A Border Collie’s Journey to Flyball – Sasha’s Story

A Border Collie’s Journey to Flyball – Sasha’s Story

In this article, Nadine Lewis and her border collie Sasha have graciously agreed to share their amazing journey together to become confident Flyball competitors.  Get an insight into the fascinating and fun world of Flyball competitions – a competition that border collies can truly excel in!

 

Hello everyone,

My name is Nadine Lewis and I sent a photo of my border collie Sasha going over a Flyball jump to Border Collie Fan Club and was then asked to do a little piece about her journey from being a scared little girl to a confident flyballer.  Here is her story…

Just over 5 years ago my husband and I were blessed to welcome Sasha into our home and into our hearts.  Sasha was 12 weeks old when we met her, she was the last remaining puppy from an unplanned litter from two Welsh working border collies.   Arriving after a long trip to meet Sasha, we were shown an extremely scared and nervous little bundle of fur.  My heart melted.   We met her Mum who hadn’t been socialised due to her being a working dog, so she too was extremely nervous, cringing away from us.  This should have been a warning sign but Sasha had stolen our hearts and she was coming home with us.

She settled into our home and made friends with the elderly Border Collie we had at the time but I found she was extremely nervous and scared when outside of her comfort zone; to the point where she would wet herself, would not approach any new object and even tried to run away from her bum when she had noisy diarrhea!   We tried a socialising class as soon as we got her, but her fear was enormous and it really didn’t work.  I also found it difficult taking her anywhere where strangers and/or their dogs were present as her fear was so great that she’d try to hide behind me, shaking and wetting herself.  I reached the stage where I couldn’t take her anywhere which would cause her such distress.  She also showed signs of fear aggression if she felt trapped and/or threatened.

The good news was that Sasha was still very active and quite ‘ball obsessed’ even as a puppy – she would repeatedly take her ball to anyone she felt comfortable with for them to throw for her!

When she was nearly two years old I happened to see a Crufts Flyball video and wondered whether this would be something Sasha would take to and whether it would boost her confidence.  So I approached a local Flyball team (Bristol Ball-istics) and explained my ‘issues’ with Sasha.  They were super supportive and invited us to attend a training session.  With great trepidation, Sasha and I arrived at their first training session in January 2015 and as feared, Sasha was incredibly nervous.  Flyball training sessions and competitions involve an awful lot of noise from the dogs and people.

But, the Bristol Ball-istics were tremendous with Sasha.  The club captain and trainer advised fellow team members to keep themselves and their dogs away from her and kept handling of her to a minimum (i.e. only handling her when holding her to practice run-backs).  This is where someone holds the dog at the box and the handler runs to the end of the jumps.  The dog is then released to run to the handler over the jumps and get their ‘reward’, which is usually a tuggie or a treat.   The dogs are box trained, (ie. trained to jump onto the box with all four paws), which triggers a ball that they then catch.  This was a bit of an initial effort for Sasha as she really wanted to get the ball, but would sometimes shy away due to someone being nearby.  After a few training sessions, however, Sasha was doing full runs and she was clearly starting to love it.

A few months later, Sasha entered her first starters competition and performed brilliantly!  Since then she’s progressed in leaps and bounds and I find she is so obsessed with Flyball that when at a competition she pays little to anyone or anything else.  As mentioned earlier, Flyball competitions are extremely noisy with dogs (and handlers) being hyper excited and barking, screaming, shouting etc… Finding that this no longer bothers Sasha makes me really happy for her!  In fact, she now joins in with the barking!

By participating in Flyball, Sasha is doing something she really loves, she’s working (which is what Border Collies love to do), she’s keeping fit and, most importantly, she isn’t scared when flyballing.

Sasha is now in her third year of racing and has progressed to running with the Bristol Ball-istics top team who are currently the 9th seed in the UK.  Our fastest time recorded is 16.29 seconds.

Sasha will always be a nervous little girl with weird things going on her head when not playing Flyball or when outside of her comfort zone and she’ll always be wary of strangers, noises, etc… but Flyball has made such a massive difference to her life and we are so glad that we have found something that has made such a positive impact in both her life and ours.

