Voices of the Northwest
Last Chance for Chase
By Linda Mecum
Chance and the Twins photo by author Linda Mecum
A Different Kind of Love Story Through E-Mail
Mon, 06 Mar 2000
Dear Collie Rescue Contact,
I'm looking to adopt a collie as a friend and companion. Five years ago
I accidentally found and adopted an older collie (6-8 yrs.) at the
shelter here where I live. He was picked up as a stray in
a near by small town, so there was no history on him. I had never
had a collie before, but I fell in love with him and the breed. He died
The personality and temperament of the breed suits me perfectly. I need
a dog who can get along with friends and family. I have young nieces
and am around other young children from time to time. My collie was so
good with them! When I traveled I always took Luke with me...he rode in
the back seat. He stayed in the house during the day while I was at
work, but I am able to come home for lunch every day so I could take him
outside and give him some attention. At night and on weekends we were
constantly together for walks and just being around the house. The only
nights he spent outside were when we were camping.
Please let me know what the process is and what you would recommend to
me for getting another dog.
Mon, 06 Mar 2000
Luke was also a tricolor rough coat. I read about Laddie Blackie on the
web site but assumed he had been adopted by now since that was dated
last October. I would be glad to meet with you and have you come to the
I'm a teacher so I will be having spring break soon. I know it would be
expecting things to go quickly, but if we could arrange it, I have no
plans yet for the week of March 27-31. It would be a good time for some
Wed, 08 Mar 2000
Thanks for sending the application. I'll get it back to Barbara. I'll
give you a call later today about Laddie Blackie from my home phone
while I'm on my lunch break.
Wed, 15 Mar 2000
I've returned my adoption application to Barbara but have yet to hear
from her. Do you happen to know if I was approved, and if so when I'll
be able to schedule a home visit?
Thu, 16 Mar 2000
Thanks for getting back to me. I received your message when I got to
work this morning. As luck would have it, Barbara called me barely 20
minutes after I had called and left the message at your home last night!
In discussing our busy schedules and other commitments, we were able to
arrange a date and time for a home visit.
She told me she had met Laddie Blackie and went on to describe what a
loving and sweet dog he is. Susan, I have to tell you, I am really
torn about what to do. I know without a doubt that if I met Laddie I
would bring him home. My reservations are that I nursed Luke in so many
ways...putting runners on the hardwood floors, helping him up the stairs
so he could sleep in my bedroom, padding his bed with layers of foam,
slow walks around the block, lifting him in and out of the car...and I
was only able to have him in my life for 5 years. My preference would be
that I not have to do that again so soon with a new dog. But I could,
and I know I would love Laddie, and that he would be a wonderful friend.
Do you have any advice?
Fri, 17 Mar 2000
Your message of today was wonderful. Thank you so very, very much for your
understanding, and for putting into words what I've been feeling. You were
very astute. Thank you also, for sharing some of your personal history with
grieving. And thank you for reassuring me that Laddie Blackie will
continue to have a good home with you. Yes, loss is very hard; I've been
fortunate so far and am not used to it. I've found, though, that the death
of my beloved pet has been more difficult than losing aunts and uncles over
the last several years.
After Luke was gone I gave away or disposed of most of his things, but did
keep a large crate that he sometimes used. I guess I knew in my heart that another
dog would be needing that in the future. Summer would be a good time for me
to acquire a new friend. I usually work our 4-week summer session, but it's a much
more relaxed and outdoor time, and I have some extended breaks in late June and the
half of August.
I'll visit with Barbara when she comes, hopefully pass muster, and be ready
and waiting for the right dog.
Fri, 14 Apr 2000
Well, I found that collie you heard about at the shelter.
I've had my new collie now since Monday evening, and although we are
still getting to know each other, I can already tell that we are going
to have a great and long friendship. I called you because I was
concerned about him not eating. He had his check up at the vet
yesterday, and she said he is ok, if maybe just a little underweight. At
her suggestion I bought a canned product called "mix it", which she said
is like dog candy. I put it with his food and now he's eating.
He's still not good with my cats, but I think that will take a while.
He's VERY macho with hormones running rampant, so hopefully that will
settle down after his surgery next Wednesday.
The real reason I'm writing (besides to say hi) is to learn where I
should send a donation. So if you could let me know, I'll send off some $
for the good of the cause. Also, I noticed that there are no photos of
Chelsea or Laddie Blackie. I have access to a digital camera and could
help in that area. I've told Barbara that I'm willing to help in other
capacities as well. Probably not as a foster home since I travel a lot,
but with whatever else is needed.
Thanks to you, Barbara, and the organization for helping me hook up with
a great friend. I love him already.
