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Pam Palmer

We made a bad choice...

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It appears that Border Collies, at least the one we chose, are not the right type of dog for us. When we took Chip home, we knew that he had possible separation anxiety, but that was an understatement. He managed to tear out of a steel crate (cutting his foot in the process) and destroy everything he could find in my house. After dumping over 20 gallon planters full of soil and dragging it all over the house, he was banished outside for the day. When I returned home, he was on the side of the house, along with our other little dog. He had dug a huge hole under the fence. The ground is very hard here in Texas, so I'm sure it took him most of the day and a lot of work. His pads are worn and red.

Chip is very loving and loyal to me and can be incredibly sweet, but I can't afford to replace everything in my home and I have to be gone all day for work, as does my husband. I can't help but think that Chip would do much better in a home with some land, maybe cattle, sheep or the like. Or at least a home where someone is there for more time. He doesn't show any destructiveness if someone is home. Even if he is in another part of the house and can't see you, he's fine.

I live in Fort Worth, TX. If anyone wants or knows someone that wants a Border Collie, please ask them to email me at [email protected]. He is 14 months old, neutered, current on all vaccs and had a Proheart injection in January. He gets along well with other dogs, cats, and children. He jumps up and nips, but only does it to me when I return home from somewhere. He has never done that to anyone else.

At this point, it's either Chip goes or my husband goes. This dog has pushed him too far.

We don't need training advice (I think we've tried everything we could think of already), we just really need to find a place where Chip can be happy. I have some other avenues to try, but I wanted to start with Border Collie lovers first since the breed does take a special owner. Thanks for reading this.

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I applaud you for admitting the problem and doing the right thing. I hope you don't hear any crap from anyone here...some can be a bit harsh at times. BCs are indeed tough. While our BC doesn't have the issues you're dealing with...he does have his own problems from not being in an appropriate environment for a BC. But we can hang on for now, because we know in the near future we will be living in a much better situation for him. We hope within a year to be in a home with a few acres and can then provide him with a handful of sheep or goats to herd and keep him occupied. I'm sorry you're having to do this, I am sure it is very hard on you right now. :rolleyes:

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Thanks for your kind words, LeeH. I knew I was taking a big chance at being hammered by posting this information, but I really want to find Chip a great home and I know that BC lovers are the best place to start!

 

Hopefully we can get Chip into a new home soon so that he can be happy and safe.

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HI

I dont know if this will help or not.there is a Border collie rescue for north dallas area. I have lost the link.. but i found it in the Pet finder. when you do a search. IM postive they would be willing to take your BC in. I also believe they are located in Denton area. Please do a search the rescue folks would be your best solution!

And thankyou for being responsible enough to realize it wasnt working good job!

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Where did you get Chip? If from a breeder, have you contacted the breeder? Many breeders require that if you can't keep the dog, it be returned to them. If you adopted him from a shelter, you may have signed a contract that stated that you would return him to the shelter if you could not keep him.

 

You said that you've tried everything you can think of but there are a lot of effective strategies for handling separation anxiety in dogs, including hiring a veterinary behaviorist who can evaluate behavior, formulate a treatment protocol, and prescribe medication if needed. I know of many people who were able to use behavior modification strategies combined with medication (temporarily) to successfully help their dogs overcome SA, without having to quit their jobs and stay home all day, and without having to give up the dog. This is not training advice or "hammering", just sharing some info.

 

I would agree that a rescue organization may be better able to help you place Chip than doing so on your own. I know some people (NOT friends of mine, thank goodness) who adopted an ACD out of the paper (the people were trying to find a "good home" for the dog rather than take him to the shelter), and less than a year later, turned him in to the shelter because they just didn't have time for him. I wonder how the people they got him from would feel knowing that was eventually their dog's fate?

 

Here's a link, you could maybe start here:

 

You might start here:

 

http://www.bcrescuetexas.org/

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Hi Pam -

 

You are doing the right thing. At first I thought - "well there are so many ways to work with this dog." But it's obvious that you guys have had it and it is smart that you are looking to properly home your dog.

 

Contact rescue and explain the dire situation. Tell them you are afraid that dog is going to seriously injure itself or take off and get killed. Hopefully they will have the resources to take him off your hands quickly. It would be best if you could give some sort of donation to them to help home this dog. Especially if you need him taken off your hands quickly.

 

Also - why not just get rid of the husband? :rolleyes: You said it was either the dog or the husband. I'm sure there is a "husband rescue" group out there in Texas!

