Hard Work,But Worth It
1 year on......
you will find accounts and journals of emotional journeys and learning
experiences made by adoptees and their Wiccaweys collies.
It is now
a year since Midge came into our lives, so I thought I had let you all
know how he has been doing. In Sept 2004 our old cat Moll finally gave up and went to pastures new
– aged 18. The house felt empty and I had already been promised
I could have a dog when Moll died. I am sure the cat knew this from day
1 by the way she looked at me!
12th April we were the owner of a Wiccaweys Collie.
is what he looked like a few days after we got him – note those
For a while we thought he was deaf – he responded to no commands, no amount of calling would get his attention, he just ran up and down until he had worn a trench in the lawn. He would run until he was exhausted and fell to sleep. Walks were very difficult. He was scared of the outside world, he kept his face to the wall when out of the garden and was afraid if there was no fence or wall in front of him – he had rarely ever been out before! Gradually this improved and after about 2 weeks he looked forward to his walks. He was also lead shy and hated to see the lead; he was scared of it. My wife ( who knows about these things) said his behaviour was similar to autistic children – unable to make relationships, no eye contact, had obsessive routines, had to keep doing things over and over for stimulation.
House training took some time with many accidents not helped by what we later found was inflammatory bowel disorder – he would pooh 6 or 7 times each day and could not put on weight. Coming down to a pooh covered dog lying in his crate was not nice.
The first thing we changed was his name; Nemo had to go. We tried many names over the first few weeks then one day I said “Midge” and he looked at me for the first time as if to say “So you finally got it right!” From then on things were much easier.
calmed down over about two months but was still mad when off his lead
– running up and down, up and down until he worked himself into
a frenzy; we even had to keep him on a lead in the garden. Taking him
for long walks helped a little, but he still carried on running up and
down until he dropped when he got home.
After about 6 weeks from getting him he could be let off to chase his ball or to do obedience tricks outside as long as there were no dogs or people around. He was a problem near other people especially children (and still is to an extent) he LOVES them and desperately wants to be fussed.
In June he discovered swimming by falling into a nearby lake – he got out, to my relief – and then got straight in again and now swims whenever there is water deep enough regardless of the weather.
10 months old his collie genes came out. He would dash, lie flat watching
me intently and dash to another place and do the same. I followed this
up with instructions to dash right or left, come in or go away and; hey
presto! a new game started which is still his favourite. He follows his
instructions up to 200 – 300 metres away by whistle or voice commands.
Sorry about the camera shake - freezing day and tiny camera.
this nothing breaks his concentration. Other dogs try to play with him,
but he won’t play while “working”. I really think he
should have been a sheepdog - he would have been so happy but I wanted
He now walks off the lead at heel really well most of the time. He still likes people but will only go and see then if given “permission” and then he is well behaved.
he has a few.
He has been everywhere with us on holiday – which he loves if only he did not have to travel in the car to get there. He is an excellent camping companion – he snores and farts much less than my Mountaineering Club friends (not hard). We did put him in the local kennels once – and that was once enough. The kennels have a good reputation, but Midge was too distressed and simply ran up and down barking 24hrs a day and lost about 2 kilos in weight in a few days. When I went to pick him up he crawled towards me on his belly – he obviously thought he had done something wrong to be deserted. So no more kennels!
Regrets? Only one – I wish we could have had him as a puppy and enjoyed him as a youngster as well.
He is great fun, extremely faithful – always wants to be by me, I nickname him Velcro dog - he sticks close by. He is by my feet as I write this. I must admit I have put the time into getting to know Midge, keeping him interested and making him think. If you do that with a collie you will get a great dog, if not you will get the loony that came to us over a year ago.
learned that collies are not easy dogs, they need time and attention to
get the best from both of you.
am glad I made the call to Paul that day and thankful to Paul and Sarah
for letting us have Midge.
WITHOUT A WICCAWEYS DOG
‘phone call came unexpectedly from Paul. “We think we’ve
found a dog for you ……..”
the questions came to an end, except for one. “Can we meet him
we went to meet Trigger – and let's not forget Paul and Sarah
either – with my first impression of Paul being of a guy hanging
out of the window of Flossie the Collie Ambulance, waving furiously
as Sarah guided us to Wiccaweys.
