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Border Collie


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The Puppy Dog Page



"In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely try to train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog."Edward Hoagland


Puppies are wonderful and a terrific addition to any family.  A puppy will enhance and change your life for many years to come.

It is not known how humans and dogs first learned to coexist, but we soon discovered many ways that dogs could enhance our lives.  Dogs are considered to be the first domesticated animal, living with humans more than 14,000 years ago.  The human/dog relationship has been documented in fossils, artifacts and records left by earlier civilizations, such as cave drawings and early pottery and carvings.  Their highly social behavior allowed them to accept a relationship with humans and to become part of a family group.  Dogs have been used to herd and guard livestock, destroy rats, hunt, guard property, pull sleds and carts, apprehend criminals and perform rescues.  They were used in wartime as message carriers.  We can train dogs to be our eyes and ears, alerting the deaf to a ringing telephone and helping the blind cross a street.   

However, the most common and the most important of all the roles served is that of companion.  Dogs crave close contact with their owners and people form loving bonds with their dogs.  The companionship they offer helps ease the pain and isolation of the sick, the elderly and the physically handicapped.  



All dogs, regardless of breed, are essentially identical in anatomy. The skeleton of the domestic dog has about 321 bones, with variations in the number of bones in the tail and the presence of a dewclaw, an extra digit on the paw that not all breeds have. The rib cage consists of 13 pairs of ribs; the spine has 7 cervical vertebrae, 13 thoracic vertebrae, 7 lumbar vertebrae, and 3 sacral vertebrae. Rear paws have four complete digits and front paws have four or five digits. Most puppies have 28 temporary teeth, which are replaced with 42 permanent teeth at about six months of age.  

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Differences in breeds evolved to help dogs survive in their native environment or occupation. Dogs that lived and worked outdoors needed a thick, weather-resistant coat to protect them from the elements and the biting teeth of predatory animals. Similarly a Labrador retriever developed an oily coat, webbed feet, and a rudder-like tail to help it perform better in recovering downed waterfowl.  Just as distinct physical characteristics became trademarks in some breeds, unusual sensory abilities characterize others. Most dogs are able to detect scents and hear high-pitched sounds that are beyond human discernment, but some breeds have especially acute sensory skills. The bloodhound can follow a four-day-old track using its highly developed sense of smell. Other breeds with a keen sense of smell include the German Shepard, beagle and golden retriever.  We have been able to train these dogs for such varied duties as detecting hidden drugs, explosives, termites, and even a decomposing body in deep water.  Dog breeds are classified into seven distinct groups.  These classifications are:  terrier, working, sporting, hound, herding, toy, and non-sporting.

The terriers posses an aggressive personality and often have wiry coats, which reflects their original use in catching prey such as foxes, badgers, and rabbits. Working dogs are muscular, even-tempered, and obedient, a necessary quality in dogs that serve as working partners with humans. Many of the sporting dogs, such as pointers and retrievers, are active dogs that respond instinctively when spotting game. Hounds are known for their stamina, acute sense of smell, and baying bark, qualities that are an invaluable aid to hunters and trackers. Herding dogs are recognized for their innate ability to drive livestock and keep farm animals from straying.  Toy dogs are known for their diminutive size and function as companionable house pets. The final dog group, non-sporting, includes a wide variety of purebreds that differ in size, coat, overall appearance, and personality.  


Dogs generally reach sexual maturity at about six months of age, with small breeds often maturing earlier than large breeds. Female dogs become sexually receptive to mating during a period called estrus (also called season or heat), which occurs about twice a year for 6 to 12 days. After a gestation period of around 63 days, an average litter of three to six puppies is born.  Blind and unable to stand, newborn puppies are helpless and spend 90 percent of their time sleeping and 10 percent nursing. The greatest danger for a healthy newborn puppy is becoming chilled because its immature circulatory system cannot sustain an adequate body temperature.  Newborn puppies will stay close to their mother or cuddle together for warmth. Mothers clean, nurse, and defend their pups until they can live on their own, but the male does not involve itself in the care of the young.

At the start of a dog's life there is a socialization period that runs from about the 4th until the 16th week of life.  Initially, the puppies learn how to contact, act and react to other dogs.  Between the 5th and the 8th week, the pups will attempt contact with human beings. It's important the puppy sees and interacts with people during this period.  He will start learning how to behave in human society.

Always check a breeder before purchasing a purebred puppy. Ask for references and follow up.  When you visit the puppies make sure the surroundings are clean.  Were the puppies raised in the house or in a clean kennel, or were the surroundings dirty and isolated?  Watch to see how the puppies react to the breeder.  Do they get excited and want to be around her or him, or do they shy away?  Play with the puppies and see which one takes to you. When you think you have made your pick, separate that puppy from the rest of the litter and see how he reacts.  Bend down and call him to you.  Does he seem calm but unsure, or does he seem terrified?  Performing all of these tests will increase your chances of getting a good puppy.  


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