Thursday, March 26, 2009


Not a Terra post this time, but a Terra-inspired post, and a kind of follow up to an earlier post I had written concerning names This post, is more about nick names, or to start off, pet names, in the very literal sense of that term.

Yes, my pets have pet names, nick names. No, I don't dress my pets up in cute costumes or throw them birthday parties or write this blog in my dogs "voices" but I do have nick names for them. Our first dog was Gigilo, so that became shortened to Gigs; that seems pretty obvious and I don't know it if really counts as a nickname. Hayley often gets "Hales" especially when we need her attention quickly. I am often called Vic, a contraction of Victor and a very select few people call me V.J. my first two initials; it is also how I sign my name ... does that count as a nick name? Probably not.

But Hayley also has a nick name, we often call her "Beans" or "Miss Beans". This comes from when she was very young and very small, a tiny black and white fluff ball overflowing with border collie energy and prone to jumping crazily about. To Collette, it reminded her of a jumping bean ... We also call her Schmaley, which comes from Hayley Schmaley, in a sing song sort of way . My friend John the dog trainer thinks any variation of your dog's name is not really a nick name; John disdains the notion of giving your dogs nick names. So Schmaley may not be a nick name, but Beans certainly is. Terra already has a nickname. Collette started using Terra-Misu, again in a sort of sing song sort of way, particularly when trying to coax or gain her attention. So, according to John, this would not be a nickname. Recently I've taken to calling her monkey, for something so cute that can be so much trouble. Vic or V.J. would not be nicknames for me. Variations of the name seem a logical sort of thing. But something like Beans or Beanie would be a pure nick name, stemming from behaviour or incident.

Gypsy had a nick name. We called him G Man or even G Spot ... hey, easy now, this is a family blog .. well, no it isn't but we will keep this particular post g-rated (take a deep breath, just let that horrible pun wash over you like a warm bath and it will soon pass). Again, you consider those names variations of his name. So .. nick name or not nick name?

We've all had nick names I'm sure. Many of them start when we are young, some we leave behind and some stick with us till the end. Certainly a lot of them come as variations of our name. In school I was often called Victor Vicious, this was mildly derisive, it stemmed from a cartoon (or maybe TV commercial) character from that time (Yes, there was TV back then, shut up). Later, as I got a little older, and started to grow my hair out around Grade Six (hey, it was the sixties what can I tell you) I got, of course, Vicky. We won't count those as nick names.

When I was quite small, and I just had the two older brothers, my grandfather gave us all nick names, all starting with the letter B. I was Buckshot, I think Edward was Buster and I can't for the life of me remember what Vincent was called. At any rate, mine was the only that stuck in any way. To the day she died, my mother would still call me Buckshot ... oh, and her other favorite nickname for me was Burn out ... so your lifestyle can also influence your nickname, as well as your name.

In school I knew a kid called Chopper, because he would take any perfectly respectable a CCM bike and transform it into a pedal powered "chopper" style behemoth. I knew a girl who liked to be called Barbie because she was tall, thin and blonde ... we often speculated it it was also because she had an alarming lack of genitals but as I said, this isn't that kind of post.

Physical attributes are another popular inspiration for nicknames. I knew this biker type dude, big as a double wide trailer, with a ginger red beard ... yeh, shockingly he was called Big Red. I knew another rather large gentleman, first name Victor, and myself, well only my mouth has ever been called large .. yup, meet the Big Victor and Little Victor show .. sigh.

Just by casual observation, it seems that more men than women have nicknames, at least ones that persist into adulthood. I could be wrong about this, but I know more guys with nicks than women; again, I won't count derivations like Vicki from Victoria. Though I once knew a girl named Catherine O'Toole and I always thought it such a lovely name; however, the young lady preferred to be called Toolie ... this was a long time ago, I have lost touch with her and I'm hoping she's seen the error of her ways.

Nicknames, though, do seem to be more prevalent in the masculine realm. I've written about Rio Bravo, one of my favorite movies. All the main characters are known by their nicks: Dean Martin is Dude, Walter Brennan is Stumpy, Ricky Nelson is Colorado, Angie Dickinson is Legs and John Wayne is Chance; although Chance is the character's last name, it is used more like nick.

So it seems that most nicks are given to us but then we had Toolie who created her own. How common is that? I suppose there are people who are dissatisfied with their names and want something different. Anyone know an example like that? I have a sister named Venus (ok, it was the sixties or something) but learned to bear with the childhood abuse to become comfortable with it, so no self imposed nick name for her. I knew a girl in high school drama class who wanted to be called Scarlett, as in Scarlett O'Hara; let's just say that many of our dreams often go unrealized.

