Totally OT: Adolescent dogs

DH and I believe in dog rescue. Many, many good dogs are given up by their owners for human reasons, such as having to move to an apartment that doesn’t allow pets. Or simply because the puppy ran away, the owner couldn’t find it and it became a stray that might be picked up by animal control.

We adopted three of our last four rescues as adolescents. (The fourth was adopted as an adult because her owner died.) Faith was a stray on the street, about 10 months old (border collie/ spaniel mix). Tyree was a 7-month old stray in the pound (border collie). Cliff was rescued from a kill shelter (border collie/ German Shepherd mix), after being dumped by owners who couldn’t be bothered to bring him indoors, let alone train him.

All these rescues were adolescent dogs who were already housebroken. I never wanted to go through the hassle of house-breaking a small puppy.

From participating on a border collie (BC) message board, I learned that BCs suddenly mature at age 2. Board members consistently reported that adolescent BCs were flighty and hard to handle, but became responsible on schedule, almost like flipping a switch.

I was pleased to read this witty article about adolescent dogs.…

My approach to the adolescent BC is consistent daily training. If necessary, I attach them to a leash which I tie to my belt all day. Their job is to keep me company, follow directions and learn house rules.

Tyree was an undersized starveling when we got him, only 17 pounds at age 7 months. When I trained him to heel, he would deliberately disobey even though he knew exactly what I wanted. I would say, “I’m the person and you’re the dog. If you don’t like it, take it to the puppies’ union! Do what you’re told or I will take you back to the iron cages!” When he heard “iron cages” he always fell into line as if he understood the threat – he was terrified in the dog pound since he was a very sensitive soul.

All of the border collies grew up into excellent, highly intelligent dogs who understand human language. Tyree was certified as a therapy dog and became the best dog I ever had. Cliff is a Velcro dog who is passionately loyal with every cell of his BC and GSD being. At 70 pounds, Cliff is a credible deterrent to anyone who would try to harm me. Cliff could never become a therapy dog since he is suspicious of strangers until I give the command “Friend.”

I believe that the key to any relationship is consistency and positive reinforcement. Although I never had children, this technique works with adolescent dogs.



I believe that the key to any relationship is consistency and positive reinforcement. Although I never had children, this technique works with adolescent dogs.

Works with children, too, based on my sample size of 2.


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I believe that the key to any relationship is consistency and positive reinforcement. Although I never had children, this technique works with adolescent dogs.

You were starting out with border collies, the most intelligent breed. My aunt had a miniature poodle, more or less. I was constantly amazed at how responsive that dog was. He would respond as intended to commands he had never been given before. He was demanding too. Apparently, I gave better walk than my aunt. When we were both in the house, that Poodle would give me a shove, and a “come on” head wave (no-one taught him that head wave either). When my mom still had him, she told of the night she had not quite gotten to sleep yet. The house made one of those house thump noises. The Poodle left her bedroom and went down the hall. She heard his toenails on the hard floor in the utility room. Then quiet, as he was back on the carpet. Then she heard him on the hard floor in the kitchen. Then he returned to the bedroom and lay down. No-one ever trained him to be a watchdog, but he had checked out every room in the house, after hearing that noise.

A Facebook friend of mine runs a hound shelter in Florida: beagles, bassets, and coonhounds. They have a huge problem in Florida with people dumping their hunting dogs by the side of the road when they get old. He told of a friend of his who, driving one day, noticed a dog sitting by the side of a dirt side-road he passed. The next day, the guy drove the same route, and there was that dog, sitting by the side of that road. The third day, he looked and, sure enough, that dog was still sitting by the side of the road, so he picked the dog up, no collar, no license, and brought him to Jay’s shelter. Another case of a dumped hunting dog, that had been sitting there, waiting for his owner to come back and pick him up.



We’ve had a Havanese/Poodle mix for six years. We bought her as an 8 wk old pup.

Annabelle… Royal Princess and Alpha Pup.

When we first looked at her six summers ago, I was wearing sandals. She nipped me on my big toe while she was playing with my foot.

“Oww!” I exclaimed. “This is the one!”

