Stue the dog


Our gorgeous 4 year old Border Collie Benji has now been in rescue for nearly a year, he is looking for a working home with lots of collie experience and without children. Here's a brief overview of his journey so far!  


Learning! Literally anything! New tricks, new sports and activities.. give him a job and he'll give you 200%
Long walks-Take him hiking and exploring and he'll be in his element
Running - Need a running buddy who never calls in sick or convinces you to be lazy? Benji's your man!
The Pub - As long as it's not too crowded he absolutely loves sitting with you, greeting people and stealing your chips 
Food - Enough said. 
Cuddles - Especially first thing in the morning and during chill time, but never during work time.. because work is the best! Tennis balls and work are life.
Being in a pack - As you see from videos on the page he has 5 collie friends to pack walk with and they love going to the park and the beach together  
1-2-1 attention -  When he trusts you he adores you and it means the world to him to have your full focus because you'll have his. He follows me around taking out the bins, making up feeds for the other kennel dogs, as long as he's with you he's happy  
Personal space  - He loves a fuss but he can also enjoy his own company when you're doing other things 
YOU  ♥ - Just give Benji the stability, routine, mental stimulation and understanding and you'll have the most loyal companion you could ever wish for! I know we've already covered this but your time is what means the most 
So that's what he brings to the table in the partnership he's looking for.
What does he need from you?  


Ok theres a lot of info here but if you've been following Benji's journey and you want to know more, keep reading    :)
Remember, he won't be judging your past and he needs you to understand his even though it's becoming a distant memory    💘



First, here's a little summary of his journey so far- he is now 4 years old -


Benji's owners bought him as their first dog from a breeder as a puppy, he went to training class, they doted on him like a human baby and loved him very much

⬇ But this caused a problem ⬇

Border Collies are not novice dogs, because Benji has a very strong working instinct he began to struggle with a home environment where he didn't have a 'job' (anything from herding to agility that he needs to focus on which will tire him out mentally)
His energy wasn't being channelled and as he grew up he began to show herding behaviours at home with his owner.

⬇This is how we solved it ⬇

Now that Benji has a structured routine here and is comfortable with us he is able to exhibit his natural behaviours in a healthy way and isn't suffering with an overwhelming urge to work with no available outlet. This has calmed him down mentally which has given him the ability to finish a training session and sit and relax with you and enjoy life.


Benji's owners tried a version of negative reinforcement training which included shutting him into a small room or crate in an attempt to stop these behaviours, his owner had never had a dog before and she became nervous of him which made him nervous of her and the home became a very stressful place for them both. Their intention was to teach him that they didn't like this behavior but they weren't aware that working sheepdogs can't help it, it's instinct!

⬇So this caused a problem ⬇

He became terrified of small spaces! His fear levels rose and the communication between him and his owner had completely broken down. When she tried to shut him away or do something that made him worry he resorted to lip curling, growling and hearding her away to keep himself safe because of the cycle of negative things happening to him.

⬇In addition to this ⬇

His owners had a baby and Benji was still in this mindset, he began receiving less attention and they didn't know how to socialise him with the baby so they decided to keep him away for safety. There were times where objects like brooms, an ironing board ect were used to physically keep him away from the baby who was naturally making high pitched noises which were adding to the confusion and triggering his working instincts. Because of this experience he still finds babies and young children scary and stressful as he relates them to being punished which means he cannot be rehomed around them.

⬇When he came to kennels we saw this ⬇

When we met Benji he was out of his mind with stress, fixated on anything he could do to channel his high drive, when you looked into his eyes he would look right through you. He was shutting down. His little body was tense, his muscles solid, he would allow you to stroke his head if he was outside and involved with a fun activity he could get into but would panic and begin to growl if you tried to touch anywhere else on his body, particularly his back. He was investigated for back pain at the vets but the conclusion was that fear, stress, anxiety and frustration was the root cause of it all..
He would come out and play for hours, go for long walks and days out with myself and the other volunteers and thoroughly enjoy himself. He began to bond, understand instructions and have fun! He thrived having freedom and constructive activities, but being closed in was still troubling him.
Naturally to Benji his kennel was also a small scary space to begin with, when it came to going in for the night he would remember his past experience; his fear levels would rise and he would return to defensive behavior like growling, baring his teeth, and in the early days lunging at the door.
For someone who doesn't understand his thought process he can look intimidating, it was the way he learned to keep people away that he found completely terrifying because he didn't understand them.
✨Benji hasn't followed through with this or bitten, he gives very clear signals that he is distressed so that you can move away ✨

