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Mika (Adopted!)

You must complete an adoption application with WBCR before we will consider you for one of our Border Collies (under the “adoption” link). One of our volunteers will check your references, and then another will come to your home to meet you & your family in person before the board will vote on your application. If you are approved, we will arrange a time for you to meet the dog(s) you are interested in. If you decide he/she is perfect for you and the board agrees, we will schedule a day for you to pick up your Border Collie, sign adoption paperwork, and pay the $350 minimum adoption donation. This whole process may take a month or more, as all WBCR members are volunteers and we’re committed to making a perfect match for our border collies. Thanks for your patience!


Please contact Julie for more information on Mika (pronounced Meekah)1 Year Old Female (Madison, WI) – Adopted!

March 23

I apologize it’s been so long since Mika has had an update! We’re heading to my parents’ place in Minnesota this weekend to join 3 other BCs (so there will be 5 total!) and will let everyone know how she does living with those dogs. They have different personalities, so it will be good to see how she responds to each of them.

Not surprisingly at all, Mika has gotten a lot of interest! She’s an easy dog to live with and would be happy in most situations, but we still want to find the best home for her. That said, this update is going to focus on her quirks, how we’ve been handling them, and the progress that she’s made. This is long since I’m adding a lot of detail. Whether you end up being Mika’s forever home or not, I hope you can learn some training methods to use on your own dogs! 🙂

Jumping – Mika doesn’t believe feet are meant to be kept on the ground. She loved to jump up on anyone and anything. When greeting someone, she would get as close to their face as possible, including getting all 4 feet off the ground. Instead of scolding dogs for doing bad things, I prefer to build value for a desirable behavior. We’ve worked A LOT on building the value of sitting. We’ve spent multiple meals where she has to sit (without being asked, I just stand there until she sits), then gets a treat. I move away and wait again for a sit. She sits very quickly now. She still has puppy enthusiasm, especially if she hasn’t been exercises recently, so she’ll still jump when first meeting people. As long as they don’t acknowledge her, she’ll go into a sit quickly. The next issue was that as soon as you say “good girl” or started petting her, she would jump right away. We then stop giving her attention until she sits. After saying “good girl” or petting her, she’s allowed to stand up and move around, but all 4 feet need to stay on the floor. She will keep all 4 feet on the floor with me, but with new people it’s still too exciting. She will definitely get to the point where she won’t jump, but it will require that her new home continues to not allow it and everyone that she meets needs to hold this criteria, not just family members.

Mouthing – When playing with Zeal, they love to play what I call “bitey face”. They’ll make nasty faces (lips raised) and pretend to bite each other. She’ll put her mouth around Zeal’s mouth and legs most often, but never bites down. Zeal does it right back. It’s a fun and appropriate game since neither of them escalate to anything more than fun and no one gets hurt. The issue is that she likes to do that with people as well. She’s never tried to mouth my face, but she loves to do it to my hands. I haven’t found a great way to get her to stop. I’ve tried grabbing her jaw (which she doesn’t like) every time she does it or making a loud sound (like she hurt me even though she didn’t). Both of which get her to stop right away. In the beginning, she would start doing it right away as soon as I said “good girl”, just like the jumping. Now, she won’t start again for about 30 seconds. So she is learning, but the progress is going pretty slow. The nice thing is she’s not actually hurting anyone and she’s being playful and not aggressive. But if she were to stay with me, it’s a behavior I would continue to work on eliminating.

Eating Stuffing – I have many toys around the house and a lot of them are stuffed. I haven’t seen her pulling stuffing out of any toys, but as she and Zeal play tug with them, some rip and the stuffing falls out. She started eating the stuff, which has made her throw up a couple times, so I’ve picked up all the stuffed toys (at least all the ones I can find). She’s still a little overweight (but better than when she first got here!), so she may be looking for more to ! eat. I do give her raw carrots to help fill her tummy without adding many calories. As long as you don’t have stuffed toys, this shouldn’t be a problem. But due to this, I now watch her closer to make sure she doesn’t eat other things. This is probably something she’ll grow out of as she grows up, but she’ll need to be watched.

Pushiness – Mika LOVES attention. If she thinks she can get any, she’ll do whatever she can to make it happen. Zeal isn’t pushy, so we’ve had problems with when I try to pet Zeal, Mika will come and put her head between my hand and Zeal so that I’m petting her instead of Zeal. Smart girl, but not very nice to Zeal. She doesn’t do it in a mean way. There isn’t any resource guarding going on. But it’s something that will need to be monitored if there’s another dog around to make sure the other dog doesn’t get too jealous. It also happens when another dog isn’t involved. When I’m sitting at my desk on my computer, it’s not uncommon for her to start nudging my arm with her head. It’s cute and adorable, but not when I’m stressed and trying to get work done or if she makes me mis-click and I have to start over with what I’m working on. I like my dogs to be kind members of the family, so they don’t get attention when they demand it. She’s getting better with me and has started sitting next to me and staring at me or setting her head on my lap to get attention. But this hasn’t transferred over to my husband yet (she still bumps his arm or tries to jump on him).

