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DarnFar Ranch LLC Professional Dog Training
Changing the actions, aptitudes and attitudes of dogs and their people

Seven Years Later?

If you ever want to infuriate me to the most intense level, just send me a note like the one posted below that I received today. Who waits seven years to contact the breeder for assistance, and then claims things are just “not working out?” Who does that? I suppose many people do, but let’s examine just a part of the contract this person signed when he came for his puppy: “Buyer understands that a dog’s behavior is significantly affected by its relationship with its human leader(s). Buyer agrees to provide clear boundaries for the puppy through proper training which should include establishing standards for the dog’s behavior and providing consequences for unacceptable behavior. If the puppy presents with behavioral issues at any time, the buyer agrees to contact the Seller for assistance. Buyer understands that the puppy listed on this contract comes from herding-working lines and will require confident, fair and sound leadership to remain content and balanced. The Buyer agrees that the dog will never be relinquished to a Rescue organization or an Animal Shelter.” Here is the note – The dog’s name has been changed to Jake. “Hi Tammie I don’t know if you remember me and my BC Jake. I got him from you in Jan 2012. He was out of a Switch x Moxie litter. Unfortunately, he hasn't really worked out as well in our home as I was hoping. He is generally a sweet dog but he has always been skittish and fearful about a lot of things. He requires a lot of exercise, which is fine, but the only reasonable way I can get him that much exercise is to play ball in the backyard. This time of year that means he comes in either completely covered in mud or at least has mud caked on his feet. Lately when I try to clean him and his feet he has started snarling and barking at me. He does the same thing at night when we try to get him out of the living room because we don't want him to sleep on the couch overnight. I have to coax him out of the living room with treats. When my 11 year old son and/or his friends makes any sort of sudden movements he barks at them and chases them and has even nipped at them a little at times. I'm worried someone will get hurt and that we might get sued etc. The problems started with my son and wife and now have progressed to me as well. He is just not manageable for us. I'm sure we could have done a better job with his training etc. but we only have so much time and energy. Long story short, I would like to try to find a new home for him that is better suited for him. I thought I would start with you since I believe you had mentioned on your website previously you would take back dogs that didn't work out. I may be misremembering that and I understand if you are not able to take him in at this time but perhaps you know someone who might be willing and able to do so. If not, I will work with a BC rescue organization in my area to try to find a new home for him.” Below, you can find email exchanges that we had during the course of his pup’s life when he inquired and I replied, usually within the same day, to his questions. He also sent a few photos of the pup. This isn’t a situation where I (the breeder) just cashed the check and then walked away from the buyer. I don’t ever do that, but in this case, we actually had more communication than I have had with many other folks who acquired a pup from me. Now, seven #!%*! years later everything has gone south and if I don’t take the pup back, he will “work with a local rescue” to find a home for a dog that he completely screwed up. Yes, I said that. Dogs are a direct reflection of the relationship that they have with their human(s). I even write that in my puppy contract, which is pretty rare as contracts go. That is how much I know the importance of benevolent leadership. Heck, I’ve written a few books on the subject! Oh, yeah, and I’ve been a professional dog trainer for twenty years. We even specialize in anti-social and aggressive dog rehabilitation, which is an area of expertise that many trainers do not cover. (Gotta reference my husband Robert in that regard, as he excels in that area of canine rehab.) Robert would like to force this jerk to accept the responsibility for his poor dog ownership by expecting him to find a suitable home, himself. The right home for a dog like this is not easy to find. Few people actually have the experience to assist this dog. He has spent years practicing very bad habits without receiving any sort of information that his behavior is not acceptable. I know that most “rescues” don’t have the resources, the wherewithal or the mission statement that supports rehabilitation of a dog like this one. They will most likely recommend euthanasia. Personally, I don’t care about seeking justice (like my husband does.) I just want to get that poor dog out of his toxic environment. But, to be frank, respectable, honorable individuals pay us thousands of dollars to rehabilitate their pet dogs that they have messed up due to a failure to set clear boundaries for their dogs on a daily basis. So, I do wish I could force this guy to cover the expense that we will incur to help bring this pup back into balance so that he can be happy and well-adjusted. Yet, money isn’t everything, and it may not even be the best way to communicate to this person about his poor judgment, lack of common sense, and in ability to control one of the most intelligent breeds of dogs on the planet. It would be nice to discover the specific consequence that would strike a chord with this guy so that he might think about getting another dog – especially a Border Collie. But, for now, I will simply receive his poor dog into our home and we will let it breathe in the experience of having calm, relaxed structure and compassionate but clear leadership. Interestingly, this guy (a PhD, nonetheless) sent me the following notes (I have swapped out the dog’s name with “Jake”): 3/28/2012 “I just wanted to give you an update on Jake and pass on a couple of pics for you from this past weekend. He's a great pup. He is incredibly smart and is doing really well with his commands and tricks. Aside from the basic obedience commands we are working on (sit, stay, come, down, heel, wait, and kennel), he has more or less learned shake, high five, up (standing on hind legs), roll over, turn around to the right, turn around to the left, and crawl. He is great in his crate (he barely ever makes a sound). He seems to be totally house trained, although we haven't really tested that for any significant period of time. He is doing really well with my son (not trying to herd him) and just loves everyone essentially. We are halfway through his set of puppy kindergarten obedience classes.” 