Monday, 30 September 2013

Turning the corner

At last, the poop situation seems to be improving. At least in terms of the diarrhoea clearing up. The probiotic paste that the vet prescribed yesterday is having an immediate effect and feeding Ruby half as much, twice as often is also helping.

She did poop in her crate in the early hours but at least it wasn't too runny. Sadly, she decided to cake it over her fur so after cleaning and disinfecting everything, there was no option but to give the little girl a bath.

Why did you dip me in water?

No, really. WHY did you
dip me in water?

After tearing around the living room, shaking excess water from her fur, I managed to settle her down in a nice big towel where she dozed off. She was soon dry and I gave her a good brushing. She is now nice and clean and is full of beans.

We also took Ruby to the vet for her scheduled appointment, but as expected, the vet decided to delay the vaccination for a couple of days. Now that her stomach is settling down, it would be unwise to chuck more things into her system. So we are going back Wednesday and providing she is still ok, we will get her second jab.

Thinking ahead, my Volvo S40 saloon is not going to be the most practical car for taking Ruby on trips to cool places. We were thinking of changing cars anyway so it made sense to look for an estate. It gives us more options and means we can get a travel crate for the back. With that in mind, meet the new family transporter..

Passat 2.0 TD Highline. Just got to get the
travel crate now.
We're planning on picking it up on Saturday and by the time I'm used to it (it has an electric handbrake, operated with a button on the might take a while), Ruby will be big enough to take further afield. And by next summer we can be looking at getting away to the beach, hills and other fun places for the dog. We are also looking at visiting relatives in Ireland. They have a farm so Ruby will love it.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Furry Baby

It turns out that Ruby has a touch of Colitis. Her poop this morning was rather unhealthy looking and had spots of blood so we went to the 'out of hours' vet. They did a thorough check including blood tests. The results were good. No dehydration and all the readings were normal. Ruby was prescribed a medicine that helps settle the stomach (a probiotic). And since taking it this morning she has been much better. 

The vet recommended giving her the usual food but half the amount, twice as often. This will help her digestive system process the food without getting overloaded. 

Ruby - tired after a visit to the Vet

She has responded really well and has been a little bundle of energy all afternoon/evening. Boy, am I relieved.

I have also had some feedback from other BC owners today after putting my blog up on 

It is great to be able to tap in to the experience out there as I am the first to admit I am not an expert. Having said that, I am under no illusions as to the commitment and energy needed to have one of these dogs in one's life. Ruby's breeder is an absolute gem and we will be visiting regularly so that Ruby can socialise with her pack as well as getting some herding practice in with the chickens, geese (and eventually sheep) on the farm.

I have received the odd comment around my lack of experience, and expressing the hope that there is a good 'BC rescue' centre nearby. As far as I am concerned, taking on Ruby is akin to bringing our children into the world. We didn't have the parenting experience with our first child but would never have thrown in the towel. In the (very) unlikely scenario that we felt we couldn't cope with Ruby, Gillian would take her back. In fact Gillian keeps in touch with the owners of all her puppies. She would be mortified if one of her dogs was sent to a rescue centre. She would take any of her dogs back in a heartbeat. 

But that won't happen. It's nice to have the security of Gillian being there and I might not have plunged in to BC ownership without finding her. But now Ruby is part of our family, that is how it will stay. She is a lovely dog and we have already bonded really well. I have established myself as the pack leader and consider her to be my very own furry baby.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Learning lessons the hard way

As much as I have read and researched and tried to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible with Ruby, there are always mistakes to be made. And as mistakes go, this is quite a messy one. 

So for all those people out there in bloggy-land who are thinking of becoming a puppy parent, I have a valuable lesson to share with you: 

Do NOT suddenly change the dog's brand of food

Gillian, the breeder, gave us a pack of puppy food that we were using up until last Monday. We had already bought a supply of another brand before picking the dog up (trying to be super prepared), so when the breeders food ran out, I just switched to the new stuff......BIG mistake!

Ruby's newly firmed up poop, suddenly loosened again and has not improved over the last 5 days or so. 

So today, I went back to and bought some more food; the same brand that we were using until the switch last week. She is now back on the Purina brand and we are just going to stick with it until her digestive system gets used to being back on it. 

Having read into this, I have discovered that puppies do not like sudden changes in their food. It definitely doesn't agree with them. Well, we've found that out to our cost (and to the benefit of kitchen towel manufacturers whos shares must have gone through the roof given the amount we have used).

For future information, if you need to change the puppy to a different brand of it          G....R....A....D....U....A....L....L....Y.

Start by introducing a bit of the new food, then each day, slightly increase the proportion over the course of a week or so, until they are weaned on to it. Trust me. If you don't do this, you will be swimming in a lake of runny dog poop.

Between the frequent visits to the doggy toilet, Ruby has been her usual boisterous, energetic self. She has had a particularly good time with her antler chew today.

Ruby loving her antler

We also bought an extendable lead today. It has already proved its worth by allowing Ruby to explore around the garden without the need to drag a human through the shrubbery. It's not something I intend using on normal walks when she is able to go out and about. But it is a very useful bit of kit to give Ruby (and us) a little bit of freedom in the garden. Silly me, didn't get a picture of it in action so I will try to put that right for tomorrow.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Not my finest hour

Ruby was a delight this morning. A nice relaxed play in the garden before work and off I went to my day job.

Ruby REALLY likes this spot

I can safely say however that this evening has been a bit of a challenge. Ruby was hyper and was determined to chew things she shouldn't. I ended up having to move a whole bunch of papers/magazines from their usual (accessible) spot so that she couldn't shred them. 

She also kept running to the back door, having a lie down and coming back. Not a problem in itself; except for the fact that it has been her way of telling us she needed to go do her business. Sadly, it was a case of "the boy who cried wolf" because the one time I didn't follow her to the back door, she decided to poop all over the floor. And right on cue because I was just about to serve up dinner for me and Ethan. I have to say, it was an experience having to slop up a load of diarrhoea just before having my dinner...bleugh!

