Oregon Sunshine asked about the influence of Luna’s JRT half, and the answer deserves a whole post. I’d describe Luna as a personality perfectly split by her genetics. From the Aussie side she is smart, driven, clownish, sometimes moody and a little pig-headed. From the JRT side she is tenacious, driven, agile, potentially dangerous and a little pig-headed.
Potentially dangerous?!? Let me explain. I know lots of JRTs and mixes through flyball, and one trait that I consider to be typical of the breed is a no-shades-of-gray reactivity. When something triggers this response the dog basically becomes possessed by their alter ego – a Mr. Hyde over which the dog’s normal Dr. Jeckyl simply has no control. My friend Fiona has a border jack (border collie / JRT) who is an extreme example. Tempus is a perfectly nice dog when his life is managed in such a way that his triggers are controlled, but he is downright scary when something gets the better of him. Probably 99.9% of dog owners wouldn’t be able to cope with a challenge like Tempus, he was lucky enough to find Fiona through That’ll Do Border Collie Rescue.
Luna is not such an extreme case, but it is getting easier for me to understand how she originally ended up homeless. In a recent post The Food Lady made a great comment about benign neglect – most dogs who end up in shelters or rescues haven’t been abused per se, but no one has invested anything in them. That was not the case for Luna, who has all the hallmarks of a dog who was raised with care and purpose: she looks to humans for leadership and companionship; she offers behaviours with hope of reward; she knows all basic obedience commands and a few tricks; she wants to please and is mindful when you tell her that she’s displeasing. My theory is that Luna has been the victim of inflexible good intentions. Not abuse per se, but a failure to recognize a particular training doctrine (i.e. Cesar Millan’s) simply wasn’t going to work. The humans wouldn’t move on to something different, so they moved Luna on instead.
The thing about Luna is that she is quick to perceive a bodily threat from humans and quick to defend herself against it. David gave her a playful tap with a shoe the other day, to which she raised her rough and gave him an distinctly unplayful growl*. I grabbed both of her front paws too quickly when she was lying beside me this morning, and she told me in no uncertain terms that it wasn’t copacetic. I have no doubt that anyone foolish enough to engage in a battle of wills would get themselves bitten, but anyone sensitive enough to back off and apologize for the misunderstanding will get themselves kisses. We at Farcical Farm are quickly learning how to be the latter -- Luna is making us better dog handlers, better people.