I'd love to hear some nicknames, where they came from, do you use them, how to people respond .. I'm sure Terra will bet more, but we have recognize a limit. Even border collies can absorb so much.

Monday, March 23, 2009


Having a puppy is definitely a case of up and downs, successes and failures, steps forwards and steps backwards

Terra's housebreaking progress is a day to day thing. She is big enough now to master the back steps so she can go out into the yard, which she absolutely loves. One day she will be almost perfect, alerting at the back door so we can let her out, the next day she will have five accidental piddles in the house, the next day only one or two. The alerts are not yet steady; sometimes she seems to forget and just goes, other times she will whine at the door .. but you need be speedy, she waits until she is near bursting and there is no dallying in letting her out.

Leash training is coming along. Collette walks her to and from the park everyday and although not perfect of course, Terra is doing very well all things considered.

There is also a lot of progress being made in terms of the relationships between my two border collies. Outside, as you will see in the included video, Miss Hayley is much more accepting of the puppy and she is just beginning to actively engage her in play. It has been a few years since Hayley has wanted to wrestle with another dog, she is more the "let me herd them" kind of gal. But I can see that this will soon happen with Terra.

Another postitive sign is illustrated by the photo below. While Hayley is more adamant about keeping Terra "in her place" in the house, when they can lay quietly together, I take that as real progress.

The video shows Terra playing in her park and the two girls playing here in the yard, but it shows a couple of Terra adventures as well: The first is a brief sortie into the bathtub. When Miss Hayley was a pup, she would jump into the tub and stretch out inside it, but this was in the middle of summer, before central air. Terra is just being Terra, exploring her world

Then we have a puppy classic, an event we have seen with every dog we've owned: The old puppy in the mirror. Terra discovered this elusive, bratty puppy (Hey! She's copying me!) last night, in the mirror in our guest room. Very typical behaviour, curiosity, vocalising, and wandering into the other room to find out just where that puppy is ...

OK, so it's not original, but I dare you not to find it cute ...

Who's The Puppy In The Mirror? from Victor Kellar on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


There's nothing like a big sister, or maybe it's a substitute mom, at least in Terra's eyes. Miss Hayley, in the house, is still holding strong on establishing her position with the puppy, she generally ignores Terra and is quick to use a sharp bark or a feigned nip to tell her to back off.

Outside is a little different. In the park, Terra is showing a strong affinity for chasing the ball, which makes Hayley very happy. Hayley's idea of paradise is Dad kicks ball, dog/sheep chases ball, Hayley chases dog/sheep. So Hayley sort of forgets the dominance issues and actually engages the puppy.

No matter how much Hayley ignores Terra however, the puppy absolutely loves her. And definitely emulates the older dog. Terra is still having issues with sound sensitivty. To the point that she is beginning to regress her housebreaking progress. She was doing a nice job of indicating a need to pee/poo by going into the hall and staring at the front door. We would let her out and she would "do her business" The problem is, the street and the sounds coming from it. Terra is scared of sound, pretty much any sound. She is ok with cars driving by but doors, voices, horns, bangs, anything .. will scare her. I've seen her begin to poo, hear a sound, stop the action and run back up the door. We don't let her back in, in those occasions, we've kept her outside until she does something.

But the last couple of days, Terra has stopped indicating and we are finding more poo in the house, something we haven't been seeing for a couple of days. The only thing that convinces Terra to stay outside when it's noisy is by bringing Hayley out with her. And of course, if the big girl is there, the little girl wants to be there. But then Terra gets so distracted by Hayley, she doesn't do her business either.

So it is great to have a big sis, but it is bad to be anywhere there is noise. We are going to work at getting her into the backyard but those stairs are extremely steep and it is difficult for the puppy to get down there. Still, if the big dog goes ...

Monday, March 16, 2009


The good news is, Terra is a perfectly healthy border collie pup .. the bad news is, Terra is a perfectly healthy border collie pup.

Terra is making great progress; her house training is pretty solid, we have had no poops in the house since the second day, really, and only a couple of piddle accidents. She has learned to go into the hallway and look at the door, and when we let her out, she goes right down the stairs and "does her business" She doesn't bark as a warning, but neither does Hayley. Miss Hayley just comes up to you gives you a mild version of the border collie eye then you ask "Do you want to go ..." and she flies to the back door before you can finish the sentence.