 

Anyway - good luck. I think if you are persistant and honest with the rescue groups they can take the dog. But check your contracts first to see if you need to return the dog.

 

PS - I just re-read your post and it says you knew he had possible seperation anxiety. So does that mean this dog came from rescue? You must not have had him long if his seperation anxiety is not getting any better and you have tried training. Why can't you just take the dog back where you got him?

 

Denise

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I'm with BigD- get rid of the hubby! :rolleyes:

 

(sorry, but some days I'd really rather hang with the dogs than the hubby)

 

It's also true about the breeder. If you got this dog from a breeder, contact them!! I have it in my sales contract that any pup I sell is to come back to ME first if they are unable to keep it for any reason....no questions asked. Any good breeder will be more than happy to take your dog in.

 

Good luck!!

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I actually got the dog from the animal shelter where I work. Yep, I see people just like me everyday turning in perfectly good animals like Chip. I have the resources to log him back in at our shelter and foster him until the right person comes along. I thought I would start with the boards because I don't want Chip to go to a home like ours where they will realize, either sooner or later, that he doesn't fit in with their plan. I really want to find a home where he will have plenty of time with his owners and plenty of room to run (read: farmland?).

If I don't get any response here on the boards, I will put him on our shelter's website and try to find the right home for him that way. I know it will not be a quick fix because I will not let Chip go to a home that will not be able to care for him and may drop him off at the shelter where I found him in the first place!

He's a wonderful dog and it breaks my heart that we can't make it work. I'm going to miss him terribly, but it will be easier if I know that I have found the absolute best place for him.

Thanks again to everyone for your insight and your suggestions. All are very welcome and needed!

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I'm curious as to what you've done to try and deal with Chip's separation anxiety. The fact that you "banished" him to the yard in response to the event you described makes me wonder if you've gotten bad advice about how to deal with this problem. Separation anxiety is a difficult problem to deal with but it IS treatable even if you are not home during the day (although this makes things more difficult), especially if you are willing to use anti-anxiety medications while you are rehabbing the dog.

 

The reason that I'm saying this is that, as you know since you worked in a shelter, it is not easy to find good homes for dogs. It is even more difficult to find good homes for high-drive dogs who not only require a great deal of activity, but also require someone to be around all day. The fantasy home you describe, where no one ever leaves the dog alone and he has his own livestock to herd to his heart's content, is for most dogs, just that -- a fantasy. Folks are not lining up to adopt dogs with separation anxiety so severe that they break out of steel crates when left alone. Chip's best option -- and yours, if you love him -- is for him to stay with you and get better, not to get passed off to someone else.

 

There is nothing inherent about the Border Collie breed that requires them to have separation anxiety. If you were able to deal with the separation anxiety, would you still be unable to keep Chip? Is it that you can't handle a high drive dog of any breed? Or a dog at all at this time?

 

We've had a number of discussions about treating separation anxiety on these boards, which a search of the archives will reveal. One of my dogs had severe separation anxiety (along with other anxiety and aggression issues) when I got him, which has almost entirely resolved itself with treatment and training. This is not an intractable problem, although it requires persistence, dedication, and compassion to treat successfully. I just want you to know that you have other options than giving up the dog, especially just in case you find it difficult to put him into rescue (many rescues are simply stuffed to the gills and don't have the space or resources to take in special-needs dogs). You're doing the right thing not recycling him back into the shelter system. That would be unfair to him and would probably only make him worse, and he is unlikely to get adopted.

 

I thought about putting my dog into rescue when I first got him, because I really didn't think I could handle him. Luckily for me, all the rescues were full and I got stuck with him. I couldn't with good conscience put him into a shelter, where he would either likely get adopted to someone else who would also dump him, or get put down as unadoptable. At first I thought to myself, I'll work with him until space at a rescue opens up, which is what you may end up doing with Chip. After a while I realized that it would be a very long time before space at a rescue opened up, and then a short while later I found myself thinking of Solo as my dog even though he was totally not what I (or pretty much anyone else) wanted when I got him (he wouldn't eat, he cried all night so I couldn't sleep, he couldn't be left alone even for 30 seconds without screaming bloody murder, he growled at my friends and tried to rip their pants). Ultimately, the only option I found acceptable was to keep him and rehabilitate him -- anything else and I would not have been able to look at myself in the mirror in the morning. I've never been sorry that I did keep him. We may be very different people and I don't expect everyone to make the choices I made, but do know that you have a choice. Keeping Chip and working with him is also an option for you.

