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.