After Spot, our first dog, died, we quickly realized that life without a dog is not so great. With all the grief of losing him, at his age, it didn’t come unexpected and we were actually glad that he died quietly at home and we didn’t have to make that dreaded trip to the vet…
We didn’t want another Border Collie right away since our life had turned somewhat towards chaos and the intensity of a Border Collie pup or rescue would have been too much at the time. So we decided we want an active dog but best a mix, that way we won’t compare the new friend to the old friend all that time . That would have been unfair. Some time in the future we would like to have another Border Collie rescue as long as we are young enough to keep up with her or him.
We looked at shelters. We found this:
He had a different name, but we named him Jack. He was 9 months old and very scared of most people. He loved the SO right away, with a passion, and still does. He’s his saviour, his knight in shining armour. I commute and am not around every day, so I was ‘visitor’ for some time and not quite trusted.
We read puppy books and clicker training books and everything else we could find. I’m a huge fan of Ian Dunbar’s training methods and so we used a mix of his recommendations and a bit of clicker training. I may have mentioned that I suck as a trainer, so does the SO, but we managed to make Jack a friendly and (mostly) unafraid dog. Strangers sometimes still scare him, but little else does.
First thing he did when we got him, was pee against the wall in the corridor. So we cleaned it up. Soon after that, at night, he peed on the front door. So we cleaned it up. We took him out, and did everything you do when house training a puppy (we had thought, falsely, that at 9 months he would be past that). But the routine helped and we also got used to his very low, barely audible weeping when he has to go potty. He soon learned to get our attention by lifting his front paw and knocking at the door, so that problem was soon resolved.
Trust grew over time. I’m in a solid #2 position now, and he trusts me just as much as the SO. We take long walks. He is so very different. We got him from the shelter and were told he is an Australian Shepherd mix. That can’t be true. He just doesn’t behave that way. He was still growing, and we wondered about his long, slim legs and body, and the comparatively small head. He is like Houdini, a collar is nothing to him and he even wriggles out of the harness when he absolutely wants to.
He could be called stubborn if we’d anthropomorphise. He knows what he wants and doesn’t react to force, even mild force. A louder (frustrated) voice leaves him cold. If he doesn’t want to do something, he lies on his back and kicks like a rabbit. This is also his preferred resting posture. A lot of patience and humour is needed here. But we managed. And did a bit of research. By now we are convinced that he is a Podenco mix, he behaves so much like Podencos do. And he has the ‘Podenco leap’. When he was still a pup, he would also use what we called ‘the Ninja attack.’ Try crossing the street with your dog on the leash and suddenly he jumps up with all fours and kicks at you, lands on the ground and thinks it’s funny. This picture is the best I have from ‘The Leap’, because most of the time, off leash, he looks like this…
After realizing all this, life became a lot easier. We learned to respect what he wants and he learned to respect what we want. He loves to chase rabbits, but can be called back from deer and other wildlife easily. Rabbits are his passion, though, it takes a bit longer to call him back from them. He even squeaks when he sees a rabbit or hare, which is also typical for Podencos.
We can’t do fancy things, we’re not good enough trainers for that. We need to work on “heel”, but we did a pretty good job with the “come”. It works often, though not always. And what lovelier picture than this after you call your dog? (Sorry for the quality of the pictures, I need a better camera.)