Regrouping

I have recently observed an interesting change in behaviour due to one of my dogs passing away.

There were 4 dogs in my group, 2 males, 2 females, all of them castrated. The girls automatically paired up with one of the males without intervention.

Holly and Boogie
Holly and Boogie

The mentally strongest dog, a bitch called Holly, took the 8 week old puppy Boogie under her wings and taught him all there is to know. They stayed inseparable for almost 9 years. The other 2 dogs formed the second couple and were father and daughter. They are also inseparable.

Although the two groups get on with each other there was a lot of animosity between the boys, no fights but growling and barking, especially from the younger Boogie towards the old boy.

Throughout his 8.5 years of happy life with Holly, Boogie remained the baby of the family. The others ignored his growls and barking, sometimes snarling at him to shut up. During walks Boogie would walk in my shadow. Holly was right in front, followed by the other bitch and the old boy when he was less arthritic. But Boogie would walk so close to me that he often stepped into my shoes. He seemed a very insecure dog although he was by far the biggest in stature.

He has always been very friendly to other dogs and all people and just hates mountain bikes with a vengeance…

And then Holly was put to sleep without having been ill for any length of time. The dogs were in kennels where they have often been and in the morning Holly would not get up and deteriorated fast. By the time I had landed at Manchester airport they had taken Holly to my vet where I had to make the dreaded decision. Apparently the kennel told me that Boogie, who shared one kennel with her, started screaming when she became ill – so he must have known that something was very wrong. Perhaps he was more prepared than I was of what was to come.

Boogie
Boogie

A few days followed where Boogie refused to eat, and at night he would do pee and poo and I woke up to a little surprise every morning. I had separated the two couples at night and now it was difficult to know what was best for Boogie. I put the other girl in with him once the old boy was asleep but he still left surprises for me… I then decided to put them all together in the kitchen and hope for the best. Boogie settled immediately without any more accidents at night… Sleeping with the enemy got a new meaning….

He even started eating his raw diet at night again but in the morning he still sometimes needs to be hand fed.

And then the big change happened… on our daily off lead walks he suddenly took the lead! He no longer walks in my shadow, he is right in front. At certain points he will stop and wait for the other dogs which sometimes takes a while since the old boy is really slowing down now but Boogie keeps an eye on him throughout the walk, ensuring he doesn’t get left behind.

My insecure baby has grown up! After 8.5 years… they say Border Collies develop slowly!  

Brigitte Barton
Canine Behaviourist, Chairperson and Education Officer , ICB

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