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About This Book..
Historically, Border Collies are known as a working dog breed. Due to this very fact there are certain dog behaviors and instincts particular to Border Collies only. These behaviors and instincts define the personality of the dog. Understanding these behaviors and instincts is imperative if you desire a well-trained/behaved dog. This book is based on years of experience and thorough research helping you to choose, raise, train and live in harmony with your Border Collie. This book has been written by truly taking into consideration the breed as well as its abilities as this aspect is often ignored by owners of this dog. The content of this book will provide you with an insight of how a Border Collie relates and interacts with its owner and the outside world. Once you’ve read this book, you’ll be better equipped to own and take care of a Border Collie so that it becomes the wonderful companion it’s meant to be!

Shadow’s Story – A Deaf Border Collie’s Achievement

Shadow’s Story – A Deaf Border Collie’s Achievement

Rachel lives in Nebraska, USA and wanted to share her beloved Shadow’s story with the world.  Shadow is a deaf, pure white border collie who has never let her disability prevent her from achieving some great things!  In this great Q&A, you can learn more about how Rachel has managed to help train Shadow to pass The American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen test (CGC).

What is the name of your border collie and tell us about her (age, place of residence, any interesting background history, unique habits, etc…)? 

Shadow is 3 years old and lives in a small town in central Nebraska. Shadow was part of a puppy mill that was breeding intentionally to get pure white dogs. She started learning adapted American Sign Language at the age of 9 weeks and now knows 42 commands. She learns very quickly, she was fully potty trained by the age of 10 weeks. She loves to play Frisbee, fetch and chase bubbles.

 

How did Shadow become part of your family?

We found Shadow on Craigslist listed as “White Shepherd Puppy”. When I called to inquire, the lady told me the puppy had been rejected by her mom at 4 weeks old and she was eating on her own. She also informed me that the puppy was turning 6 weeks and it had to go because she could no longer care for her. With the OK of our vet we went and picked her up at a gas station not knowing exactly what breed she was.

Tell us about Shadow‘s condition?  How did you find out?

We discovered that Shadow was deaf when she was 9 weeks old, The smoke detector went off and it didn’t startle her or even wake her up from her nap. So I contacted the previous owner and she finally admitted to me that the mom and dad were both Merles. With a lot of online research and calling breeders, I was told that she is deaf due to the breeding of 2 Merle* dogs.

*What is a Merle? Merle is a gene that gives the dog a marble pattern on the dogs coat.  When breeding 2 Merle dogs there is a 25% chance of each pup being blind, deaf or both.  If a puppy is born with 2 copies of the Merle gene, it can strips the coat of color/pigmentation which can causes the eyes and ears to not fully develop.

 

Has being deaf been an issue for you and Shadow?  How has it affected your relationship?

Shadow‘s deafness has never been a issue. Although we have had our fair share of obstacles along the way, it’s nothing that a little patience and practice can’t fix. Shadow‘s deafness has had no bearing on how strong our bond is, It is the quality time spent with her that has made that bond strong.

 

You mentioned that you’ve been working with Shadow on attaining her trick dog titles, can you tell us more about that?  Why did you decide to go for those titles?

We were looking for something fun and challenging to do with Shadow, so I bought some books called 101 Dog Tricks and 10-Minute Dog Training Games. These books encourages the trick training to help you to engage, challenge and bond with your dog. The author of the books has a website called Do more with your dog and they offer trick dog titles at different levels of difficulty. Shadow caught on quickly and had fun with the trick training, so I decided to do the titles in memento of our hard work and accomplishments.

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You mentioned that Shadow recently earned her AKC CGC?  What is that?  How did you work through Shadow‘s disability to ensure she followed command and learned her tricks?

The American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen test (CGC) is a certification program that evaluates dogs in simulated everyday situations. Dogs that pass the CGC test are considered reliable family and community members and will receive a certificate and title (if registered with AKC) from the American Kennel Club.

To ensure that Shadow followed the commands we started practicing for the CGC almost a year prior to the test and took a CGC class so we knew what was expected during evaluation.

 

What is next for Shadow?  What does the future hold for you and her?

The AKC just changed their rules to allow deaf dogs to compete in Agility, Rally Obedience, Tracking and Sent Work. We may try out some of these sports in the future.

Do you have any advice for other Border Collie Fan Club members who have dogs with a hearing issue on how best to care for and train them? 