4/15/13 “Jake is doing very well. He is a sweet heart and is doing very well in his agility training. We started his agility lessons with a level 2 class and he did well in it and was allowed to move on to level 3. We have had 2 class periods in the level 3 class and he is already doing as well or better than all of the other dogs in the class. He is FAST! We plan on starting to compete sometime this summer (maybe July but definitely by August I think). We will be done or nearly done with level 4 classes by that time.” 4/23/2012 “I snapped another good pic of Jake this morning. I can't tell how big he is going to be. He seemed to be growing like a weed there for a while and I thought he was going to be pretty big. Now he is 5 mos old though and seems to be slowing down. Who knows. I'll be happy with whatever size he turns out to be. He seems smaller than Fennel to me. He's probably about 18" tall at the withers and about 26-27 lbs right now. He's doing really well and is a lot of fun. I can't wait to get started on some agility with him when he is a little older.” 6/29/12 “Jake is doing great. I had to find a new place to put our cat's food though since he decided to get up on the counter in the basement to get it. Ha! We are taking a level 2 obedience class right now which ends with a CGC test so maybe he will have his first "title" in 6 weeks if all goes well. “ Dec 2012 We had a series of email exchanges about “marking” which I believe was a result of poor management. I wrote back to him several times to answer his questions and to offer reading material as well as invited him to a class that we offered where he could get a handle on properly interacting with an intelligent dog, like a Border Collie. He replied that it would depend upon how much the workshop cost (it was $135 for a one-day, eight hour class.) But, he did not follow through. The final note about that inquiry included, “We have been doing well overall on his training and not peeing in the house anymore. I have been keeping a closer eye on him and putting him in the crate when I can't and he hasn't peed in the house in quite a while. I have also been trying to be a calm confident leader with him and he seems to be responding well to what I have been doing. Hopefully after the neutering he will have less desire to mark things in general (once the testosterone clears his system anyway) and it won't be an issue. I had to keep a close eye on him at the vet's office because he was definitely thinking about marking in there. I managed to prevent him from doing it though. I am signing him up for an agility class starting in January and hope to be ready to go into novice competition this summer (or late spring with some luck). We have been doing a little at home but I need to get somewhere where we can do contacts and so forth. I only have jumps, weaves, and a non-adjustable teeter at home and am planning on building a new pause table soon. “ 4/15/13 “Jake is doing very well. He is a sweet heart and is doing very well in his agility training. We started his agility lessons with a level 2 class and he did well in it and was allowed to move on to level 3. We have had 2 class periods in the level 3 class and he is already doing as well or better than all of the other dogs in the class. He is FAST! We plan on starting to compete sometime this summer (maybe July but definitely by August I think). We will be done or nearly done with level 4 classes by that time. I actually went to a herding clinic the other day with my son and Jake. Jake was very interested in the sheep but we didn't do any sort of instinct testing. They are doing it again in June I think maybe we will do it then.” 7/2013 “I hope you are doing well and enjoying your 2 new pups (who are adorable). Jake has a bit of thunder and fireworks phobia. Nothing too extreme but he is clearly scared by them (hiding in the bathroom inside and afraid to go outside even to potty). I asked the vet about whether it would be good to give him something over the 4th of July to keep him from getting too scared and she prescribed acepromazine (ace). I was doing a bit of reading on it and it looks like some herding breeds, including BCs, can have a mutation in a membrane protein (MDR1) that causes the drug to accumulate in their cells and can cause severe reactions. Do you have any idea how common that is and what are your thoughts on using ace? Have your dogs ever been tested for the MDR1 mutation or have they ever taken ace? I'm leaning towards not using it and just trying to make him as comfortable as possible tomorrow night without it just to be safe but maybe I am overreacting. I would love to hear your thoughts on it. Thanks.” I responded with a lengthy note which included, “I have never drugged any of my dogs for anxiety. That doesn’t mean that my dogs have not experienced anxiety, thunder phobia, fear of gunshot etc… My best remedy is to teach the dog very high standard obedience to a command like sit or down (which must obviously include the “stay” part of the exercise, else there’s no point).” And, then I wrote an additional 1,031 words of advice just to be clear and to offer him my best option to help him and his dog. He replied: “Like I said, I was already leaning towards not using [Acepromazine] so I think I will do that. I don't think he is as afraid of thunder and fireworks as some dogs are, so I think he will be fine without the medication. The only behavior he does during those times that I don't care for is pushing around his ex-pen if that is where he is. If I tell him to stop though he does. I will probably just let him stay in the bathroom until we go to bed and then put him in his crate down in the basement where he feels pretty safe. Luckily once the thunder and fireworks are gone he gets back to normal pretty quickly. He is a wonderful boy, by the way. He is very sweet and lovable and very smart. I couldn't be happier with him. We did our first agility fun match last Friday and he did well. We didn't qualify in standard but he did the first 9 obstacles wonderfully and then we lost our communication for a minute and he ended up doing the teeter too fast and jumping off before he had controlled it to the ground and he also knocked the next to last bar. He did qualify in his jumpers run though with a second place. We have our first real agility trial this weekend and then another one on the last weekend of the month. With a little luck we could get a title or 2 this month.” 7/2014 “I just wanted to update you on Jake's titles. Last month he qualified in both standard and jumpers on the same day to finish his novice standard (NA) and novice jumpers (NAJ) titles. His official name is now DarnFar's xxxxxxxxxxxx NA, NAJ!” I did not hear from him again until today (3/3/2019) when he informed me that his seven year old, Agility titled dog wasn’t working out. Truly, I don’t like to curse in social medial, but WTF. Really? OK. End of rant. Stepping back down from the soap box. © 2019 Tammie Rogers - all rights reserved. For permission to reprint email Tammie.