We brought her home, and for the first few months, she was the original wild child. But she learned to go in her crate at night. Pretty soon, she was peeing outside more than inside, and by the time she was four months old, she was pretty much housebroken.

Every time she nipped us as a small pup, we would scream “OWWW!” and she soon gave up the habit of nipping.

We took her to a dog training class when she was six months old. That was a disaster. Primarily because she figured out immediately which pocket held the treats. “The hell with this sitting and staying crap. I know where the treats are; let’s just cut to the chase”… and because she wanted to run with the bigger dogs during playtime. She’d slam into them and knock them over until they’d gang up on her, get her on her back… and she’d have the biggest smile on her face. She loved it. All ten pounds of her.

Fast forward six years. She’s pretty much a house dog. We take her out for walks. Today we went to the park for her “sniff walk”. Since her nose is her primary organ for sensory imput, we consider the park to be her library… and today, she read at least three books. We move at her pace in the park, not ours. But in that particular rhythm, we get a pretty good interval training work out as she trots from bush to tree to fencepost.

Her dinner is at six p.m. and at 5:30, she begins looking at me intently and licking her lips.
“Not yet, Annabelle”. “It’s not time, yet”. And she takes daylight savings time changes in stride. Regardless of whether we turned the clock forward or back the night before… at 5:30, she’s looking at me with longing intensity and licking her lips. How does she do that? I have no clue.

They say that dogs are incredibly sensitive to their humans’ emotions… perhaps that’s it. Perhaps at about 5:30 I begin wondering when she’s going to attempt to scam me into giving her dinner to her early… and she picks up on that… it’s the only thing I can figure.

Her understanding of particular words is pretty amazing, and even now, her vocabulary continues to grow. We gave up counting about four years ago… when we passed the mark of about 30 words.

“You want to go out on the porch?” She runs to her leash and halter.
“You want to go night night?” She runs to the foot of the stairs.
“You want a bath?” She slinks beneath the dining room table.
“Where’s your chicken?” She goes and gets her rubber, squawking chicken.
“Where’s your lambikens?” She goes and gets her stuffed lamb. (she’s on her fourth of these… she chews the ears off of them and starts pulling out the stuffing on a regular basis)… and Amazon can get them to us withing 3 days… we haven’t yet bowed to the invevitable and ordered the “Three pack”

But her favorite is her Kong toy that we fill with a dollop of almond butter… “Where’s your nut ball?” She runs and gets it, wherever it is… she seems to keep track of its location. Then she brings it and drops in on my foot, and I go to the fridge and give it to her after filling it with almond butter. She gets one a day and seems to know that. After she’s had one, she’s good for the day.

We’re both retired, so we’re with her pretty much 24/7… and that was especially so during COVID. We do leave her at home most times when the supply run or visit with friends will take less than four hours. We try to take her walking in places with other people and dogs at least once a week- just to keep her socialized with others. We’ve noticed that if we don’t do this for more than a few weeks, she might growl when she gets out in public

But I have to say that we don’t spend much time disciplining her or showing her who is boss. We know that such attitudes are necessary to turn out a well trained dog, but Annabelle is Annabelle, and we are quite happy to watch her being a dog… and she is very good at that.

We are her pack. She is our shepherd. She herds us. And as long as she doesn’t pee in the house, or steal food from the table, or bite strangers, or chew on the furniture (and so far she is very good about observing the limits we do set)… then we are quite ok with her ignoring our commands to “sit”. She knows that command very well, and all you have to do is tell her to sit while holding a treat in your hand… but hey, why should she “sit” if there’s nothing in it for her?

Barely 12 1/2 pounds of pure love, humor (yes, dogs have an amazing sense of humor), and a fine representative of her species… which leaves us baffled quite a bit as we wonder what is going on inside that doggie brain of hers… quite a bit is going on, for sure, but just what it is, we often don’t have a clue… except that the behavior that emerges from whatever signals her brain is sending… often appears to be the product of some sort of higher order thinking.

Empathy… yes, dogs have empathy… or at least their behavior mirrors what we call empathy.

The other day, my hip was hurting terribly after working in the yard for several hours; I went in to lay down on the couch. Up she jumped. I fell asleep, and three hours later, Judy told me that the pup never left my side. What is that? Sure looks like empathy to me.

