A few weeks ago, I got in the car and drove, drove and drove some more. Drove until I ended up on Ireland and met Spy, whom I previously only had seen in a shaky 90 second video. I randomly found Spy on YouTube one day. The video was recently uploaded and it said she was for sale, but there was no contact information or location. It was love at first sight, and I spent hours doing detective work until I finally found the ad on an Irish site.


Spy on an agility field in England

Epic and Bud joined me in the car and we did some sheepdog training on Ireland before heading back to England where we took some pictures for my upcoming agility book (in Swedish, sorry). We watched a sheepdog trial and trained some more before we headed home. My car broke down in Germany on the Autobahn between Bremen and Hamburg. I had to stop, call for assistance and try to find a place to stay with three dogs within walking distance from the auto repair shop. Spy had probably never been indoors before and it turned out she was in heat. Dragging all my luggage plus handling two male dogs and a bitch in heat through the small German town wasn’t easy. Spy got to sleep in the bathroom and handled it well. I thankfully got the car fixed in a day and we returned to Sweden on the Tuesday night, nine days after leaving Sweden.


Spy and Holly in the woods with Thomas

Spy has now lived with us for two weeks, and we’re still getting to know her. She’s 10 months old and hasn’t lived inside a house before. It amazing how quickly she has adjusted to life in our pack. She seems housebroken, which is remarkable considering how she’s lived before. Developing a good relationship with her is a work in progress, and very different from starting with a young puppy. I hope to make an agility dog out of her – in addition to sheepdog of course – but right now we’re just focusing on becoming friends and to even take food from my hand. It’s such a simple thing for a small puppy, but so hard for her. She enjoys food, but eating it from my hand is not very interesting and she doesn’t do it in all situations. The step from taking food to actually working for it seems even more difficult.

I bought her because she looked amazing when working sheep, and she does that well in Sweden too. She isn’t trained, but has a natural and mature way with sheep. I think she’s ready for training despite her young age. Our relationship will be the most important thing around sheep too. She needs to trust me and want to listen to what I have to say.


We got some more snow the other day… Spy herding sheep outside our house

It’s very exciting to get to know a new individual. There are new sides to her to discover all the time, as she gets more comfortable here. Right now, I realised that she gets very excited when Thomas is training and playing with Holly in another room. We might have to work a bit on staying calm when others are working. I hope that we can start to train and play together soon. She seems to be interested in toys, but I haven’t dared to try to play with her just yet.

Have you got experiences with starting to train an older dog that hasn’t been exposed to family life and training before? Maybe a rescue? Please share your experiences in the comments section below.

  • reply Petra ,

    What an adventure! I love that you will be training an older dog, which is a very unique experience in itself. I have two rescues from Romania who came to live with us at 5 and 10 months respectively. One was reared by hand and has very little impulse control, but loads of energy. She is friendly and nice (but difficult) to work with. She is bonded more to my daughter. My other one, a boy (who came when he was 5 months old) instantly bonded to me and is more attached than any other dog I raised from puppyhood. I’m his safe haven, his anchor. The downside is that he is still rather insecure and doesn’t like other people or dogs apart from immediate family. They are both mixed breeds, so not really comparable to a bc and they bring some “emotional baggage” with them from previous experiences that may not always have been very pleasant. None of them had issues with the environment though, they adjusted to anything new very quickly. Wishing you the best of luck and loads of fun with this beautiful girl, what a great “love” story of how you came to choose her.

    • reply Fanny Gott ,

      Thank you for sharing! It seems like you’re doing a great job with your dogs.

    • reply Daniela ,

      I had a malinois (who you acctually met during an agility camp 2009) bought at the age of 6 months. He had no experience of life outside the kennel he was born on and no much education. He loved to play, but he did not dare to share the toys as he was dominated by the older dogs in the kennel. I was living in the middle of a big city at that time and everything was new and little was praisable as stress took over. Few months of patience and love was though enough for trust to grow and to turn our relationship in the strongest I have experienced! I find older/rescued dogs extremely grateful for getting attention and the chance to play (train) with their owners as they have a long experience in being left behind or neglected! It is their driving force I would say, compared to puppies used with our generosity from the beginning, which they take for granted! I believe love at first sight is the best start for you two!

      • reply Fanny Gott ,

        Sounds like you’ve had a great journey with your dog. Thank you for sharing! I look forward to what the future brings with Spy.

      • reply Valérie ,

        Hi Fanny! yes. i had Adagio (pyrenean sheperd) when he was 10 months Y.o. he knew only sheeps and the kennel where he was beaten by the rest of the dogs 🙁
        i felt in love with him when he was 2 months old but he was not to sell.
        he loved human so he was always on my side, too much! but he was affraid by the clicker sound and not clean at home.
        but he became a lovely dog to live with and the king of clicker and tricks. i just regret not having him when he was a puppy. some problems with motivation in agility but he teached me a lot. The journey was amazing. 🙂

        • reply Fanny Gott ,

          Too bad that you didn’t get to have him from the start. It sounds like an amazing journey. I plan to make Spy the queen of clicker and tricks, but we have a long way to go. Herding, on the other hand, is just so easy with her. Just came in from a fantastic session. She learns so quickly.

          • reply Valérie ,

            cool! she has great attitude on photos 🙂

        • reply Mini Husky Lovers ,

          Your dogs faces are lovely. I love them. I have a husky 3 months now and i keep studying every day. I hope Spy to love and be loved in return.

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