Thu, 18 May 2000
How are you? It's me again, Linda, in Salem. I've had my new collie
friend (Chase) for a few weeks now, and boy!, is he a challenge! I feel
like we're just now starting to bond, which I guess isn't too unusual
since it hasn't been that long. He's very large and strong, still an
adolescent (18 months), and has some very bad manners. Apparently that's
why his previous owners gave him up. I'm not even considering giving up
on him, but we have a lot of work to do. Last week, for instance, I had
him out late for his last walk of the evening before bedtime, and was
heading back towards the house. He spotted something behind me (cat or
person down the street) barked and lunged against his leash so violently
and unexpectedly that he pulled me over backwards before I even knew
what was happening. I landed on the concrete of my driveway right on the
back of my head. I had to go to the hospital, have a CAT scan, and now
am recovering from a concussion. (It kinda ruined my Mother's Day
weekend when I was vomiting all the time, but that stopped after I got a
prescription.) The nice part of the story is that after he was done
investigating the object of his attention, he came trotting back,
sniffed my face, and laid down next to me until I was able to get up and
stumble to the neighbor's house, during which he accompanied me quite
In most other ways, tho, he has a very endearing personality, and is
obviously smart. He loves to play, and is very gentle with his nibbles
and nudges and mouth play. I introduced him to my twin nieces, who are 4
years old, for the first time on Sunday. They were traumatized last
August when a sheepdog attacked and did gross damage to the face of one
while the other watched in helpless horror. They've both been in therapy
as a result, and pretty much freak out whenever they see or are around
dogs. Well, they were used to my old collie Luke, who was soooo gentle,
but I was wondering how they would be with Chase, whose head is level
with theirs. As it turned out, he was very good with them, and they
warmed up to him almost right away. They delighted in feeding him treats
out of their hands and stroking him. He's the first dog they've been
able to do that with since Luke died. Neat, huh. We all went for a walk
together with them taking turns holding his leash and he was great.
I remember you asked something about my job. I have a very unique teaching
job. I'm in special education and teach in a program for children at the state hospital.
We have school here for all the children from 5 to 21 years old. I work with the
group who are
18 to 21 yrs. The majority of my students are incarcerated due to crimes
they've committed, and they've pleaded the insanity clause. Some others
are placed here because they are so suicidal that they need a very
secure environment..schizophrenic, mostly, but sometimes heavy drug
users. We are what is considered a "lock-up" facility complete with
electronic gates and razor wire. This is my 8th year. I taught for 11
years in the public school system, and I prefer this greatly.
Well, this is long enough. I hope you are well and enjoying the spring.
It's supposed to be very nice this weekend and I'm anxious to get some
yard work done and plant some annuals. I haven't forgotten my offer of
the digital camera to help with the web site, I've just been very
focused on Chase lately. How is Laddie doing? Has he been placed yet?
Wed, 31 May 2000
Chase continues to be good company, and he certainly gets me out of the
house. He demands to be exercised when I get preoccupied and skip our
routine. He's a smart dog, watches me carefully, and knows what my
actions signal without me having to even say anything. He is still a
problem when he becomes too excited, and won't forego chasing cats.
(Thanks for the reference to the Monks of New Skete site, I'm going to
send away for their videos.) He is very loving and mellow, tho, for the
most part and travels well in the car. He loves it when we go to my
partner's house, because J. has wall-to-wall carpeting
everywhere that is very plush and padded. He rips around running and
leaping upstairs and downstairs and room to room and has a great time.
He and J. get into wrestling matches on the living room floor which
they both enjoy. When we're at home he has to be careful
because the hardwood floors are so slick he can't get traction, so
there's not much indoor play.
Hope you and the dogs are well. How's Laddie Blackie doing?
Fri, 16 Jun 2000
Thought I would send you a quick update on progress with Chase. Afraid
it's not good. Yesterday afternoon he attacked a little girl on her
bike. We had just stepped outside the front door for a walk, and I had
him on the leash. Just at that moment, the child was going by on her
bicycle. I couldn't restrain him. She had shorts on, and he badly nipped
her on her leg. There were no puncture wounds, but an area about the
size of a small apple that very quickly started to bruise, where he had
nipped. If you didn't know a dog had done it, you would think she had
fallen from her bike and scraped her leg on the street. She was, of
course, terrified and crying. My neighbor, who was inside her house on
her computer, heard the ruckus and ran out to help me. She took Chase
while I accompanied the little girl to her home. Her mother was much
more understanding than I would have ever been, and gave good support to
the child in a calming and matter-of-fact way. She just wanted to make
sure his shots were up to date. I, on the other hand, was very upset.
I talked with Barbara last night, who, as you probably know, just lost
her Golden to cancer. She is so nice to think of me and my problems when
undergoing so much grief of her own. She told me of people who have
worked with a vet and behaviorist in the Portland area who had
aggressive animals that were able to be turned around. I also have a
call in to a woman in Eugene, Cindy Ehlers at Paws-itive Pets. Her
name was given to me by Bill Campbell in Grants Pass who was referred to
me by Eva at Kings Valley Collie.
I'll talk with these people but am feeling more and more hopeless. You
know I simply can't risk the chance that he could more seriously hurt
I'll be in touch,
Mon, 10 Jul 2000
It was good to hear from you. Sorry I haven't been in touch; I was on
vacation for almost 3 weeks and away from the computer. I've talked with
Barbara a couple of times, so maybe she has filled you in on what's
happening with the dog. I decided to go ahead and work with a
behaviorist. I felt it was my only option, as I couldn't stand to put
him down. I changed his name to "Chance", as in "last chance",
chance", "one more chance", "lucky chance", etc. He didn't
problem with the change, and I like it a lot better, too.
