17 hrs ago
This gorgeous young man is Max, he's an 18 month old border collie and he's looking for a home to call his own. But before you get too caught up in those markings, please take a moment to read through his information.
I'm going to be brutally honest about Max's drawbacks - there are a fair few - because I don't want people to under-estimate what they're taking on with him. Poor Max didn't get off to a great start, and I think it's essential that people know all of his "bad" points before going any further.
Max came in to us at approximately 150% of his ideal weight - yes, that's dangerously obese. He had not received much in the way of exercise or mental stimulation, and had not had anywhere near enough socialisation or exposure to day to day noises. This has had a pretty severe knock on effect on Max's temperament. Loud noises scare him - lawn mowers, hoovers, planes flying over-head, occasionally people falling over stuff (I'm pretty clumsy, so he's getting desensitised to that last one fairly quickly!) He's a car chaser (if you know collies, you'll know this is a common habit for under-stimulated dogs to develop) and if you're not working with him, he'll chase about 2 out of 3 cars. He can be leash reactive – towards other dogs, and occasionally towards people. He has a very high prey drive – he absolutely cannot be trusted around small furries, cats, birds etc. When he came in, he was very vocal in the home. He could not travel in a car. He also showed some obsessive behaviours – barking at paving slabs, going nuts if he could see a ball but no-one was throwing it, the list sadly goes on. Max is also recovering from an old injury caused by being hit by a car in his previous home.
So let me be 100% clear when I say that Max is not a quick fix dog, he’s not the perfect family dog, and he’s not going to come into your home and act like he’s been there his entire life. He’s not suitable for inexperienced owners, or those who haven’t had collie types before. I’m sorry, but the dog you want is not Max.
Still reading? Good. Now we get to the part I like – Max’s good points. I touched on the fact that Max had been hit by a car 6 months ago, and never received proper medical treatment at the time. He has almost certainly been in pain every day since then, up until a few weeks ago when he came into our care, and our handlers and vet picked up on it immediately. Max was x-rayed, which thankfully came back clear. The vet believes we are dealing with a muscular injury which, as long as he is not over-exercised, will heal up over time. For me, this explains a lot of Max’s crankiness, and since he’s been on pain meds, we’ve seen a much more content, sweeter side of Max.
Max is an amazingly bright lad, he’s a fast and willing learner when trained with reward-based methods, and you see his eyes sparkle and just come alive when you start working with him. He’s food orientated, and now understands the concept of earning treats and rewards. He has a great play drive too – take him outside and he’ll play fetch for as long as you’re willing. If you get bored, he’ll amuse himself with a squeaky.
He’s housetrained, and crate trained (it took about a week for him to learn that his crate was a happy and safe place, and now he loves it) He can be left for a few hours without worrying. He is not destructive in the home – although he’ll merrily chew up his bed I’m afraid! (Luckily he’ll happily sleep on blankets without chewing them)
We’ve been working on his reactivity, using a method called “classical conditioning” – this basically means we’re using rewards to teach him that outside things aren’t scary. His response to this style of training has been amazing, and if you’re working with him his car chasing drops from 2 out of 3 to about 1 in 20, and is improving all the time. His people reactivity doesn’t exist while he’s being worked, and it’s only a matter of time before it’s gone completely. Max’s adopters will have life time support with regards to his training, but we will not consider a home where aversive methods are used – Max simply cannot cope with them, and he deserves better.
So no, Max isn’t the perfect dog, but in the right hands, one day he will be. If you think that you could be that person, please don’t hesitate to let us know.
Max is being fostered in Southend, Essex
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