The serendipitous arrival of an australian shepherd
Some things arrive in life before you’ve made the decision you want them. In the summer of 2005, I became the lucky recipient of an eight week old Australian Shepherd. While working at a boarding business, a customer dropped off the puppy and urgently asked that we find him a new home, as her new residence would not allow dogs. A few weeks passed but nobody wanted to pay her price for him. During this time, I cared for him on a regular basis and eventually allowed him to follow me around as I took care of the business. After nearly four weeks, the woman had to move and ask that the dog be given to anyone who could pay for the boarding fees. I took him home that day.
His name was Trooper and it was so fitting that I kept it. He is purebred and was reportedly a miniature. However, since he weighs about 43 lbs, he seems to have fallen between a miniature and standard. He is a tricolor and has some blue merle spots on his face. He was potty trained in less than a jiffy and got along with every animal in the house, which included 2 cats, a lizard and a parrot who liked to walk on the carpet and act like a dog. However, due to lack of understanding of the needs of the breed, he was treated a lot like the previous house dog (a 20 year old cocker spaniel) had been – nearly no walks, few outdoor activities, little training, but lots of love. Additionally, his excitable nature and the absence of a fence meant his outdoor time was spent largely on a lead connected to a stake in the ground. Not the most desirable setup…
By the time Trooper was two, he was constantly trying to escape into the great outdoors, after which he would refuse to return to the house; playing ‘chase me’ long after it was amusing. He also had a plethora of other bad habits, including biting at his feet or belly until they were red or bleeding. Around that time, I decided that obedience training was long overdue and signed us up for a basic obedience class. Shocking given his track record, but not too surprising given his breed, Trooper was awesome at learning tricks and obedience. He quickly became so fast at learning things that we would have nothing to practice during our week between class meetings. We progressed to the intermediate class and agility. His behavior at home greatly improved with the training and he seemed to be becoming a one-person dog – mine. His attentiveness to my needs and commands was incredible; he tirelessly followed me everywhere in the house: bedroom, bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, bedroom, laundry room, garage, laundry room, bedroom, etc, explaining why this breed is sometimes called a “Velcro dog”. His eyes seemed to beg for requests, as if he could not wait for my next trick demand. He was becoming a great pet.
Trooper has become an excellent dog
Fast forward nearly five years: Trooper is amazing and the most lovely dog I have ever had as a pet. He never runs away, does not bite his feet (as much), still learns tricks in a lickety-split and loves children. He is polite and handsome and almost always shows the most perfect manners. Our training has become more interesting and intense (which he still adores) and is what inspired me to start this blog. On a regular basis, Trooper’s behavior has me in stitches and his intelligence makes me glow with pride. For all those Aussie owners out there who enjoy a similar relationship with their pet, I hope you enjoy these accounts of Aussie antics and Trooper training.