2 Border Collies + 1 Pit Bull Puppy = a whole new look at dog behavior

It's non stop activity with three dogs - but I never realized how busy the collies were until I saw how calm the pit bull puppy is.

We’ve had Border collies for the last 20 years. I’m no expert on the breed; we just happened to make a great choice when we got Natasha back in 1992 and have stuck with them as house pets ever since.

Anyone who has Border Collies knows that they do not make great house pets. They’re active, quirky, and very often a little mentally unbalanced. They need attention, activity and lots and lots of work.

But life with Scout and Bandit, who keep me busy from sun up till sun down, seems normal to me. Well, seemed normal, until Bailey came to live with us.

Bailey is a Pit Bull/German Shepherd mix pup. At least that’s what the woman who gave her to me said she was. Bailey has a pitty face, a shepherd body, and some golden retriever ears.

And personality wise? She’s a couch potato. Where Bandit is always looking for something to do and Scout is looking for some noise that might freak him out, Bailey kind of just hangs around with no agenda. Going to the living room? OK, she’ll come along. Mommy puts on her sneakers? Scout and Bandit freak out because they think I’m going for a walk/going out without them/going in the yard/thinking about going out without them/or any similiar situation. Bailey just sits calmly, waiting to see what may or may not happen next, because whatever it is, she’ll be fine with it.

This week, I had a chance to witness how differently Bailey and the collies think.

All of the dogs get fed in different parts of the house to avoid fighting and race eating. Scout is in my office, with a low barrier to keep the others out. Bandit eats in the dining room. Bailey eats in her crate.

When Bandit was a puppy, he learned how to get into my office to lick Scout’s food bowl. It didn’t take him long; he evaluated the situation and decided that the best way to get around the “stay out of Mommy’s office” rule was to jump over the barrier, lick the bowl, and then jump back. I don’t know how long he had been doing that when he finally jumped over while I was in the office. Surprised the heck out of him. He was sneaking in there, and did a fine job of it.

Bailey, on the other hand, used a different method. Barrier in the way? Just plow through it. When she got tired of watching Scout through the wire gate, she just put her nose to the ground and shoved the gate until it moved. She pushed harder, the gate moved out of the way, and viola. She was in the office. And she did it while I was standing right there watching and saying,  “No Bailey, stay out of Mommy’s office.”

Bandit still tackles problem from a covert angle. While I’ve been sitting here typing, he snuck downstairs and stole one of my shoes, then brought it into the living room. I wouldn’t have known he even had the shoe until it was chewed to pieces if Bailey hadn’t stolen it from him and brought it into the dining room where I am, shaking it and growling and generally enjoying her new toy.

But mostly, she’s just calmer than the collies. I never realized how quirky and wonky and wired Scout and Bandit are until I saw how calm and matter of fact Bailey is. No wonder I’m exhausted all the time, mostly mentally. For the last 5 years I’ve had to stay two steps ahead of the dogs. No so with Bailey. What you see is what you get.

It’s nice to get this new perspective on dogs. I’m learning a lot.

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2 responses to “2 Border Collies + 1 Pit Bull Puppy = a whole new look at dog behavior

  1. It sounds interesting having a new dog around! I have two Shetland sheepdogs, and although they’re not as hyper as border collies, they are similar in that they tend to sneak around when they want to do something they think might get them in trouble, and they can be very clever about it. One time I took care of my neighbors’ golden retrievers while they were away on vacation, and that sure was a different experience! Golden retrievers are similar to your dog Bailey in that they have no inhibition about doing whatever they want, even if you’re right there watching. Although they weren’t as devious as my own dogs, they were more of a handful in some ways, because supervision alone wouldn’t keep them out of trouble.

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