Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spring is in the Air...

There are always two sure signs (three if you count the rather blatant calendar stating the fact) that spring is approaching here at Barkingham Palace. The first is the speed at which dog-walkers walk their dogs. During winter, it can be a mad dash to get back into the warmth of our homes and dip our toes in a cup of warm soup. We do all do that, right? However, come spring, we move more like old tortoises, each happy to just enjoy the sunshine and fresh warm air.

The second sign is that my home-boarding calendar starts to rapidly fill up as people begin to plan their annual holidays. As I write this entry, I have a Black Labrador named Barney, who previously joined us a year ago in March 2009. I absolutely love receiving repeat bookings, as it tells me that I'm getting things right and that the owners are happy with the boarding I am providing for their dogs. Of course, repeat bookings are made all the more pleasant when the dog is as well-behaved and has such a well-rounded temperament as Barney does. I don't think I know of a single dog who is more accommodating to other dogs than he is. He just seems to embrace each of them equally. He will play with them when invited, but is also happy to do his own thing when not invited. In terms of off-leash walking, you can't really ask for better.
Barney leaves us on Thursday evening, which gives me one day before another regular client (in fact, the most regular client of them all) arrives for a weekend stay. Yes, it's time for Monty the pug again. However, this time it's Monty and his new 'brother', Cooper - a Boston Terrier pup! Yes, there's now double the trouble! :) Of course, I've already met him and he's just adorable! I think we're reaching the point where we should perhaps be building a 'Monty wing' in recognition of his custom!

So there are things on the boarding front. But what about Ellie? Well....

Since the spaying, I have noticed a gradual and pleasant change in her physique. She has certainly filled out and is no longer the skinny border collie that she once was. She has quite the voracious appetite now. But more importantly than the physical change, is the change in her personality. I've been noticing a change in her for some time now. It started as quit a gradual change, but it seems to be accelerating a little at the moment. Others have certainly noticed it too.

I can think of no better way to describe the change than to say she seems to have found her 'collie gene'. A walk doesn't seem to be a walk these days unless she can herd up whichever dog we happen to be walking with. She will bark at them to try and get them to run. If they run, then she does what Border Collies do - herds them up. If they don't, she gives up of course, but for her to even attempt it is quite a significant change.
She's also much more alert for more of the time. Don't get me wrong, she can still be that oh-so-timid Border Collie that we all know and love, but there are just many more periods when she isn't. She is more willing to try new things, a little more affectionate, and a little more vocal at times. Most people who see her these days are commenting on the changes they see in her, so it can't just be me noticing them.

She's also getting much more confident and relaxed around other dogs. It has been a remarkable sight for Sue and I to witness Ellie, Barney, and Teal'c all fall into a deep sleep in close proximity to each other, not once but twice this week. My guess is that the home-boarding is helping her significantly in this area. I don't imagine it's easy for any dog to have a near constant flow of different dogs enter their home month after month.

I welcome all of these changes in her. Boy, do I welcome them! I am doing all that I can to try and foster the increased energy and enthusiasm, and even ignoring the bad bits such as when she jumps up at me on the walk to try and get me to throw the ball for her. I know what you are thinking, that I am creating a future problem. However, we'll have to agree to disagree. I think it would be too easy to push Ellie back into her reserved state again. It's a case of needing to take the rough with the smooth for now, while I encourage her to grow her confidence and energy levels. There will come a time to start weeding out the pushy behaviours, but it isn't just yet.

And now for the shameless promotion bit: The Don't Blame the Dog forums are growing but we always need more dog-lovers to join up and participate. So if you or anyone you know are interested in talking about dogs, particularly about positive training, then we'd love to see you there!

1 comment:

achieve1dream said...

It's great to hear that Ellie is really coming into her own. I don't think what you're doing will create a monster. You know her better than anyone and you know what is best for her. :) Keep up the great work.

Oh and can't wait to start hearing about her training again. :) I know you're busy, but I really enjoyed hearing about the tricks she was learning.