“This is some of my story about how I got where I am in my life. It may shine some light on why I want to help you to train your new puppy.” ~ Sue Lee ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A Long, Long Time Ago..
My family had a few dogs while I was growing up. We had a little house dog that was part Chihuahua and part Rat Terrier. Tippy was the ‘family dog’ that everyone loved and interacted with. We taught her to do a few tricks and she lived with us for many years.
We had other dogs over the years too. I can remember a black lab mix named Pepper that we had for awhile, and Boy, a Border collie mix that my dad found . He was laying next to a pile of trash someone had dumped off. Dad left the little pup there, but the next day, when he went back , the little pup was still there — waiting for his owner to come and get him. Dad couldn’t let the little pup stay another night so he brought him home.
We also had any number of other pets. You know, like the gerbils, guinea pigs, gold fish, chameleons and cats — we had quite a few cats over the years. I don’t remember ever personally owning any of the small pets until I was older, but I was always interested in dogs, cats and horses.
Oh, I did get a puppy one time. I kept it at the neighbors because I couldn’t ‘have’ it at home. That relationship didn’t last too long though. As a 9 year old it was hard to keep secrets like having a puppy from my parents. Once it was known — that was the end of that.
When I was a teenager, I got my first horse. My dad went with me to check it out and he built a pen in the back yard where I could keep it. I was in heaven! Star was everything I wanted in a horse. She was sweet in temperament, fast on her feet and easy to keep. It was when the weather started to turn colder in the fall that we noticed her limp. She would limp around in the morning for awhile and then she would ‘warm up’ and be fine for the rest of the day. I was concerned about Star, so I put liniment on her when she was sore and tried everything I knew to cure her morning limping. As the weather got colder Star’s lameness got worse instead of better. I finally had to admit that she wasn’t getting better so I called the vet in to examine her.
It was a hard blow. Star was not ever going to get better, only worse. She had a foot disease that was not curable and she was getting to the point where she was in a lot of pain. The vet advised putting her down. I cried and cried. I got angry and I cried some more. How could this be? I was being told that I had to have my best friend put down — killed — gone forever. I called around to other vets in the area, with the same advice for me at every turn. It was a very sad time for me. What could I do but put her out of her pain like the vet advised.
So that was the end of my first horse. I cried for days…I was so sad. As time went on I found other horses and I raised horses for awhile…but that’s another story, for another time. I learned a lot after that first experience with Star and I delved into finding out more and more information about animals. I read many, many books about the care and training of both dogs and horses.
My First Puppy…
Years later, when I had moved into the country, I had the opportunity and the need to actually get my first real puppy. I was living alone and every once in awhile some people would sit at the bottom of my driveway and drink and party late at night. I can remember being frightened and calling in to the sheriff’s office a few times to report it. I remember how scared I was, thinking, “What if I didn’t even know they were out there, and they came up to the house?”
My plan was to have a dog outside that would alert me when someone was on my driveway. That way I would have the option to call for help if I felt threatened. Abby was a good puppy. I got her from a friend whose dog had an accident…11 puppies. He had given this particular pup away already, but the first owners couldn’t keep her. I felt very lucky to get her.
She was a look alike to the dog “Boy” that we had when I was growing up. She looked like a black and tan Border Collie with a little white on her chest. I loved her a lot.
Abby did real well for the most part. I wasn’t real up on training but I did my best. She stayed out on the porch at night and alerted me when someone stopped by…just like I had planned…for awhile.
Mistakes Are Made, Accidents Happen…
As good as she turned out I did make some major mistakes with Abby. For an example…leaving her outside on the porch by herself all night was a big mistake. I now know enough to use a kennel or a fenced yard for my dog if I am going to leave her outside at night.
When Abby got a bit older I started to see corn in her poops. I wasn’t feeding her corn so I started to wonder, how was she getting her corn food? She was always at home sleeping on her bed on the porch when I got up in the morning, so I was sure she was staying home at night. I just couldn’t figure out where she was getting the corn from.
I thought maybe she was raiding the bird feed, but I wasn’t feeding that much corn on the feeder. After considering what I should do, I decided to get up at 1:00 one night to see if she really was staying on the porch. Sure enough, when I got up to check on her, she was nowhere to be found. I was just FUMING! Where was she? What was she up to? Sneaking out at night!
