Is he good enough?

How long does it take for a Border Collie to mature? When I checked the calendar this month I realised that the Golden Wonder is now eighteen months old. He is ready to compete in trials! Well let me rephrase that he is old enough to compete in trials – he is nowhere near ready!

Every single day for the past eighteen months I have invested time and money into this little dog so now is a good time for an appraisal.

First I look at his good points.

I just adore him. He is pretty (why is it other people have male dogs that are handsome but mine is pretty?). He is well behaved around the house, he will go to his bed when told and will lie down when told – ok you may need to say it a couple of times. He is friendly with visitors, maybe a little too friendly at times. He is good out on walks and he comes back when he is called. He is good company and wants to do whatever I am doing, but is ok when left alone. He is good with the other dogs. He is well behaved in the van and quiet on journeys. I reckon that makes him a pretty good pet dog.

Training wise he has fairly good obedience and looks stylish I expect him to do well in novice obedience classes in the spring (there are no obedience shows in the winter). He will fetch a toy now (as well as his trained retrieve) but not repeatedly. He will speak on command and he can do little jumps. Tracking? Well the jury is out on that one. He will go a hundred yards or more very accurately to find a pot of food. He can do 90 degree turns. He does not stay focused, nor show enthusiasm in tracking. He could possibly be ready for a CD in the spring, but I am not sure he will ever be ready for the tracking stakes. I continue to train the dog by tracking and feeding at the end of the track: just easy stuff to condition him to form a pleasant association with this exercise.

The question is does this dog fulfil my requirements? Is he good enough to keep? Do I get value for my time and money? I suppose the answer to that is the same as anyone contemplating taking on a dog, first of all you have to ask the question.

What does one require from a dog?

1) Good health – without that you have nothing (except misery and vets fees)

2) You should have a natural attraction to the dog (there is no point in having a dog that everyone else tells you is the best – you need to like it because you have to live with it and if you don’t really like the dog you will never do it justice no-matter how good the dog might be).

3) It should fit into your lifestyle. Depending on your family, work commitments, size of your home, etc you might have to consider the best breed of dog or its temperament. Will it be on the go all day, will it mix with children, is there room in the lounge, or will it live in a kennel?

4) Is it suitable for the purpose for which you want the dog? Is it a pet dog or a working dog, or should it be both? If its main function is a pet presumably it is not the end of the world if it does not work. If its main function is to work and it stays out in the kennel then perhaps the domestic situation is not so important, but an aptitude to work and correct physical conformation would be required.

In my case the answer to question one, after a prolonged bout of kennel cough the Golden Wonder was subject to months of ill health due to chronic poisoning and the combination of these left the dog malnourished for months to the extent that the vet said his digestive system might have suffered irreparable damage. Now, thank goodness he is in good health (I am touching wood) and is much more active now that he is well. Genetically he is very well bred from healthy stock. He was unfortunate to have suffered the above, but now I can say he is a healthy dog.

Number two: there is no doubt I fell in love with this dog the moment I saw him.

Number three: yes he certainly fits into my lifestyle.

Number four: what was the purpose for which I purchased this dog? Now there is the question. I did not go out with intention of buying a dog! He was an impulse buy! Oops here come the welfare workers telling me ‘a dog is not for Christmas, never buy on impulse!’ etc.

The point is I fell in love with this puppy and took him on unconditionally. If he works that will be a bonus. As it is I enjoy every day with him. I enjoy the challenge of training him, of having to think outside of the box. He does wonders for my patience because of the time it takes for him to learn compared to every other dog I have trained. But we both enjoy the training.

So in answer to my question, yes he is good enough! He is good enough for me. In fact I feel I am privileged to own him. He gives me an enormous amount of pleasure, if he never gains a qualification in his life it will not matter. We are having fun! We enjoy every day. He may well yet mature and be able to focus on things other than birds and rabbits – or he may not. Who knows? All I know is when recently asked if I regretted buying the Golden Wonder, whether I wished I had taken on a puppy with better working potential my answer was an emphatic ‘No! I have no regrets’

...and anyway he is sooo pretty!