The dog that knew ZERO words!!


Honored Member
Hi All! I'm so glad to find a site like this!! Wow, i'm really impressed and can't wait to teach my new dog, Buddy, some of these tricks!
We just got Buddy, a purebred Border Collie, (Buddy is our only dog, but is our third Border Collie) from a dog pound.

Tried going through 'rescues' , i admire those groups very much, but the BC rescue (maybe this is common with all breed rescues, i don't know) had a director that was really difficult to work with, very snotty and rude, long story. All the volunteers, the fosters, etc, that we dealt with were fabulous, but the director was one rude person!! We persisted, were nothing but polite, but were always treated as if we were a nuisance or something...we didn't understand.

PLus, we were so naive, we did not realize we would not be allowed to pick out our own dog! AFTER We filled out a 4 page form, went through a two hour in home interview, and all this took months and months, as they rarely replied to any emails...only to find out we would not be allowed to even meet the BC we had picked out. I DO understand they want to make good matches happen, but the foster says this 3 year old dog was not hyper, was well behaved, and was spending all day alone, even the foster said she didn't have time for him, we pointed out, we did-we have someone home 24/7 here!!! but they wouldn't let us even meet the dog!! so, We moved on.
Border Collies up this way (Indiana/MIchigan state line) are kinda hard to get, most get snapped up into rescues, and we weren't going through THAT again!!! (my sweetie wanted a 'real' BC, not a lab with a white spot, even though those ARE fabulous dogs too!). We wanted an adult male about 1-3 years old. A BC puppy, pretty easy to get, but we wanted an adult dog.

turns out, Tenn and KY are chock full of BCs, and so are the shelters!!!
We got Buddy from Tennesse dog pound, he was on death row. We drove 6 hours south, and they drove Buddy 2 hours north, we met and took our Buddy home!! Was kinda taking a chance, we only had their opinions and some photos to go on, but we felt we could probably even if we do end up with a 'whack' dog, that we could help rehabilitate him into being a happy and busy, contented and loved dog.

When we got Buddy, your eyes woulda teared up to see him, he was thin, malnourished, covered in cocklespurs, and wounds. Dog bites all over him, many were fresh. NO history on him whatsoever.

We fell in love with him, he is the best ever. What a sweetie. Even though everyone warned us it takes about 3 weeks til your dog "is himself" in his new home, it was like watching a flower bloom. He opened up more and more each day. Buddy makes us laugh every single day!!!

He had a funny lil look in his eye, a 'tough guy' look, but now his eyes have softened into a much sweeter expression. He obviously has had some hard times, i smile and say he is my lil gangsta dog. He is a character, an adorable mix of dignified, and goofy. Over time, we exposed him to things, and found out, he is friendly to people, children and most other dogs. Probably once we get him neutered, that will increase to almost every dog.

Buddy is very well behaved, if he gets enough play time and excercize. He isn't pushy about asking for it, either, how lucky are we? He is smart and learns things very quickly.
Here is the part that fascinates us: Even though Buddy is plenty clever, and learns new words fairly readily, BUDDY KNEW NOT ONE WORD when we got him.

Even after he'd been here a while, it wasn't just nerves at being new, Buddy truly did not know any word at all.
There are many clues that lead me to believe Buddy has never been a pet before. He was not housebroken, really, but maybe he was, or maybe he just picked that up pretty quickly. I realize, lotsa dogs have accidents when new to a home, but we aren't sure if we trained Buddy or if he was/wasn't....
(he is 3 to 5 years old).

Almost EVERY PET knows ONE of these phrases: "sit" or "down" or "shake" or the ever popular "go bye bye" or "Go for a walk?" or "go outside" or "go for a ride?" or ANY word, nope, Buddy did not know ONE word!!! We even learned a few in spainish and tried that, in case that was it. Nope.

Even after we'd taught him a few basic things, only took 3 days each thing....and Buddy was doing these words fine, but he still did not react to other common dog words, so it wasn't he was being shy. He truly knew zero words.!!!????