Patience and positive reinforcement is a must! The obedience training is the same as any other dog but it’s crucial that the dog focuses on you to learn the hand signals. “Watch me” is one the most important commands that your dog will learn. It will create a sturdy foundation to build your obedience training on because your dog will be always paying attention to you for the next command. Make sure your hand signals are distinct and keep your training sessions short but sweet to avoid frustrations.

Follow Rachel & Shadow on Twitter: @lolligurl83

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Meet Jones! A Modern Day Working Border Collie!

Meet Jones! A Modern Day Working Border Collie!

Gareth Evans would like you to meet ‘Jones’, a seven year old border collie from the small fishing village of Polperro in Cornwall.  If he looks familiar, it may be because you have seen his images before on various dog related products, websites, calendars, posters and greetings cards, as Jones is a model in the K-9 world!  To see more of Gareth & Jones’ work, check out: http://www.pawprintsdogphotography.com/

 

From a young age it was clear that he quite enjoyed having his photograph taken and appeared to pose for the camera at any given opportunity, proving an ideal model for his human ‘Gareth’ to take photographs for competitions not only on dog related sites but also on a wider scale to far larger audiences.
This exposure created tremendous interest with several individuals and companies suggesting that his photos would sell on the open market, and so his modelling career began!
Obviously any dog that works in this field has to have obtained a certain level of obedience and be able to follow instructions. Jones undertook this training at a basic level as a puppy before going on to enjoy a couple of years competing reasonably successfully in the junior classes.

Gareth believes this training has helped Jones become such an easy model to work with in front of the camera, often having to show great patience and hold a pose whilst the photographer is waiting for the correct light or the water to settle around him for a clear, sharp reflection shot, but stresses that it is important that it remains a fun activity for Jones to do, always being rewarded with a ball game or treat during and after each session. Of course there’s plenty of perks too, whilst working on a shoot for a brand of specialist doggy ice cream recently, Jones did rather well for cool treats on a hot Summers day!

Jones now appears on a range of his own Border Collie products including mugs, cards and posters, with photographs of him selling worldwide.

As I’m sure Jones would tell you himself if he could ‘it’s got to be an easier way of making a living than herding sheep up at ridiculous times in the morning on a cold winters day!’

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About This Book..
Historically, Border Collies are known as a working dog breed. Due to this very fact there are certain dog behaviors and instincts particular to Border Collies only. These behaviors and instincts define the personality of the dog. Understanding these behaviors and instincts is imperative if you desire a well-trained/behaved dog. This book is based on years of experience and thorough research helping you to choose, raise, train and live in harmony with your Border Collie. This book has been written by truly taking into consideration the breed as well as its abilities as this aspect is often ignored by owners of this dog. The content of this book will provide you with an insight of how a Border Collie relates and interacts with its owner and the outside world. Once you’ve read this book, you’ll be better equipped to own and take care of a Border Collie so that it becomes the wonderful companion it’s meant to be!

Looking for Something Cool to Wear? Check out some of these awesome Border Collie T-Shirts!

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Border Collie Lead Aggression: Lauren and Cooper’s Journey

Border Collie Lead Aggression: Lauren and Cooper’s Journey

Lauren is a full-time Business Science student and a full-time owner of a quirky, crazy, two year old Border Collie named Cooper, who has a knack for giving high-fives and rolling over. Although very loving, Cooper makes life a little extra challenging with his lead aggression which is an additional hurdle to the ones they are used to in agility. Despite that, Lauren is determined to help Cooper overcome his issues so that they can continue to explore the Cape without fear.  You can follow Lauren & Cooper on Instagram.

 

 

It’s 4AM when my mother and I dragged ourselves out of bed and departed on the long road to Sutherland from Cape Town, South Africa. We took turns driving through the Karoo desert until we eventually arrived at this small town – blink and you’d miss it. I pulled over at the edge of Sutherland. We sent them one final email to let them know we would be there ‘soon’ as we would lose all signal as we started down the muddy gravel road for the next hour and a half. 62 kilometers later, we saw them – a friendly old couple waving at us while holding a brown and white ball of fluff. They had been sending us pictures of the puppy for the last ten weeks and here he was – fat and fluffy – barely squirming as he was placed in my arms.

