Is a Wiccaweys Collie right for me?

So you want to share your home and life with a Wiccaweys Collie? Are you completely sure?

This is a lifetime committement to sharing your life with a new family member, and we expect our adoptive homes to put the same thought and consideration into adopting a collie from us, as they would when deciding to become parents/getting married/moving home/moving in with a new partner. You get the idea.

At Wiccaweys we do our very best to match dogs and homes. We do not allow people to just come and ‘browse’ the dogs. We make sure that all homes and dogs are completely compatible. There are many misconceptions when it comes to finding the right dog for your home. Please read this section carefully, you may find some very helpful advice and suggestions.

Myth 1: I have small children, so I want a puppy.

Without a doubt, this is the most common reason people want a puppy. A sweet, small puppy just seems like the best choice for sweet, small children.

You know those cute adverts where collie puppies climb all over a giggling child? Have you ever noticed how short it is? That’s because they could only film for a few seconds before the welts rose, the blood dripped, and the child began to scream for its mother. Puppies have needle sharp teeth that they happily sink into anyone who walks by. They also have sharp nails that scratch when they jump up -- and on a small child, those front feet and teeth land just about face height.

Puppies leave "presents" that your toddler always seems to find before you do. Puppies wake your children during the night. After all, a puppy is a baby too – why should it be any different for them? A night is a long time – why should a puppy alone be expected to go throughout the night without crying for ‘Mum’. You wouldn’t expect a young human baby too. A puppy doesn’t know the difference between his stuffed toy and Little Sophie’s Teddy that she really MUST have to fall asleep.

Suppose you get a puppy when little Jack is 2. In six months, Jack will be about 1 inch taller and 3 pounds heavier. However, the 8-month-old puppy will now be as tall as Jack and outweigh him by 20 pounds. And those baby teeth will have been replaced by big snappers that need to chew.
Of course, puppies and small children do successfully co-habitate, if you have the time, the patience and the understanding to put the work in.

In our experience, your child will go through far less Asprin and Plasters with a calmer 4+ year old dog who has been fully assessed with children.

Myth 2: It’s better to get a puppy. With an older dog, you never know what you’re getting.

Seems to make sense, however with Border Collies the exact opposite is true.

All puppies are cute; all puppies love everyone. It’s not until a dog hits sexual maturity that some breed characteristics and/or innate behavioral problems start to surface.

With a collie, sometimes the working instinct doesn’t show itself until they hit 6 months plus (teenager!). One day you will have a sweet pup wanting the play with younger members of the family, and the next day you suddenly have a young adolescene working dog who rounds the children up and nips them to make them move.

We couldn't even start to estimate how many calls we’ve had from people who’ve paid lots of money for a 'pedigree' puppy, who is now a year or two old and biting people, attacking other dogs, or engaging in some oddball neurotic behavior.

Having a piece of paper that says your puppy is 'Pedigree' is not a guarentee that your puppy has been 'well bred' and 'well bought up", and sometimes it feels like the disreputable breeders grossly outnumber the responsible ones.

The truth is this: when we list a 4-month-old puppy, we can only guess what kind of adult she’ll make. When we list an 2 year old plus dog, we can predict pretty accurately what kind of dog you’ll have forever.

Myth 3: Why do I need fences? If you train your dog right, he’ll stay in the garden.

Many people believe this, right up until the moment the dog is hit by a car, eats slug pellets in the neighbor’s garden, or is stolen. Just because your previous dogs didn’t jump the fence, it doesn’t mean that a new dog won’t. It has nothing to do with training, or whether the dog ‘naughty’.

Collies are inherently nosey and inquisitive, and they like to have specific boundries. If they have the instinct in them to ‘patrol the perimiter’ then they will keep going until they find a boundry they can’t pass. If they are in the garden, and they hear something exciting going on elsewhere, then they may try see if they can be involved somehow. My own Dru (aged 8) will easily clear a 8ft fence and a 5ft fence to get down the field to me - all because he can hear me playing fetch with another dog. He just wants to join in. It has nothing to do with him being ‘untrained’ – he can do obedience, agility and flyball. It is all to do with the fact that he is incredibly nosey, he always wants to be involved and 'working', and he doesn’t want to be left out.This is why we insist on a secure fenced garden. We do assess all gardens on an individual basis for each dog in question. We do not have a strict 6ft minimum height for all. Ie) an older dog who doesn’t jump wouldn’t need a huge fence. However, we do insist on secure gardens for young dogs and puppies. Rescue dogs are typically either strays (which means they have a history of wandering) or owner-surrenders (which means they may think about going to look for their ex-owner first chance they get). We just can’t risk it.