Other evidence, beyond the ZERO WORDS-- a leash meant nothing to Buddy, nope. :doghuh: Neither did a knock at the door, or a doorbell. :dogblink: No reaction whatsoever. He is NOW learning, "Oh, this noise means company will come in soon!" and is beginning to show interest in this noise.

Buddy also treats squirrels and bunnies as his lunch going by, :dogtongue2: but is quickly learning we do not want him to chase these things. The vet says he is very malnourished, but should bounce back nicely with good nutrition. The difference is already evident in Buddy, even his coat is already improving!!

He also spent the first few days 'watching TV" as if he'd never seen one before, and looking behind it to find the 'other dogs' or whatever. Buddy seemed confused about coming IN the house, too. Of course, that coulda been just cuz he was new to us... Hard to put into words all the signs Buddy was never anyone's pet. It took a few trips in a car for him to begin to understand when we come back out to the car, his sitting in the driver's seat is not gonna work.:msngiggle:
Buddy acted as if toys were a whole new concept, and it took much encouragement for him to understand it was okay to play with them. I actually rubbed cheese onto the toys. It was adorable when he finally did understand, you could see the light bulb go off in his eyes, "Oh, these are for ME?" kinda thing. He is a toy afficiendo now!! Just loves toys!!:dogtongue2:

So we figure Buddy either lived in the woods of Tennessee??, or got by on scraps off the street, or maybe he was a working farm dog (oh, he can HERD!!) that was not taken into the house as a pet???, or maybe he was a 'stud dog' at some point???(he is uneutered) and lived in a barn as some puppy mills do with dogs, we'll never know. But we feel pretty certain, we might be Buddy's first family!!

Anyway, Buddy is the most wonderful lil creature ever, AND BRINGS US SO MUCH JOY and we feel SO LUCKY to have him!! Thanx for letting me tell Buddy's amazing lil story!!! Probably no one actually will read this entire thing, :msnrolleyes: but it was fun reliving the story of Buddy!!! We are so proud of him!!!


Experienced Member
What a happy story and how lucky Buddy is. My foster last year came to me knowing no words either. She'd been tied and left in a back yard with her sister and barely fed, never socialized, never knew a toy, and was terrified of everything. I think you'll find some wonderful fast success with a clicker and food treats to train. I taught this terrified girl a huge amount of tricks after I convinced her that going outside wasn't going to kill her. It took several weeks to do just that one thing. After that positive training with a clicker and her favorite was liver made her progress go even faster. She learned words at an atomic rate.

I strongly recommend Karen Pryor's site - all of which is free except for the store items. They also have a listing of trainers, one of which I found and LOVE. Do really think about training classes and an activity for a high energy breed like a BC and you may see your dog's spirit sing as my girl's does on the agility course. Whatever he likes you can find it, expose him to other dogs safely, and make sure he has self confidence and the ability to handle life's experiences. I also like

I think your experience with BC rescue is very unfortunate and not typical. Most of the rescue organizations are run by volunteers and depending on how well organized they are some people spend a lot of their own time and money rescuing dogs. Anybody can start rescuing dogs which is good and bad. Some people really are bad at interacting with other people, they may love the dogs and have their own ideas about what's best for them but they can also be very wrong. Many of these people are just dog lovers that learn as they go and do their best. Along the way they have bad experiences and change their tactics to make sure the best success rate is achieved for rescue placement. Some just have big hearts for dogs and really can't run a rescue at all. This is why many have contracts that you can't give the dog to anyone else. They want to evaluated the situation and feel they are better qualified than the average pet owner and most likely they are.

My breeder hand selected my puppy for me sight unseen based on hours of interview with my trainers for the last several years, and references, and me. She nailed it head on too, this dog is a perfect match for me. So it's not uncommon for someone with a reputation and background to hand select and temperament test dogs in homes sight unseen if the potential owner's references are impeccable. The hard part of the equation is do they know what they are doing? If you are able to research them and get references etc then you can get answers to many of the questions. The problem with rescue, unlike a successful breeder with winning show lines, is that there are too too many dogs and often too little money. A pure bred, planned puppy from a knowledgeable competing breeder is a much different story from a dog of unknown background and temperament with maybe large vet bills and behavioral issues.

