As I wrote in my last post, I finally have a dog in my life again, after more than ten years.
Meet Thane, my Old-Time Scotch Collie In Training:
|8.5 Weeks Old|
Anyone who has read the old books by Albert Payson Terhune understands what the breeders of these old-fashioned Collies are trying to capture - a dog that doesn't just possess beauty, but also brains, a solid work ethic, and above all, loyalty to their families.
|9.5 Weeks Old|
I read about the OTSC (Old-Time Scotch Collie) movement this past summer, and I became very excited. I was even more excited when I learned that there was a litter of puppies available in Maine - and then I was over the moon when my parents graciously agreed to allow me to purchase a puppy. (I felt like a teenager again - "I promise I'll walk him, and clean up after him, and train him...")
|10.5 Weeks Old|
On September 17th, 2016, a friend and I drove a couple hours to meet the breeder. I met Thane, snapped a leash onto his collar, and chatted with the breeder for a little while. Then she left, and suddenly I had an adorable, mischievous little fluffball on the end of the leash, and somewhat less knowledge of what to do with him than I had thought I possessed.
|11.5 Weeks Old|
I will come right out and say that the first few weeks, while they had their fun moments, were very, very challenging, and I had plenty of days when I was extremely discouraged. Thane would play nicely for a while, but then he would get "the crazies" and go after my hands, my ankles, my clothes...anything he could reach. I spent a lot of time online researching how to handle this (stopping play and turning my back on him seemed to have the best results), but I really just couldn't wait for him to be past puppyhood and reach perfect adulthood. :P
|12.5 Weeks Old|
Time both flew and dragged as I waited for my Thane to become the wonderful Old-Time Scotch Collie I had read so much about. I took him to obedience class and brought him into busy local shops often for socialization. I took him on walks. He LOVES people, and he is a very confident puppy. His fun, curious personality began to show through more and more.
|13.5 Weeks Old. This Frisbee is now utterly demolished.|
He began to show more affection toward members of the household. In true Collie fashion, he puts his ears back against his head when he's happy, and it's fun to talk to him and watch his ears go up and down. Speaking of the ears, I never know on a day-to-day basis whether they'll be sticking straight up or flopped over. Often it's one of each.
|14.5 Weeks Old|
Slowly...very slowly...I've begun to see more and more of a difference in his behavior. A lot of that, actually is ME learning how to act around him, how to correct misbehavior - or, even better, how to redirect him when I see that he's about to do something wrong. So much of dog training is actually people training!
|15.5 Weeks Old|
We went adventuring. I think that Thane will be a good hiking buddy - unlike my Irish Setter many years ago, who was always casting around for scents, Thane likes to stick close to me. I think that's probably a Collie trait - he's more about his people than about his nose.
|16.5 Weeks Old|
He's getting bigger all the time, and his adult coat is starting to come in. A trademark of the OTSC is a moderate coat...meaning that Thane should have far less coat than the typical AKC-type Collie. So far it's looking promising.
|17.5 Weeks Old|
Lately I've been encouraged. I feel that Thane is really getting past some of the worst of the puppy craziness and settling into a calmer, more affectionate personality. I think to myself more and more often, I really think he's going to be a great dog, instead of I hope he turns out okay...
|18 Weeks Old...Zoomies in the Snow!|
My current plan is to enroll in more obedience classes and just keep reinforcing the training that he already has. I spoke with a professional trainer, and she recommends that I also work on his impulse control, which will help with some occasional continued mouthing of my hands and nipping at ankles, etc. Basically, he needs to sit and look at me before he gets anything - food, treats, attention, play time.
|19 Weeks Old|
My main goals for the next month or so:
-No more mouthing/nipping
-Better leash manners
-Get him comfortable with having his nails clipped
These will require patience and consistency on my part - both things that are not necessarily strong points for me, so that's another puppy learning curve! I really want to raise Thane the right way, though, and the window of opportunity is narrow.
|5 Months Old!!|
My cute little fluffball is not so little any more...he's actually five months old today! He's earned more freedom in the house lately, and so far has done very well spending loosely supervised time outside his pen. (Another typical Collie trait is easy housebreaking, and this is definitely true of Thane!)
I guess the moral of this story is this: all puppies are hard work. I was expecting Thane to be easy just because he's a Scotch Collie, but in a way I'm glad he's been such a challenge - I've learned SO much the past three months, and I'm looking forward to learning plenty more as Thane continues to grow and mature. I'm confident now that he's going to be a wonderful dog, and I'm excited to see him become all that he can be.
Someday, if his temperament continues to improve and he passes some health checks, he may become the foundation of Butterscotch Farm Scotch Collies!