By this time, half the Wigan v Leeds RL semi-final was done and I hadn't had a chance to see much of it. So we sat down to eat. Ruby decided she wanted people food and proceeded to do her best to get intimate with our dinner. I'm not blaming her as we were both sat in the living room trying to watch the Rugby. But I admit to starting to feel a little stressed out.

At about the point the rugby was coming to an end (Leeds having lost), Ruby settled down. 

Ruby in 'settled down' position

A little later she woke and made her way to the back door just as I was on my way to 'pay a visit'. Silly me. I should have held it in and taken her straight out, as when I got to the back door, another huge puddle of diarrhoea greeted me.

If only her stomach would settle down! She has finished her course of medicines and at the time they worked really well. The return of the runny poops coincided with the change of food type. These Iams really don't agree with her. Funny that, because our last pet, Clyde the cat also had issues with Iams. 

A trip to the pet shop is in order tomorrow. I'm going to try a different brand of puppy food to see if it makes any difference. If not, I'll contact Gillian (the breeder) to ask where she gets her puppy food from so I can get a supply.

If all else fails, Ruby is back at the vet on Monday to have her second injection. I can run it by them to see what they think. It is incredibly frustrating because in every way, she is doing great. The diarrhoea is the only thing causing a problem. But it really is messing up any routine we are trying to establish and making toilet training a proper pain in the arse.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Stir Crazy

It is still over two weeks before we can start to take Ruby out for proper walks. She has her second injection on Monday and the Vet has said we need to wait a further 2 weeks until she can socialise with other dogs. I feel a bit stir crazy as I would love to go for a proper walk instead of just wandering out into the back garden. If I feel like this, Ruby must be desperate to get properly out and about.

I KNOW it's dark but I don't want
to go inside yet

She is behaving really well though. She does have her moments when she goes all puppy crazy but if I'm honest I expected to have much more of the mad stuff than she has so far displayed. Generally, she will follow us about faithfully and appreciate being close to us. 

What a massively different experience from having a pet cat. We used to have a lovely cat (Clyde) who was a real personality. But even with all his charm and intelligence, he was still a cat. A cat who did things because it suited HIM. Ruby on the other hand is usually desperate to please US. 

Actually, the first thing I noticed that made me realise dog ownership was completely different to cat ownership was the eyes. Ruby's eyes are almost human. You can see the intelligence behind them. She looks at you and you can tell she is really thinking. Cats on the other hand have eyes more like reptiles. The look they give you gives the impression that they are thinking "If I suddenly grew to 10 times my current size, you would be my prey and I would toy with you before eating you".

So, for now, it is back to the regular trips into the garden to let Ruby have some fresh air and to do her 'business'. And of course continuing with the basic training; reinforcing 'sit', 'lie down' and soon to widen the training to include 'stay' and 'come'.

I suppose we will look back on these times with a certain nostalgia but I really do want to be able to get out and about. And I'm CERTAIN that Ruby does too.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

More puppy poop

My fears over Ruby going back to pooping in her crate came true last night. The poor thing has diarrhoea back and once again struggles to hold it in. She was up at 12.30am and again at 5.30am having 'soiled' her crate. Sarah was very good and got up at 12.30am without waking me. When Ruby again woke us at 5.30 we both went downstairs and sorted her out. This time however, I stayed downstairs with the dog while Sarah went back to bed and got another hour of sleep. 

I dozed off on the sofa and came round at 6.30am with Ruby crawling up my chest and licking my ear. I suppose there are worse ways to be dragged out of the land of nod.

I was talking to some colleagues at work who have more experience in owning puppies and both told me that the change of food is almost certainly the culprit and her tummy should settle down relatively quickly. 

I hope so!

One of my colleagues (Sarah) had been having some issues with her dog jumping up and nipping/barking so I had told her about the success I had had with Ruby, by standing, staring at her and walking slowly at her to invade her space. It seems to have worked for Sarah as well, so that's good news. 

After leaving work a little early (feeling a bit under the weather), I got home at around 4pm and greeted Ruby. She seemed sleepy and laid on my feet, so I closed my eyes and nodded off. I came to around 30 minutes later to find Ruby sitting by the back door next to a pile (or should I say 'splat') of poop. The poor girl had gone and waited to be let out but I had not noticed. I take full responsibility although it was more than enough punishment to have to clean up the mess.

Just another day in puppy paradise...

My daughter Rhianna took a lovely picture of Ruby laid in our garden (as she often does), clearly not wanting to go back in the house.

PLEASE don't make me go back inside

According to a friend, this is the look you get when slippers have been chewed, the table has been damaged, or a bottle of red wine has been *cough* accidentally *cough* knocked over onto the lovely cream carpet.

She does look very very sorry though.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Back to square one

After five days of medication to clear up Ruby's diarrhoea, she reverted back to runny poop this morning. The only thing I can think it would be is the food we are giving her. She finished the last of the food from the breeder yesterday and we changed her on to Iams dry puppy food. So fingers crossed, it is only a blip and once she gets used to the different food, she will be fine again.

The upset tummy is not affecting her behaviour. She has been lively and pretty well behaved all day. I have done some training with her, mainly the 'heel' command. She did quite well and managed to stick close to my leg (usually with the promise of a treat). I'll keep working on it and I'm sure she will get good at it before long.

She seems to be getting better at responding to 'lie down' and mostly does it for me without any bribery. So things are progressing quite well overall.

We had a big play session this evening and I discovered she particularly liked chasing a plastic coca cola bottle with the cap screwed on and a couple of treats rattling inside. She tired herself out chasing it and had some great fun. She also likes ragging around her teddy toy (growling at it as she does so).

