East Tennessee Border Collie Rescue
Layla is named “Toodles” by our kids, affectionately from Disney’s Mickey Mouse Clubhouse TV cartoon. She is a playful 3yr old Border Collie mix who loves to greet the family at the door all wags, happy whines and kisses. She really loves for her family to run and play and interact. She loves going for a walk in her familiar area and thrives on a daily routine. She is extremely intelligent as Borders are and seems to be able to predict your next action based on sounds and your every movement. She listens for any hint of going for a walk or going in the car and gets excited at the door ready to go. She does not have formal training for typical commands like sit and stay yet, but responds instantly to “let’s go out”, “get in the car”, etc. She loves to ride in the car and is calm and predictable as long as everything is routine. She relaxes with the adults at night on the couch and in the bed but is not really a traditional lap dog and needs some space. She does seek your attention by coming to your chair and putting up her paws and sort and hugging and kissing you which is so sweet. She definitely keeps track of the families daily activities and will let you know by barking her displeasure if you try to put her in another room or crate, but usually calms down quickly.
She is spayed, up to dates on shots including Bordetella in the last 6 months, and has no history of medical health problems from her checkups. She has taken Prozac for about 1 year to attempt to lessen her behavioral issues with limited success (see below). She has been given Acepromazine infrequently to calm her during high anxiety situations when visitors come to the home for several hours and will be confined to her crate on another floor but is still keenly aware of unsettling commotion of unfamiliar steps and voices.
Toodles does have a number of issues to consider possibly stemming from her somewhat unknown puppy stage as a stray or rescue shelter situation along with some traits of the Border breed. She doesn’t seem to have been socialized the right way with people or other dogs. Her behavior can be described as dominant aggressive and unfortunately for us she hasn’t received the extensive training necessary to address this long term due to other human family priorities for our own special needs child. She was adopted from a rescue when our boys were ages 2 and 4 has created many memorial playful moments and clearly loves the family, now 4 and 6 yrs old. However, she is highly protective of her personal space wherever it may be, couch, floor, her dog bed, standing in the same doorway, etc. She is sometimes randomly threatened by anyone even in her own family, especially children at her height, in close proximity of any food or possessions she feels is hers, be it an object like an empty plate or cup she obtained improperly or often with no possession nearby especially in the case of children. She has repeat occurrences of biting often without warning, prior to any growling or snarling. Someone may walk too close or reach in a direction that is threatening and she will be on high alert. This is especially difficult to control or predict with young children who cannot be trusted to stay far enough away and may run after a toy in her path or drop food and she claims it. Whether an adult or child, she may show aggression very suddenly. You have to understand her potential boundary line and fully respect it. It is tough to be mindful of all situations and for 100% of the time daily when distractions exist. We can’t understand if this issue is strictly due to the children being unpredictable in her mind or behavior is learned from her pre-adoption upbringing.
She generally does not do well with strangers in public, especially anyone visiting the home likely protecting her territory or family. She will become vicious and uncontrollable many times when someone knocks on the door and you try to take her to another room before opening the door. She may bite us in fear and trying to crate or redirect her can be hazardous sometimes. She is probably protecting herself and the family at all cost, but hopefully training can lessen this. On the positive side, we know from at least one family member experiment that she first considered to be an enemy at first visit but was able to be accepted completely after about 1 week of extensive visiting and treat based learning. The extra family member lived with us successfully for about 8 months and was greeted by Toodles just like the regular pack.
She has fear aggression as seen when approaching strangers. She will most likely growl, snarl, and usually bark for warning in this case and becomes fearful to go further. She may become stiff postured, hair up, and looking for a way out or to get more distance, which is opposite behavior for when a stranger approaches from outside the home. When confined in the car, you can see this by someone parking nearby or even in traffic. She is also not comfortable with strange objects like a trash can that wasn’t there yesterday or a large truck parked where she doesn’t expect when being walked. In that case, she’ll maybe be slightly uncomfortable at first to continue walking by not unlike some skittish breeds.
As far as other dogs, she has never been able to be comfortable let loose around other dogs for fear of attacking them as Toodles being the aggressor. We had a Dalmatian that was old aged, not an alpha due to health, when Layla was first introduced into the home and never successfully had a relationship that was safe together off lease. Layla was accepting of the Dalmatian on the surface but would attack at any free chance she got for no reason even after a long period of acclimation time (one year) living in separate quarters of the house. When Toodles meets other dogs in public space, she most often feels threatened and responds with barking, growling, and bearing teeth if others are close enough and will lunge given the chance. In some instances however, if a fence is between her and the strange dog, she will act aggressive at first but then may ignore the other dog if it seems still or uncaring and receives comfort from us verbally in addition. Once the stranger dog begins moving again or seems like a threat again shortly, Toodles will be aggressive again after the period of lull. It’s very interesting that our neighbor’s large dog with adjacent fence has aggressive behavior like barking and jumping on the fence directed at Toodles, but Toodles will not respond to her and just sits and watches quietly for a long period of time even when guarding our kids at the nearby playset.
On the positive side, when Toodle’s family is not present and not on her turf, she is able to completely change her aggressive behavior and take well to strangers. We have boarded her at a local well known busy place that has a good setting for her; small run, not too much noise from others, but has several different handlers throughout a week or 10 days stay with 24 hr/day management. Amazingly, she has shown zero aggression or real fear in boarding except at dropoff. There have been no incidents with biting or otherwise. She eats well after a few days and goes to the bathroom as normal and even had nice play sessions with great reports of how sweet she is. The staff remember her every time and look forward to her staying. This gives us hope that another kid-free family is very possible to succeed if introduced the right way.
Our vet and a trainer we saw for evaluation a few times thinks that fear and dominant aggression is too risky around our children even if training could eventually lessen the problem. We desperately want the best for the dog and want to keep her, although separate from the children, which is very difficult at times and not fair to her. We basically keep this separation as daily routine to minimize risk, but cannot have guarantee or feel safe that an incident or near miss won’t happen frequently. Crating her or leaving outside for long periods (still at risk that children will go into her space) will be difficult for her to adjust and she definitely needs more exercise than we can offer right now but we’ve been increasing it recently as Borders need tasks probably to work in a sense. We are saddened to find her another home but it would be for the best and safest. We request that the rescue must make absolutely every effort to be upfront to explain all the background to the potential next owner before any match or foster is agreed. We feel she can have a safe routine with an adult only family and live out her life happily. She really is a loving animal when given the chance under the right circumstances. She likely needs extensive training and attention, and is not recommended to anyone with children or other dogs or cats at this time.
My contact information is Tanya Scoggins home phone is 865-288-3853 email is firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also text me at 865-255-4037
These dogs have not actually come into our rescue program, but they need homes nonetheless. We have posted their pictures and information as a courtesy to the individuals, shelters, and rescue groups who are trying to find homes for them. Referral dogs must be spayed or neutered, up to date on vaccinations, have had a negative heartworm test, and be on regular heartworm preventive.
Helping to find a home