⬇This is how we worked through it ⬇

He began to settle into a routine and went to a collie experienced home for trial which looked promising as they already had a working Border with similar issues and managed her extremely well. It didn't work out but we learned lots more about him. The most valuable thing we learned is that a normal family home isn't the right environment for him.
In the kennels we used various positive reinforcement training techniques to desensitise him which has worked brilliantly over time to help him improve to where he is now
We began taking him off site to new environments regularly to see what he likes best, he had a great time at the All about Dog show last summer showing his ability to focus on flyball in a very busy environment.
Flyball trainer Ozzie and his amazing pack of champion collies took Benji under their wing and Behaviorist Lucy Green at Healthy Happy Hounds came on board to help brainstorm training ideas and offer her valuable advice and he's been improving ever since!


The good news is that he is confident in his routine, continuing to improve every day and settled in kennels with the help of Claire, Ollie and Olivia who have all put a lot of time and effort into learning to handle him through all of the challenges he has presented since he arrived. Your donations mean that he can stay at the ideal kennels in a calm environment surrounded by countryside and footpaths, he has plenty of space, a heated sleeping area and access his own covered outdoor run when he's not out with us. Regular visits from Ozzie and the dogs and daily pack walks with the other Spirit dogs and our amazing volunteers, particularly Angela who donates a huge amount of her time for all of them.

⬇Here's where we are now ⬇

If you were to meet him today you wouldn't think you were meeting the very same dog. He's bright, alert, responsive, reactive, affectionate, comical, comfortable, confident, intelligent, quick on his feet, brilliant recall..
The honest truth is Benji is the perfect dog. He has seen me 5 days a week since he moved to his current Kennels in June 2018 and we have very clear communication with each other, he is completely comfortable with me petting him all over, he climbs into my lap every morning and licks my face, when I've had a day off and he sees me in the morning his reaction is priceless.
He follows me around the kennels at the end of my shift when I'm tidying up and doing general jobs around the site and through months of desensitisation has overcome so many fears.
Brooms, hosepipes especially when you're using them, random things in the corridor he used to growl at and run from.
Now I can recall him to come and take food from me when i'm using the hose in the kennels, he'll stroll past me when I'm sweeping, he trusts me and is a million times more relaxed.
He goes off lead in open spaces with Ozzie's pack of working collies and comes back with them.
I walk into his kennel with him, he'll sit in his bed doing sit, down, paw, sometimes I even sit in his bed with him in my lap.
I can walk through to his outdoor area to tidy up his toys and then back through the kennel with no defensive behaviours from him.
The key was giving him the extra freedom in return for his response to my requests ie. a recall and giving him lots of different (but clear) requests to follow, teaching him new ones, keeping his brain active.
Letting him know that he's not going to be shut in every time he goes into his space, there are times that he can come and go freely but he has to go to his bed and settle down during certain times of the day which is pretty much the same time every day. He knows what is expected, everything is clear.
That's the golden rule of Benji! He wants you to give lots of instructions and he also needs your praise and patience. 
Intimidating him to make him behave will cause him to go back to the fear mindset, but when he is encouraged and you show him patience and boundaries with the right amount of affection at appropriately times and you have his trust, HE CAN BE HIS TRUE SELF AND HE IS LITERALLY THE PERFECT DOG.
If you want a best friend who will idolise you and never leave your side and you can give him some work and all of the above made you love him more instead of putting you off then call 07923957457 to speak to Jen directly.






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Dog of the Month!


Our gorgeous 4 year old Border Collie Benji has now been in rescue for nearly a year, he is looking for a working home with lots of collie experience and without children.