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?
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!