May 2016

Trek has been adopted!

November 2015

Hi Everyone, I’m Trek! I’m a 1 ½ year old black and white, male border collie. My foster family tells me I’m quite beautiful and athletic and smart and sweet and funny — I’m gonna have to trust them on this. Here’s what my foster mom says about me:

Trek came to us from the local Humane Society, surrendered because he had more energy than his family knew how to handle. When he came home, he met his big brothers, Duffy and Dodger, and loved them immediately, without reservation or distance or manners (we were quite relieved because the Humane Society noted that he reacted to other dogs). Duffy and Dodger being the foster dog veterans they are took it in stride, correcting and ignoring, and correcting and ignoring, until finally it was correcting and playing!

For the first year of his life, Trek lived outdoors, so moving into a house was new territory, he barked at everything – the dishwasher, the vacuum, the washer and dryer, the blow dryer, his own reflection in the sliding glass door, car horns, kids laughing, the shower. He didn’t know the difference between an end table and the floor and he wasn’t house trained. We gated him off in the kitchen, and had two kitchen chairs to keep it in place – the strong athlete that he is, he jumped up on one of the chairs and sat there smiling away at us – he was such a goofball, we had to laugh – personality plus was starting to shine through, and so affectionate and loving, he couldn’t get enough and we quickly saw that this was a great training treat.

He tackled house training in a week – good, smart boy Trek! Overcoming his fear of the dishwasher took about a month of calling him and treating him, while the dishwasher hummed away. We had to crate him when we vacuumed, usually covering his crate with a blanket so he wouldn’t be driven to distraction, one of us stationed nearby to feed him treats, slowly the association switched. We were able to start the vacuum with him sitting next to it and treating him like crazy when he didn’t bark – we were so thrilled when he graduated to no barking and lunging when we vacuum. This was such an encouraging point, because finally his desire to please us, was higher than his fear – woot woot!!!

Other sounds also triggered this smart little pup – car horns and dogs barking outside mainly. We spent the summer with windows closed and air conditioning on to lessen the input, and treated him constantly when we saw him triggered. When a dog barks now and he’s in the house, he turns on a dime when we call him, not always expecting a treat, just as often completely satisfied with sweet talk and a good ear rub. Outside, was a bit different, he responded to treats so well, that after a couple days of calling him for treats, it dissipated pretty quickly. Occasionally, we’ll see that reaction come back, but he can be quickly distracted. A left over from being left outside as a puppy, is that he wouldn’t go outside to potty unless one of us went with him, we think he was afraid he wouldn’t be let back in with us again!

During the first month, we learned that he was a car chaser – yikes – how are we going to get a border collie with an extremely strong herding instinct not to herd cars?! We were saved by a soccer ball –he could outrun and catch any ball booted his way and clearly reveled in every second of it – he would play until he would exhaustedly carry the ball to the back door.

This was how we exercised him for a good two months, until he was ready to go on an actual walk. We’d kick the ball until he couldn’t go anymore, then take him for a short walk. It was completely miserable at first, with him snapping and lunging, anyone who would see us would be wide-eyed, but this was something he had to overcome to get to the next step.

He went through about 3 months of this miserable, lunging and snapping. We tried asking for sits, treating and soothing him, turning him in the opposite direction, everything the dog trainers tell you to do. Finally, in a moment of complete frustration, I picked him up and put him on his side. He was stunned. I was stunned. I’ve never done that with any other dog, and hope to never do it again. But boy, did it get his attention — he finally understood who was alpha and I wonder, if he wasn’t just a little bit relieved. I held his collar, told him to leave it and we sat and watched every car together – he wanted to jump at them with every ounce of his being, but when I told him to ‘leave it,’ he listened — my husband and I were in complete disbelief.

From there, it has only continued to improve – he continues to be on alert for cars, but when told to leave it will either sit and watch them drive past or more often now, keep walking, but at a quicker pace. We are thrilled with his progress in this arena and I’ve started running with him in the morning because I can trust that he’s going to be a good running partner! Again, we are completely wowed by his learning curve. We’re currently working on no pulling – I have every reason to believe he’ll get there, he’s come so far already.

The next step was to get him to drive in a car without working himself into a lather. His first trip to the vet, he flipped his own crate, lunging at cars. We began to drive him to a local park with paved paths, the association quickly formed between a fun walk and the car. He’s grown to love the car. Eventually, he learned to sit on a seat just like his pals and ride nicely – again kudos to Trek for his willingness to please us and leave old fears behind!

This has been a journey with this amazing dog, one that has been completely worth it because the dog that he’s become is a smart, eager to please, sweet, affectionate love of a dog! He is still impulsive, we’re working on a good sit when we come home or people come to visit. Occasionally, he will still join us on a dining room chair when we’re gathered after a meal, sitting there like that’s his place, then remembering and hopping down.

He is a high energy, high drive dog. He would excel with an experienced border collie owner who wants to get him in some sort of competition. He is sleek, strong, fast, he has ‘the eye’ when he hunkers down for a soccer ball to be kicked. He came from working farm dogs and would likely do well working sheep or cows. He is loyal and loving and playful. There are certain dogs that he just doesn’t like, so he will always have to be introduced to other dogs gradually. He wrestles with Duffy every single night after dinner, because that’s the formal wrestling hour as noted on the border collie calendar. He will chase squirrels, birds, rabbits and sprinklers! We have not tackled his fear of the lawn mower, but that’s easily handled by keeping him indoors.

We wouldn’t recommend a family with young children, because he will herd them, which may include nipping at the bum and heels. A family that runs or hikes or has land would be ideal for this beauty of a boy. We just love the stuffing out of this guy and are so proud of how far he’s come in these past six months. We think he will make a joyful addition to the right family. He is a true blue border collie, so if you love everything the breed represents, he may be the right dog for you.

Trek is being fostered in Wisconsin. For information about Trek, email Mary at: schmelzermary@gmail.com.