You can search for other area rescues or nearby states if you decide to go with rescue again. I really urge you not to let that one guy give you a bad vibe for the whole system. That these dogs are snapped up from pounds and saved is a good thing and means that a lot of people are getting these collies and saving them. I'm betting you ran up against an overworked or dog-loving but uninformed person that was off-putting. A lot of people that go into rescue have difficult times placing dogs because they believe nobody can take as good care of the dogs as they do. They are wrong because a house overrun with dogs means no single dog gets the attention it needs to be happy.

Large organizations like a big city SPCA often has the resources to temperament tests dogs before releasing them to foster care or adoption. Some of these same places have such high volume too that they have the highest kill rates. So it's all a bit of luck, karma, timing, good management etc. Don't let this one organization put you off. There are also thousands of foster programs whether local or regional or a few states away. If there is a need other states can and will step up to help others in emergencies. Some of these places too are so desperate for professional evaluators or help that they take in some radical "weirdo’s" for lack of a better word that are degreed but not much favored in the dog industry because of their idealology. I read a lot of shelter volunteer angst communication about these new experts a shelter hires to help up their adoption rate only to have the weirdest rules imposed which chases off volunteers and backfires because shelter dogs have their own set of unique challenges just by being in a shelter environment.

I agree it would be hard for me to swallow adopting a dog sight unseen, but there is a possibility if that person were well qualified that the perfect match would be made. That doesn't mean you have to do it, I would not. You can strongly voice your objection, say this is why I won't be getting a dog from you and you might consider changing things a bit. It might make them rethink, maybe not but you tried. If I were you I would call and nicely explain in the form of positive input why you went elsewhere so they know. The end benefactors will be the dogs this organization has. You need to consider that there are so many things going on behind the scenes that you can't know. You may not like it and that's perfectly fine. Just don't get a bad taste for the entire system. Fostering is something to consider since many offer the first dibs to the foster parents. So if you happen to find the perfect dog--you can keep him.

So I hope I somewhat (albeit very briefly) explained the behind the scenes works of a lot of these organizations. The good news is you found your sweetie Buddy! More good news is there are hundreds of other rescue operations that are well run, professionally managed by knowledgeable people, adequately funded because they are good at fund raising, and sufficiently staffed because they don't take on more than they can.

So if in the future you have room for another set of paws don't be discouraged, look and ask for references in the local dog training community. Anyone that works and shows the breed you want will have opinions about local rescue orgs. If you go to the national breed clubs which you can find at and email or call those clubs you can do your research starting at the top and work your way down. Most of those clubs have affiliated rescue clubs they are familiar with and know the managers.

A new wave of management is just starting over the last few years to gain acceptance to create no kill shelters. Though much argued and debated the results don't leave room for disagreement. I found it amazing that the shelter community maligned this new management technique when it saved dogs, worked, and was financially viable. But nobody likes to be shown up I guess even when the end benefactor is the animals not the people. All good places to read up.


Experienced Member
meant to say I do understand what you mean by blooming every day...ain't it great. :msnblushing:


Experienced Member
what a great story, im glad you and buddy both found happiness, over here (new zealand) we run things a bit different from US,
we have spca and some rescue groups, but our spca tend to be non kill shelters, they really try to keep dogs if they show some bad behaviour they try and send them out to trained foster carers and see how the dogs interact in a normal enviroment only in really bad cases they put them down but everyone cries as they couldnt save that dog, horse, cat etc.

most of our rescue groups and spca let you take the dog (they do interview you and assess you) or animal for up to 3weeks to see if you both can manage and live happily they do all sorts of test with you and help you cope, if you and the dog arent getting along for whatever reason they take him back and offer you another dog more suited to your needs and to the dogs, but i have to say our local spca kept one dog for over a year cause they saw this dog had potential to be a great dog, even though very timid she had the heart, when they did find a home that dog flourished and has now become a cert. companion dog who goes round old folk homes spending time with the oldies and also goes round schools and teaches kids certain things they should do when they see a dog (your basic things like they cant run up to a strange dog and they have to ask the owner permission and stuff)

i know some of our rescue groups had a rude person or persons taking charge of them but with the help of nzkc they got weeded out and more suitable people got to take charge of those groups so maybe if you have no luck you might try the kennel club and see if they can check out those people running the rescue groups, as you dont want other people be discouraged in going there to get a rehomed dog as they need home too and if those are the people runnign the show what life do those dogs have there, they might be living at the shelter forever


