rescue. I have seen some nice ones posted on their site. I am involved with Blue Ridge Border Collie Rescue in VA, and we have adopted dogs out of state (a couple of times, several states away), but the adopter did have to drive to meet and pick up the dog. Home visits can be done by a local reputable rescue or other (vet, vet tech, dog-savvy friend of friend).

I really like D'Elle's suggestion of forming relationships with a rescue (i.e going to a fun day or maybe help by volunteering with transport or staffing their booth at public events).

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Don't fill out applications until you are ready to take in a dog is my advice. Whenever that turns out to be, debt paying or not.

But, DO form relationships with the rescues if you have the time to help out at events. That way, they get to know what kind of person you are and will be more likely to give you the right dog.

I didn't think I should have a dog, living in LA in one room with no yard. But I wanted one more than anything in the world, so I went to all of the Southern CA BC Rescue's events for about a year and hung out and helped. They got to know me and I them and it was fun. When I realized that, no matter what, I HAD to have a dog they adopted one to me without hesitation because they knew I would be dedicated to giving the dog a good life, despite my living circumstances. And in fact, the foster person picked out the dog for me.....one I had not been interested in from the website, but who turned out to be my amazing Jester, who I still miss daily.

If you take your time the right dog will be there.

If you think you might foster "in the meantime", rethink that. You might end up wanting to keep the foster dog. And they take just as much time and money as your own will except for the vet bills.

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That’s really interesting, D’Elle. Makes my experience with CA rescues make more sense. I had active applications in with several local CA rescues and watched these for years. Every dog I inquired about was either already taken (understandable) or I would be rejected because I have another dog and/or child. I never inquired about dogs the rescue listed as needing to go to a childless or single dog household, by the way. Couldn’t figure out who they were actually adopting dogs to, since from my end I thought I had everything they would want — dog centered life, house with fenced yard in rural area with easy access to river swimming and hiking, dog friendly work place, experience with  BCs, etc. Great advice on getting involved if you want a dog from a highly competitive breed-focused rescue. 

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Hmm, I didn't realize Border Collie adoptions around here were so competitive. Maybe this is why I never see the same dogs for long on bcrescue.net Apparently people snatch them up like hot potatoes.

So now is the time to start forming relationships with the rescues, so I have an advantage against the competition, eh? How do I go about that?

Obviously this includes going to their events but what can I do when they're currently not holding anything? Just email them and stuff? Just yap about why I like the breed and the things I've done with dogs?

----

I went to the Arizona BC rescue website and I quickly saw one that caught my interest, which has yet to happen with the other rescue, so maybe that means this is the rescue I should invest a lot of time into getting to know? Maybe this is the one that could hook me up when I'm ready.

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17 hours ago, starry777 said:

Just email them and stuff? Just yap about why I like the breed and the things I've done with dogs?

No. Definitely don't do that unless you want to just make a pest of yourself and make a bad impression.

Remember that these folks are all volunteers with families, jobs, other commitments and most likely (multiple) dogs and/or fosters of their own to care for. The last thing they want to do is get flooded with emails and other forms of communication while you run off about yourself. I volunteer for a border collie rescue in the Northeast, so ask me how I know. :rolleyes:

Even if you're not currently in a position to foster, there are plenty of other things that rescues need help with including fundraising, committees for things like applications and intake, help with transport, etc. Contact them and ask them how you can be useful, but don't take waste their valuable time.

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13 minutes ago, GentleLake said:

No. Definitely don't do that unless you want to just make a pest of yourself and a bad impression.

Remember that these folks are all volunteers with families, jobs, other commitments and most likely (multiple) dogs and/or fosters of their own to care for. The last thing they want to do is get flooded with emails and other forms of communication while you run off about yourself. I volunteer for a border collie rescue in the Northeast, so ask me how I know. :rolleyes:

Even if you're not currently in a position to foster, there are plenty of other things that rescues need help with including fundraising, committees for things like applications and intake, help with transport, etc. Contact them and ask them how you can be useful, but don't take waste their valuable time.

So there's probably something I could do even though I live 5 hours away? Or do rescues typically only have a use for volunteers that are more local?

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It depends. I live pretty far away from most of the coverage area of the rescue I volunteer for. I joke that I'm on the western frontier. But I can do things like application reviews that are done on line. A lot of the ppl on the intake committee never see most of the dogs that come in, but they can field inquiries from ppl asking about relinquishing a dog or liaise with shelters that might get dogs in we can help with, etc. There are usually jobs that need to be done that don't require in person interaction.

But if someone contacts us just to tell us who they are and chat about border collies as you initially suggested, we politely tell them to fill out an application and we don't engage any further. No one really has the time for much more interaction than that that usually doesn't end up going anywhere.

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What Gentle Lake said.

If you live 5 hours away there may not be anything you can do to assist them. But see if you can get on their mailing list, and then they will email you when a "Fun Day" or other event is scheduled. If you are willing to drive to get there, you can then go to some and let them get to know you. Main thing is, don't be pushy. Let it take the time it takes. I spent a year letting them get to know me and it was well worth it. Since you may not be ready for a year anyway, you have the time. The events are fundraisers as well, so see what you can do to help set up and clean up. I never left one of the events until I had helped to the very end of the cleanup. I didn't talk about myself; just let my actions speak. This is a good approach in any group.

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I've got a friend that lives in Phoenix, so I'd definitely be interested in driving to a fun day out there. If the fun day somehow wasn't fun, well, at least I could see my friend haha xD But I went to a fun day once with the BC rescue closest to me and it was great. I liked watching the busy Border Collies running in every direction and asking the owners questions about their dogs.

Also helping clean up is a good idea. As I recall, I did that at the fun day I went to and it was an opportunity to talk to everyone without them being distracted by the other guests. I believe I was one of the last people there.

And yeah I've been waiting 15 years to get a Border Collie so what's one more year? Haha :) 

Oh and I just went and I subscribed to the ABCR mailing list.

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