Myth 4: When I was growing up, we had a PERFECT Border Collie.

No, you didn’t. Trust us, your old collie was only perfect because you were 8 and didn’t have to clean up after him and be responsible for him. I know you believed he was perfect, but you also believed in Father Christmas and honest government then too.

Everyone seems to forget the times on walks when Shep would chase joggers and bikers. The times he used to nip your bum while you were playing in the garden, sometimes so hard you had bruises and it bled. The times while everyone was at work and school that he’d chew the furniture, empty the bins, redecorate the house to his own Collie style. The time everyone came down on Christmas to find all the presents under the tree trashed...

We’ve never had a perfect Border Collie--but the ones we have had have been perfect for us.

Myth 5: Border Collies stop being puppies around a year old.

BUUUUZZZZZ! I’m sorry. Try 4 or 5 for most. Many BCs don’t calm down and hit their stride until they’re 6 or 7. Have a look at our retirement home section for more information on how active older dogs can be.

Myth 6: I want a dog without dominance issues, so I want a female.

In the wacky world of BCs, that’s just not true.

For starters, it’s impossible to make gender-based absolutes. But once you spend time around BCs, you’ll start to notice just how many hyperactive, dominant females there are out there. You’ll also notice lots of mellow, roll-with-the-punches males (especially after they make that all-important trip to Dr. Snip!).

It all depends on the individual dog, but don’t think for a minute that a female is a sure ticket to a passive, submissive collie – in our experience it is almost certainly the reverse.

We always say, A Border Collie Boy wants to be your Mate, and A Border Collie Bitch wants to be your MUM!

Myth 7: My 8 month old Border Collie is biting people. He’s not lunging or growling, but he makes little nips on arms and legs. I can’t keep an aggressive dog.

You have to remember what Border Collies were originally bred to do. Border Collies herd. It’s what they do. It’s what they will always do. And the chances are, that’s exactly what he’s doing to your friends and family. This is why as we say earlier in this section - you can't always predict how that nice, cute and fluffy little puppy is going to turn out - not so cute and fluffy now, is he? When you take a collie into your home, you HAVE to be prepared for this instinct.

What the dog is doing is called nipping. It’s what happens when collies are working sheep, they nip at the sheeps legs and bottoms to make them move. Nipping is part of a collies working instinct. It’s there. It’s instinct.

Contrary to what people say, we do not believe that you can not train a working instinct out of a collie – and why should you?

You chose to have your Border Collie as part of your family – take responsiblilty for that choice and work with your dog – not against him.

What you can do is channel the working instinct in a different direction. Collies need to have a job to do. There are plenty of dog sports out there that Border Collies excel out. Channel them in that direction. Obedience, agility, flyball, working trials – the choice is yours.

Myth 8: I’m unsure about getting a rescue dog, because I’m afraid he won’t bond to me.

That sound you hear is all the people with rescued dogs falling over laughing. Because the exact opposite is nearly always true--your rescue dog will CLING to you.

Look at it from the dog’s perspective. Perhaps she’s spent the bulk of the last year being left in the garden and ignored because she committed the terrible sin of no longer being a puppy. She got bored when she was left at home alone with no company and no toys, so she made her own entertainment. She was so excited when everyone came home, and so pleased to see them – but all she got was a beating because they discovered the chewed carpet. She didn’t know she was being beaten for chewing the carpet – that was earlier in the day and she’d forgotten about it. All she knows is that she is being beaten for welcoming her family home. The only other attention she gets is when they yell at her for barking. No-one wants to take her for a walk, or play with her.
Finally, they take her for a car-ride—either dumping her somewhere where she can have a "fighting chance.", or if she is lucky they will hand her into a rescue centre. Despite everything, she sits there waiting for their return.

Or perhaps she's spent the last year on a chain in a farmyard? She wasn't particularly good at working, so the farmer isn't interested in her. She's just the useless dog in the yard. She gets fed when they can be bothered. Good for nothing dog - a tool that doesn't work properly. If she is lucky, she is saved, or escapes. Perhaps the farmer just dumps her. It wasn't a good life, but it was the life she knew.