As soon as Sarah and Paul said you can adopt him; he became Tigger. With his apt colouring and just knowing that he was going to live up to a reputation of being bouncy and fun, he just was Tigger.
A quiet drive home, with me keeping an eye on Tigger to check he was OK as he sat in the boot of the car. But, I think that was the last peace we had – and certainly the last time we felt we drew breath for quite a few weeks.
The first mistake we made was to take Tigger into the back garden where we let him off his lead to explore. To say he ran around the garden is an understatement. Round and round and round he tore, leaping anything in his path, going backwards and forwards and resisting any efforts to either catch him or persuade him to slow down. I was already fretting that he would injure himself and I’d be having to confess all to Wiccaweys.
Eventually, the steam ran out and the house was entered. Things did not improve. The house was an alien land which had to be climbed over, mouthed, picked up, moved, and run away from.
Sarah had said “give us a ring in a few days and let us know how things are going”. A few days ………. I reckon I was on the ‘phone within the hour! That was when we found out Tigger had had his jaw broken at some point, and once again my heart went out to our little man. and I was even more determined to let Tigger learn “not everyone’s bad”.
Tigger just did not run out of steam. We seemed to have a dog who
never slept – well, maybe for a couple of hours when we weren’t
looking. He wouldn’t eat – and then proceeded to guard
his food bowl with great ferocity, snarling and with a real dangerous
glint in his eye. We could not leave him alone in a room for fear
of him hurting himself as he threw himself over the furniture, using
chairs as springboards and tables as walkways and picked up, chewed
or mouthed everything he could then reach. It truly seemed as if the
only things still in the same place in the house were the ceiling
Taking Tigger out into the big, wide world was another challenge. It was absolutely obvious he had never really been on a lead. He did not so much go forwards as sideways, backwards, round, up – however before long this was replaced by the rescue collie tug. Yet life outside was scary too. Forget ghost trains, a walk down a street which contained a street lamp, temporary road sign, cyclist, any sort of vehicle, moving or stationery, piece of rubbish – you name it, was so scary for him. Nor could Tigger cope with walking over bridges, of which there are many in our village – just nice safe bridges over diddy little streams – he would just lie down and refuse to budge. And as for people ……. oh no. We didn’t do people at all.
So we had people outside the house to contend with, and even worse, friends and family who visited the house. We had to “book” visitors in – who would then spend hours (literally) having their eardrums dented, while Tigger explained to them at length just how much they worried him from as far away as possible.
Yet he still had love to give, and would quietly pad over to you and lean up against you, and there was just this glimmer for us that things would get better. One morning I woke up very early, and opened my eyes to find two big brown eyes gazing back at me, as Tigger sat quietly, resting his chin on the edge of bed, seemingly watching over me. Quite moving.
he just loved looking out on the world. If he could look out of a
vehicle window, or sit on the windowsill, or stand with his paws on
the bedroom windowsill looking out (something which he seemed to spend
all night doing when he wasn't systematically removing the wallpaper
for us) he was most contented.
days however were filled with watching Tigger. What had he climbed
on, and where was his mouth. Sleep had been scarce, meals were cobbled
together in haste, items that had been removed from his mouth at some
point were scattered on top of anywhere we had managed to put them
at the time, and we just could not do anything or get anything done.
Maybe the time we spent away helped, or maybe talking through so many things helped us to give off a calmer feel to Tigger, because things in the next week began to improve. Graham rang me at work one afternoon. “Tigger’s in the garden – off his lead”. The shriek of “what” from my end of the ‘phone must have been heard by everyone in the office – yet it seemed he was trotting around the garden quite calmly. OK, so this didn’t continue all the time, but it was no longer necessary for us to stand outside with him every time he wanted to go outside.
I started sitting on a stool outside the house, with Tigger sat by my side, so he could get used to people walking past. Eventually I was able to move to sitting in the village, so Tigger could just watch whilst people and cars went by.
was slow, and sometimes difficult to see, patience was needed and
yet when you look back, you know how far Tigger has come. Tigger learnt
that bridges were not going to eat him – and learnt that playing
in the stream afterwards was great fun. Food guarding improved slightly
– and a change in feed to something he enjoyed more seemed to
improve not only his hyperactivity, but his tendency to guard too
– after all, what point is there in guarding an empty bowl!
Tigger now eats a completely natural raw diet.
