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Q and A – Raising 2 Border Collie Puppies at Once

A while back, I asked on the Champion of My Heart Facebook fan page what questions people had about what it’s like to be raising 2 border collie puppies — who are just 14 months apart in age — at the same time. The top 3 questions and answers ahead.

How we ended up raising 2 border collie puppies at once

In case you missed the stories behind both of their arrivals:

The Story of Clover (September 2014)

The Story of Tori (September 2015)

Question: How happy are you now that Clover and Tori are home?

Really happy. They are the sweetest, silliest, most bonded pair of dogs we’ve ever had. They are hilarious and exhausting. They play, and they snuggle. They share food, toys, and us without issue. They are joyous about everything, but especially each other.

That doesn’t mean we don’t remain devastated by Lilly’s death in December 2013 and Ginko’s death just 2 months ago, but living with these 2 puppy-girls definitely brings joy and laughter back into our lives.

Almost every night one of us asks the other, “How did we get so lucky?”

raising 2 border collie puppies at once - 2 puppies making silly faces together

Question: How is having 2 puppies different from having just one?

They are both AMAZING. Clover has been such a kind and steady influence on Tori. I think that — along with both of them being naturally sweet — has made raising 2 puppies at once a little easier. Clover is a VERY good puppy. Tori is learning to be one too.

Don’t get me wrong, though. It’s a LOT more work. We try hard to make sure they get enough time together and enough time apart. Because they are SO bonded, we need to make sure they can cope when they are not together.

The good news is that they actually have different training “issues,” if you want to call them that:

Clover is very independent, so her recalls still aren’t as strong as I’d like — whereas Tori’s recall has been quite good from day one. That’s why she is allowed in the front pastures off leash, while Clover rarely gets that privilege.

This photo sums up the difference perfectly. Tori came right to me. Clover went to get her football first, then decided to head my way.

dog blog champion of my heart puppy recall comparison

Tori doesn’t respect boundaries — opening doors, jumping baby gates, trying to squeeze through fences. The first time Tori leaped the baby gate to go upstairs (where Clover had NEVER been). I found Clover standing at the bottom of the stairs with an incredulous look on her face like, “Can you believe she went up there?”

By the same token, I’ve watched Clover WAIT for Tori to open a mostly-closed door so that they BOTH can do whatever it is they want to do.

If they figure out how to consistently and deliberately put their heads together, things could get interesting around here.

Tori also is much more destructive than any puppy we’ve ever had. She recently killed Tom’s laptop by knocking a full cup of coffee onto the keyboard, and she tore up a $40 memory foam bed in her crate.

In the ideal world, I would have been “done” with Clover’s basic training before we added Tori to our family, but I have been able to leverage Clover’s training to help Tori learn the household rules — even beyond house training.

As an example, Clover offers a default sit before I open the door to the backyard, and she automatically waits for permission to go outside. Often Tori does what Clover does — sits and waits, then runs outside when I say “Free!”

I probably should train Tori to offer this behavior by herself since I’m pretty sure she is just copying Clover and doesn’t *really* understand what’s going on.

I’ve also tried doing some trick training / clicker shaping with both of them, and that’s much harder to do with both of them at the same time because they both are like ME ME ME ME ME!!!!

Examples include:

  • Clover already knows how to cross her paws (CROSS) while in a DOWN. She crosses left over right. I’m trying to teach Tori to cross right over left because I think it would be cute if / when they do it side by side.
  • Clover already knows how to LAY FLAT to either side from a DOWN. I’m trying to teach Tori the same thing so that I could cue them to flop over like dominos (the same direction) or to flop away from each other on cue.

Question: Do you feel having Tori has adversely affected your relationship with Clover in any way?

Yes and no. Clover adores Tori, which makes me less important to her.

BUT, if I get my ego and emotion out of it, I can clearly see that having each other is BETTER FOR THEM. It’s better for their medical health. It’s better for their emotional health.

If I ever feel a little “left out,” I remind myself of our bond and our 1-on-1 time (at agility, on hikes, etc.). Clover is still my #1, and I’m hers:

  • When it’s time to work (after playing) each morning, Clover runs to my office while Tori goes with Tom to his.
  • When we settle down after dinner, Clover always snuggles with me first.
  • When we first go to bed, Clover curls up behind my knees before stretching out across the foot of the bed.
  • When we first wake up in the morning, Clover crawls up and flops on my chest and tucks her nose under my chin.

I joke about raising 2 puppies at once, but the truth is that I’m seeing SO MUCH MATURITY in Clover lately — especially in comparison to Tori, who is still very much a baby, even though she is now bigger and outweighs Clover.

dog blog champion of my heart border collie puppies running

Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

Lauren Miller - March 15, 2016

They are both so cute! I’m glad they are doing well!

John Shuma - March 15, 2016

As always,an excellent author writes true to the heart, her own and ours as well. There is so much honest feeling in this beautiful little story I would have known it was written by Roxanne Hawn, even if I had never seen her name appear on it! The dogs are absolutely beautiful, and well adjusted to life too. A wonderful story of two dogs helping the author get on with life after a devastating loss, just like we must. The only other thing to say is that her book, Heart Dog, is a blessing to those who mourn the loss of a beloved dog. I know this first hand.

Sheryl - March 14, 2016

So cute! Seems like they are made for each other.

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