Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A second chance

Received a lovely email yesterday from Sallie Williams, the Blue Ridge Border Collie volunteer who fostered Zorro before we adopted him in May. I recently updated her on Zorro's progress.

Thank you for the info on Zorro. Prozac can really help a dog get through hard times. I have seen it work and then a dog can be weaned off it in a year or two. Im so glad you did not give up on the boy. So many border collie's like Zorro never get a chance with life when problems arise. Thank You on Zorro's behalf. sally

I check out their website, http://www.brbcr.org/ from time to time. The young dogs usually get adopted pretty quickly, but the older ones--like Zorro--are harder to place. Right now, they're looking for a home for a 9-year-old border collie named Skip who, according to the website, has the energy of a 3-year-old. But I fear Skip will be a hard sell. I'd adopt myself, but right now, Zorro is all we can manage. Half moon high in the sky this week ...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A new dog

Haven't written for a few days because I've been out of town. Zorro is making amazing progress in overcoming his fears. I took him for a run this afternoon and he didn't want to come home. Such a change from a few weeks ago, when he didn't want to wander more than 10 feet from our back gate.
We still have work to do. He continues to bark at the moon, or what he thinks is the moon. Today was overcast, with the sun peaking out from the clouds. That was enough for Zorro: he barked most of the way home from Berkeley Springs.
He understands when I say "enough" that he's supposed to stop barking. The trouble, though, is that when he goes back to the window, the moon is STILL THERE, triggering another round of barking.
We also need to work on his behavior with other dogs. Last week, Denny went running with him before work and didn't see a little white dog right in their path. Zorro pounced on the dog (maybe he thought it was a sheep?) Denny was able to pull him off and I don't think any harm was done, but I'm sure the owner didn't appreciate having a 56-pound border collie on top of her dog.
My strategy is one of constant vigilance: if I see a dog coming, I try to get Zorro off the path, or if that's not possible, turn him around. That works pretty well; from a distance, he will sit and stay, but if we get too close, he loses it.
We had an interesting encounter during today's run. As we were approaching the top of a hill, I saw a woman with two dogs on long leashes approaching the path from a side street. I put Zorro in a sit/stay. Then, one of the dogs became entangled with a biker, resulting in a typical Arlington confrontation.
The dog woman insisted that it was a footpath, available to all, and the biker insisted that she was violating Arlington's 10-foot leash law. That caused the woman to say, "There should be a law against your shorts!" The man responded, "There should be a law against your mouth!" Meanwhile, poor Zorro was stuck in a sit/stay, waiting for permission to proceed. I was very glad I didn't have a dog in that fight.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Back from a week in Cape Cod. Zorro survived and I did, too.
We boarded him at Dogtopia, where he goes for daycare, for part of the week and Melissa stayed with him for the second half. He was a little unnerved by his time at Dogtopia; they let the dogs out during the day but crate them at night and I suspect Zorro wasn't crazy about that arrangement. Dogtopia people say he was a "little growly" at night and barked. And he looks a little thinner, so I suspect he didn't eat regularly while he was there (our old dog Snoop had the same problem. I think rescue dogs don't do well in kennels. Reminds them of their time at the shelter).
He fared better once Melissa picked him up and took him home, but woke her twice one night with mad barking. I put the sheet up in the bay window but suspect he saw the moon through the upstairs skylight. This is very hard to explain to someone who isn't used to Zorro's moon madness. Fortunately, he slept the other nights she was here. Probably because it was overcast.
Melissa took him to a dog park while she had him and he did OK, although he spent most of the visit going up to people, not dogs. Denny and I took him back there on Sunday and he was a good dog park citizen. He played a little with other dogs but mostly explored the parameters. Classic BC behavior. That's OK: I think it's good to expose him to new places and new dogs.
He still gets very excited when he sees other dogs on our walks so I'm working on that. I get pretty good results when I put some distance between us and the other dog and tell him to sit and stay.
The best news is that he seems to be getting over his global fears. We've been going for long run/walks in the morning and afternoon. I expected him to stay close to home tonight because it's overcast but we went out several times and he was confident and curious. It appears that time and Prozac are working their magic.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

September morning

Fall-like weather has arrived and everyone has extra pep in his step, including Zorro. Excellent run this morning and when we got back to the yard, he didn't want to come inside, preferring a game of "keep away" with the frisbee. I complied. While on the path, I saw a woman simultaneously reading a book and walking her dog. Needless to say, the dog was NOT a border collie.