I'm working with Cindy Ehlers from Eugene. She follows the Bill Campbell
(Grants Pass) method of positive reinforcement. I've met with her twice
so far and have another 2 sessions to go. I have him on a "Halti" lead,
which as really helped. I must say, even though I've had dogs all my
life, I've been learning very helpful things about their "dog talk" that
I wasn't aware of before. I've also learned how to change my own
behaviors when I interact with him, to be the leader of the pack,
instead of letting him think that he's the alpha dog. He tries to be
very dominate and bossy, but that's changing.
As per instructions from Cindy, he no longer gets to go to the dog park,
since he wouldn't come when I called him. He also doesn't go for walks
around the neighborhood where he would pee on every bush and post, so
that restricts his territory to just our yard. I can walk him in
neighborhoods away from our house, however.
I'm back at work for summer session which runs just until the end of
July, then I have another break in August. I'll keep in touch.
Thu, 27 Jul 2000
How has your summer been so far? I can't remember a recent summer when
we've had so many long, extended days of sun. It reminds me of the
summers when I was a kid, when it seemed like every day was hot and
bright. I remember playing in the field across from our house, catching
the flying grasshoppers that spit 'tobacco juice', and climbing into bed
feeling so good after the nightly bath to wash my dirty bare feet. Those
were the days all right. I've been working during July, teaching summer
session, but I still make time to enjoy the chirpy mornings and long
evenings. I love summer. I had a deck built last month, and am busy
working on the staining and painting.
I still have Chance, and have had two sessions with the trainer. Her
name is Cindy Ehlers, from Eugene. Her program is four 2-hour sessions
for $240. She's very generous with herself. She drove to my house for
the first two sessions and spent almost 3 hours with me both times. I'm
going to her house next time, but have had many conflicts and still need
to reschedule. I've made many changes and Chance is doing better. Her
approach is to heavily reinforce the positive behavior and ignore the
bad. That is, to catch him doing good, or distract him and reinforce him
before he makes the move to negative behavior. Cindy showed me several
ways in which Chance was showing his dominance and taught me how to
regain control. I have him on a 'halti' lead and he doesn't bark or
lunge at cats or passersby anymore. He is able to tolerate my cats and
walk by within a few feet of them quite calmly. They are starting to
also be a little more trusting, but of course, still maintain their
vigilance. He's not yet at the point where I can take him into the yard
without his leash.
It's true that I've never had to work so hard training a dog, but it's
not all bad. I've learned an awful lot about dog language and behaviors.
When I'm clear and consistent he does what I ask and is quick to learn.
When I get sloppy, he too, starts to revert. Often I have to remind
myself that I've had him only 3 months because it seems a lot longer,
and I expect a lot from him. It's pretty obvious to me that he enjoys
the mental stimulation of the training and the consistency of my
Well, drop me a line and let me know how you're doing. Love to Blackie.
I guess he is finding a home with you.
Update: Sept.20, 2000
It's been a long time since I've written, I know. Not because I haven't
thought of you often, because I have. As fate would have it, there has been
another shattering event tonight that prompts me to take up the 'pen'.
During this summer I continued to work with Chance as I could, although I
missed the last two sessions. He and I have been bonding so well finally, that I
came to the understanding that it just took him a long time to learn to
trust. I've been very careful to keep him on his leash around the yard and
anywhere else we go. He has become somewhat friendly with my cats and they
have started to learn to tolerate him, allowing him to come close to sniff
them. He approaches them softly and wags his tail in a friendly fashion. I
found a place where I could take him to run, on a friend's farm with
hundreds of acres which adjoins other farmland. This place is big...just
rows and rows of berries and filbert trees with no people, cars, cats,
joggers, or kids on bikes. He does well, running in front of me, behind me,
down the rows and back again, always staying with me.
So we were there tonight. We had a good walk and were approaching the car
to return home when he spotted something. I didn't see it, but soon heard
it. He had chased a cat into a low, tree covered wash. He killed it before
I could get to him. I'm pretty certain it was a feral cat, but it doesn't
matter. It could have been one of mine or a neighbor's pet.
I've read again some of your emails that you sent to me in early summer. It
helps to read them again tonight. I've made the decision that he has to be
put down. It hurts like hell, and you know the tears are flowing right now.
I've done all I could, and it helps knowing that. I think if I had done it
earlier I wouldn't feel the same. My neighbor has volunteered to take him
in to the Humane Society for me, but I haven't decided yet how to arrange
the plans. He still has blood matted on his white mane, which I won't be
washing off. It makes it a little easier to think of him as a killer.
Thanks for being there.
©Copyright 2000 by Linda Mecum. All Rights Reserved.
See A Dog's Life by MG Hudson and Kimball Lewis' Animal Welfare and Protection for a New Century
Also see Collie Rescue