It's a looooong story and has been heartbreaking for us sometimes. Shaun and I have always wanted rescue dogs but have not qualified for many dogs we liked mainly due to not being home during the day (how dare we work). Also, we need a dog that will not try to munch our rabbits so that has been difficult. However, there were some dogs we did qualify to adopt: Baxter (male spaniel) didn't get along with the the last rescue dog we introduced him to and also the dog could not be around children which is no good as we have plenty of friends with kids. The 2 foster Spaniels we had were severely dog aggressive and we would not adopt them for that reason. Sadly, one of them had to be PTS which was very traumatising to go through. I know she is in a better place now, without any stress and that is my only consolation. And the last dog we tried to adopt the owner changed their mind about giving up the dog to the shelter on the day we were supposed to collect it. Anyway, we decided that we wouldn't try to adopt any more dogs because it is too upsetting and is also extremely stressful on our own dogs.
BUT... then I met this lovely girl, Dolly, at the Animal Anti-Cruelty League (Epping) (AACL) where I volunteer. Honestly she is just so amazingly sweet I could not let anyone else take her without trying to see if we could. She was surrendered to the AACL as a suspected puppy mill dog. She is a Border Collie and is slightly smaller than the average smallest size for her breed but I think she could still fatten up a bit. She's super smart, learns so quickly, and has the sweetest little personality. They told me that she's deaf but I think she just didn't want to listen to anyone else because they were not convincing enough, but my clicker and treats have really worked in convincing her to listen!
So, on the 22nd of December we were approved to adopt a dog from AACL and of course I wanted to adopt Dolly. 2 days later I picked her up and we introduced her to our dogs. Firstly, Baxter is quite weary of other dogs and we struggled to introduce them. Secondly, Dolly took to attacking Ruby if Ruby was getting attention somebody. So we started working on that, and Dolly's relationship with Ruby and Baxter has significantly improved.
However, shortly after we got Dolly home, me not thinking as a behaviourist and only thinking as a normal person, turned on our bedroom fan while Dolly was in the room. Now, our bedroom fan is stainless steel and very shiny. Dolly went absolutely BESERK!!! She can jump EXTREMLY high! She jumped up trying to bite the fan - squealing, barking, and generally just going mad. I struggled to get a hold of her. In typical Border Collie style she nipped at me when I tried to grab her by the harness. Anyway, I got her out of there and turned the fan off but she still goes mad every time she sees it. At first I thought she just got a fright, but I forgot to consider that Border Collies can often have a predisposition to Canine Compulsive Disorder (CCD). CCD is basically the equivalent of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in humans. One of the most common CCD traits in Border Collies is light chasing. So... when I tried to put the Christmas lights on, you can imagine the mini heart attack I had when she rushed over barking on the top of her lungs, jumping around, and snapping at the air. Needless to say we had a Christmas lightless house on Christmas day. In addition to light chasing, Dolly also does fly chasing - this is when they snap at imaginary flies. The main problem with her behaviour was that she set off a chain reaction where Baxter began trying to attack her (because what the hell is this cacophony anyway???) and then Ruby would also chime in. 3 dogs 2 of them high pitched barking and going ballistic. Kinda difficult to deal with but we used distraction to calm the dogs down and now Baxter is not as phased as he was in the beginning by this strange occurrence.
Then on Christmas day we had a slight setback in her behaviour, Ruby came to join us in bed and Dolly ran at her snapping and barking chasing Ruby out of our room. No way is that cool. NO WAY! Of course, what can you do once it is over? No good punishing her, because she will not know why she was punished. So we left it and just continued to nurture and reinforce any good behaviour she showed towards Ruby. Bitch on bitch aggression is the most difficult behaviour problem to resolve and so we are treading very carefully in this area.
Despite her CCD and some bad snaps at our dogs, Dolly has continued to improve in the way she behaves towards our dogs and for me that is the most important part. I am hoping that her relationship with Ruby will continue to improve. As for Baxter, Dolly is his new strange friend. She's a bit weird but he likes her anyway. Which is SUPER!! Ruby still needs some convincing. So, we need to work on her CCD big time! On the 7th of January we have a behaviourist coming out to see our dogs. I'm only in my first year of animal behaviour studies and would prefer a qualified and experienced professional who uses positive methods comes to see our dogs. We firstly wanted the behaviourist to come because Baxter was becoming fearfully reactive to other dogs. However, now that we managed to introduce him to another dog (which was our main goal) we have bought some time and can use the first behaviourist session to start evaluating and formulating an action plan for Dolly's CCD.
Wish us luck as we work through these first months of our dogs getting used to living with another dog. They say a rescue dog's true personality only comes out from 2 weeks to several months, so we are anxious to see whether Dolly improves or deteriorates.
Please leave some comments if you have experience of adopting a dog, especially if you've had to deal with CCD. Would love to hear from you!
Hope you've all had a pawsome Christmas!
Love from Shaun, Keshia, Ruby, Baxter, Dolly, Einstein, and Delilah.