On her own, Terra has been immediately peeing when she gets down the stairs. Hayley went out with her once and did a sniff around first, and Terra totally emulated that behaviour. Terra simply loves Hayley but so far the old girl is remaining aloof; she will occasionally give a little snarled lip display but has not made any contact. We feel this is a kind of karma; when we got Hayley as a rambunctious pup, she terrorized our cat Gypsy. Now the karma is on the other paw.

Mostly, Miss Hayley is being extremely aloof to the puppy, as you will see in the little video at the bottom of this post.

As I stated, Terra is a perfectly healthy border collie puppy .... which means there are times her little brains leave her head, and she gets possessed by the Puppy Demon from Hell; her body is clearly being controlled by a Red Bull infused 12 year old gamer in the sky. We call these times Terra Terrors and it is just best to keep your feet off the floor and keep anything other than designated toys, away from those little jaws. By anything, I mean tissues, books, shoes, slippers, bags of dog food (with dog food still in it), shopping bags, picture frames, water bowls, socks, underwear ... Hmm, if border collies are so smart and since Terra seems fascinated with the dirty laundry, maybe we should show her where the washing machine is ...

In light of this, we have found a new kind of Paradise, a blissful, enlightened state of Existence that transports us to Nirvana. We call this state of being ... Nap time.

Like most puppies, Terra will just suddenly crash, right out of a Terra Terror, as if a switch has been flipped, and the power suddenly goes off. Oh where oh where is this switch and can I operate it by remote control?

Collette and I have become like parents of human babies; we are beginning to schedule activities around Terra's nap times. Besides here little power naps, she tends to take a long nap, two or three hours, around noon. When she goes for this nap, or goes for her night time sleep, she trundles herself off the bedroom, all by herself. She has a bed in there but generally she ends up passing out on whatever laundry I have laying about on the floor. She has done this almost since the beginning; everyone always remarks, from Gigs to Miss Hayley to Terra, that we have some strange voodoo that encourages our dogs to "go to bed" I can't really explain it, but we certainly always seem to get animals who just love to go to bed.

Terra's sleeping habits brings to mind the many things she has in common with Miss Hayley, things that we had assumed were unique to the old girl. They both love to sleep with their heads jammed into things, like between a couch cushion and the back of the couch, or with their heads hanging off the edge. They are both sound sensitive; Hayley to this day is not happy with thunder or fireworks but has it mostly under control. Terra is very sound sensitive, when outside, people speaking down the street will send her scurrying up the stairs to the front door. We are not letting her in at these times, and if the noise has stopped her from "doing her business" we insist that she remain out there till the job is done.

Terra is doing very well in the dog park. If dogs come running up and barking at her, she will seek shelter between the legs of a human. Once the dog calms down she will come out and greet him, so we are happy with that. Yesterday at the park a large Husky was very interested in little Terra. At one point he tried to grab her by the scruff as if to pick her up and I was very surprised to see my eight week old puppy turn and give him a little nip to back him off. So I would say her socialization is coming along.

American gov't issues terrorist alerts, by some colour code I still can't understand. But be on the look out for the the T-alert ... for the Terra Terrors.

That Kind of Girl from Victor Kellar on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Yes, here she is, the latest member of our family, Terra, as of this posting an eight week female border collie. Picked up this morning from a lovely family in Chatham, Ontario, which is about a three hour drive from here. There is a little video at the bottom of this post that chronicles the journey.

Collette and I have been talking about getting another border for years, but the timing never seemed right. When Gypsy passed it opened the door a bit, in his last couple of years it didn't seem fair to bring a rambunctious border collie puppy into the house. Then we took Hayley to her new vet, Dr Mike, and he gave her a totally clean bill of heath, nothing that surprised us, but it was good to have confirmation.

Now, we know that it may take a while for these two to get along but Hayley, as a rule, likes other dogs and as long as we help her maintain her status, we think they should do fine. I have heard many stories of older dogs matched with puppies and thriving with the new arrival. If Terra shows any tendency at all to chase a ball, and doesn't mind being herded, then Hayley will be ecstatic. Of course, Terra is a herding dog as well, so we'll have to see how that goes.

When I picked Terra up, there were two females left, almost identical in markings (again, reference the video) but it was her personality that stood out; when she was being ignored, she made her presence known with a series of persistent yips and knew that this was our dog.

She has already had many adventures; a three hour car ride back to Toronto, a whirlwind visit to Collette's school to meet her new mom, a brief visit to our local dog park, and trying to entice the older border collie to play with her.

I'm going to keep this post short, ending it with the video but obviously, there will be many posts to come ... and don't really ask me why she's called Terra or why we decided on this particular spelling, but Collette thought that it may have something to do with holy terra ....

Introducing Terra from Victor Kellar on Vimeo

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