Saying Goodbye

Today we said goodbye to our beloved Border Collie, Miss Molly.  It was apparent to us that our farm is not the right place for her.  Our first indicator was an attack on a goat that happened in early Autumn.  We did some work with her, met a new trainer, upped the daily exercise, added a daily hour-long game of fetch, switched to a homemade diet and continued to strengthen her obedience work. All seemed to be going very well, and we were happy, until…

Over the past week, Molly decided it would be grand to kill a chicken.  Then, two days later, she decided it would be even grander to kill another one. The next day, under supervision, a third. And then, in one evening, right under my nose, she killed our two best laying ducks when I turned my back to see why our toddler was crying.

Now, our hens and ducks are free-ranging and it wasn’t often that Miss Molly was outside unsupervised.  Most days, her time outdoors was spent with us, walking on the trail or exploring the woods, playing fetch in the fields, etc. She spent much of her days at our sides. But let’s be realistic here – there are three small children living on this farm. There are times when a dog needs to pee and there are too many other demands for me to be hovering & supervising. Around here, we need our dogs to be trustworthy, to be able to go outside for a potty break without having to worry that our livestock are being harmed if we have other tasks pulling our attention away. Could we have gotten Molly to that point? Yes, I’m sure, with a lot more work. But how much work can I put into a dog before saying enough is enough?

Oh, I was heartbroken when Molly took that first beautiful white duck. Heartbroken for the duck, and heartbroken for Molly.  I read over homesteading websites, Border Collie websites, and any other resources I could find, absorbing all the information out there on how to break a dog of a chicken-killing habit. When I realised how much more work I would have to put forth, I cried.  I have been working with Molly since the end of June, when we first officially started obedience classes.  Every day we practiced for a minimum of a half-hour, usually closer to an hour. Every day we reviewed all the commands we had learned, until we had all the basics down pat. When the goat attack happened, I worked with Molly more than ever.  I got her working for everything – earning each bowl of food, earning her game of fetch, earning her raw meaty bones. It was getting to the point where Lynden would sometimes say with an exasperated sigh, “Mama! You spend all of your time with that dog!”

Life is busy around here. There are sheep and goats to tend to, a large flock of hens, the ducks, the children, the household chores, crafts and games and other things the kids need help with. And the dogs. My beloved, wonderful dogs. My dogs, who get a huge amount of my attention, but need to be able to function well without it sometimes. My dogs, who need to be able to pee without supervision sometimes.

So, the choice was made.  Miss Molly went on this afternoon to a new home, with a wonderful man who knows and loves Border Collies, who will be able to give to her what I can’t, and who lives only ten minutes away.  It was so hard to say goodbye.  The kids were upset with me for letting our beloved dog go. I shed many tears. But in the end, I’m certain that things will be better for everyone.

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7 thoughts on “Saying Goodbye

  1. I understand how upset you must feel, but It sounds to me like you definitely did the only thing you could have done. And it also sounds like you put an amazing amount of effort into training the dog, more effort than most people would have made. What a kind person you are. 🙂

  2. You found Miss Molly a good home and that is a fantastic thing! Plus she is just down the road from you all, so I imagine you can keep an eye on her.
    I know people always want a pet to have a “forever home”, but sometimes things just don’t work out or circumstances change. (It is just like our human relationships with friends and/or spouses…)
    You sound like a wonderful dog Mother and you went above and beyond what most people would have done.
    Peace to you in your decsion~Rose

  3. What a hard decision you had to make. From what I have heard it is very hard once a dog has killed. We have the same problem with my dad’s dog. Because of her and outside dogs we have had to keep our chickens in a fenced area, no more free range.

    My dog is part blue heeler, so she wants to round up the goats and sheep. But we haven’t trained her so when it happens it isn’t good. I have seen her run off by our geese though, and I have heard a gaggle of geese can shake up a dog. Maybe some geese would help protect your ducks? I am not sure if they do that.

  4. Hi Lindsey,
    I’m a little late to this party, just catching up online these days, but I wanted to chime in and add to the chorus of sympathy and support. I hope you can all take pride in the effort and consideration you put into your dog’s wellbeing. Not an easy decision, I know, but the best one in this situation. Wishing you all peace in in this time…

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