We sat Tigger in our camper van on the drive one day – he liked it – especially sitting on the front seat viewing the world. So we took him down to the local woods, parked up, made lunch, took him for a walk – all the things we would do if were away. Tigger thought this was fine – so that meant we could take him away for weekends to new places – and he was off into a new world of walks, fun, doggy friends and adventures.
were still a problem. They were scary. Walks were always fraught as
we could have to pass someone. Walks in busy areas were extremely
difficult, but we kept trying. Tigger obviously felt that people were
deliberately leaping out of doorways at him, and appeared when he
least expected him. And then they wanted to touch him, which was far
Yet he has a real zest for life, enjoys fun and action and games – and the chance to act out his puppy hood, two years after he should have been enjoying it. And anyone who says a dog doesn’t smile, I totally disagree with – Tigger’s eyes light up, and his mouth drops open into a big huge smile and he laughs at life.
Whichever of us is home first is greeted warmly as Tigger comes out of his crate. The second person home is greeted with the sight of Tigger standing up to or lying on the windowsill in the living room or bedroom, waiting for you to come home – and by the time you are through the gate, he is there to welcome you. And you just know that the decision to bring him home was the right one. These days if you are really lucky, he will come and lie on your knee, and maybe just check that your paws are clean enough for him.
So it is a year today since Tigger joined us here. And as a special tribute to an Irish boy, we have given him an official birthday on St George’s Day – so today he is officially 2.
So thanks to Aisling and all at Limerick Animal Welfare for rescuing our wonderful boy in Ireland and letting him come over to England.
And thanks to Paddy, Tigger’s trainer. Sarah certainly helped us to choose well when she suggested we contact Paddy, who has given us so much time over and above our lessons, to answer our questions and send us detailed e-mails suggesting ways we can work with Tigger.
However, we would not have had Tigger here today without the incredible support we have received from Sarah and Paul. Time after time we rang them for advice and sent them e-mails with questions. Every time they came back to us and helped us and talked us through countless problems, and we know we have taken hours and hours of their time – and they have taught us so much this year.
the “but” that Paul had to mention to us when he first
spoke to us about Tigger?
For all those who work so hard for Wiccaweys and other Rescues, I am sure that life must bring you much heartbreak, frustration and sadness, and perhaps a sense of inadequacy that this is so much to be done, with never enough time, people or resources to succeed in doing it all.
time things seem bleak, just remember Tigger, who is just one success
story, and a testimony to all your hard work. Tigger has brought real
joy, happiness and love into our lives. Tigger's a wonderful, special
boy who truly lives up to the nickname he has here - “Sunshine”.
- 1 year on.
Tess made progress. We experimented with places to leave her when
we were out and eventually cracked the barking problem. She learnt
to lay down and go to sleep occassionally and started to enjoy her
walks. She even started looking for a fuss occassionally.
has completely gotten over her separation anxiety now and will happily
be at home alone without issue. She is still nervous of people she
doesn't know, but she'll go up to them for a treat and you can see
- 1 year on, and at his 1st Flyball tournament.
To say Harley (aka Charlie) has been a challenge is certainly an understatement. I would imagine that his previous owners had no idea of the breed, and he certainly would have ruled the roost in their home. Being a cocky little devil, he challenged my bossy little collie bitch, who immediately put him in his place. That was his first lesson.
was an adrenalin junkie. He would rush to the window, squeal, bark
and belt around like a looney. He wound himself up into a frenzy chasing
shadows, birds and anything that moved.
I took him to all the agility and flyball shows last summer and he was a swine. He barked, lunged at passing dogs (no malice just excitement) pulled me over - he is so strong, and generally behaved like the dog from hell. He escaped from the caravan, and was running amok in the ring. He chases anything that moves and won't come when called. I felt that he was not bonding with me and was still doing his own thing. He started flyball training a few months ago and this helped with his recall.
All this went on for quite a while and being one who will not give up, I persevered. Within the last 2 mnths he has taken a huge leap forward. He is listening to me, has stopped trying to be boss and has turned into a cuddle monster. I still only let him off lead in certain areas as he chases wildlife, but he will return to me a lot quicker. His behaviour has imroved a great deal, although there are still one or two things left to work on.
pictures are from Harley's first starters tournement at Carlton Towers.
He ran like a trooper and controlled his excitement. I was so proud
of him and walked around with a big grin on my face all day.