Celebrating our Berner Veterans
BMDCO's Oliver's Twist of Fate
Born November 20th 2005
Proudly owned and so much loved by Laura Pajot and family
November 20th 2005 - Ollie was born. He's TEN years old!! I now have a double-digit Berner! He's our "failed" foster, and our big love bug!
BMDCO's Oliver's Twist of Fate is his name now, we don't know what his name was from the breeder. You see, Ollie came to us when he was only 3 years old, already labeled as an aggressive biting dog, as he'd bitten 2 people in his first home. He was purchased by that home from a very bad breeder in the area. She breeds dogs with temperament and physical problems. The rescue has had way too many of her dogs/pups given up by the owners, sigh!
Ollie was a shy dog that had been forced to endure the attentions of those he didn't trust. He had been punished for barking and growling at those people he didn't trust. He'd been prevented from leaving the area that those people were in. So, when a dog can't show his people that he is scared by barking, growling, or leaving the area where those people are, and then those scary people reach out to touch him, what can he do??? He snaps and bites them!! He was forced to that action by his owners inability to protect him from what scared him! It's called training the growl out of a dog. You prevent the dog from communicating his intentions/problems and you force the dog to go to the next level, snapping, and biting if snapping at people doesn't work either!
We took Ollie in as a foster when he came into the Oregon Bernese Mtn dog club rescue. We had a puppy, Skye, and he needed the socialization of an older dog, and we knew that we could care for Ollie in a situation that protected him from being in situations where he felt forced into biting responses. I'd already dealt with other dogs with "aggression" issues, and knew we could help Ollie.
Over the first years we did a lot of positive reinforcement training to help him learn to trust. Lots of food in new places and around new people. He learned that he could take treats from strangers and they wouldn't try to touch him until he said it was okay. We encouraged him to bark or growl and leave if he felt threatened.
We decided to keep Ollie as 1) we'd fallen in-love with the big lunk head, and 2) after an incident with a visiting vet we realized that it was going to take years for Ollie to be truly safe in a normal household, and really wasn't adoptable to almost any home. Over the years Ollie has completely changed. Nowadays, I don't really worry about strangers, I watch Ollie around them and tell them to not try to pet him, but he just goes up to them, turns his butt around and says "scratch please", or almost climbs into their lap so that they will rub his head/scalp really hard. His two most favorite forms of petting! He isn't scared of strangers anymore in our home, as he knows that we won't let anything bad happen to him, and he has learned that strangers aren't scary. Instead, he KNOWS that strangers bring treats and wonderful scratches. Once Ollie gives his trust he truly trusts and he trusts them forever. It's been amazing to watch him bloom into the dog he could have been all those years ago with the right type of training and without the punishment based training. His breeder also has a lot to answer for, as it's the dogs she chooses to breed that are the reason her puppies have so many problems to begin with. Please folks don't just buy a puppy, buy the puppies ancestry and the breeders knowledge and research into the parents, too!
He came to us with bad hips, and never did run around like a regular dog, but they haven't caused too much trouble and we've managed to limit the degeneration and other than having to help him up on the bed, he gets around just fine on his own. He is still healthy, if plagued with allergies, and happy and still keeps Skye in line!
As far as I can see (knocks on wood), we will have our Ollie with us for many more years to come. He isn't a failed foster, he is a much beloved member of our family and I am so glad we took him in!
Laura Pajot, Oregon
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