On Sunday a small group of people and dogs gathered at our place. This is not an unusual thing, many dozens of similar groups have met at our place in the five short years we’ve been here.
This may look like a typical group of happy dogs and dog owners - but it’s not. All the dogs in this picture are alumni or current fosters with National English Shepherd Rescue and all but two of them are members of the infamous Montana English Shepherds.
Less than a year ago, these dogs were still be held as evidence in an animal cruelty case. Today they’re all living in homes in and around the Twin Cities area. And while most of them still have a few issues to work on (don’t we all!), these dogs and their owners have accomplished incredible things.
I had a marvelous time meeting and working with everyone, but the part of the experience that will stick with me will be Stanley (the handsome blond boy on the far left). Stanley crawled in flat on his belly and shaking like a leaf – but based, I’m sure, on months of patient loving help from his foster mom Nancy – he recovered and found the courage to not just to sit up tall and straight in a room full of strange people and dogs, but to smile for the camera.
We worked a bit. We talked a lot. We made new friends and we plan to do it again.
Of course I couldn’t resist the chance to fit in a bit of training. Here I am trying to get Louie to work for a treat:
Louie is being very polite, but (like nearly all the Montana dogs) he’s telling me he just simply can’t take treats from a stranger. That’s okay. There are a lot of tools in my training bag.
Here I am introducing Louie to the e-collar. Note how even with my assistant’s nose up his butt, Louie’s more engaged with me in this picture. I’m using very soft pressure with the collar combined with subtle body language and verbal encouragement to communicate with Louie. I was able to show his owner how to accomplish this in just a matter of minutes.
Louie lives on a farm near us and his owner would like to be comfortable giving him more off leash freedom. I suspect that more e-collar training will be in his future.
Chuckie, who earned a reputation as a Horrid Little Dog in Montana shows he’s not so horrid any more. Chuckie *hearts* his e-collar.
Many thanks to Miare Connolly for the wonderful pictures. And thanks to every one (two- and four-legged) who joined us. We had a wonderful time!