Experienced Member
storm22 that sounds very nice. i can't imagine why the US ags so far behind in this area. when obviously the data is there if not here then in other countries as you clearly point out. i am often amazed at the amount of arguing done over ego when the dogs need help regardless.

since anyone can rescue animals here and actually some do and form puppy mills,
it is of vital importance to do research no matter where you get your dog.


Honored Member
Staff member
UGH how unfortunate. I've never dealt with a snooty rescue person; every one that I've ever talked to was very kind. Of course, with BC rescues people typically are a bit worried about who is interested, as obviously not everyone can be good for a BC.

But anywho, WELCOME! I too have a rescue. Mudflap was rescued from a junkyard with her sister(ironic, a BC for a junkyard dog, lol!). She was covered in ticks and fleas, was extremely malnourished, etc. She's also quite small, but I'm not sure if that's just genetics or if her poor nutrition stunted her growth. As far as we know she was there in that junkyard almost all if not her entire life. She was 3 when she was taken by the no-kill shelter, and I adopted her 6 weeks after one of the fosters got her. Her fosters had 15 BCs, all rescues, and most up for adoption. Despite her history, Mud came to me with almost no issues at all. Her only real problem was food aggression, which we tackled quite quickly. She now knows 40 commands and counting and is known by all of the regular park-goers, Petsmart employees, and some fellow customers as well. I've had her since October of last year. Border collies are such people pleasers. I think that's a big reason why so many rescues are so forgiving--even though a good percentage of them still need careful, gentle training to correct any behavior issues, they want to be "good dogs," and this is what makes them wonderful pets. Despite little to no socialization in the first 3 years of her life, Mud loves kids, other dogs, all people, horses, cats, cattle, sheep, you name it.

BCs are truly amazing dogs. KUDOS on rescuing Buddie, and good luck with him. Keep up the training!! Be creative and teach as many tricks as you can think of!! With BCs mental stimulation is absolutely crucial, and sometimes even more important than physical stimulation. Border Collies want to use their head and not just their body, and trick training is a fantastic way to keep your Border Collie friend busy.


Honored Member
Oh thank you for your stories, too, and the kind words! And i do want to point out, re: Rescues, all the fosters, and EVERY other volunteer in the rescue were 4-star wonderful people, only the director was a pickle(continuously)!! But that 1 rude director ran the show, vetoing the fosters who made appts with us.
Yeah, i wouldn't want someone to read my experience there and get turned off to rescues!!! A huge advantage of a rescue dog is, the fosters can and will tell you all about the dog you are getting.(or think you are getting). What an advantage!!!!

Nor would i want to insult anyone who is working their back off (cuz they do!) in the name of rescue to feel insulted. I just had an ongoing bad experience with 1 person in 1 rescue, and have heard from a few others, that this does happen at times with BC rescue, cuz like some breeds, some BCs are not for every home. Unless one gets an unusually mellow one, they oughta study up what they are getting into. I'm sure the rescue has had some bad experiences as well, maybe placing dogs and getting them back or worrying over them being placed in a home that won't keep up with the dog's needs to learn and excercize.

And i do understand their reasoning, but we've had 2 other BCs before, have a huge fenced yard, live by some woods that we are always messing around in, (half our block is woods, as well) and we have a fairly active life, lotsa outdoor things, the thing we thought would set us apart from other potential owners is--our dog would almost never be home alone!!! we have 3 adults here, and have someone home almost 24/7, we play every 2 hours with our dog--sometimes a quickie, sometimes til the dog is done, take our dog with us most everywhere, and we passed their home eval with4stars, so we were baffled why we couldn't even meet this dog that even the fosters thought would be a good match...hmm. The director, who never met us, but we always felt did not like us for some reason, :msniwonder:vetoed the meetup. Both the fosters and us were disappointed. Honestly, we were devasted for a while, :msncry:we HAD let ourselves get too excited about getting that dog, ran out and bought all new dog stuff, (even had made the dog our 'screensaver' :msnblushing: )and we really thought we'd get it, see.

