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Herding dog and the city

Bonnie Girl was left on the streets by a homeless man as a 2-month-old puppy and was rescued by a teenage girl. She had looked for a permanent home for Bonnie, but after trying for 10 months to no avail, she sought help from the rescue community. Through a local rescue person, Bonnie was brought to Forte Animal Rescue.

Bonnie needs a home.
Andy Pearlman
Bonnie needs a home.
Andy Pearlman

Bonnie is truly a sweetheart and she loves dogs and kids of all ages, but when she went to a foster home, she became very protective of the couple and started guarding their apartment so much that the couple became uncomfortable about bringing guests into their home. Even though they tried their best to work with our trainer, they did not have enough time to fulfill all the instructions and had to give up on fostering her.

The foster home cannot be faulted, however, because four things worked against this relationship; 1) Bonnie did not receive proper guidance from an inexperienced teenager through her puppyhood, 2) the foster couple were novice dog guardians, 3) they lived in an apartment without a daily exercise regimen for her, and 4) though being a mongrel, Bonnie is mainly a herding breed.

Herding dogs are very intelligent and often think too much to take matters into their own hands. Being tossed around at such a young age without any consistency or structure in her life, Bonnie is not capable of making correct decisions, so her own intelligence is working against her as well.

She eventually had to create her own set of survival skills, which is to guard “her people” who are the source of her food and safety. Even at adoption events, as the volunteers became her people, she barks at visitors to chase them away. When people turn around and leave, she becomes very proud and further bonds with her people.

Having lived only in small living quarters or in boarding has kept her in a continuously stressful state. Just because she gets along with other dogs at her cagefree boarding does not mean she’s in a balanced state. Cagefree boarding and dog parks are both artificial settings, and neither is a natural environment for dogs.

For many dogs, those are still great places to hang out with their pals, but it’s for a limited amount of time, and neither is meant for their entire life to live 24/7. Yet, it’s much better than caged boarding, so Bonnie is in a best possible place to stay while waiting for her permanent home, but at the same time, she has no chance to completely relax and regroup.

If she lived in a ranch with a huge open space and people who would give her “jobs,” she would certainly thrive. This is why some people may think dogs like Bonnie don’t belong in the city. But then what is the solution for them once they’re already in the city? We have certainly tried to find Bonnie a home in the country, but we also do not have a magic wand to produce one.

I had two dogs who would have been happier if I lived on a ranch: Forte (“Who’s Forte”), and Valentino who was half Border Collie. Both had issues when I adopted them, probably due to reasons similar to Bonnie’s upbringing.

I worked with trainers to create a customized training formula for each of them. As I did not even have a yard, I compromised by taking them out on long daily walks and hikes. In return, it gave me a healthier life — if I did not have these dogs, I would have worked through longer hours being glued to an office chair, and possibly developed cancer or other ailments.

While Bonnie may thrive the most in a ranch life, she can also blossom with people who have active lifestyle, like runners and hikers, and are willing to give themselves a chance to become “dog-savvy” learning to speak canine language. With intelligent dogs like Bonnie, you need to communicate through your sixth sense, and honing this skill will also come handy when you negotiate with your business associates or even spouses.

You can meet Bonnie at Forte’s weekend adoptions in Mar Vista and Marina del Rey.

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