If she goes to an large rescue centre; she sits in the loud, scary kennel & run, starting to lose faith that her family will ever find her. The kennel people are nice, and she gets a walk a day, but she is one of a hundred needy dogs they have to care for. She starts to become neurotic. She is a collie, she can’t stand being closed in. She needs to get out. She starts circling and bouncing off the walls.

When people walk past and look at her, she barks, “please, please – take me, pay attention to me, I need to get out, I can’t stand it in here”. The people walk by. All they see is a neurotic collie, out of control – and think, “not in our home”. They don’t see the dog beneath.If she comes to Wiccaweys; she joins the collie family. She is confused, she doesn’t know what to do, how to act, or how to play. The other dogs show her how to enjoy life again. She has free access to toys and exercise. She gets lots of attention and fuss. She lives in a home environment. She may go to a foster home. We get to know her, we know her personality so we can match her to the right home. She is allowed to be a collie and develop into the dog she deserves to be. She doesn’t have people coming around staring and looking at her. She is relaxed and learning to enjoy life. One day, you come to meet her. You spend time with her, get to know her. Take her out to play in the field - with her other collie friends if that makes her feel safer. Nothing is rushed. We then leave you to spend time together alone, or as a family.

You take her home to your house, you give her a bed and bowl of her own, and a crate where she feels safe. You speak quietly. If she messes on the carpet, you don’t seem to mind--you just take her outside and then clean it up. You feed her regularly AND give her toys and treats. She may even have a big brother or sister to play with. She gets kisses and cuddles. You give her little jobs to do, you take her to training classes – you have FUN together. When she goes out in the car, she always comes back!

Your rescue dog’s biggest fear is that you will spontaneously combust!

She’s not going to let you out of her sight for one minute. People with rescue dogs learn to function with a 70 pound shadow following us everywhere.

That said, there are some dogs who just never learned to connect with people, but that becomes apparent very quickly and those dogs always have a place of safety with Wiccaweys, or are placed only with very experienced and understanding collie homes.

Myth 9: Border Collies are so smart they practically train themselves.

Wrong. And one of the most common reasons collies come into rescue. Those chocolate box collies you see on the TV working sheep, or competing in obedience at Crufts? That takes YEARS of training and commitment. It isn’t easy. It is hard work and you have to be committed and devoted. The shepherds are out daily working their dogs. The Obedience people spend many, many hours a week working with their dogs to reach that standard. It isn’t something that just happens.Think about it - the dog is smart, he learns to figure things out. He may housetrain easily, learn basic obedience easily, but what else can he learn?

BC’s learn to open doors, steal laundry, and climb a tree. If they have nothing better to do they entertain themselves by doing something like digging or barking. What makes him stop digging or barking? Learning something new and getting a lot of exercise- every day. Not once a week, every day. BC’s are like that super-smart nerdy kid in Chemistry class - he successfully completes the class experiment - and then blows up the lab because he wants to see how the chemicals interact!Super smart kids make super big messes.

Myth 10: I don't want to have a dog that's been spayed or neutered because it's not natural/ she should be able to have a litter/I want my children to see the miracle of birth/etc.

If everyone prevented irresponsible breeding, we'd be happily out of business.
All the Wiccaweys crew could go and sun themselves on a nice beach – hell, we’d be happy just to have a weekend away! Do not humanize your dog -- no one's asking you to neuter yourself. Your dog will be healthier and more comfortable once he or she has shifted into neutral--and will be a much more pleasant companion.

Neutered male dogs mark less territory, and are generally less aggressive. Spayed female dogs avoid the messy and annoying seasons, and are not at risk for unwanted pregnancy. And both males and females are less likely to get certain illnesses.

As for the miracle of birth, well, there's another rite of passage occurring to Hundreds of Thousands of Dogs every year in this country. It happens every day at your local pound and animal shelter. It’s called PUTTING TO SLEEP. The disposal of those poor dogs that society has seen fit to discard. A lot of them will have been from litters where people though it was natural for a bitch to have one litter/wanted the children to see puppies being born.

Most of them are nice dogs, super family dogs – they just want to be loved and family of their own. Sadly a lot of them never get that chance. There are not enough nice families and home to go round.

Strangely enough, those same parents that want their children to see 'the miracle' are not as eager for their children to see or know about the other part - DEATH. You can't have it both ways.

That is why all dogs and bitches from responsible rescues will be neutered and spayed where appropriate.

Adapted from Collie Myths, Border Collie Rescue of Texas