 

It could be that a couple of months from now you are looking back, as I did, and thinking, "Wow, I can't believe I almost got rid of this dog. What a mistake that would have been."

 

Good luck.

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Maybe also check out the link that Lucy Goosey listed... rescue goups often have foster homes that can take the dog and help re-socialise and otherwise assess and train the dog while he awaits his final home. That would get him out of your hands (where he's doing harm to himself and others - good thing he and your other dog didn't take off and get run over after the "jailbreak"!) fairly immediately, at the same time as (hopefully) getting him into a place where he might be able to start to work on some of the issues you inherited him with. Maybe your shelter is different, but a lot of times in shelters people don't have time to work with dogs on getting over their isseus, simply due to the sheer number of dogs. Also, a shelter might be a MUCH more stressful environment for this dog than a foster home; for a dog with separation issues (and God only knows what other history before you met him), that seems counterproductive to me. Just a thought.

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Just a couple of things I feel I need to mention.

 

Your dog does not have separation anxiety because he is a border collie, he has separation anxiety because he has separation anxiety. The problem is by no means unique to border collies. Don't confuse the breed with the problem.

 

The more times the dog gets rehomed, the worse his anxiety issues will be. We are no longer able to take SA dogs, because foster homes where the dog will NEVER be left alone are few and far between, and finding adopters for them is even harder. Even if we get it under control in foster care, moving the dog often brings it all back up again.

 

And finally, you have no way of knowing if Chip wants a home with "sheep and cattle" if he's an untested dog. And don't make the mistake of thinking that every livestock person out there is just waiting for the chance to take on your shelter dog with behavioural issues. Because they really aren't.

 

I'm not suggesting that you keep Chip if you can't deal with his issues. I could not live with nor manage a dog with severe SA either, so I'm certainly not judging you or your decisions. But I'm trying to present a realistic portrait of your, and Chip's, options. Unfortunately, they are pretty minimal and you're hoping for things that are pretty hard to come by.

 

I agree with Melanie that independence training, confidence building, exercises to minimize his stress and probably medication are in the best interests of the dog right now. What steps you take after that have to be realistic ones.

 

And a final caution, from someone who has interviewed hundreds and hundreds of applicants over the years - be very very careful. When people think they have fallen in love with a dog, you can describe the dog's issues until you are blue in the face, and most of it will not sink it. You can say "Separation Anxiety" a thousand times and lots of them hear "He's really attached to people." The chances of him coming back the first time he pulls the same behaviour as he's displayed with you are really, extraordinarily, high.

 

Good luck.

 

RDM

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this may sound really horrible, but if the poor dog is so destructive, and the present owner simply doesn't have the resources to rehabilitate him, and there is no guarantee that his next home(s) will be able to help him, would it be wrong to have him humanely put down? I don't know, but I've seen dogs that have awful problems, and if I was them, I think I'd want to be put out of my misery rather than have a continued tortured existence. I'm sure it isn't the poor dogs fault, he is a victim of bad circumstances...

so I guess I wonder is it morally acceptable to have a dog put down for serious S/Anxiety ???

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Originally posted by SoloRiver:

It could be that a couple of months from now you are looking back, as I did, and thinking, "Wow, I can't believe I almost got rid of this dog. What a mistake that would have been."

 

Good luck.

I agree with this too. Dale had some serious problems as a pup (food agression, anxiety), and we almost returned him to the breeder. But we kept toughing it out and now we're so glad we did. He's a fantastic dog (even if he is still a big pansy half the time)

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Does separation anxiety really mean that the dog has to destroy everything? I think the digging, uprooting stuff in the house, etc, is just a result of boredom. Playing statues doesn`t last long in interest. Dogs need a life, not to be placed like a statue in front ot the mantle. Playing dead is short termed in interest too. Don`t all dogs just find something to do when no one is there to direct them? Just that Border Collies try harder, so do more. Why can`t dogs be a part of the owner`s life, instead of such a short fly through visit - like a few hours? That`s how I think it seems from the dog`s point of view.

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Originally posted by trailrider:

Does separation anxiety really mean that the dog has to destroy everything? I think the digging, uprooting stuff in the house, etc, is just a result of boredom.

Well, you really couldn't be more wrong. If a dog injures itself escaping from a crate because its anxiety is so intense, that's more than mere boredom wouldn't you think?

