Pleasures & Problems

January 13, 2011

Mist is really fun to walk with. Tearing around, leaping, jumping and panting happily. She never seems to get tired when walking like poor old Bracken, who cannot even walk a mile without collapsing! We always bring a ball when we go for Mist’s evening walk and you can tell that she wants to play with it as she looks at you hopefully until you get it out. Then she isn’t impressed when we stop playing! However, she sometimes gets over confident and tries to do things she can’t do like leaping over a small stile. She just about did, but bumped a back leg and limped for a bit, but soon recovered. She enjoys jumping over a small stream that all of us can jump (including my 6 year old sister) and seems to effortlessly sail across as if it wasn’t there. She is also great in snow. She likes people to kick it in her face and if you have a handful of snow she jumps up and tries to eat it. We did try to put her on the sledge but she just scrabbled about and fell off. She is so fun!!

Unfortunately, with Mist, it is not all fun and laughter. She has a bad obsession with chasing cars and sheep. This means she has to be kept on a lead whenever there are sheep around. This is not nice for us all as she strains on the lead and is longing to race around enjoying herself. The cars is also a big problem as we cannot walk her on a road at all as she keeps lying down when the cars come past. We are trying to sort this out! I really like walking with Mist and she encourages me to come along on her evening walks.

By Charlotte    Age 11

Delightful as she is there are 2 issues, which Charlotte mentions, that need sorting out with Mist. Her obsession with chasing cars and sheep. ‘Parking’ the car issue for the moment my priority over the last few months and going forward is to establish control over her when near sheep. Mist is from working stock so the instinct to herd will always, I suspect, be with her. However I am aiming to control her from chasing at any sign of the sheep. Mixed success to date; if I can command her early I am fine – a sharp ‘lie down’ seems to have her crawling on her stomach and stopping till I can get her on a lead. Once gone (and she has gone a couple of times), she does not attack sheep but she does try to round them up, which is not acceptable at any time.

However the alternative of having Mist permanently on the lead is also not a great option, for a collie it really is not on and will only create problems for her going forward. So the key is to take control of her. I was delighted the other day on the Isle of Whithorn (a lovely area of coast in Dumfries) when she spotted sheep went down on her haunches but did not look to chase; the other day she did the same with some cows.

She seemed happy for me to put her on a lead to pass through the sheep and although clearly checking them out showed no inclination to try and chase them. It is a dilemma (particularly with lambing approaching) to decide when to have her on and when not on a lead. At the present she is on when sheep are in sight but off at other times. She knows she must not chase, she does register commands and mainly react to them but she is certainly not yet 100%.

She is worse with traffic – the instinct to chase is strong and I could see her getting on a road. Fortunately you always know where roads are (as opposed to sheep) so it is easy to have her on a lead but frankly she is an absolute pain near traffic. The advice I have got is completely conflicting; from sit in a car park and get her used to cars to avoid roads at all cost. Any suggestions are welcome here – the thought of a couple of hours in the car park at Tesco holds little appeal!

By Jonathan age ??

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