Since this column has been addressing the importance of training in order for a dog to become a welcome member of the family, I thought it might be interesting to check back with Dick Kindig and Nicki. In August, I wrote about these two and the commitment required when bringing a new pet into the household.
In my earlier visit with them, I must admit to some reservations. Nicki was a 5-month-old border collie puppy, full of way too much energy. I thought Dick would have done better with a more settled dog. However, Dick felt that he and Nicki had bonded during his first visit to the shelter. When he went back a second time, he could not find her and panicked. Once he found her again, he took her home, determined to make this work, even though he had been warned that she was very high energy.
From the beginning, Dick loved her and she loved him, which was fortunate or Nicki might have ended up back at the humane society. Early on, the major problems were her wanting to herd the chickens through the fence, running along the front fence barking at the cars and trucks that drove by and her need to chase every critter she saw on their morning walks.
Nicki totally dismantled the drip watering system Dick had throughout the yard and the coiled hose was a constant source of enjoyment. She would grab a hold and drag it endlessly.
Nine months later, Dick and Nicki have settled into a very comfortable life and the two are inseparable. Dick fenced in a large area around the chicken pens to keep Nicki from frightening them. Now she waits, almost patiently, while Dick feeds them and collects the eggs.
Nicki still has some interest in chasing the cars and trucks that pass the house, but she does it quietly, and mostly she does it when someone is there to watch. Dick worked a lot with her on this. He would tell her, "No cars." When she would pay attention and obey, he would give her a special treat. Now when she knows she is being very good and is avoiding the impulse to chase a car, she comes and sits in front of Dick, expecting a treat for her good behavior.
Dick also kept telling Nicki, "No hose." Finally she got the message and leaves the hose and watering system alone.
And now Nicki enjoys their morning walk without dragging Dick after everything that moves.
Nicki is more than a year old and has settled down a bit, though she is still full of beans. She never stops. She has a full acre in which to run, and run she does. She visits with the dogs next door. She is on guard every second, watching for anything that might give her reason for a chase.
The devotion that Dick and Nicki have for each other is very evident. Nicki has not been to obedience classes, but she is very well behaved. She is very responsive to Dick's wishes. Why has she adapted so well?
Dick is an old-fashioned guy, having grown up on a farm. He has established a set of rules which he has made very clear to Nicki.
Most importantly, "I have been persistent," Dick said. "I would not give up on her."
Dick has a large garden and it is not fenced. Last year, Nicki would nibble at the corn silk. He kept telling her, "Out of the garden," and now she understands. Since her main interest in life is to be with Dick, it is hard for her to obey this rule when Dick is working in the garden. If she forgets, he gives her the reminder, "Out of the garden."
Nicki is good in the house. She sleeps beside Dick's bed and wakes him up each morning with a tiny soft whine. She waits patiently while Dick eats his meals. No begging allowed. But life is most wonderful for Nicki when Dick is outside. She can run and check in with him and then run some more.
"I wanted this dog so badly because we bonded so much at the beginning," Dick said. "She is just a wonderful dog. It was worth the many months it took to train her."
Dick and Nicki are family. "She is such good company," Dick said. "She is a good companion."
Home Run with your dog
By the way, The Payson Area Habitat for Humanity's "Home Run" 5K is Saturday, May 7. What a great opportunity to support a good cause and get out with the pooches for a walk and a chance to socialize.
Cee Cee, the wonder dog, will be there with her person, Marc Kaplan. Regrettably, I will be out of town, but I urge all those with nicely socialized dogs to get out there and walk.
The nominal fee to participate includes breakfast and a T-shirt. Call (928) 474-0330 for more information.
Christy Wrather is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com or by snail mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry, AZ 85544.