 

Separation Anxiety is a very real, and very difficult, phenomenon. Dogs with SA have been known to injure themselves extremely badly. Some dogs with SA cannot be confined; some cannot be alone at all. They often vocalize, destroy household items, hurt themselves and get themselves so worked up they will vomit, defecate etc.

 

Dogs need a life, not to be placed like a statue in front ot the mantle. Playing dead is short termed in interest too. Don`t all dogs just find something to do when no one is there to direct them? Just that Border Collies try harder, so do more. Why can`t dogs be a part of the owner`s life, instead of such a short fly through visit - like a few hours?
While what you say is all true, you're confusing a psychological problem with an understimulated dog. They are very different things. Of course dogs should be part of the family, but they should also be able to be relaxed and comfortable in the absence of attention. My dogs are alone during a typical work day and are just fine, and have been for years.

 

But dogs I have seen with SA have chewed through crates - we had one dog many years ago with severe SA and whenever he was left alone, even for short periods, he destroyed the lino by the door, ripped down the curtains, barked until he was hoarse ... one day he got out of his crate and injured himself in the process so badly he needed 170 stitches and two drain tubes. He was not a border collie. I had a friend with a dog with SA (also not a border collie) so severe that she was evicted from house after house, her dog was bloody and frantic when she returned from an absence, foaming at the mouth, and had often soiled herself. That's not boredom, that's serious anxiety.

 

That dog did really well with some independence training and on the drug Chlomicalm, and got to the point where she could be left alone with minimal vocalizing, and no longer damaged herself or tore up the stripping around the doorframe. But it took time and effort and patience.

 

It's not really fair to confuse a behavioural problem with pyschological one. While a lot of people make a lot of excuses for their dogs' behaviours, not all of them realistic, SA is not an excuse, it's a very real problem.

 

RDM

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Thanks. I really never knew what happened with separation anxiety. I`ve trained dogs for years - gave classes and my own dogs - and I guess I never ever had this type of psychological occasion. So - what actually happens in the dog`s mind to develop the behaviour from separation anxiety? Lots of dogs bark, dig, chew when left alone, but I don`t know what happens differently in the mind of a separation anxiety dog.

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Bored dogs will exhibit similar behaviors as anxious dogs, and I think it's important when assessing a dog's behavior if you suspect SA to distinguish between boredom and SA. Here are a few articles on the subject that may help folks understand SA a little better:

 

http://www.usask.ca/wcvm/herdmed/applied-e...ms/anxiety.html

http://www.ddfl.org/behavior/separtn.htm

http://www.cpvh.com/Articles/47.html

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Dogs who are bored mess things up when left alone because they are bored. Dogs with separation anxiety do it because they are terrified when they are left alone. Big difference.

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I think the question being asked was how do you tell the difference if the two very different problems are manifested with the same type of behaviour. or something to that effect

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The behavior isn't the same, except in a very superficial fashion.

 

Dogs with separation anxiety are often, but not always, anxious in other situations as well. They tend to shadow their owners from room to room and some, not all, become distressed even if their owners are in another room in the same house with the door shut. The hallmark of SA is that the problem behavior starts almost immediately after the owner leaves, whereas dogs who are bored usually take some time to get bored. Dogs who were merely bored look relaxed and happy when you come home. Dogs with separation anxiety are desperately and overwhelmingly happy when you return, and exhibit other signs of distress, like drooling and dilated pupils. Dogs who are barking due to anxiety tend to emit high-pitched, hysterical-sounding yips. Dogs barking for the hell of it have a lower-pitched bark.

 

Solo would start vocalizing as soon as I left the apartment, and it would sound like yips, screams, and howls rather than barks. He would keep vocalizing non-stop the entire time I was gone (I bought a tape recorder and ran it while I left so I would know how much he was barking). No matter when I came home, whether it was within five minutes or an hour, he was right in front of the door (this is before I got him trained to use his crate) with his pupils dilated like saucers, soaked in his own drool. I would leave him toys and food, but they would be untouched (one of the major hallmarks of SA is that even if you leave really yummy treats, the dog is too upset to eat them). He would practically turn inside out in what looked like a desperate sort of joy mixed with relief when I returned. He was never destructive in the apartment, but once I had to go out of town and left him with a friend, and at her house he broke out of a wire crate (by bending the door and pushing it out), turned over a large bin of dog biscuits and didn't eat any, turned over a large bucket of tennis balls and didn't play with any, and finally removed the molding from around one door trying to get out of the room (and presumably back to me).

