A Very Smart Dog

By Diane Robertson

September 05, 2013

DelilahSept52013My latest foster dog is named “D”, which is short for Delilah.  She looks to be a purebred Border Collie around 6 months old.  I picked her up Sunday August 25, 2013 from Animal Outreach of the Mother Lode.

Her Condition

D was:

  • Extremely skittish
  • Submissive to all other dogs
  • Beyond skinny
  • Dehydrated
  • Stool was light brown water
  • No appetite
  • Not eating very much
  • Not drinking enough


I went to my favorite Pet Store on Monday (Bark Avenue in El Dorado Hills, CA).  They recommended a dry dog food brand called Pure Vita and suggested the Turkey flavor.  They also suggested I add Pumpkin puree to her food to help firm up the stool.

Next she went to see the vet at Animal Outreach of the Mother Lode on Thursday August 29, 2013.  The vet and vet tech were very concerned for her and got her going with sub-q fluids right then. (Subcutaneous fluids are placed under the skin but not in a vein like IV fluids)  They took some stool samples from her butt (since I still couldn’t get a stool sample due to runny diarrhea).  They need stool samples so they could run some tests to see if she had parasites or other common diseases.

Delilah was given fluids there in the office while we chatted and I was given some medications to take home with me.  She was also scheduled to return the next day for more sub-q fluids.

Recovery Begins

D’s food intake started to improve even before we got her to the vet and her stool started firming within a few days.  Thank you Bark Avenue for such great advice and thank you Animal Outreach Veterinarian Dr. B and everyone else who helped.

After seeing the vet, D immediately started feeling better.  She was interacting more with my other dogs, playing more and her appetite really increased over the next week.  I quickly ran out of pumpkin and her special food and went back for more.

Her stool tests so far have been negative (a very good thing).

By the following weekend, labor day weekend, D was no longer submissive to the other dogs.  She started to steal toys from the other dogs (before she would give up any toy she had when another dog came over).  She insisted on keeping the toys she wanted and wouldn’t share with the others.  This was a great sign of improved health and I was very pleased.


D’s confidence has kept growing ever since and now, Thursday September 5th, she is actually a bit too aggressive with the other dogs (they are smaller than her, Chi mixes).  She herds them and plays chase with them, which is great considering she is a Border Collie and fun to watch as well.  But now she will take a toy, bring it over to her favorite spot in the yard and if a dog is within eyesight, she’ll growl and bare her teeth and even lunge at them.  No bites yet, maybe some small nips.  She prefers to get her way with food too, but she does not exhibit any aggression over the food.  I’m very pleased about that!

I have not been crating D since about the third day at my house.  With the watery stool she had no control over her bowels and every morning she was in a puddle of her own waste.  I not only did not like cleaning this up, I thought it was unfair to the dog.  Secondly, she did not want to go into the crate and fought me over it.  Third, she did very well outside overnight when I tried that.  No barking, no problems.

Well, now a little more than a week after she first arrived, she is a barking fool.  My dog Frito was keeping her company outside during the last week.  I felt that Frito was giving her comfort, warmth and a sense of security.  As D became healthier and more confident, Frito’s company did not seem to be needed any longer.  I kept Frito in the house late at night for longer and longer periods.  I would put Frito outside with D if she started barking.  That worked for a couple of days.  The last two nights have been problematic.  D is picking on Frito and starting fights and doesn’t seem to need his company.  So, last night, I let Frito sleep upstairs with me in my bed.  He was willing to go “nite nite” there instead of his room, so I went with that.  D’s barking was no worse without Frito and at some point early this morning,  I fell asleep.  D must have stopped barking.

This Morning

I woke up to Frito laying next to me on the bed.  He wasn’t inclined to get up but I had to get ready for work.  Up we got and went down stairs so I could let Frito out before he peed in the house.  At the bottom of the stairs I found a very confusing then completely hilarious scene.

The backdoor is ajar and D is peaking through the opening looking at me.  Huh?  Did someone leave the door open?  NO, I’m the only one here.  It then dawns on me that D is a very smart dog and had opened the unlocked door herself.  I knew it!  We should have purchased the round door knob handle this weekend when we replaced the hardware on the back door!  But no, Diane wanted a disability friendly knob in case we rent the house in the future.  Disability friendly=smart dog gets into trouble friendly knob.  I start smiling because I am so proud of this smart little girl.  And, I will be sure to lock the door in the future, like I usually do.

I look around and notice some things out-of-place, oh no!  What has she done?  Cat food is OK, remote control is OK, books on table are OK, laptop is OK.  These are all good things.  But, hey, my wallet with the rent money in it is laying by the backdoor.  Is that cash I see on the floor?  What the heck!  Sure enough, she opened the wallet (without doing any damage to the wallet) and took out all the cash (hundreds of dollars in 20’s) and spread it around the back porch and back yard.  Holy crap!  I start running around picking up money but I can’t stop laughing.  This dog is crazy smart.

The other thing she did was drag all the dirty clothes from the laundry basket across the living room, out the back door and into the yard.  She left socks, underwear and shirts and such along the way.  She was at this for a while!  She did take my wireless mouse and chew it up.  Oh well, better that than the laptop!  I Feel like I dodged a bullet there!  There are bits and pieces of chewed up dog toys and bark from the garden in the house.  No dog pee or poop that I noticed or smelled.  I feel very lucky it isn’t worse than it is.  I count the money I’ve gathered up and I am still missing some.  Maybe I will find it later when I get home from work (like in a pile of dog poop, lol).

Before I left for work, I locked the door and put a note on it for the rest of the family.

“This door shall remain locked at all times due to the pesky, super smart Border Collie.”

Fostering dogs is so rewarding.  Every dog is different and every dog brings a new set of challenges and new funny stories to tell.  I love helping save the lives of these dogs and even though it can result in some property damage (or theft of money in this case), it is well worth the trouble.

Until next time,

Diane Robertson
Animal Outreach of the Mother Lode Volunteer

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