Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Smart and True - the Shetland Sheepdog

It's Week 5 of the I <3 Dogs Tour. This week's theme: The gorgeous, the active, and the unique. Tell us your favorite dog breed. 

Visit Tour Host Small Town Rescue for links to other blogs participating this week and to see how you can win prizes! And remember, if you'd like a copy of Vet Tech Tales: Vol 1, just let me know in the comments or by email. I'll be happy to send you a FREE e-copy in the format of your choice.


Today's guest post is by Karen Hartman

If you’ve been reading my guest posts, it should come as no surprise that I’m quite partial to the Shetland Sheepdog. It’s a playful, loyal, intelligent breed that will capture your heart in the blink of an eye. I’ve already shared some pictures of my Shelties in previous posts. The ones in this post are from the Northern Virginia Sheltie Rescue, so you can see a variety of Shelties – and some of them are available for adoption!

Alvin, Theodore, and Simon
Our first Sheltie, Princess, gave us a happy introduction to life with her kind. She was incredibly smart and always eager to please. She learned commands quickly and executed them promptly (a few treats didn’t hurt) – sit, stay, crawl, lie down, play dead, and more. When she played with her toys, she would bite all around until she found the squeaker part and would squeak and squeak it until we played with her. Oh, she was a smart one all right.

She was also an amazing watch dog. One time when we were visiting my parents, I had left the house, but forgot something and came back in. My mother was in a far part of the house and didn’t hear me re-enter, but Princess did. That little dog ran to my mother and barked at her, tilting her head in a scene reminiscent of a Lassie episode. Mom knew the pup was trying to tell her something, as Princess rarely barked. Looking out the window, my mother saw my car pulling away a second time and chuckled to herself, “What a smart little dog!”

About the barking. Shelties have a reputation for being pretty vocal, especially if you have more than one. That’s one of the biggest complaints people have about them. Strangely, neither of our Shelties barked much. Usually the only times were to alert us to possible intruders.  Not that I’m complaining, believe me!

Little Lady
Another complaint people have is with the shedding. Shelties have two layers of hair – a rough outer coat that repels water and a soft, thick undercoat that regulates temperature. They usually shed their coats twice a year, often with hair coming out in clumps. It’s important to brush them regularly to reduce any matting.

Grooming isn’t much trouble, though. They might not like the water much, but shelties let you bathe and dry them easily enough. Even clipping toenails is pretty easy. The real fun comes when you’re done – they tear around the house in wide, crazy circles, coming close to playfully nudge you during each lap.

Yes, the nudging. Well, it starts as a nudge. It usually ends up being an all-out herding event, with playful nips and jumps. Mine typically herd me to take them outside or to give them food or a treat. Some people enroll their Shelties in agility, flyball, and herding competitions, where they easily dominate the scene.

Agility Sheltie and Sheltie Who Knows They're Something Special
(not their real names)
I don’t mind the herding, although some people do. I actually enjoy the Sheltie’s playful side. But I think perhaps their best trait is the tendency to be Velcro dogs. You know, the kind that is always with you, like a shadow on a sunny day. Their companionship is such a joy; my husband and I can’t imagine our lives without them!

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