I think I've killed it

Ruby is also responding really well to crate training and will go behind her door without any protest. We vary the length of time she's in there and sometimes leave the room, sometimes stay. This means she is getting settled as she realises we will come back to her, even if it may be a while. We still have to physically put her in the crate as she doesn't go in on command yet, but I'm sure that will come with time. She appears happy to sleep in there and is generally sleeping right through the night without waking up (although that may change given her diarrhoea has come back).

After a hectic day for Ruby, she is one tired dog.


Monday, 23 September 2013

The great crate saga

Today was the day that we started testing out Ruby in her crate during the day. It started out of necessity as there was a gap of around 90 minutes from me leaving for work and Rhianna arriving back home. I put Ruby into her crate at 8.00am and by the time I left the house at 8.10am she was perfectly settled. 

Rhianna arrived home at around 10am and found Ruby awake but not fussing. So she seems to have made a good start. Later in the day, when Ruby got tired, Rhianna put her back in the crate and closed the door before going off and doing stuff. Ruby didn't make a fuss at all. Again, this evening, she went to sleep in her crate and I closed the door. No problem. 

Since getting home from work, I haven't tried any training with Ruby as she goes from excited to tired and back again. She seems to be quite warm as the weather is quite muggy for the time of year. She is drinking plenty of water so there doesn't seem to be a problem.

I would be failing in my duty if I didn't report on the poop situation. So to illustrate my point (literally), I decided to take a snap of Ruby doing the business.......hey, it's nature. 

Oi! Give a lady some privacy
She has almost come to the end of the course of medication and it appears to have done the trick. I hope that's the last of the tummy upsets but we'll keep an eye on her to see how she settles once the medicine is out of her system.

Of course, it's not all bodily functions. We did have a play in the garden as well. 

She likes the green stuff
So a good day for all concerned. Ruby got to play in the garden and got lots of attention. The crating is going well, and her poop remains solid. I hope this is not just a honeymoon period.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Nipping, barking and chewing

Now if there is one tip that all sources of Border Collie expertise gives, it is that you MUST address any nipping, mouthing or snapping right from the word go. Puppies of all breeds are like human children in that they want to test out anything and everything they can. Unfortunately for the new owner, the puppy doesn't have hands. So the only way they can test things out is by putting them in their mouths. 

If such behaviour remains unchallenged, it can, over time develop into problem behaviour. It's one thing to have an 8 week old puppy having a bit of a baby chew on your finger. It's an entirely different matter when it is a full grown adult dog with much stronger jaws and bigger teeth.

So I've not tolerated any use of Ruby's teeth on us whatsoever. It is obvious that she is learning through playing (and pushing the boundaries) but she needs to get the message loud, clear and consistently. NO TEETH ON HUMANS.

Ruby cleaning her teeth

It has been trial and error up to now. I read somewhere that emitting a loud 'yelp' whenever her teeth touch skin and then withdrawing interaction for a minute is a very effective way. Didn't seem to work very well though.

Saying 'No', in a stern voice has little or no positive effect. In fact it seems to make her more excited. Commanding her to sit/lie down could be a good strategy and has 'kind of' worked. The problem with the command is that we've only had her a week and although she is picking the training up really well, she tends to ignore commands when she is focused on something else. So it sometimes works, sometimes doesn't.

Then, this afternoon I was reading an Internet forum where one of the contributors advised that any jumping, barking, nipping behaviour should be met by standing up and walking slowly at the puppy, invading it's space. Although I was a little skeptical of this, I tried it. It had an immediate effect. In fact the second time I did it, Ruby didn't even get as far as a bark. She made a half hearted attempt to carry on the jumpy, nippy stuff then just stopped and calmed right down. I followed this with praise and hey-presto, she was fine. 

So there we go. That is how we will continue to deal with her pesky puppy over-excitedness. If she gets the message drilled in at an early age, we will have a very well socialised dog. She has already proved that she can cope with a house full of people without fuss. I am just keen to ensure that as a bigger dog, her way of coping with visitors does NOT involve herding them into a corner and imprisoning them until I come to the rescue. Unless of course, I tell her to...hehe

Saturday, 21 September 2013


What a long day it has been for little Ruby. . I got down to some training with her and was working on 'lie down'. She was getting good at doing it when a treat was offered but without the treat she was a little less forthcoming. To be fair, until this afternoon, I was just teaching her "down". When I had a chat with my sister-in-law's husband (raised on an Irish farm and loves sheepdogs), he suggested I use the command "lie down" as it is what the farmers tend to say. Ruby seemed to respond well to this. That said, I think it's going to take a little longer to master than 'sit' did.

As a little puppy, I don't want to do too much, too soon, so I gave her lots of play time. She does like her Kong toys.

Ruby likes peanut butter in her Kong
Later in the afternoon, we began to have guests visiting. My 2 sister-in-laws arrived along with their children. The two older children were really very good with Ruby. The little toddler (Jared) was just too young to understand and when Ruby wanted to take charge, Jared made a fuss. This just excited Ruby even more. Having said that, Ruby was brilliant in responding to me. She came on command and sat for me. I found it quite easy to calm her down. 

Over the course of the next few hours we had a houseful of people. Lots of movement, noise, fuss and attention for Ruby. She was spot on and took it all very well. There is no doubt that Gillian (the breeder) has done a wonderful job in breeding puppies that have a lovely temperament. She handled the attention like a pro and when she was tired, she found a quiet spot and went to sleep. She didn't flinch when the odd shriek or loud laugh occurred and when awake, she went about her business without any fuss.

Today could have been real trouble for Ruby but she passed the test with flying colours. Ok, there was the odd bark and a bit of jumping up now and again. But when it is put into context, she remained remarkably composed for all the commotion going on around her.

She's a very tired puppy now though.

