Monday, March 31, 2008

Ellie at Ten Months

Ellie at Ten Months
Fanfare please; Ellie is now-ten months of age, so she has lived with us for a grand total of seven months. It's really no time at all, and yet it seems as though she's always been with us.

It's been an odd month and we've not been able to do as much with Ellie as we usually would. Ellie had a stomach upset for a week, where she was having to toilet almost every hour, and let me tell you, it was none too pleasant once it arrived! There were a few nights that we were kept awake because he kept needing to go outside to toilet. Because of her illness, she missed her training session, for the first time ever. We felt it best to keep her away from other dogs, given that we had no way of knowing whether her illness was viral or bacterial.
At the start of the month, I had a really stinking cold which knocked me out of play for just over a week. Then we had Jan's Mum come to stay for a week, and so, really, it's not been the best month for us.

As readers will know, from a previous posting, we took on a German Shepherd dog as a companion for Ellie. We're sad to report that it didn't work out. Surprisingly, perhaps, the GSD wasn't the problem in the least. In fact, we have to say that he was absolutely flawless in every way. If he was our only dog, we'd have been exceptionally proud to have him. Sadly, the truth was that Ellie didn't take to him - at all, and as we expressed at the time, she had to remain our first priority. It was always going to be a gamble, but one that we had to take in order to find out the reality.

Ellie would lay with him, no problem, and coexist with him in the same room. However, any attention, and she would nip at him, jump on him, and really act quite out of character. It became quickly evident to us that, with the GSD, we had the right dog in the wrong home. To his credit, despite all of her bullying, he never once retaliated. In fact, had he have done so, she might have learned a lesson and stopped, but he was just so placid that he wouldn't.

So what happened, more and more, was that he was having to sit on the sidelines, and couldn't really be a part of the family. Wherever he laid down, Ellie moved him on. If I stroked him, she pushed into the way. If I walked them together, she would nip at him all the way there. It was breaking our heart to see him sidelined all the time, particularly as he was trying so hard to get along with Ellie, and being so patient with her.

It's a huge shame for us as he had the absolute perfect temperament for us, and that is so rare these days.

We have re-homed him with a couple who have a more mature Cocker-Spaniel who, and the two seem to be getting on exceptionally well. I received a really lovely e-mail from the new owners this morning, which contained the line: "It was love at first sight when Jonny got home aswell, it just seems like he was the missing piece in our house", which reassured me that, as much as it hurt us at the time, we made the right decision.

It was incredibly tough leaving him with someone else. We now know how Foster-carers like Dawn (Ellie's original foster-carer) feel when they have to let go of their short-term charges. It's much harder than you think it will be after such a short time of attachment.

Ellie at Ten Months
Of course, we can't and don't blame Ellie for this. I suppose it's the price we pay for lavishing so much attention on her. But when you consider the alternative of not giving her as much attention as we have, then I have no regrets. I think that as a result of the attention she's received, she has overcome and achieved so much in the seven months that she has been with us.

I think, now, we need to wait until she is a little more mature still. But then, all the while, she'll be getting more and more used to having us to herself. It's a tough balancing act. It might be that we are never able to get a second dog. If that is the case, so be it. We may wait until she's around eighteen months. She will have been spayed by then, and then we could ask Dawn to look out for a suitable companion for us. She knows Ellie better than anyone, and she works with rescue-dogs.

His stay doesn't seem to have affected Ellie, now that he is gone. She still ignores other dogs when we're out in the fields, and at the park. I think that is perhaps how she prefers to be - aloof! I suppose you can't blame the girl for wanting me all to herself! :)

So, with regards to training, not much has happened this month, other than we've been perfecting the cop-cop, which she will now do any time, any place. As we walked back from our afternoon walk yesterday, I was walking her back in a cop-cop along the street. We've also got her through her water phobia. That has been a long-haul, but it means she can now go to far more exciting places with us. If the weather holds, we're going to take her to Beeston next weekend, to visit the River Trent. It's a gorgeous area and I know she will love it.

The weather is now warming up and the clocks have moved forward, and we're out more and more. I've been waiting for these months, for what seems like an age now.

Ellie's first season has still to materialise. Sometimes, we see her licking herself much more frequently and expect it to be "any day now", but we've given up trying to predict it. It'll come when it comes.

She's looking a little thinner than usual right now, due to her recent upset tummy, but now that she's well, she's starting to fill out again. When you're as small as Ellie is, you can't afford to lose too much weight!

Ellie also experienced snow for the first time in March. What did she do with it? She stood on her hind legs, and tried to eat it as it fell. She's so funny at times.

We didn't complete a training challenge this month as, after reading all of the suggestions, none of them really inspired me. I'm hoping they are a little more exciting for April so that we can get right back into the swing of things. If not, we'll just have to make our own up!

Dawn also sent us an e-mail to notify us that she had submitted one of Ellie's photos into a competition. She won "Best looking Bitch", or something like that. She's going to post the rosette to us shortly. Obviously, we'll grab a photo or two as and when it comes. But "best looking bitch"? The mind boggles. I guess it's as they say - beauty really is in the eye of the beholder!

Only two more months and she'll be a year old! We're still waiting for the "nightmare Border Collie" syndrome that we read and heard so much about before getting Ellie. I still say that I'll be completely staggered if Ellie turns into a rogue Border Collie. I just can't see it happening, despite what others say. I think that we were, in some regards, lucky to get one that isn't as high-energy or as buzzing as many do seem to be. On the other hand, training would have been much easier too, had she have had fewer fears and been less timid. It's a tough call. What I do know is that I wouldn't swap her for the world now that we have her.


Xsara ... said...

I'm sorry to hear that it didn't work out with the GSD, maybe it was just too soon for Ellie. I'd try again later on, maybe borrow a friend's dog she gets along with to stay over the night a couple of times, just to reassure her that nothing changes for her if there's another dog in the house. Working with rescues is never easy, and I thing she is really lucky to have people like you who understand her position. I'm glad the GSD found another home and a family that will love him, I wish them all the best.
And yes, our landscape really is beautiful, but I don't think I was really aware of it before I got Xsara. I learned that dog-people enjoy life more than anybody else :)

Cyd said...

Maz, sorry to hear about the GSD, sounds like he was a great dog. Sounds also like you found him a happy home, and that is a good thing.
I currently have 5 dogs, and yes they do want to compete for attention. You do have to be more like a pack leader to have more dogs, which means you choose when and whom gets attention not the dog. It is much easier to have just 1 and spoil them though. I am sure Ellie fills all your needs for a companion, you just may not need another one. Love all the work you 2 do together.
Cindy (Cyd)

Ellie's Owner said...

Good to see you drop by, Cyd. :)

Yeah, you're right. It may just be that we're a one dog family. If that is the case, then we have one hell of a dog as our only dog. :)

Pacco de Mongrel said...

i experience this problem too, when i help my training mate to dog-sit their JRT..

pacco is very friendly to him at the training ground...but when he came to stay with us for 5 days...all the bullying instinct was to apparent..

my dog want to control everything that the JRT does...

so, getting another dog for the family is never an option...