about morag's animals
“I am fortunate enough to share my life with three very special border collies, and a rescued guinea-pigs. You are most likely to meet one or more of the dogs during an assessment session or when a handy distraction is needed during classes. The guinea-pigs are less active in a training role but do sometimes help out when a dog has a strong prey-drive! ”
“I adopted my first dog in 2004 (Finnegan, Border Collie) from the SSPCA facility near Glasgow. Finn is a very noise sensitive collie who came with a host of unexpected challenges including reactivity/aggression to adults, children and other dogs, severe noise phobias, travel anxiety, fear of the dark etc.
It would be fair to say that Finn catapulted me into a steep learning curve - no longer was I merely interested in training (having planned to train for agility and flyball) but now it was vital to learn how to build a relationship with this dog and help him to have a relatively normal life. Finn has also experienced some musculo-skeletal pain which encouraged me to apply my existing skills as a trained massage therapist to dogs.
Despite Finn’s troubled background and varied fears, he has responded amazingly well to clicker training and careful rehabilitation. Finn now helps out with assessments, and has been a great dog for socialising younger playful dogs. He is now getting on in years so we have limited his exercise and he is semi-retired as a working dog! Finn has achieved all three levels of the Kennel Club Good Citizen Award Scheme.
Sadly Finn passed away in December 2013 but continues to be an inspiration.”
“My second adopted collie came from a specialist BC rescue called Wiccaweys, I went looking for another challenge (!) but also a dog that could complement my existing relationship with Finn. Farah was only 6 months old when she came to me, and was born completely deaf. She has helped me deepen my understanding of training methods and constantly reminds me that she is an extraordinary dog who just happens to be deaf.
Farah is a very active working type collie who would have been a brilliant herding dog if she was able to hear. We make sure she has plenty of jobs to do otherwise all that energy and intelligence can be used to dig up the garden or worse. Farah has really enjoyed Cani-Cross and Caniteering - fell running and cross country running in harness with me. Farah has achieved all three levels of the Kennel Club Good Citizen Award Scheme, and was accredited as a Pets As Therapy dog in 2010.”
“Brontë was born in January 2008 as the result of an accidental mating between a blue merle and a red merle collie. The other pups in the litter were fine, but unfortunately Brontë was born with very little hearing and one under-developed eye. Brontë ended up at the fantastic Lizzie’s Barn Sanctuary when she was just 6 months old when her farming family were unable to cope.
After doing a home visit for Lizzie’s Barn, I happened to be chatting with one of the volunteers who mentioned one of their long stay dogs, Brontë, who was no longer advertised as after two unsuccessful homings it didn’t seem she would ever have her own family. Never being one to turn down a challenge we headed to Wales to meet the lovely girl herself.
Brontë struggles with some aspects of everyday life - she hears occasional noises but only enough to surprise her, and with limited sight she doesn’t always see our hand signals. Her tolerance for frustration isn’t great and to begin with we couldn’t leave her for longer that a minute at a time. Brontë has always been great with people however, we hope to have her assessed to work as a Pets As Therapy dog soon. She is also very friendly with other dogs and almost never takes offence at the grumpier dogs we sometimes work with.
Thankfully with patience and time, Brontë is much easier to live with! She is learning flyball with the Minster Monsters and takes part in Cani-Cross runs with Farah - running with two deaf dogs is definitely an acquired skill. ”
“Our rescue guinea-pig lives in the garden (with a huge run and overnight hutch) in the summer, and in the utility room during the winter. He gets plenty of attention and floor time, and gets on well with Brontë and Farah. Having little fear of dogs now, McVitie is an excellent ‘stooge’ animal if called on during a behavioural session!”