It's been a tough day

Proud of you Ruby......real proud of you :)

Friday, 20 September 2013

Train the dog, train the family

Ruby has already got the hang of 'sit' and will generally do it on command without a problem. There are times when her mind is elsewhere and it can be difficult to get her to pay attention, but she IS a little puppy and we HAVE only had her 6 days. 

I have started to tell Ruby to sit as we go from one room to another or at the doorway before we go outside. This allows me to go first and reinforce the 'pack hierarchy' thing.

One of the problems is trying to make sure all of us do the same things, consistently and regularly. It doesn't help when I'm working it out as I go along. For example, Ruby sometimes jumps up and barks as if she is trying to control us. Physically holding her and saying no doesn't seem to work. Instead I have decided to try keeping still, avoiding any eye contact and stopping ALL interaction until she goes quiet. Then giving her a toy and when she plays, praising her. It does seem to work better than reacting directly to the 'herding'. However, only time will tell if it has a lasting impact. Thing is, we ALL have to do it. And we all have to do it ALL the time. 

It's beginning to dawn on me that not only do I need to train Ruby, I need to train the rest of the family to do the same thing as I am doing. I can see it leading to a few disagreements. As I am trying to tell my daughter to try something that I have started, I have to then tell the others. I am conscious that it might sound as though I am 'harping' on about things. If I'm not careful, it will get to the stage where Sarah and the kids will get seriously ticked off by all the instructions and just think I am becoming obsessed. 

So I really need to think carefully about each new instruction and reaction to Ruby's behaviour. And then stick to it. If I keep changing things, it will not only confuse the dog it will leave me with a family that just 'switch off' and mentally (or actually) tell me to shut up.

Ruby LOVES her Kong

I never realised Border Collie ownership was so technical. Oh well, I am looking at it as a learning experience. In fact when Ruby is able to socialise with other dogs, I am going to give the local training club a call. They do puppy classes on a Monday evening. I will give them a try. The club has been around a very long time and is well established. I'm sure they will be able to point me in the right direction. At least then, when I'm bending my families ear about doing something a certain way I can just say "the dog trainer told me to do it".

Oh heck, I was trying my best to avoid mentioning poop, just for one night. But I must just say that Ruby went to sleep at 11pm last night and did not wake until I got up at 6.30am. I took her outside and she pooped outside. I didn't think a puppy could go that long. Furthermore, the medication seems to be working a treat. It looks like 'proper' poop now and she is clearly more comfortable in doing the business. Damn. I failed. Sorry, I will really try not to mention poop tomorrow.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Bowel control

When I took Ruby to the vet yesterday, I did not expect the medication to kick in so quickly. After putting puppy to bed at 10:30pm last night, I woke at 3:00am wondering why there had been no 'call' from downstairs. I went down to see if the dog was ok, only to find Ruby fast asleep with not a poop in sight. She woke up when I switched the light on but seemed quite calm.

So out we went into the night. And as if to order, the deed was done. She seemed to have developed a measure of control over her bowel that I would not have believed just a few hours ago.

After a lot of praise and stroking, I walked Ruby back to the house. She was now wide awake and seemed keen on play-time. To be honest, much as I have already grown fond of the little darling, a doggy play session at 3am was not my idea of a good way to spend the graveyard shift. So in the crate she went. To be fair, she settled down and seemed to accept that sleep was the only option. That is, until I left the living room to go upstairs. She began to cry and whine and it lasted at least half an hour. I wasn't giving in though. The last thing I want is for a little Border Collie puppy getting used to having a 'mad half hour' at 3am every morning. So we put up with the noise and eventually she calmed down and went to sleep.

The noises from downstairs started up again at around 5:15am and this time Sarah went down to see Ruby. Another little milestone awaited. Although she was calling us, she had NOT gone to the toilet in her crate. Sarah took her outside and she promptly did her 'business' in the garden. 

So in the space of 12 hours she had been woken and pooed on demand then whined to let us know she needed the toilet while managing to hold it in until we took her out.

For the benefit of anyone who has got this far, I do apologise for rambling on about poop but to be fair to the author, puppies do a lot of it and it IS a big deal in getting them trained not to do it inside.

Ruby has been taking her medication very well. In fact she seems to love it. One of the 2 prescriptions tastes like banana (apparently) and she really likes it. It does make the whole thing a doddle. I would hate to have to try to force medicine down a reluctant dog (although I'm sure that may be something I have to face up to in the future).

During the day today she has been more settled. Yesterday she was constantly trying to herd Rhianna but today she seems largely to have got over it. That said, this evening she did have a little moment where she was barking and jumping/nipping at me. It was out of the blue so I'm not sure what set it off as I wasn't walking around. I was sat on the sofa. Just an excited puppy probably. 

Overall, it's been a good 6 days. Taking into account the diarrhoea, change of environment, separation from her pack, litter, and mother and having to cope with a new family, Ruby has handled it brilliantly. She generally sits on command, is quickly learning to toilet outside (even with the diarrhoea) and is getting into a routine of sleeping in her crate.

When we have little problems such as a bout of barking/herding or the odd toilet malfunction it is easy to think things are going wrong. But the bigger picture is that we have a little dog who is really coping very well in her new surroundings. I am looking forward to when she can properly go out for walks and socialise with other dogs. After all, the first 8 weeks of her life was spent with a big pack of dogs 24/7. She's bound to feel a little disorientated.

Ruby sat on Rhianna's legs

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Father Dougal

It seemed that last night was a good one as far as sleep was concerned. I managed to get to bed at around 10.30pm and was woken once at 12.30am after Ruby had pooped on her pad (in the litter tray). A quick clean up, a trip outside and then off to bed again. Ruby did cry a little when I left her but soon settled down. 

By 6.00am we had not heard a peep and Sarah was thinking the worst. Perhaps the dog was really poorly? Why hadn't she whined and woken us up by this time?

So I went downstairs and Ruby seemed fine. She had clearly been asleep but woke as I came into the living room. It was a bit strange because she had pooped again but this time she had not yelled us to clean it up. 