Oddly, a link on the rescues website, asked for people to foster dogs, so we had also volunteered to foster needy BCs, got zero reply on that, too. :dogblink: Now, we don't want to at this point, cuz we are focusing on our Buddy, and he does not get on with every single dog, but in the future, when Buddy is all settled, and neutered, we may explore this in the future.
Oh well, we got our Buddy and couldn't be happier. And Buddy WAS on death row. He'd be ashes by now, so that feels good to have helped such a fine fine dog, our Buddy.

I agree, it was just about foolish (okay, it was foolish, :msngiggle:ha ha!!) to do it the way we did, and we were amazingly lucky, but we'd made our minds up-- even if the dog had tons of issues, we'd help him work through them, but it was a lil crazy, i wouldn't recommend it, we were just lucky as heck!! :msngrin:

I realize now, i might have become a lil TOO dog-hungry, waiting and waiting soooo long with the rescue to reply, as well as checking "Petfinders" for BCs almost daily for about a year, having a few near-misses, (..."Oh, that dog just got adopted") and aching :msnsad: for a new dog, that all mighta built up...:msnsick: and it mighta made us a lil impulsive, (okay, it WAS impulsive, ha ha!!) but luckily it did work out for us!!

Wow, Snooks, amazing about your foster's story!! She knew no words either? Wow. Isn't it heartbreaking!! How excellent that you foster dogs!! I'd like to try that myself someday further down the road. Having read some of your other posts, i can tell, your dogs and your fosters are lucky dogs!!:dogbiggrin: Thank you for your insights into rescues, too! And I can't wait to study up these links!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!

Tx Cowgirl, I do agree, i do also think BCs need the mental challenge almost more than the getting worn out physically, it seems true to me too! I'm already having to study up new things to teach to Buddy, he LOVES to learn stuff, just LOVES it. Almost gets ansty if he isn't working on some new trick every day!! Amazing story about Mudflaps! Ha, cute name, too. A BC for a junkyard dog? ha ha! Mud is lucky dog, too!!!

Yeah, is does sound like we could learn a lot from the Australian way!!! That does sound great! :dogbiggrin:
THANKS SO MUCH FOR THE REPLIES !!! I'm in awe of all of you here!!:dogsmile:


Experienced Member
Wow this sounds like a great set up for a BC or any dog. It's hard to believe with all the BC's going to recue every day that you were waiting a year. That’s just insane. As you say truly they aren’t for any home. Golden Rescue in Texas had a year backlog of owners wanting to do voluntary surrenders b/c it was so swamped. I can't imagine any foster turning away esp an experienced owner with someone home all the time.

The best part is that this worked out wonderfully and now people here know a bit more about what to watch for. One more success is always a good thing.


Honored Member
Yeah, i get that a lot, got that for almost a whole year!!! from my friends and others, online places i was searching, that almost disbelief, but it is true. If it didn't happen to me, i wouldn't believe it either!!! I had friends and family all looking around for me, too. Everyone knew we were on the hunt for a BC. A big drawback for us in our search was, we were only looking LOCALLY, and had no idea we could adopt out-of-state. We were fools! We might have missed some because we did not look in other states!!

BUT--We were specific, though, that we did NOT want a puppy, we wanted an adult, male Border Collie. (me, i could care less about gender, but hubby wanted a male dog, whatever). Oh we came across tons of puppies, and got desparate enough we considered changing our minds to include puppies.

There were also many female BC dogs, i have no idea why female BCs seemed not as uncommon as male BCs, but hubby had his heart set on a male dog, which i cannot explain. :msniwonder: But he was starting to soften up about a female dog would be just as lovable, cuz he was getting tired of no dog here, too.