I was so angry at her! I went back to bed and in the morning there she was sleeping on her bed, just like she’d been there all night. Well, she slept in the house after that night. Oh…and no more corn in the yard.
A few years after getting Abby, I got married and moved to a beautiful piece of land that my husband owned. We made a garden next to the house, made a chicken coop in the shed that was on the property and started to raise Muscovy ducks.
We got our start from an ad in the paper that said, “Muscovy ducks for sale. You catch…a buck a duck” We thought it was a good deal to get a few to put on the dinner table and we decided we might as well try our hand at raising them. At the time we had two dogs, Abby and my husbands dog Kipper.
Kipper was a great ratter. She hated varmints with a passion!
She was one of the best ratters I’ve EVER seen…moles and gophers weren’t safe from Kipper either. She would stand out in the field like a statue for a real long time, listening and watching. Next thing you knew, she’d have herself a mole or a vole or a gopher. She was good.
What we now had to do, was to introduce the dogs to the ducks in a way that they would know that the ducks were part of ‘the family’. We worked on that with both dogs and it was a success! Both of our dogs seemed to ‘get it’ that the ducks were not prey to be killed and eaten. Everything went along pretty well…until we decided to get chickens.
We were both very interested in self sufficient farming. So we built another large garden in our back yard, complete with fencing against the deer and rabbits that abound in this area.
We ordered 50 chickens and I started to learn how to can and preserve vegetables. Roger built several ‘caches’ to put our root crops in for the winter. We read and learned as much as we could find on the subject of raising our own food and living sustainably.
Ah…the 50 chickens.
They come as 3 day old chicks through the mail. You have to have a draft free area for the little chicks with a heat light so they stay about 90 degrees.
We set up an area in our shed out of an old box stall. The chicks were doing fine but the little guys drew the attention of our dogs constantly. They ran around with these quick movements and looked just like a varmint to old Kipper. One day we were feeding and watering the small chicks in the coop area, when Kipper decided to check them out face to face. In she jumped…into the pen area.
We rushed in, hollering and waving arms to save the baby chicks from Kippers quick jaws. She had one pinned down with her paw and another in her mouth… but she didn’t bite down! Amazing! We quickly got her out of there. The ‘No!, no!, no’s’ could be heard all through the valley, I’m sure.
A few years later Kipper did kill one of our chicks that was out picking and scratching in the yard. I considered it to be an accident though, because old Kippers eyesight was starting to fail and it was a dark colored chick. I figured she thought it was a rodent and before she knew better the deed was done. She dropped it right away and she looked like she felt bad about hurting it. She was a very sensitive dog…except when it came to rodents and varmints.
So there we were…living on 14 acres, with 2 dogs, 3 cats,many ducks,chickens and even geese and guinea fowl at one time. Eventually we only had old Kipper left of the dogs,so we decided to get another companion dog to help protect our birds from predators and keep a watchful eye on our place.
We started to look for a good breed of dog for our needs,so I again delved into information about breeds of dogs, dog training and care. I learned more about dogs at that time because there was more information out there and there was a few changes made in the training techniques that the professionals were using.
We wanted a medium size dog, so some of the bigger breeds were out of the picture right away. I also wasn’t interested in to small of a dog, because my experiences had been that the smaller dogs had tendencies toward being yappy and barky. That was a trait I definitely was interested in avoiding at all costs!
While looking for our new dog, one of the many people I talked with was a lady who raised Great Pyrenees dogs. I knew this was not ‘our type of dog’, but I was interested in information, so we chatted on the phone. During our conversation I told her what we were looking for in a dog and she said she knew of a lady that raised Australian Cattle Dogs.
She thought they might just fit the bill for us, so she gave me the lady’s phone number. We decided to check out the dogs first hand so I called right away and we drove up to see them. We were both very impressed with these dogs.
The Australian Cattle Dog was not a breed that I had encountered in any of my studies. The intensity, playfulness and personality of Billie’s dogs impressed both of us. After talking with Billie about the dogs, we were convinced that it was the breed for us.
Our New Puppy…
It took 2 years for us to actually get a puppy from Billie. She was a good breeder and she was very interested in us getting a good ‘match’…which meant pairing us up with just the right dog for our specific situation. We were patient, knowing that we’d eventually get the dog we were looking for in that puppy from Billie.