Anyway, I was about to take her out for a visit to the garden and she promptly unloaded her bowels on the kitchen floor. Worryingly it was almost liquid. Much more so than previously. I had expected a bit of diarrhoea due to the change of environment but it had suddenly got much worse. 

Rhianna spent the morning with her and it had not improved so I called the vet. We took her along to see the vet (the same Irish 'Father Dougal' chap that had seen Ruby a couple of days ago). He has prescribed 2 different medicines; one to deal with campylobacter and the other to treat another apparently common bug (can't remember the name of it). He gave the first dose in his surgery to show me how to do it. He made it look really easy by using a syringe. Ruby was her usual obliging self and made no fuss whatsoever. 

So for the next few days we need to give her the medicine and keep a close eye on her. Father Dougal sees no real need to worry. In fact he is confident that the course of medicine will do the trick. If not, he will take a 'sample' (not a problem given the amount of poop that she does) and will have it sent for testing. 

The only other thing to look out for is if her diarrhoea clears up and THEN she becomes listless. This can be a sign of a serious condition that can best be described as the colon turning inside out. It can be fatal if not treated immediately so we are going to be straight on to the vet if we suspect anything. Father Dougal reassured me that his is HIGHLY unlikely as he might come across 1 case of this a year at most. The encouraging thing is that Ruby is not off her food and between sleeps she is as bouncy and playful as ever. 

Father Dougal seems to really like Ruby and at one point offered to swap her for his rather unruly Border Terrier.......No Sale dude!!

Like I said in an earlier blog entry, it really IS like having a furry baby. Before getting Ruby I would never have believed I could have worried so much about an animal

Ruby has found her Kong toy after a few days of indifference. She now LOVES it. She is also sitting on command, pretty much every time, and she does give us a sign that she needs the toilet (but we don't always react quickly enough). 

It has been a mad week so far but, aside from the little runny poop situation, it has gone better than I would have ever believed.

Here she is chilling out on the conservatory floor.

Sleepy Ruby

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Settling in

Last night was much better than Sunday night. I had decided to modify my plan of having a puppy training pad on her crate floor by the side of her bed. Instead I bought a plastic cat litter tray and lined it with one of the training pads. This seemed to work very well. We were woken at around 1.30am by Ruby whimpering. So I went downstairs to find she had done her 'business' on the pad, in the tray. This time however, she had not stood in the poop and it was nicely contained. So I just folded up the pad, tied it into a nappy sack and the job was done. I then took Ruby outside and she immediately did a huge poop. She had clearly held in as much as she could and was telling us she needed to go out. 

After tucking her back in her bed, I turned out the light and went back to bed. She cried for a little while but soon stopped. All was silent until 6:00 when she had again done a poop. 

It's hard to believe something so small can contain so much doggy doo-doo. 

Anyway, we've now kind of got the hang of it between us. She will only whine if she needs the toilet and although she does whimper a little after putting her back to bed, she soon quietens down and goes to sleep.

Oh and while I'm on the subject of her crate, I put the proper doggy bed back in there (covered by a blanket to protect against a poop onslaught). She loves the bed and immediately tried it out. Unfortunately she hasn't got the hang of balancing yet so after leaning out of it to have a drink of water, she leaned back to get back in the bed and toppled on to her back. She must have been tired because she just laid there. Well either she was too tired/lazy or she was embarrassed and tried to make it look as though she had done it deliberately. 

This is how she ended up...

cute sleep time

Today was my first day back at work since getting Ruby. I don't know about the dog getting separation anxiety. I was getting flipping separation anxiety. Rhianna was at home all day and did a great job (although at one point I think Ruby tried to take over and was attempting to herd her).

She had not done much in the way of a poop this morning (Ruby, not Rhianna) so I was waiting with bated breath for a text or call to say the deed was done.

It eventually came around lunch time. Soooo happy. I NEVER thought I would see the day that a message telling me my dog had done a 'number 2' would make my morning. 


Monday, 16 September 2013

Restless Night

The second night in her new home proved a little less settled than the first for Ruby. Actually, the first night was such a strange one that meant we did not go to bed until 2am, I would count last night as the first REAL night. 

Ruby woke up at 1.15am, 3.00am and 5.30am and pooed in her crate twice. She does have an area with a puppy training pad and duly did her business on the pad. However, she wanted to let us know that (understandably) she did not want to sleep with poo near her bed. In her eagerness to tell us, she must have stepped in the poo and spread it around a bit. There was some on her bedding, some on my T shirt and a bit on her teddy. 

Apart from being a bit tired this morning, there was no damage done. Ruby was her relaxed, confident self and so at 9.45am we set off for a trip to the vet. The little darling sat on my daughter's knee without any fuss at all. In the vet's surgery, she sat quietly. No fuss, no whining or barking and no struggling. There was a cat and a large spaniel type dog in the waiting room and Ruby did not cause any fuss whatsoever. 

After being called in, Ruby stood on the vet's table and tolerated being poked and prodded for a while. Then, when I started on my list of questions, she duly laid down on the table and fell asleep. She only woke when the vet gave her an injection. Even then she merely opened her eyes and blinked a couple of times. 

Her eyes are a little red but the vet was not concerned. Both eyes were the same and it is likely just her getting over 8 weeks in a barn full of other dogs, sawdust and straw. She seems good and healthy and so she goes back in 2 weeks for her booster injection. 2 weeks after that, she can go for walks amongst other animals. The vet was a really nice Irish guy who sounded EXACTLY like Father Dougal (Ardal O'Hanlon) from the Father Ted series. If you're reading this thinking "why the heck did you mention that?" I only point it out to remind me in years to come. It's the little things that you tend to forget :)

After getting home we decided to give Ruby a quick bath. I realise that bathing a dog is not something to be done too often or too early in their lives. However, after 8 weeks in a barn full of other dogs, she really did pong. We used a little plastic bucket/bath on the floor of our wet room. Ruby wasn't entirely impressed by the whole thing as this picture will testify...

soggy doggy

However, she took it in her usual calm manner. She did struggle a little, but never made any really concerted effort to get away. Apart from a couple of whimpers, she was brilliant. I didn't go overboard with the bath; just a bit of baby shampoo on her back, sides and tail. By that time she had had enough so we rinsed her off and put her in some fluffy towels. In the process of towelling her dry on my knee, she fell asleep and I took the opportunity to give her a good brush. She loved it and by the time she wanted out, she was clean, fluffy and silky smooth.