I decided to name him Cooper because of his blue eyes like actor Bradley Cooper. However, as he got older his eye colour changed to a light yellow colour and someone told me that Cooper means ‘feisty’ and I decided that it suited him even more. My very first dog was a Border Collie named Tess. She was quiet and reserved, well-mannered and obedient. Cooper is not like Tess. While he’s very smart, he spends his days running laps around our property, squealing at dogs that walk past and having naps on the furniture. While I took him to puppy classes and involved him in socializing three times a week as a puppy, Cooper suffers from lead aggression which makes him very difficult to handle around dogs.

I joined the Cape Handlers Dog Club where we practise agility on Thursdays and obedience on Sundays. Cooper’s endless energy made training him a dream. He loves to work and will do anything for a treat. However, obedience training was made very difficult due to his aggression. He would launch himself at dogs that pass by, barking and growling, pulling me with him. He wore an orange bandana to warn other handlers. Most days, I went home in tears thinking I had a ‘bad dog’ or that I was a terrible handler and owner.

Cooper’s behaviour attracted a lot of attention. Nearly everyone had an opinion and a piece of advice that they felt obliged to share with me. Not everyone’s advice was good or even kind and I learned how quick dog owners are to judge. However, the one opinion that I agreed with was that Cooper’s light coloured eyes caused a lot of other dogs to be reactive towards him. One example of this is how he was attacked by a Rottweiler that pulled away from its owner that ran past all the other dogs on the field except for Cooper who was working with me at the time. Another theory that I believe is true is that Cooper behaves worse when restrained (on a leash or tied up) because he is unable to run away when he is scared. His next available option is to fight. He loves to play off-leash with other dogs but this attitude changes when he’s tied up again. Cooper is afraid of many things, from plastic bags to prams to bicycles to hats. We found him hidden in the pantry cupboard on his first night at our house after he heard an airplane for the first time.

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Throughout our journey, I discovered many other border collies that behave like Cooper. While many can be placid and peaceful, there are some who can be snappy and fearful. I found the best technique is to treat Cooper firmly but with kindness. We practise the ‘Look-at-me’ command a lot which has taught him to make eye contact with me rather than other dogs. I reward him with a treat every time he chooses me over his fears. He is such a sensitive dog. He is very easily affected by a person’s energy, as is typical of Border Collies. They were bred to herd sheep and understand their handler’s whistles and movements to guide sheep to where they need to go. They are incredibly intuitive and it has been an amazing experience to witness this feature in my own dog.

While our progress has been put on hold due to my studies, we plan to start doing a lot more agility and obedience competitions in the near future. Cooper is a working dog and he thrives on having a purpose and a job to do. While stubborn at times, Cooper is very smart and picks up new tricks in hardly any time at all. So far we are in class 5 at our dog club for obedience and have just started doing a few dog jumping demos and agility fun shows.

I am so blessed to live in Cape Town. Cooper loves hiking and we have had many amazing adventures exploring mountains and caves together. Cooper also loves the beach and while he had a fear of water (which is almost unheard of in border collies) he is learning to love frolicking in shallow waves.

When not playing fetch, hiking or running around, Cooper can be found napping or following me around the house (even into the bathroom). Together, we share a single bed and Cooper certainly enjoys cuddling and sleeping in late while I go off to university. While he still has a few issues, he is the most loving dog I have ever had the pleasure of owning. He loves playing with his dachshund brother Enzo and is often found licking our three cats – much to their delight. His favourite person in the world is my boyfriend and he loves to dance with my mother, take selfies with my sister and share biscuits with my father. The brown and white ball of fluff has grown into a very handsome dog and I’m proud of all we have achieved together thus far!

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About This Book..
Historically, Border Collies are known as a working dog breed. Due to this very fact there are certain dog behaviors and instincts particular to Border Collies only. These behaviors and instincts define the personality of the dog. Understanding these behaviors and instincts is imperative if you desire a well-trained/behaved dog. This book is based on years of experience and thorough research helping you to choose, raise, train and live in harmony with your Border Collie. This book has been written by truly taking into consideration the breed as well as its abilities as this aspect is often ignored by owners of this dog. The content of this book will provide you with an insight of how a Border Collie relates and interacts with its owner and the outside world. Once you’ve read this book, you’ll be better equipped to own and take care of a Border Collie so that it becomes the wonderful companion it’s meant to be!

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