 

Dogs with SA literally panic when left alone. People can have SA too, you know. And I think the treatment is much the same.

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My Bc shows some anxiety at times. I try to run the daylights out of them to tire them out if I'm going away and they'll be on their own for more than an hour. They have a cozy strawstuffed house in the garage and I have wonderful neighbours who come over and let them out. Bounce will always leave a puddle on the garage floor and I'm sure its a panic response. I've had the neighbours come over within a half hour and he's already puddled.In the house at night, I can count on him to "hold it" all night. We don't crate, he destroys whatever surface is under the crate (he can flip the metal liner) so we live with puddles. One of his quirks, not a huge problem.

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I once fostered a gorgeous German Shepherd bitch who was my personal introduction to the seperation anxiety phenomenon. She would stay glued to me with hungry desperation in her eyes, whining at every movement on my part. Crating was a nightmare - one after another she destroyed three crates - one plastic airline kennel, one collapsible wire crate, and a type of crate I never see any more - a wire crate all welded solidly together, of a wire gauge heavier than a pencil.

 

She had the most horrible high-pitched shriek - the neighbors complained (I lived downtown at that time). I got so desperate I gave her sedatives while I went to my part-time job.

 

She was so beautiful that I named her "Lady". But everytime I used that name to her she'd roll over and pee. Then she'd get up and crawl to me like I'd whipped her.

 

One day, after I'd had her about three weeks and had given up on finding her a new home because of her awful behavior, I was sitting eating a salad and said something to her about the "pepper". Suddenly she was electrified! She stared at me with that alert German Shepherd expression - there was excitement but the anxiety had disappeared! "Pepper" I said again. She grinned and gently put her paw in my lap - and she then left the room!

 

Lady/Pepper was a absolute angel from that day on. She transitioned to a new home with perfect ease (I warned the new owners to use caution if they decided to change her name).

 

What I got out of this episode was that dogs like this need routine and structure. They need continuity from experience to experience. Those with anxious dogs of any kind can provide that by offering consistency and trying to tie new experiences to old ones smoothly, in some way.

 

This is also anther example of a dog with SA that was NOT a Border Collie.

 

Concerning rehoming this dog on a farm: sure, if you can find someone who is willing to be his buddy 24/7 and let him accompany him all the time, inside and out, that would be a fine home for him. You should be aware, though, that most farmers with livestock don't have time to train a dog, and don't have time to train a dog NOT to mess with the livestock. Also, most rural types think dogs belong outside. He will not get anymore pleasure out of living on 200 acres, than he did on your lot, if he cannot be with his person. If he wanted to "run" he would have taken himself for a walk the times he escaped from your yard. Instead he stayed near the house - probably still looking for his people. Most likely his time away from his person would be spent destroying the house in an attempt to get in.

 

So, I'm hoping you will take that into consideration as you evaluate potential homes. I haven't handled the dog but what a dog like this needs most often is expert handling in a home where whatever positive potential he has can be brought out so it will outshine and eventually overcome his current issues.

 

Oh, and yes, the hardest euthanasia I ever did was a drop-dead gorgeous Border Collie with the most unbelieveable anxiety disorder. He was turned in by his owners because he had bitten their son (face, requiring ten stitches). This dog's only chance at life was through work - but he literally would not move if we came near him. He'd froth at the mouth, bare teeth, curl himself into a ball, if we needed to do anything with him. We gave him six weeks of work, and then he bit two other people really badly. My vet felt that possibly he had a seizure disorder and we tried pheno, but then the bite incidents happened. We just couldn't take the liability for such a dog and at the time there were no refuges for a dog like him. I held him while the vet administered the injection. It was heartbreaking to see how for the first time since I'd seen him, he relaxed and enjoyed just a moment of pure peace before he slept.

 

I wanted to do serious damage to his breeders. My vet would have gladly helped.

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so my question is, is S/A a problem brought on by a pup being raised in unstable conditions and/or being passed from owner to owner, or is it an actual brain chemistry problem from poor breeding?

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Separation anxiety - also known as "Four dogs in the Bathroom with you" syndrome. One of the harder issues to deal with, these poor dogs really suffer.

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It seems that these are pack animals, and some can bend away from being with the pack better than others. It may depend on their perception of their living environment as they become fixed intheir concepts. Does that make any sense? I`m curious. I know people with a wolf sanctuary, and they can make even the pups comfortable psychologically, but they are never completely isolated from others.

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