Later in the day, I decided to go down the treat method of training and did a few 'sit' lessons with her. She did really well and a bit later when I gave her the sit command, she did it straight away. Boy, she does learn quickly.

Another example of her quick mind was when I began rolling a tennis ball for her to fetch. I would say "fetch" as I rolled it. She would pick up the ball and bring it back to me. Getting her to "leave" it was a bit more tricky. After a couple of attempts (with Ruby displaying some reluctance), I rolled the ball a third time. Again I said "fetch". However, this time she got the ball and only walked half way back towards me before turning her back and laying down to play with the ball. She certainly isn't daft.

Finally for today, I introduced her to one of her new 'Nylabone' chews. This one is an edible bone and out of all her chews to date, she likes this by far the best. 


I allowed her some quality time with the chew and then took it away. I think I will save this one as a 'special treat'.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

The Morning After

The first thing I need to say is that the day Ruby came home with us was a bit strange. And not just because we found ourselves with a little puppy wandering around our house. Half the family were out at parties and 'dad's taxi service' was not only open for business but doing a roaring trade.

So if it wasn't challenging enough trying to settle Ruby into her new bed, I found myself picking my son and his extremely drunken friend up from a teenage party. Not a problem until 'said' friend noisily vomited all over the back seat of my car. I did try telling him that it was neither big nor clever to drink excessively; but for some reason he didn't appear to be listening to me.

After getting back home at around 12:30am, Ruby was still lively and playing with my daughter. I took over and stayed up until Sarah got home from her friend's 40th birthday bash around an hour later. By 2:00am we were tucked up in bed and Ruby was fast asleep in her crate. 

We heard nothing more until 6:30am when we heard her whining. I went downstairs and found her wide awake with a sloppy poo in her crate. It was clear she had done it on the puppy training pad but in her eagerness to let us know about it, she must have trod in it and spread it on her blanket and on my T shirt (I had put a used T shirt with its distinctive Stevie smell in the crate to remind her of her daddy). Quite why anyone or anything would take comfort from being in an enclosed space with one of my sweaty tops is beyond me, but hey...that's what the book says.

The clean up was no problem. Puppy training pad folded up, wrapped in a bag and into the outside wheelie bin, T shirt and blanket in the wash and a couple of pieces of kitchen roll and some neutralising spray, and Bob was your uncle.

The rest of the morning was spent playing........and playing........and playing. Oh and some more playing. Ruby was great fun and apart from having the odd 5 minute power nap, she kept going all morning. The flip side of this is that the afternoon pretty much involved her sleeping. This is a picture of her getting physical with her rope chew toy. She had a great time ragging it around and biting it...

Toilet training continues to go quite well. Certainly the poo situation has not been as bad as it could've been. She has held it pretty well and all day has managed to wait until outside. She's had a couple of accidents bladder wise but I put that down to a combination of excitement and tiny bladder rather than her not realising that outside is the place to do her business.

Just before going to press, I took her out after she had woken from a long sleep. It was dark, windy and there was rain in the air. It was also quite cold. Ruby seemed reluctant and although she sat in the garden (possibly doing a wee) she showed no interest in doing anything else. I brought her in and after popping upstairs to write this blog entry, Sarah shouted up to me that Ruby had gone straight to the conservatory door and dropped a stinky parcel on the doormat.

Oh well, no big deal. I'm probably as much to blame as I didn't exactly give her loads of time outside as it was cold and wet. And to be fair, she DID go to the back door, so she clearly knows that she needs to do it outside. Anyway, she has been with us less that 2 days so I think she is doing great.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Coming Home

Homecoming day arrived. We arrived at Leedale farm at around 9:30am and Gillian had got the days mixed up. She thought we were coming tomorrow. No bother though. She let us in the yard, got her wellies on and she was good to go. After a chat in the barn, saying hello to the pack, we took Ruby up to the house and did the paperwork. The microchip details were confirmed and Gillian is going to send all the forms off to the ISDS. We got a copy of the pedigree breeding line and although not everything was done, Gillian will sort it out in the next couple of days and let us know. 

So, with a puppy, a bag of food, some paperwork and minus £300 we got in the car to come home. Ruby was remarkably good in the car. She whined and struggled a little at first. However, once she realised we weren't making a big deal out of it, and with the cool air blowers pointed at her, she fell asleep.

And the pattern for the day was established. Short bursts of play, followed by a nap, a toilet visit and a couple of meals. Rinse and repeat a few times over the course of the day. 

As you can see in this picture, she seems to have settled into the home pretty well...

Once we had got home, she immediately did a poo on the kitchen floor. She had eaten before leaving the farm so she actually did well not to drop it on my lap on the way home. There have also been a couple of puddles on the conservatory floor. However, she really has got the hang of going outside straight away. She lets us know she needs to go by trotting towards the back door. Sometimes she stops and wees but the principle is there even if the bladder is still a bit weak.

Crate training also seems to have started on the right track. She avoided it at first. However, after a meal and a drink in her crate and then a couple of strategic treats. She seemed to take to it. The clincher was when I put her dishcloth (yes, she has become attached to a dishcloth) in the crate. She jumped in with it, laid down and went to sleep. 2 minutes later this was the scene....

