What an exciting weekend! New England Border Collie Rescue held their annual reunion for adopters and volunteers. Since I have volunteered at their Dog Daze fundraiser for the last several years, I decided to take Thor for some fun border collie socialization. I expected it to be hard. I had anticipated that my next dog would be a petite female BC mix. Instead, I have Thor.
Over 130 dogs attended the reunion! Early in the day, no one was using the agility rings so I took Thor into the ring to play. He went through a tunnel, curved under the dogwalk, twice successfully. He also went in and backed out a few times. That's okay; I am excited that he did anything in an unfamiliar environment! We then went to each of the down contacts (2 on A-frame, 2 on dogwalk, 1 on seesaw) and shaped for 1RTO. Beautiful! At one point, a dog was being walked very close to the ring. Thor went over to check it out. No barking. Cool! And he came back!
Later in the day, we went into a large fenced area with a pond. There were probably a dozen border collies running, playing, swimming. Thor ran around having a good time and behaving very appropriately! He ran with the dogs a bit but with an air of aloofness. He seemed to be more interested in saying hello to the people. And he never jumped up! Even better, he periodically returned to me to check in! Good boy!
At one point, I walked over to the pond with Thor who had shown no interest in it. I was hoping I might be able to clicker train him to walk into the water. No luck. With his usual enthusiasm, Thor leapt into the water landing about chest deep. He was startled and could not be lured to go near it again.
There were a few puppies from a litter that had been born into rescue. A few days earlier, I had expressed to a friend of mine who is adopting one of the BC pups that that's what I should have had instead of Thor. But on this day, watching the puppies romp and play, I felt no draw to them. Phew!
On Sunday, I went to an agility trial to volunteer and introduce Thor to the environment. I have been working on having him stay in the crate so that I can put on his harness and he doesn't have to wear it for travel. Success! Not easy, but I managed it. With a bit more training, it should become a piece of cake. Thor was somewhat overwhelmed by the crowd and all the activity. I gave him a stuffed toy to carry (his security blanket). Each time he dropped it, I told him "Get your toy" and he did! He politely greeted several of my friends. One commented how nice it is that he doesn't jump! One of the vets who had agreed that I should wait to neuter him was also there. She said that she was glad to see that he was an appropriate size (~25 inches at the shoulder). She told me that she has been seeing lots of oversized weims (28/29"--the breed standard for adult males is 25-27) in her practice.
My friend Kathy had her puppy there, too. Jasper is about the same age as Thor. An aussie mix, he is adorable and reminds me of Peabody. I had had an opportuniy to adopt Jasper's brother a couple of months prior to the arrival of Thunder Thor. At the time, I saw pictures and had to agree they were cute. But I wanted something smaller than an Aussie and without the heavy coat. I also expressed reservations about a docked tail. Kathy told me that these pups had tails! I was tempted. But I was still holding on to I-can't-have-a-puppy-as-long-as-Vada-is-alive.
So Thor came into my life. Turns out, Jasper is much smaller than expected and his coat is medium-length and not thick. But I was so proud of Thor's good behavior and attention to me that I wasn't envious at all! I hope this is the beginning of falling in love with Thor. He deserves that, and he really is so very good. Especially when I think back to the TORNADO that he was!!