Sirius Training, Serious Fun!
Sirius Training, Serious Fun!

So you think you want me?

This past weekend I was jamming with the dogs at the park (ie frisbee practice), nothing special, just playing around in the snow. It’s not terribly uncommon to draw a crowd of people to watch and occasionally they wait around to pet the pups or talk with me. I’ve been asked lots of questions about frisbee, about the training and about the dogs. The thing I’m most frequently confronted with is, “Wow, I think I’d like to get one like her! She’s the perfect size and so smart!” This probably the most “dangerous” thing about practicing frisbee or obedience with the dogs in public. Well, not surprisingly, I encountered someone who became enamored with Shayne and Rio.   This was an old acquaintance of mine–I didn’t even recognize her at first, but she was quite interested in Shayne in particular.  She asked what type of dog and such and was very interested in getting a Border Collie after she watched us.  While I hadn’t seen her in nearly a decade, this is not someone nearly committed enough to keep a BC happy–and I absolutely tried to impress this upon her–in a totally non-offensive manner of course.

It really bugs me, but it happens all the time.  People see a dog who is well trained, doing cool tricks, looks really neat, or excels at a sport and all of a sudden they think, “THAT is the dog for me.”

 

 

No fine sir or madam, THAT is not the dog for you.  Oh, so you work 8hrs a day… how do you feel about seeing 5:15am in the dead of winter…from outside while walking/jogging your dog for an hour?  Oh, you like to go out and party on the weekends?  How do you feel about having to come home from the bar at 10 or 11pm instead of last call?  Oh, so while you go out and party you like to consume alcohol?  How would you like to stop drinking way early OR better yet, be the designated driver every night you go out because you can’t crash were you drink because you have to get home to your dog?  Oh so you like to spend a quiet evening watching movies or reading books?  How do you feel about having a dog throw toys in your lap all night, whine at you to play, jump on your lap to get you to throw the ball, or bark incessantly as you try to watch The Notebook your significant other?

OOOOing and AHHHHing... at his awesome catches...

It’s so common for average people to see a well trained dog and assume it has to do with the breed so they go out and get themselves a brand new puppy Border Collie or Cattle Dog or Aussie.  I’m here to say… it’s the hours and hours and hours of training that goes into that dog that makes it so well trained.  Of course people can get lucky and buy a puppy that just happens to be more calm/relaxed and it just sort of “fits” with the family…but this should not be the expectation because it so rarely happens.

Every time I have folks ooo-ing and ahhh-ing over Shayne or Rio, I make it a point to repeatedly explain the down-sides to living with dogs like them.  I explain that these dogs, while very trainable and fun to own, are not typically the best dogs for busy families and urge them to research the breed before they bring one into the home.  There’s definitely a reason there are an overwhelming number of BCs/ACDs/Aussies in rescue/shelters that are between 9-24 months old… that’s when the cute cuddly puppy becomes a pushy, drivey, energetic teenager.

Choosing a dog needs to be more involved than simply seeing one you like and going out and buying/adopting the same breed.  This type of impulsive or uneducated choice can lead to some serious problems and end up with a dog being dumped at a shelter.  So yes, Shayne and Rio are awesome dogs who can do amazing tricks and are polite around people…but they are also annoying to live with some times and it has taken major dedication to make them so well trained.  There are really important pieces of information that need to be considered before bringing in that new dog–more on this in a future blog!

7 Comments
  1. Oh gosh! I get this all the time! So many people tell me they want a dog like Shelly cause she’s small and so mellow in public, they dont see the time and money Ive put into her ( and am still putting into her!), yes she super cute and small, but shes A LOT of dog in that small body who in the beginning ate countless headphones and shoes she also tried to de-stuff the couch on a few occasions.

    • Exactly… they don’t see the quirks/behaviors that make living with pushy, drivey, energetic dogs such a PITA! I LOVE the dogs…but y’know I’d like to be able to go to the bathroom without an audience occasionally (or without them scratching at the door to get in if i close it), I’d love to sleep past 8:30 sometimes (especially since I’m a night owl frequently up until 2:30-3 am), I’d LOVE to not have to run myself ragged during the day just so I can have a quiet night with some me-time w/o the dogs all up in my grill LOL! 🙂 I’d love them to just spend one day in my shoes (shoes i dont often complain about) and i’d bet they’d rethink their choice 🙂 LOL!

  2. Love this post! I don’t get quite the same comments as my dog is a mutt and we have no idea what she is so they can’t exactly go out and get a Shiva. 🙂 However, I do get a lot of compliments and things like “oh, what a smart dog. I want one like her!” or “I wish my dog would do that.” I tell people every single time that Shiva has these skills because of a lot of WORK. Her sit-stay is fabulous because we put in a ton of hours making it so. She is a crazy, nutty dog most of the time and if I didn’t walk her for at least two hours a day with another hour or so of training on top of that, she would be a menace to society. Which is probably why she was abandoned and brought to a shelter, because they didn’t realise how much work she would be. It’s nice to get compliments but I can’t help make it clear that she is this way because of a lot of effort, and their dog could do it to if they put the time in.

    • If most people could just get a glimpse of the work it takes to get high energy, high drive, SMART dogs to get a solid sit-stay, they would probably think twice. There are far too many dogs like Shiva, Shayne, and Rio who are all.. monsters if left to their own devices, in shelters–these are the dogs I LOVE because they tend to be excellent sport dogs…but there aren’t enough people who want a dog like that to get them out of the shelter. It has to start with people making INFORMED decisions when choosing a dog. Shiva is BEAUTIFUL by the way!

  3. I think your dogs are fantastic with you, but I know that I like my dogs quirky in different ways. Miss is such an obedience nerd – she loves doing tricks and just seems so happy to think “I can do that!” Batman is a little runner guy, and we need to work on channeling that into something productive. I love my dogs the way they are and also for what they can become.

    I’m not gonna lie, though, it’s amazing to see what you can do with your dogs! 🙂 And they are super cute, and I’d love to give them loves.

    • Thanks Nena! I love that you know your dogs so well … it makes me happy when people can make these big-picture like statements about their dogs and their personalities! Would you consider flyball or agility for Batman? Lure coursing?! Even if just for fun…give him a direction to run?

      It just drives me bonkers some times I was at the shelter last week and I saw this relinquish reason for an 18 month old beagle, “He barks too much”… Beagle 101 covers that they tend to be barkers… if you dont want a dog who barks and/or dont want to put the time into teaching a “quiet” cue (though this will not ELIMINATE the barking just allow you to control it better) then a beagle is not for you…even though they are the perfect size and coat for lots of people.

  4. Such a well articulated and important insight. Thanks!

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