The only slight hitch in an otherwise very successful first day, is her slight dislike of the collar/lead. She is not overly keen on the collar but I wouldn't have expected her to be. After all, she has never had such a thing round her neck before. It must feel weird to start with. No doubt when she starts associating it with going for walks, it will be a different matter.

She readily answers to 'puppy' and 'Ruby puppy' and will usually come bounding straight over. She also likes sleeping at our feet.

All in all a very successful first day. Now, I wonder how the first night will go?

Friday, 13 September 2013

The Big Day

Tomorrow is the big day. We are going to pick up Ruby in the morning so we have as much time as possible to allow her to get used to her new surroundings. She needs to feel calm and happy with her new environment so it's important to make as little fuss as possible. That's not going to be easy given that I have a son who is looking forward to having the dog around and a daughter who is close to spontaneously combusting with excitement.

I must admit, I am really looking forward to tomorrow as well. It will be hard to leave Ruby alone to find her feet. We must resist the urge to keep fussing her and picking her up all the time. There will be plenty of time for that once she is settled.

The two words we need to keep right at the front of our minds tomorrow are 'calm' and 'consistent'. Ruby needs to feel as though her presence in the house is the most natural and normal thing in the world. We also need to start the training; slowly and gently of course, but consistently. The same words for commands and as far as possible in the same tone.

Treats and food in the crate will also be good to make her feel that her bed is a good place to be. Frequent trips into the garden so she gets used to the idea of going to the toilet outside. We can't take her out of our property right away as she needs to have the full course of jabs before she is protected against the doggy diseases. But once the jabs are up to date we can start taking her for little walks. By then she should be used to her collar and lead. 

Right. I think we are as ready as we are ever going to be. So here is my last picture taken when in the barn at Leedale Farm on 7th September 2013.

Let's see what tomorrow brings.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Why the Blog?

Following on from yesterday's post, I've spent the evening messing about with the design of the blog and reading up on ways to link in with 'like-minded' bloggers. It's not that I mind whether or not others choose to read what I put on here. In fact the main reason for me starting this blog is to keep a journal of the 'little things'. The decisions and day to day thoughts and feelings of our family as we get used to having a Border Collie in our 'pack'. So essentially it is for our own consumption. Something to look back on in years to come. A way to remember what would otherwise be swallowed up in the bigger, bolder events in life.

So in a nutshell, it's a selfish decision. Something for my benefit and the benefit of those directly involved in the life of Ruby. But for all that, by putting it in the public arena, one never knows who might drop by. I'm not and never will profess to be an authority on Border Collies. Having said that, I will blog what I think and what I see and what I learn. If you find it of any use, I would consider it a Brucey bonus (English joke). 

As you might have already gathered, I have very little to say today. We are all just waiting for Saturday to come (only 2 sleeps to go). Once again, I am going to the archive for a picture. This one is of Ruby taken when we visited the farm on 7th September 2013...

You've got to admit, she's a little cutey.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Furry baby

The ID tag arrived today. Identitag's service is pretty good, I have to say. No 'typos' on the tag. It is quite small and hard to read but it IS for a puppy so it is only to be expected. Better that than getting a large disc that makes Ruby look like an extra from the Beastie Boys.

I've decided to chill out a bit and calm down on all the reading. It was getting a bit silly and to be honest, it was doing more harm than good. One minute I'm reading about something being a great idea and something you MUST do with your dog; the next I'm reading another article that says NEVER EVER do that. Instead, I'm going to 'play it by ear' and let Ruby settle in for a few days before trying to gauge what her personality is like. 

I suppose it's a bit like having your first child. You know it's a big responsibility and you know that it is going to be a steep learning curve. But NOTHING prepares you for the day when you walk out of the maternity unit with a tiny human who is totally dependant on you. I remember thinking to myself "why is nobody stopping us leaving" and "what the hell do we do when we get back to our house". All that said, our kids turned out pretty well. So raising a furry baby should be a piece of cake yes? Hmmmmm........

And here is another picture of Ruby taken on 1st September 2013. Once she is in the home, I will be getting regular photos but for now I'm reliant on archive footage.

One of the websites I have found most helpful and interesting is the one run by Barbara Sykes from the Mainline Border Collie Centre. She is clearly incredibly knowledgeable about the breed and is a source of lots of good information. One page gives a general overview of the breed. Entitled 'about Border Collies' it is a sneak peak into what you can expect when you own one of these dogs. There is a quote at the end that kind of sums up the nature of the dog and although still a 'newbie' to the breed I have seen some of what she says in the dogs at Gillian's farm. Here is the quote:


"The Border Collie is the epitome of all we may ever desire in a dog, a friend and a partner. Honesty, integrity and loyalty are second nature to a collie and they will work until they can go no further. Yet for all their willingness to give they are not submissive, they are proud of their heritage and they do not suffer fools gladly. Look beyond the colour of the coat and the cloak they wear labelled ‘dog’, search inside and reach its soul for once there you will be trapped in a world of unbelievable love and honesty. You will have found true beauty, for the wonderful qualities within this breed are always there waiting to be unlocked and are what make it truly beautiful. Drink in its grace, speed and stamina, for rarely has so much to come together so perfectly in so small a package."

A Simple Beauty
Barbara Sykes © 1995

Tuesday, 10 September 2013


Today was the day that Ruby was due to be wormed, chipped and checked at the vet. I've not heard from Gillian so I am assuming that everything is fine and dandy. Apart from that, it's just a waiting game until Saturday morning. I'm pretty sure we are prepared (at least as prepared as we can be).

I'm really throwing myself into this; to the point where I am probably over-thinking everything. Heck, I am DEFINITELY over-thinking things. I need to chill out and take deep breaths. A lot of what is going through my mind is simply not going to be resolved until we have the dog in the home. So there is no point running through all the "what ifs" over and over again. It's much better just to wait and see. 

Who am I kidding? I KNOW I will keep over-thinking stuff, however pointless it is. 

