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Sweetie is a westerner now

Well, yesterday was a long, grueling day for Sweetie, the deaf cattle dog. She arrived 2-1/2 hours before her flight from the east coast, was on the plane for nearly nine hours (including stopovers), then had a three-hour drive from the Portland, OR, airport in the dark and the rain. (The humans were tired, but Sweetie handled it all in style.)

She’s at my house and doing well so far. Near as anyone can tell, her problem behaviors develop only after she bonds with you and decides you’re “her” human. Then she takes on the duty of “protecting” you against everything, including things you don’t want to be protected from.

In a few weeks, she’ll transfer to Linda, a real ACD expert who’ll work on that behavior.

Your donations more than covered her transport, even though it cost more than we expected. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Everything above the transport cost is going toward Sweetie’s care and rehabilitation.


  1. Joel
    Joel April 1, 2012 11:02 am

    Way to go, Claire and friends! Random acts of beauty are still available to us.

  2. EN
    EN April 1, 2012 12:33 pm

    What beautiful dog. I wish her the best. You guys did a wonderful thing.

  3. Karen
    Karen April 1, 2012 1:36 pm

    She’s a beauty! Thanks so much for taking this on and for the update!

  4. Mary Lou
    Mary Lou April 1, 2012 4:19 pm

    I cannot tell you how HAPPY I am that Sweetie arrived safely and that Claire and Sweetie made the grueling trip through the rain and the dark safe home. Thank you all for funding Sweetie’s journey, I am so very hopeful her new life as a Westerner will be wonderful. Claire, you are an angel for taking up her cause, I pass the torch to you with great confidence and joy!

  5. Annette
    Annette April 1, 2012 4:55 pm

    I’m so happy Sweetie made it out West, my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who went the extra doghair for this dog!

  6. Leah Jones
    Leah Jones April 1, 2012 5:06 pm

    I can’t tell you how happy I am about Sweetie either. I fell in love with her from her first picture. I come from Australia, so I’m very used to knowing and seeing these wonderful Blue Heelers – they must be one of the favourite dogs here, well, them and Red Kelpies. Both my woofers are Herding mixes, one with a Border Collie, and one with a Red Kelpie. Such clever dogs, so easy to teach things to, so eager to learn. Of course they’re really good at hand signals too, it’s not always “whistle work” with them, so daring Sweetie should be able to pick up a great deal from a patient care-giver in her new home.
    Love to Sweetie, much love, always. Leah from Australia.

  7. EN
    EN April 1, 2012 5:50 pm

    Leah, good point about hand signals. Since Sweetie is deaf perhaps that might be a way to improve her sense of control of the world around her. Make it easier for her to under stand.

  8. naturegirl
    naturegirl April 1, 2012 6:00 pm

    Good for Sweetie! And well done to all who participated all thru this!

    May all this good karma follow Sweetie and everyone else.

    My animals never did like flying, too noisy/bumpy/etc. Last cat that flew (years ago) walked around shaking her head for 2 days afterwards, I kept saying “swallow” to her every time she’d do it (LOL)…..*vet said she was fine*

  9. Don
    Don April 1, 2012 6:09 pm

    Claire, it sounds to me as if Sweetie needs to work. A Livestock Guardian Breed shouldn’t be made into a pet. Their genetics tell them to adopt a herd (or flock) and to protect it against any and all comers. To much contact with human “herds” can lead to the behavior you described.

    Perhaps this is causing some of her behavioral problems. I know that once I took a friend’s dog in, and let him work my small farm, all his “bad” behavior disappeared. His former human couldn’t believe the difference.

    If Linda knows the breed, she certainly realizes this. I’m posting to your readers who may not know about working dogs.

  10. MJR
    MJR April 1, 2012 6:24 pm


    Thank you for posting the video. You really know how to lift a guy’s spirit. I hope that Sweetie has a long and beautiful life surrounded by folks who will care and love her. Claire, you did good.

  11. Claire
    Claire April 1, 2012 7:36 pm

    All credit for Sweetie’s rescue goes to Mary Lou and all the Friends of Sweetie who made it happen. Credit for the video goes entirely to Mary Lou and Annette. I never would even have thought of such a thing.

    Hand signals. Absolutely. FWIW, Sweetie is the second deaf ACD I’ve fostered, and the third (actually the first) deaf dog I fostered was also a herd breed (Australian shepherd). They do learn quickly and are very responsive to hand signals. Sweetie is already learning sit, stay, come, and lie down. Now, if she would only learn “Quit your darned barking!” and “Stop going after the other dogs!” we’d be good.

    At Linda’s suggestion, I’m keeping Sweetie on a leash nearly all the time. Makes it possible to do quick behavior corrections. Plus, the structure seems to help her feel secure.

    And yep, heelers need a job to do. I’m not so sure that her problem is too much contact with human packs — but surely it’s having been in too many packs without enough leadership. She really needs to learn that her humans will take care of some things so that she doesn’t have to.

    Thanks, all. And thanks for the word from the Land of the Cattle Dog, Leah!

  12. Mary Lou
    Mary Lou April 1, 2012 8:41 pm

    Don, one of the failed placements I found for Sweetie was an older gent who has cattle, he had recently lost his heeler to old age (17) and wanted another … I had also hoped that having a ‘job’ would be helpful for Sweetie… unfortunately, Sweetie was there a week and then reportedly ‘went after’ one of his workmen. (As I’ve told Claire, I’ve never witnessed one of Sweetie’s ‘attacks’, only reporting what I was told. I’ll also add that everyone who has had her in their care has absolutely LOVED her, she is a ‘lap dog’, she crawls on your lap and cuddles, she is very loving etc etc … and then ‘something’ happens.) My gosh even at the airport people were loving her up. And she was loving them up. I think Claire is exactly right, she’s been in too many placements with not enough leadership (though 2 of her caretakers WERE experienced dog handlers.) I am very very hopeful that her issues can be worked through and she will reach her potential!

  13. sagebrush dog walker
    sagebrush dog walker April 2, 2012 7:56 am

    Thanks for sharing. It made my morning.

  14. Beth
    Beth April 2, 2012 12:54 pm

    Claire, I’m so glad Sweetie has made the journey safely and found a temporary haven with you. Kudos to all who helped make that happen for her, especially Mary Lou.

    But dang, I was offline most of last week and apparently missed the fundraising drive. Do you still need contributions? If so, please repost the details.

  15. Claire
    Claire April 2, 2012 2:04 pm

    Beth — Bless your heart. Right now, we’re good-g00d-good with funds for Sweetie.

    There could come a time when she’ll require either vet care or behavioral work that will put us beyond the donated resources and/or our own pockets. Should that happen, I’ll definitely ask again. But for now we don’t need a thing except time, patience, and a little bit of luck.

    I’ll be taking her to the vet in about an hour for an exam and updates on heartworm medicines. Depending on what the vet says, we might need to get x-rays to check out the degree of heartworm or check out what might be some old injuries. If so, a $100 cash donation received Saturday from a blog reader will cover that, while the PayPal donations (less those already sent to Mary Lou for her transport costs) will stay in reserve.

    Good of you to ask.

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