Pasha is a 1 year old, 40 lb. spayed female mix in Ithica, NY.
Pasha is 50% heeler, 25% Australian shepherd, and 25% mixed with other stuff - we got the DNA test. As far as behavior, she is 100% heeler. We took her in at 7 weeks since the mother dog’s owner refused to keep the puppies longer (they were moving or something). Her mom looked nothing like a heeler - she is a super sweet retriever-looking mix -- so we had no idea this puppy would turn out the way she is. She is absolutely a one-person (me) dog. She likes my husband, tolerates my kids (ages ~4 and 7), and will warm up to strangers if she’s given the time and space to do so. However, she is not a kid-appropriate dog in general and acts like… well… a heeler.
Pasha is the sweetest, cuddliest, most fun dog when it’s just her and I. She is loyal, sweet, eager to please, and SO smart. She’s food motivated and easy to train. She knows: come (very strong recall), sit, down, this way (turn around), leave it, drop it, okay (release command), out (get out of the room/general area), wait (stay), stay (“we are leaving and you are staying home”). She is crate trained but also can be left alone loose in the house with no issues. While she is the only dog in our house, I am quite sure Pasha would do great with another dog if they’re properly introduced. She’s great friends with our neighbor’s dog and plays appropriately with her. She has met other dogs off leash and has had no issues. With cats, Pasha is intimidated if they stand up to her, but she will give chase if they run.
However, as much as we work with Pasha with appropriate, positive enforcement training measures, the nipping leaves my kids in tears at least once a day. My kids are very respectful with Pasha and she is still unpredictable around them. Pasha will rush to get between my kids and I when the kids and I are cuddling. She is not aggressive about it, but it is intimidating for small people and my kids have learned to be apprehensive when approaching me. It is heartbreaking on all sides. She also has barrier frustration/anxiety. Currently, Pasha works into frenzy when she is on a leash and a person, bike, car, truck, etc. comes near. We are working closely with an accredited trainer on this behavior, and the trainer has hope that this behavior will diminish with training and time.
The primary issue that forces me to consider a new home for Pasha is the unpredictably around kids. In addition to the issues described above, we are seeing bigger concerns with other children coming to the house for play dates (my kids are ~7 and 4). Just yesterday we had one other child at the house. She basically ignored Pasha and Pasha was fine, except some jumping – until Pasha suddenly acted if the child was the scariest intruder there is and wanted to protect me from the child. While Pasha was removed immediately (no punishment, of course – only positive reinforcement in this house!), it was a scary situation for the child and a tense one for me. She had previously met this child and her parents several times in my home and in other settings without much stress.
I want to be clear that Pasha has never aggressively bitten or attacked anyone. She has always shown warning signs (mostly body language and snapping, occasionally growling) when she is uncomfortable, and these warnings have always been heeded. However, it has become clear that she is not 100% okay around kids or in public or semi-public settings, which creates a dangerous situation in my household for both people and Pasha.
For the past year I have done everything I can think of and is that has been recommended to help Pasha become a family dog. She gets exercise 2-3 hours per day, brain games, professional training, and I put the time in to help her relax in normal, low-stress family settings. Pasha is a very much loved, so intelligent, herding mix that is the sweetest to “her people,” needs time to warm up to others, and probably shouldn’t be expected to exist too far outside of her comfort zone. I will not bring her to a shelter, even a “no kill shelter,” since that would be the most stressful situation imaginable to her. Given her needs, it would be tough to adopt Pasha out from a shelter and is high risk to be returned if the adopter is not experienced with this type of dog. I also don’t want to just “find a home” with someone random in town because I’m not sure how to properly vet people who are unfamiliar with heelers. I want to ensure that whoever takes her in understands her personality and needs and will not abuse her or give her away to another unsuspecting person.
So, I turn to this organization and their network of knowledgeable people to help Pasha find a home. This is not a decision I take lightly, and my heart is broken. I adore this dog. I firmly believe in a lifetime commitment to a pet once I take it in and have never understood people who “have to” rehome their dog. Now I do understand. I now realize that part of that life-long commitment to a pet could mean finding them a more appropriate home that I can provide.
We are in Ithaca, NY but I am willing to travel to bring Pasha to loving, understanding people in an appropriate home. I do not expect an adoption fee. Pasha will come with her toys and food and two crates (one for car, one for home), three beds (that she doesn’t use!), etc. A monetary donation for all we have invested in her would be lovely, but not expected. The most important thing is to find Pasha an appropriate forever home where she can relax and thrive with her person.
Pasha is near Ithica, NY.
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