When I adopted Lilly 10 months ago, I thought I was getting a completely different dog than I got. Lilly was adopted from a rescue by a woman with really good intentions who was guilty of loving Lilly too much...
You see, dogs like Lilly need more than just food and love. They need boundaries and a strong leader as well. That is how Lilly found herself back in the hands of rescue a second time. Lucky for me, I had temporarily fostered a dog for this group, and told them what type of dog I was looking for, so I jumped on the chance to adopt Lilly.
Now, I am not stupid. I never adopted Lilly with the idea she was going to be an "easy" dog. I by nature am a Belgian Shepherd sort of girl. I like a dog that is spirited but honest, and wants to work with you. I also love a "bad" dog... Where I don't mind fostering "wallflower type" dogs, my most successful K9 partners have been dogs with a back bone that would just as soon flip you off than let you be right.
The day we met Lilly, I felt sorry for her. She was an over weight, unemployed dog, begging for work, and because she had been living in a doggie daycare facility for quite an extensive period of time during her unemployment, she was driving people crazy with her antics. I immediately noticed Lilly was wickedly smart, and tried really hard to impress me with her agility skills. I was hooked!
I signed her paperwork, and then I was handed a yellow folder with all of her medical information in it. It was in the very back of the file that I found a letter regarding Lilly from her old owner and as I read through it I whispered to The Reluctant Farmer: "What the hell did we just adopt, a gremlin?!" The letter was a list of rules about what you could and could not do with Lilly. No drive-thru windows, no wire crates, no food after 7 pm, and my favorite: Don't allow her on your couch because she will bite you when you ask her to get off.
I really wasn't sure about the adoption until I read that last warning, and that is when the illogical part of my brain went: "Hell, yes!" I love a dog with enough backbone that she will challenge me, This is EXACTLY what I was looking for!
I took Lilly home, and then I realized within minutes, I did not adopt a Belgian Shepherd. I adopted a Border Collie. Very similar in drive, but 2 completely different breeds on several aspects.
1) Border Collies have a neurotic side that Belgians do not have, and Lilly's neurosis was intensified because she lived in a 10 x 10 run at a doggie daycare until her owner agreed to re-release her to rescue.
2) She didn't give two shits about me, and she didn't need me at all.
And then I got really busy working with this dog.
In the beginning Lilly and I butted heads every day, but I have to tell you I have loved every moment with this girl, because she has taught me so much. She has made me step out of my comfort zone, forced me to be a better handler, and subjected me to stuff I would have never done before.
That is why this morning I drove her one state over to Stockdog U for herding lessons.
I didn't need one more thing to do with this dog, and this sport looks hard as hell, but I know in my heart, Lilly needs this activity like a fish needs water and I respect her enough to know this would make her world complete. She had a blast today and it was breathtaking to watch her instincts take over.
We can't wait to go back.
I think we just found a new sport....