Rescue Success Stories: Princess

Princess Finds her Family
After 23 years of marriage, my husband finally persuaded me to let the family get a dog. I had always figured that our five sons, and the occasional cats, rabbits, chipmunks, etc., that came home with them, were more than enough wildlife for one family. Also, I had seen friends' dogs with unpleasant behavior problems, and I didn't know the first thing about training.

I started reading about dog breeds and looking them up on the Internet, but I never saw a thing on English Shepherds, even though I was interested in collie-type dogs--my mother's old dog that I barely remembered from my own childhood had been a clever, well-trained collie mix. Also, we live on a lake with many nesting ducks, and I hoped that one of the old farm-type dogs could be trusted (trained?) not to harm the ducklings. We needed a dog that liked children, obviously, and one that could be trained by total incompetents. Or at least these were my concerns--my husband and older sons just wanted something big and furry that would play ball, and my youngest child said he wanted "any kind of dog that will stay still and let me pet it."

My sister-in-law advised us to get an adult dog, which made good sense to me, and I was on the verge of going down to the local animal shelter but hesitant about starting out with a totally unknown quantity. Somewhere on the Web (where? can't remember...), I stumbled upon a link to info on English Shepherds, and I was thrilled to read about an adult English Shepherd in Mississippi, a hundred miles away from where we lived in Alabama, that needed a new home after her elderly owner went into the hospital.

We went to meet Princess and got our first glimpse of a red blur rounding up horses in a field. She could herd them all right, and outrun them, and even run across right underneath them, between their legs. Her looks didn't grab us right off--she was skinny and dusty and matted and had a half-grown haircut, and she didn't look a bit like my idea of a collie; her foster family's other dog, a tiny rat terrier, was initially much more eye-catching to the kids--but once Princess jumped into the car happily with us and we got her home for a good bath and brushing, it became obvious to everybody that no dog on earth is prettier than our Princess.

She is a perfect family pet--an active fetcher and athlete outside, a quiet and loving footwarmer in the house. Without any training, she's a perfect watchdog, barking for strangers but hushing immediately when we ask. As a bonus, she's so easy to train that she makes us feel like geniuses. The kids have taught her all kinds of tricks--to dance, to nod her head Yes, to bark on command, to rest her front feet on the windowsill so we can attach her leash without bending down. When we got her, she'd been kept outdoors for months, but within a few days she developed (or perhaps relearned) a full complement of good house and leash manners. Down by the lake, she wades out into the water, takes a long drink, studies the ducks carefully (I get the impression she counts them), but doesn't even try to chase them.

Now, I can't remember why on earth I wasted 23 years refusing to get a dog...


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