Being Still – She relaxes in the house very well. But if you give her any attention at all, she becomes the happiest dog in the world and can’t stop wiggling. This is also cute and adorable, but can make certain things difficult. I needed my husband to help me hold her to get Frontline applied to her should blades. (Side note, when you try to hold her still, she does the mouthing thing. She doesn’t bite down, but that’s when ! she does when she wants you to let go.) We started working on this by grabbing her collar and giving her a piece of her food immediately. I’ve gotten to the point where I can grab her collar and wait a couple seconds before giving her the food and she stays still. We’ll work up to longer time periods and holding her in different ways. During the current training sessions, all she’s doing it sitting or standing and waiting for the treat. I also plan to move this exercise to a place where she’s more distracted and is wanting to go somewhere. This will be much more difficult as she won’t want to hold still but I’ll make her stay still by holding her collar. This has also made me nervous to clip her nails. I ended up freezing some peanut butter inside a Kong, holding the Kong against the ground with my foot so she couldn’t take it away, and then clipping her nails while she laid there and licked the peanut butter. She didn’t care that I was doing things to her feet, but she did really want to grab the Kong and go somewhere else with it.

Walking – I will admit, I’m not much of a walker. I’d rather be teaching my dogs a cute trick or throwing toys for them than walking, so we haven’t done much of it. She still likes to walk at the very end of her leash. I have a front clip harness and that didn’t seem to phase her at all, she still pulled on it. I think a gentle leader would work well for her. She isn’t crazy on leash and will calm down and walk much nicer after the first 10 minutes. She’s worse when walking somewhere new as everything is more exciting and she can’t contain the puppy enthusiasm. If you’re an avid walker, I think she will learn quickly what is and is not acceptable. She isn’t learning this too well with me as we don’t do it very often.

Those are really the worst things I can come up with… She is a sweet, confident, happy little girl. She has her quirks and can be annoying as any dog can be, especially one who didn’t grow up around people to learn manners. But overall, she’s the easiest dog to live with that I have ever had to take care of under my roof.

March 11

Mika has continues to be a super happy girl. As she gets more comfortable here, her toddler behavior continues to come through. The best toy is the toy in Zeal’s mouth. Since Zeal will just let her have it and go get another toy, I’ve started telling her it’s not OK to steal other dogs’ toys. A quick uh-uh and she goes and gets her own. So she’s pushy, but she’s not trying to be mean. It would be best to live with a dog that will tell her what’s not OK in an appropriate manner or to be an only dog. She enjoys having Zeal around, but much prefers attention from people than other dogs. Whiskey, the cat, has started warming up to her. She still doesn’t want Mika near her, but it OK with Mika in the house. Mika would love to be friends. She tries a couple times a day to get close, but always backs away when Whiskey makes an unhappy noise. Still not attempt to herd, chase, or hurt Whiskey, but she would really like to be friends.

We go down to the basement and play fetch every evening. Mika loves to play, but her attention span is pretty short. This is probably from being outside alone most of every day in her previous home. Each night she lasts a little bit longer before getting distracted. The first day she lasted about 4 throws, now she can go about 15. A common way for her to get her meals is adding value to sitting. I hold some food and just wait. Eventually, she sits down. She gets a couple pieces of food, I say “break”, move to a different location, and then wait again. After about half of the first meal that we played this game, she got really good at sitting quickly! And it’s starting to pay off! I can see her start to jump on me, I look away, and she immediately sits. So far, it hasn’t transferred to other people, but we’ve only been working on it for a couple days. We’ve also been playing crate games. She wasn’t a huge fan of going in a crate when she first got here. If she knew she couldn’t get away, she would walk in, but it was very reluctantly. Now, she goes in willingly and is excited about it. It’s not the most exciting video, but here are a couple of her “meals”: https://youtu.be/2T1aJz1IRJU

She had a vet appointment over lunch on Friday so she got to come to work. She barked at the first couple people she could hear walking past my office, but a couple quick uh-uhs and she didn’t do it again the rest of the day. She either chewed a bone or took a nap a majority of the day. She was very relaxed for being in a completely new environment and able to hear things going on that she couldn’t see. There’s a conference room on the other side of one of my office walls and the white boards is on that wall. Every time someone writes on it, you can hear the marker hitting the board. This didn’t seem to phase her in the slightest, though she does bark if someone knocks on the door. Her vet appointment went great! She got the rest of her vaccines and though she wasn’t happy about being held still for an exam, she tolerated it like a pro. We had a puppy social half-hour at the end of the day. About 20 people came to see her throughout that half hour and she loved every one of them! It was very hard for her to sit to get attention, but she did it about half the time. I think that’s pretty impressive thinking about where she was at just 3 days earlier.

