Sheppie is my eight old Border Collie. He is my furry best mate who keeps me company, gives me cuddles, listens to me and shares secrets no one else will know. I’ve had him five years and he came to me from Border Collie Rescue.
He was originally a Trainee Military Police Sniffer Dog. The trouble was he got to excited when he found explosives and this made people understandably nervous especially given the IED threat faced by our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. At some point during his time with the RAF he damaged his tail and he had to have most of it amputated, he still has enough tail to wag though.
So he went of to Civilian Police Dog School to be a passive drugs dog. They discovered like many border collies he was obsessed with chasing torchlight and they had to fail him. In their defence he really does go totally loopy whenever there’s a torch shining on the ground or a laser pointer!
Since he’s been with me I’ve taught him some more skills, including working to hand signals, whistles and how to work off lead including crossing the road. I’ve also taught him to lay beside me when I throw a tennis ball or dog frisbee and wait until he’s told he can go find it. I haven’t managed to teach him that black sacks of rubbish aren’t toys or how to do the washing up!
Colour(s): The colour of tennis balls!
Movie(s): Wimbledon, all those tennis balls!
TV: Those dog food adverts and the tennis… mmm tennis balls! I’d make a great ball dog at Wimbledon!
Music: The sound of the fridge door opening, the rattle of the dog biscuit box or even better the dog food tin being opened! Ooooh I nearly forgot the noise tennis balls make as I rip them apart! Ooooh and the flapping sound my rubber disc makes when I get it and shake it really hard!
Place(s): Park, definitely the park! It’s also fun at JPS Stationers in Chesham, since the staff love me and lots of customers say hi! Maybe Poppins to as sometimes I get to have a tasty sausage!
Food(s): Food is always good. Am a big fan of cheese!
Drink(s): Water.. in a bowl or a puddle is great! Apparently when I make a puddle on the floor it’s not so good though! That doesn’t happen very often.
Possession/Thing(s): The orange ball lobber Elliott uses to make those tennis balls fly – until I catch them or maybe the rubber ball on a rope Elliott throws for me to chase or my rubber flying discs or the red squeauky toy Sue bought me at Pet World! It was called Super Strong – it was for a little while! So MANY toys to choose from!
Ooooh nearly forgot Elliott’s laser pointer thingy… chase the red (or green… or purple… or blue) dot!
I did have three YES three rubber flying discs but two got lost in the woods, one got buried under the snow… But Elliott found out where to get new ones over the Interwebs so now I have a red and a purple one. If you want one for your dog you can get one here – Activate Your Dog; Dog-o-soar
Flower:Not fussy, I like to “water” them all the same…
Quote(s): “Want some dinner?” or “Want to go to the park?” – Elliott
Sheppie knows a wide range of commands, I’m also getting him to respond to hand signals and whistles. Here’s what he knows (those with a * have an alternative hand signal and those with a # have an alternative whistle). Some commands can be combined of course as in Where’s your ball?
Some kids were throwing the ball for Sheppie and it rolled just out of muzzle reach under a bit of railing… I told Sheppie to go get it, meaning walk round the back of the railing… He lay down slid a paw under the railing and rolled it back with his paw… That was the first time it had happened and he’d never played ball by the railings before… it took him less than thirty seconds thinking time to work out the solution.
- The “usual commands”
- stay (context as in stay lying down/sitting somewhere and also as in you stay [here]; you’re not coming out with me this time)
- lie down*
- good boy*
- quiet (as in be quiet, stop barking so much)
- Shut Up! (as in I really want you to be quiet)
- find* ….
- drop* ….
- fetch ….
- give (as in give me the ball/disc/birdie)
- Where’s your/is ….. (as in alternative to find)
- Piggy (Piggy toys that used to grunt; I’m trying to teach him the colours – pink, black and orange)
- ball (as in grab your ball and don’t leave it behind)
- disc (as in frisbee; as in grab your frisbee and don’t leave it behind or find your disc – by far the best frisbee ever found for dogs is Activate Your Dog; Dog-o-soar)
- Birdie (chicken toy, it squeaks)
- Doughnut (doughnut toy, it doesn’t squeak)
- leave (as in leave the ball/disc/toy/stick alone it belongs to another dog or leave those biscuits alone they are mine),
- paw (give me a paw in exchange for a biscuit)
- other paw (give me the other paw in exchange for a biscuit)
- high five!! (give me both paws at the same time!)
- mine (as in that biscuit is mine – paws off)
- bad boy (as in bad boy that biscuit was mine. Why is it now in your tummy?)
- come*# (as in come here)
- cuddle (as in come here and give me a cuddle)
- bath (he knows what it really means but interprets it as quick, give Dad a kiss then run and hide in case the bath is for Sheppie!)
Not so Usual Commands
- Who is it? (as in Who is it at the door? Time to bark)
- wait*# (before doing something eg: running after a ball and wait before being told to cross the road [see below])
- ready (as in are you ready something is about to happen)
- gentle (as in stop being so rough)
- calm (as in calm down instead of racing acting like a loon)
- walk with me (as in walk close behind me)
- go squat (as in go take a ****; he will usually prefers long grass, under hedges or in woods
- wrong way (as in you’re going the wrong way to find something eg: ball or we aren’t going that way
- move (as in you’re in the way and about to get squished, sat on etc)
- be nice (as in it’s only a little puppy, they aren’t going to do you any harm)
I trained him to cross roads off the lead so he understands some commands in context eg: wait, stay and these
- Pay attention (keep your eyes on me while were crossing the road)
- Cross (as in cross the road)
- Cross to the middle (go to the pedestrian island/verge in the middle of road)
- Wait (don’t cross now, there is a h-u-g-e truck coming towards us that you can’t see!)