We recently had a litter of McNab/Border Collie puppies surrendered to the shelter along with the McNab dad. Certainly finding 4 appropriate homes for adorable, high-energy pups is not easy. How can it be hard to find homes for puppies, you ask? Well, you’re right. If we were just willing to give them to anyone, there would be a lot of interest in them. Many people came in thinking about the holidays and how a puppy might be the perfect gift for someone on their list. But if you know anything at all about either of these breeds, you’ll know exactly what I mean when I say that these pups are not for everyone.
You really have to take the time to do a bit of research before you get totally sucked in by a cute face. Both McNab and Border Collies are working dogs. They are high energy, super smart and trainable dogs always looking for a job to do. Leave them home alone all day while you are at work and don’t be surprised if you come home to find your home redecorated (and the wiring updated in the house!). Is it any coincidence that the dad was surrendered at just 1-1/2 years old? This is when dogs, especially bigger breeds, are teenagers. Look around at any animal shelter and most of the dogs you will find are 1-3 years old. Like most teenagers, this is when dogs are the most difficult – trying to challenge authority and see what they can get away with. Sure enough, the reason Red was surrendered was that he was too high energy.
What we tried to explain to each family interested in these puppies is that they not only need obedience training, but they will need a job to do; all their lives. I asked each person, “So what canine sport will you be doing with your pup?” One mom said, “with three kids, we are a busy home. There will be plenty of attention and things for the dog to do.” But are they things you WANT your dog to do? Sure, he will destroy toys left laying around, chase the kids and nip at their ankles in an attempt to herd them (not a very welcome behavior) and perhaps do a trick or two, but often their high energy gets tiring to be around.
Another dad responded to the question with the answer that he runs 2-3 miles every day so the dog would get plenty of exercise. That’s great and very much needed. It’s essential for high-energy dogs to have a positive outlet to release that energy or they may become destructive. But that only takes care of the body. You also have to exercise his mind. That’s where dog sports come in. Obedience training is great and if you are going to show your dog and keep going with it that’s terrific, but most people stop after a course or two. There are so many other options available: Rally, nose work, freestyle, agility, flyball, herding, sled dog racing, disc dog, dock jumping, lure coursing, protection sports and weight pulling, to just name a few.
When you are looking for a dog, be aware of what his breed was meant to do and be ready to fulfill that need. We would have a lot fewer dogs in shelters if more people would do their homework and were realistic about their own time and energy. On the other hand, what a marvelous thing to get a child involved in. If the whole family is committed, this kind of dog might be the perfect match!
No More Lost Pets – free microchips and pet ID tags for residents of the Cities Rohnert Park and Cotati. Stop by the shelter during our open hours with your pet to get one! The shelter is open Wed. 1-6:30, Thurs.-Fri.-Sat. 1-5:30 and Sun. 1-4:30.
Fix-it Clinics – Free spay and neuters for cats; and $60 dog surgeries (up to 80 lbs.) for low-income Rohnert Park and Cotati residents. Call 588-3531 for an appointment.
Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.