Saturday, we went on a run. She’s getting better about not pulling on the leash, but still isn’t great. Once she gets her initial excitement out, she does pretty well. She likes to stay right at the end of the leash with a little bit of tension on it and I’m OK with that. So much better than the first walk we went on where she didn’t realize leashes had an end! It’s getting easier to redirect her from wanting to say hi to other dogs. She looks at cars as they go by, but has had no interest in chasing them. Other than working for her meals, playing fetch in the basement, and our run, we had a pretty lazy Saturday. Every once in a while she would grab a toy and run around for a while or watch the neighbors dog out the window, but otherwise she laid contently on a dog bed for most of the day. She can be very chill. We did have to work on not barking at the neighbor dog, which was very hard because the neighbor dog barks. But she learned pretty quickly if she barks she doesn’t get to watch anymore.

Sunday she came to flyball practice with Zeal and me. We didn’t have extra time, so she didn’t get to play any of the games, but she was in a crate in the building the entire 3 hours we were there. She barked off and on which almost all dogs do in an exciting environment like that. Flyball is known for being very loud. In between excitement, she laid down and relaxed in her create. A couple different people took her out and worked on having her sit for attention and one guy from my team had her out just hanging out with him for about 15 minutes. She didn’t go crazy like a majority of dogs do, but she was interested in what was happening. I haven’t mentioned this yet, but she is completely potty trained. The room we do flyball in has artificial turf. Many dogs see that turf as grass and have accidents on it. She did great with no accidents. Hopefully next week we’ll have some time to let try out some of the exercises.

On the naughty side: brought me one of my husband’s shoes, ate a piece of cake that was sitting on top of a kennel (it wasn’t chocolate and was totally my bad for leaving it there!), head butted me and gave me a fat lip when reaching down for a leash, and barked at the neighbor’s dog.
On the good side: doing amazing with her crate training and even enjoys going in it now, offered a sit to some strangers in order to get attention, attention span is starting to get longer (one session went for 12 minutes and she didn’t check out once!), relaxes in the house even if she hasn’t done much that day, sleeps through the night, completely potty trained, and loves everyone.


March 8

Say hi to Mika! She’s a fun and sweet 16 month old girl who arrived March 6th. The first couple days she wasn’t feeling the greatest, but other than that she’s awesome! Jumped right up into her foster home’s car and confidently walked through the front door. She loves to prance around the house with a toy in her mouth, lay on comfy dog beds, and chew bones.

She gets along great with her foster sister, a 24 month old border collie, Zeal. They have lots of fun playing, but they don’t play non-stop. Mika likes to run around for a solid 20 minutes and then chill out for a while. There’s also a foster feline sister, Whiskey. Mika was a little interested in her, but not in a herding way. It was more of a “do you want to be my friend?” way. Whiskey plays with Zeal on a regular basis, chasing each other up and down the hallway, but it takes her a while to warm up to new canine friends. She’s very firm in telling new dogs that they are not allowed near her. Mika very appropriately gave Whiskey her space and hasn’t bothered her since, even though Whiskey still makes some nasty noises whenever Mika is in eye sight. I would say Mika will definitely do well in a house with other dogs and cats, though she doesn’t need them to be happy.

The best way to describe Mika is a toddler that doesn’t throw tantrums. She spent a good portion of every day out in a yard alone with another dog growing up. Since she wasn’t inside and with people most of the day, there are a lot of manners that she didn’t learn. She gets excited and likes to jump straight up. Sometimes she jumps on you and other times she just bounds up in the air. When she gets overly excited, she’ll also mouth your hand or arm. She never bites down which is good, but we’re working on not doing that as it could escalate. When she does something wrong (like mouthing my hand or putting her feet on the counter), a quick “hey!” or “no!” will get her to stop immediately. She doesn’t sulk down and say sorry, she just continues on her jolly way. Also, after being told no for putting her feet on the counter once, she hasn’t done it again, so she can definitely learn! When playing with toys, she’ll grab a toy out of Zeal’s mouth. Zeal isn’t a dog to stand up to another dog, so she just lets Mika have it and grabs another toy. During Mika’s evaluation, she tried to take a toy from a dog that didn’t want to share and a growl was enough to get Mika to not try again. Like a child, she will push her luck, but happily takes a correction and moves on with life.

Due to her upset tummy, Mika has been sleeping in a crate. She’s not a huge fan of them, but will willingly go in and settles down within a couple minutes. She slept through the night last night without waking anyone up and I’m sure she will be fine sleeping loose once her tummy is feeling 100% again. She’s great hanging out loose in the house when we’re home. She’s lying on a dog bed at my feet as I sitting on the couch typing this. Last night while working on taxes, she ran around with a toy for a while, then chewed on a bone, and then curled up under my desk at my feet. It’s obvious she hasn’t been taken on many walks as she doesn’t understand that there is an end to every leash. We’ve only gone on one walk so far, and by the end she was getting much better. I’m confident with more practice she’ll be a great walking or jogging partner, though it will take a lot of practice for her to contain her excitement when another dog is around.

That’s all for now! Mika has lots of new adventures and things to learn in the coming weeks, so check back often!