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Elly is listed as a Border Collie/Lab cross but I think she might have some Schnauzer in her on account of her beard. She was found wandering around Allen Gardens in Toronto and she's been at Toronto Animal Services South for almost two months now. She's had several meet and greets but failed each one either because of her reactivity with other dogs or her behaviour when on leash. When I take her out - it's my second time with her - I don't find her leash skills too terrible initially. She pulls a bit but it's nothing a little training won't fix. She seems like a smart dog after all.

I try the strategy of stopping in my tracks whenever she pulls. So, it's stop and go for about ten minutes but even after such a short time, her pulling is already improved. I decide to challenge her a bit more. Now when she pulls I stop and start walking in the opposite direction. I can tell this annoys her.

I should have stopped at this point but I blame my lack of attention on the flu which was still malingering in me. I should have stopped the training but I didn't and so Elly gets more annoyed and she starts to bite the leash. Her excitement level quickly mounts and she bites and pulls on the leash with more insistence. I stop. I turn away from her and freeze, hoping my inaction and detachment from her will calm her down but she actually gets even more excited and her pulling on the leash escalates. I turn back around to face her and now she is seriously chomping on the leash and pulling and shaking and there is a challenging edge to her behaviour.

Elly is a medium large dog, maybe sixty pounds is my guess. I'm not concerned for my safety or anything like that but I can see why this behaviour would be worrisome for many prospective adopters. I don't want to do this but I don't have anything else to distract her with so I pull the leash out of her mouth. Elly takes this as a further challenge and starts jumping and snapping at the leash working her way closer to my hand. I pull the leash up and away from me. I can feel the weight of her in her collar as her front feet come off the ground just enough so she can't push up off them to snap at the leash. She calms down so I immediately release the tension in the leash. She starts to snap at the leash again. I pull up again. She calms down again. We stare at each other for a moment then I walk her back to the TAS building without incident.

Inside, I sit down with her in the main hallway. We just sit there and I talk to the people at the front desk and say hello to the other volunteers walking by. Elly is a little bit on edge. She's fine with all the people but sometimes when a dog walks by, Elly gives it a hard stare. Sometimes she barks at them and whines because she can't get closer to them.

It takes about half an hour, but Elly eventually settles down. She sits beside me, leans against me. She lies down, her leg against my boot. I rub her ears and pat her wide back. She responds to my attentions. She relaxes. Pretty soon she is more focused on getting pets from me than on her surroundings.

Elly is not an easy dog. She is a dog with some attitude - not a pushover. But neither is she a disinterested dog. She will bond with someone who is willing to put time and energy into her to gain her trust and who will not abandon her. In return, I believe she will give that person a fierce loyalty. I can respect that - a dog who knows the difference between friends and strangers. She reminds me a bit of my own Stella. She may not make for a happy-go-lucky dog park dog but she will make someone feel uniquely special.

For adoption information on these and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services.

5 Comments to “Elly - Border Collie mix”

  1. Fillyjonk says:

    First let me say your pictures are absolutely stunning. I've admired many of them, thank you for taking them!

    I have walked Elly about four times. I've never had her grab or bite the leash, but she sure can pull. But I've noticed something important: she only pulls on as much of the leash as I pay out. So I don't let her pull my arm off, but let her feel she's at the end of it, so she stops pulling (as much). And she is really smart, and sits and stays like a statue. I hope someone firm but kind adopts her soon.

  2. Fred says:

    Fillyjonk, I hope so too.

  3. Any update on Elly's situation and how she is doing?

  4. Fred says:

    Hi acfman17, unfortunately Elly is still at TAS. Some families have expressed interest but nothing firm has come in yet.

  5. Fillyjonk says:

    I guess she's been taken home! I will miss her very much, I've grown so fond of her. She went from being taciturn to sweet and loving. TAS deserves major kudos for how they helped Elly. I hope the new owner is happy with their GREAT choice!

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A request

The reason for this blog is to help get specific dogs adopted from TAS but equally important is to try to normalize the idea of shelter dogs being just as good and just as desirable as any other dogs including those which are regularly merchandised by backyard breeders, puppy millers and those few remaining pet store owners who still feel a need to sell live animals. The single greatest stigma shelter animals still face is the belief that shelter animals are substandard animals. Anyone who has had enough experience with shelter animals knows this is untrue but the general public hasn't had the same experiences you've had. They see a nice dog photo in a glossy magazine and too many of them would never think of associating that dog with a dog from a shelter. After all, no one abandons perfectly good dogs, right? Unfortunately, as we all know, perfectly good dogs are abandoned all the time.

The public still too often associates shelter dogs with images of beat up, sick, dirty, severely traumatized animals and while we definitely sometimes see victims such as these, they are certainly not the majority and, regardless, even the most abused animals can very often be saved and made whole again.

Pound Dogs sometimes discusses the sad histories some of the dogs have suffered. For the most part, though, it tries to present the dogs not as victims but as great potential family members. The goal is to raise the profiles of animals in adoption centers so that a potential pet owner sees them as the best choice, not just as the charity choice.

So, here's the favour I'm asking. Whenever you see a dog picture on these pages you think is decent enough, I'd like you to consider sharing it on Facebook or any other social media sites you're using (I know many of you do this already and thank you for that). And when you share it, please mention that the dog in the photo is a shelter dog like so many other shelter dogs waiting for a home. If we can get even five percent of the pet buying public to see shelter dogs differently, to see how beautiful they are and how wonderful they are, and to consider shelter dogs as their first choice for a new family member, we can end the suffering of homeless pets in this country.