Anyway, my prayer, which I repeat quite often; I may have even mentioned it here before…

“God, please help me become the person my dog already thinks that I am.”


“You want to go out on the porch?” She runs to her leash and halter.
“You want to go night night?” She runs to the foot of the stairs.

One more story about my aunt’s poodle. You didn’t wear shoes in my aunt’s house, so, as soon as I came in the door, I would stop to take the shoes off. The poodle would look down the hallway as I came in the door, recognize me, and run at top speed down the hall and jump all over me, which made it difficult to untie my shoes. One day, I had an idea: pointed toward the living room and said “tell her who’s here”. He ran back up the hall to the living room, and barked four distinct barks, then ran back to me. By then I had one show off, but still had to untie the other, and, again, had a lap full of bouncing poodle. So I said “I don’t think she heard. Tell her again”. He ran back to the living room, and barked those same four distinct barks. He had never been trained to do that. He had never heard those commands before. But he responded to the commands perfectly.

He understood “out” perfectly. One night, he was curled up next to the chair I was sitting in, ready to call it a night. The news ended, and I reached down to scratch his ear. He growled. I said “Poochie, you growled at me. I was going to ask if you wanted to go out”. The moment he heard “out”, his head spun around toward me “did you say out?”



You were starting out with border collies, the most intelligent breed.

We had very lovable mongrel dogs. Margarita was left at the service entrance to my dad’s hotel as a puppy and he took her home. In time she went flirting in the neighbourhood and must have had an affair with a Belgian shepherd. She have birth to a bunch of puppies with me acting as midwife. I buried two next to the mango tree I had planted earlier, we kept two, Lord and Amigo, and gave away the rest. At the same time the Doberman pinscher also had puppies but I didn’t like her and soon we got rid of her!

As with humans, titles don’t mean much.

The Captain

<Another case of a dumped hunting dog, that had been sitting there, waiting for his owner to come back and pick him up.>

This makes me very angry.

Some people think of pets as children. Others think of them as employees to do a job. Others think of them as disposable.

Any responsible owner will take care of a pet for as long as they own the pet. If they don’t need or want it anymore the pet should be placed with another home, given to a shelter or rescue, or euthanized.

It’s cruel and irresponsible to dump a pet to starve.

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DH and I believe in dog rescue.

For us cat people, the same concept applies. Well, maybe not the leash on your belt part, but definitely the rescue part.

We have had three cats. Two were young ferals what we brought in. The third was a more formal rescue. All have been great pets. As to smarts, cats are pretty smart as well. When they are bored, they mis-behave to get attention. If they are tired, they are good. Play with them, tire them out, and you’ll have a wonderful friend. Plus they use a litter box almost instinctively, so the clean up is always in the same spot. No searching around the yard.

Ours have learned the sound of the car parking, and are usually at the door to attempt escape, which is more of a game than actual escape attempts. When they win the game by getting past me and out the door, they pretty much stop to smell the lawn and wait for me. One can often be enticed to return indoors on his own, while the other generally insists on being picked up and carried in. Ignoring him will sometimes work as well. Shut the door, and he’ll wait outside the door to be let back in. I never allow that once dusk approaches though, as we have occasional coyotes in the area.

For the record, I like dogs, too. Had one growing up. I like dogs enough to know that I don’t have the time to care for one properly. So rather than have one poorly cared for, I don’t have one at all.


…he was terrified in the dog pound since he was a very sensitive soul.

We currently have 3 rescue dogs. Our latest was from a small dog rescue center that retrieved her from a kill pound. Long story short, have had her for 1 year and the first few times we took her to the vet or the pet store, she would freak out and just cower down. Guess too many bad memory smells. Now she pretty much walks in like she owns the place.


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Often, when one of my mother’s secretaries or assistants started making bubbly happy sounds about having a baby (especially the unmarried) Mom would go to the pound, get an abused pup, gift it to the employee with food and etc., and say “This creature is a 1000 times easier to care for and live with than a baby. Give it a test run first.”

Lots of pups got great homes, and most of the women later (much later usually!) got great kids who were joyfully greeted into the family by a happy dog.

We got pictures!

david fb

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