Kipper did her job while we waited and she aged gracefully in that two years. When we finally got our little puppy we named him Zeke. Kipper was just like a mom to him. She played with Zeke, showed him ‘the ropes’ and was a pretty good all-round mentor for him. They really got along well together.
When Zeke was still a little baby pup we took him into the chicken coop everyday and let him just snoop around and play in there. By doing that often, he learned that the chickens were part of our extended family and were not to be harmed. Our goal was for him to think of the chickens as ‘his chickens’ so he would guard them from the many marauders that came to visit the coop and chicken run.
Zeke did his job quite well. When ever we saw a marauder he would go after it and chase it away or in some cases ‘dispatch’ it quickly. When Zeke was a pup I did more research into training puppies. I read books and took Zeke to puppy classes. I even took him to a show once and when he got a little older we took herding lessons. Zeke LOVED the herding. We worked sheep for 1 1/2 years.
After that he was pretty good at going in and rounding up the chickens and ducks when it was bed time for them. In all his years living with and protecting them he never once hurt a bird in any way. He loved to run up and pin them down with his feet…and sometimes he would come up with a few feathers in his mouth but they were never hurt or compromised by his antics. Zeke lived a pretty long life. At the age of 14 we had to make that hard decision that comes up sometimes when your best friends are canines. We had to take him to that last visit to the vet’s office. Another sad day…week…month…
After a few months, I started to investigate options for another dog in our lives. Without a good varmint dog around we got a lot of damage in our gardens and shrubs. The populations of voles and mice immediately started to climb.
We really needed a dog that would hunt for the critters like old Kipper and Zeke used to do. I went to the internet and started to search for a dog that would fit our needs, both as a varmint dog and as a loving companion. It took me a little while but I eventually found a relatively rare breed of dog that looked as if it would fit our needs quite well. My research led me to the Decker Rat Terrier. When I found the breed on the internet I was very impressed with the information that was out there. I did much more extensive research as to the origins and many uses for these dogs.
When I found the information about them that I was looking for and we had made our definite choice that this was the dog for us, I started to look at actual kennels that had pups for sale. We found a line that we really liked at Clan Clark Decker Terriers and I called about buying a pup.
When it was confirmed that we were going to get a new puppy, I again went into my ‘information gathering mode’. This time I pulled up tons of new information on dog behavior and training…there was new info out there! New training techniques! I started to compile information and got ready for the new arrival.
This time we had to wait only a couple of months for our puppy. I was very fortunate to get ‘pick of the litter’ of the female puppies. I got pictures and updates from the breeder every week. We talked on the phone many times and we developed a wonderful relationship. From listening and talking, I learned much more about this particular breed of dog. We were so impressed with our new puppy, Nessa, that we decided to get another pup of the same breed…and when we came home with our new puppy, we actually came home with two!
So now we have three puppies under 7 months old.
I know, I know…my friends all said,
When Nessa was just a couple of months old my arms looked like a pincushion. Her little tiny needle teeth left tracks everywhere they touched. But I learned…and I studied some more…found some new training techniques, and I started using more of the new techniques that I had learned about.
The best ways to train, are now much more in line with the way I have felt about training all along. Rewards, rewards, rewards. Redirect unwanted behavior and give rewards for wanted behavior. That is the type of training I used with my new puppies and it is a way of training that WORKS!
All my puppies have gone to classes for socialization and training time away from the home environment. All of my puppies have ridden in cars, gone into stores, walked by busy streets, met other dogs and people.
I’ve gotten to know puppies quite well in this last year while raising my three pups…in fact, over my lifetime I’ve read many, many books on training and used many different techniques for my puppies and dogs. I can honestly say I have found a mindset, a way to train, that will work for most puppies and dogs no matter what the breed or even the age. I’ve compiled tons of information about raising puppies in my new book called “Your Puppy’s First Year.” The book includes all the basic information that a person needs to do a good job raising, relating to and communicating with their puppy, in that first year together and beyond.
P.S. If you’d like to learn a little more about the Decker Rat Terrier, see more pictures or if you are looking for a new puppy for yourself, (sometimes I know of breeders who have puppies available), you can go to my website here: ASGARD DECKER TERRIERS