I'm really looking forward to the training. For a start, it will be a challenge to train the dog as I have never done it before. Then there is the matter of making sure other (human) members of the family are all on the same page when it comes to the commands. Having read quite a lot of literature about training Border Collies, I am getting the same message over and over. They are very intelligent and even a slight difference in command, either verbal or the hand signal, and the dog will think "that's a new one...I wonder what the big 2 legged weirdo wants me to do". So it's no good me using "Stay", when someone else says "Wait", or telling the dog to "Leave" when others want to tell the dog to "drop it".

I've written down a list of commands that I think I am going to use. Once I've got the dog used to the command, I need to make sure that others know it so that Ruby doesn't get confused and ends up not responding to either command. 

Crikey, I've just read that last paragraph. What am I turning into? Steve, have a word with yourself need to get out more....

Oh, wait! There is no danger of me NOT getting out more as of Saturday. I mean, that's one of the main reasons for getting a Border Collie as opposed to some little house-dog thing.

I'm rambling now, because I have nothing of use to say. So I'll leave it there for today. I'll end with another picture of Ruby, taken on 1st September..

Monday, 9 September 2013

Insure your dog

Less than 5 days to go now. Ruby is going to the vet tomorrow for a check up, worming and microchipping. Once the chip has been done and I have the number, I can sort out insurance so she's covered from day 1. Like most things I've found since we decided to bring a dog into the family, there is a baffling amount of choice. But in some ways it is more like familiar territory given that lots of things need insurance these days. 

The need for insurance was illustrated very well only last night when our next door neighbour knocked on our door asking if Sarah would go with her to the vet. Her cat was limping and she thought that the cat had broken a toe. Unfortunately she had no insurance. The 10 minutes in the vet cost £165 and the return today was another £140. And for that the vet didn't really ACTUALLY do much. It is a good job the cat didn't need a major operation. 

I picked up a couple of blankets from Primani today. £3 each, nice and soft with a paw print design. We can use in the crate and maybe in the car if necessary. For £3 a go, it might be worth getting a couple more so we've got backups if Ruby pees on them.

Not much else to say today. We're really just treading water, waiting for Saturday to come. 

Here is a picture of mum (Meesha) with the whole litter. I think they were about 4-5 weeks old when this was taken.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Getting supplies

We visited the pet shop today and stocked up on a load of basics to get us started for when Ruby arrives on Saturday. Apart from bowls, grooming kit, collar, lead, cleaner and food, we also got a good selection of toys/chews. This includes a classic kong (puppy sized), a kong teething tube, an antler chew, knotted rope, nylabones and her own little teddy friend...

It's not stuffed with anything and has a crinkly, tough feel so it should take some punishment. I'm hoping she treats it as a friend though.

Pets at Home also had a sale on agility tunnels so we picked up a great 4 way tunnel for just £20. It's not something we are likely to use for a few months but it is in the garage ready for when Ruby is a bit bigger.

We were going to get an ID tag but I found a really good website that does them much cheaper. had a good selection and I've ordered a nice small polished brass tag. I had a good think about what information to put on the tag. As it is double-sided, I went for 'Microchipped' and my home/mobile numbers on the front. On the back I've added my name and address. I understand it's a bad idea to put the dog's name on the tag as if someone tries to nick it, knowing the dog's name is a 'Brucey bonus'.

Wow....this time next week, I'm likely to have had the first (of many) interrupted nights sleep. I'm going to have to get used to getting up in the night to take the girl out for a toilet trip. Longer term, the plan is to teach her to use an area at the back of the garden. However, I don't think we'll start there as it will be pitch black at night. Instead, I think we'll get a litter tray outside the back door and encourage her to go in that. When we want to move up the garden we can move the tray. Eventually we could take the tray away and just scatter some litter in the right area. Once she is really used to going there, we can then stop with the litter altogether. Well, that's the plan. Whether Ruby will cooperate or not remains to be seen.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Visit to the farm

We've been up at Leedale Farm again today to spend some time with Ruby. Yes, it has finally been decided. She will be called Ruby. I mentioned it to Gillian (the breeder) who thought it suited her very well. Furthermore, she worked back down the family line in her head and told me that our puppy's great, great grandmother was called Ruby. That clinched it.

We were up at the farm for a good 2 hours; most of it in the barn with the pack of dogs and all the pups. Ruby was quite playful and although most of the time she was in and amongst the other dogs having a good time, she also had some 'me' time with a bit of rope. This is her hiding away in a box happily chewing on the rope.

Gillian has booked Ruby in with her vet on Tuesday 10th September where she will have a good health check. She will also be wormed and microchipped. We have agreed to collect her on Saturday 14th in the morning. So there it is. All arranged. 

Gillian makes sure to mix up the food types with her puppies so they don't get accustomed to one particular type and risk an upset stomach if they suddenly change. However, she will give us some of the puppy food to get started. She will also have a pack ready for us, no doubt containing the pedigree paperwork, microchip information and other bits and pieces. I'm really pleased we found Gillian's advert as you couldn't wish for a nicer person and more dedicated dog lover. Her knowledge of Border Collies is amazing and before we left today she took us onto the farm with Zena, one of her BCs where we spent some time playing frisbee. Zena was brilliant. She would jump the fence into the field, get the frisbee and jump back over, dropping it at the feet of a different person each time. It was obvious that Zena was calling the shots as far as who she wanted to throw the frisbee. After 15 minutes or so, Gillian just said "that'll do" and the game was over.

It's good to know that Gillian is always available for advice and will welcome visits from us/Ruby if we want guidance or just want to let Ruby run around with her pack. She also provides holiday accommodation for the collies she has bred and told us she would be extremely disappointed if we left her with anyone else. Not that we would even THINK of leaving Ruby with anyone else. No other doggie accommodation could come close to the experience she would have staying with Gillian on the farm.