We also were not going to get one from a puppy mill, tons of those up this way, we wanted to 'rescue' one either from a shelter or a rescue. Actually, a local puppy mill that bred BCs is closing up this month, and oddly, now that we DO have our wonderful Buddy, our pounds and rescues are about to get flooded with BCs in need of homes soon.:msnsick:

And he wanted a BC dog, did not have to be purebred, a mix was okay, but it did at least have to look/act mostly like a border collie. I tell you, only about 3 young male adult BC dogs that looked mostly BC came up within two hour drive of our home (back then, we never considered driving a long ways to get a dog, never crossed our minds, so that was another dumb move on our part, we mighta missed a great dog cuz it was more than 2-3 hours away, and look, after almost a whole year of looking only within 2 hours of home, we ended up getting a dog that lived EIGHT hours away!!). :msnrolleyes: But i was signed up for email alerts if any adult, male BCs came our way, and i checked most every day anyway besides the alerts.

A few showed up labelled as BCs/BC mixes, but were mostly labs with white spots. (true enuff, many purebred BCs do look much like labs with white spots, this is true!!) I woulda taken one of them and be glad to have them,:msngrin: but it IS a dog for 2, and hubby wanted a 'real' BC... I admit, we had a few squabbles, i would have taken the lab with a white spot and loved it!! cuz our home just didn't feel right so long without a dog in it!!

I'm kinda embarrassed hubby is like that, just hooked on BCs and only BCs, see? He actually made me promise to NOT just get a dog without him along too.(cuz i was thinking, well, i will just go get a female BC, or non-classic looking BC, and he'll just learn to love the dog, i know he would!!) He is a great guy, just is hooked on classic looking BCs. some folks are like that. We've all got something.:msnrolleyes:

After searching Petfinders for months, originally looking only for dog-pound dogs, (we DID see several dogs only a few hours away in 'rescue' but originally were only looking for shelter dogs, see, for first 5 months or so) we only saw 2 or 3 go by, and did try to get to meet them, one was only one hour away, but each time, they were snapped right up, 2 got taken by rescue, 1 got adopted.

We THEN signed up with only ONE rescue (mistake--folks maybe should sign up for 3 or 4, i'm not sure, but it does cost small fee to even apply) Then we felt pretty certain we WOULD get a rescue dog (they cost $250, which really does not cover all the vet and food, etc, is NOT a profit at all) and we liked the way we'd know all about the dog, and wanted to support a rescue.

During THAT time, 2 dogs did go by on Petfinders, in shelters, one we felt only so-so about, we didn't even go look, cuz he was older dog and we'd just lost a dog, and didn't want to go through that again so soon... (he did get taken by rescue, though!) and the other was gone by the time we got there. Ha, we felt we were 'cheating' on our rescue by looking into pounds, but they were SO S L O W to ever ever respond to us, i wrote them once each week all thsoe months to make sure i didn't fall between cracks, but it is a big multi-state rescue, probably really busy, i guess, but it tooks months to get all cleared with them....We used to joke with our friends that we'll go get some sheep if that would help them give us a dog!!!! so we thought, what the heck, and kept up the dogpound search as well, even though we felt a lil sneaky to be still looking.

Another mistake i made, was, we live right on a state line, see, and a few times, we'd call about a Michigan dog, in a shelter, and were told they would NOT adopt out-of-state, so we stupidly assumed all shelters are that way, like maybe it was some kind of law, and we quit looking at the Michigan or any out-of-state dogs. Sometimes we'd see one, and go, "Oh, but it is in Michigan." and we never even tried for those anymore...see? So that was another dumb move on our part, we had no idea that many shelters/rescues WILL adopt out-of-state.
But i guess my story is the exception, and still would encourage all potential dog-lovers to support and check out rescues, they are awesome orgs, but if you get one that is super-slow, maybe sign up for a few others as well.
but like you said, it did all end well!!! You oughta see our dog!! He is just coming alive more and more each day, what a great lil being he is!! We are so happy to have him!!!