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A Day in the Life of the Admiral - Guest Blog for Hugs

Updated: Jan 14, 2021

Hugs has a home with a very enthusiastic new friend. Jim sent us a series of notes over the past month chronicling his experiences in guiding Hugs as he grows into his new home.

AWE Border Collies

Note from Jim,

Apparently, I am the oldest member of the group that has adopted your first litter. From some of the pictures, maybe not by a long shot. My idea is to approach your Blog from a Senior’s perspective. People might wrestle with the idea of “am I too old to take on such a responsibility”? Negativism is not my style and never has been (after all, being in sales/marketing all my life was not for naysayers) and I am a realist. Stuff happens! But, that’s true at any age. I have back-up ... a daughter who LOVES dogs and has three of them. That was a big issue in my decision to get Hugs.

Here are some possible titles for the postings Postings, or maybe I'll just document things as they go...

Headline: Senior Pet Owner Overcomes Sleep Abnormalities

Subtitle: Border Collie Puppy Restores Health and Vitality

Headline: Never Get Old ... Get a Border Collie Puppy

Subtitle: It’s Not the Fountain of Youth, But Close to it

Headline: Been Disappointed in Relationships – The Cure is Here!

Subtitle: Get A Border Collie Puppy and Discover True Love

Headline: Tear Up Your AARP Gym Membership – Get a Border Collie Puppy

Subtitle: A Revolutionary Breakthrough in Senior Exercise

Headline: Living Alone ... with a Border Collie Puppy

Subtitle: How to End Monotony Forever

Headline: How To Teach an “Old Dog” New Tricks

Subtitle: Get a Border Collie Puppy

Headline: Preparing Your Border Collie Puppy for Stardom

Subtitle: Tips on Training Your Puppy to be a Champion Flying Dog

Headline: Beach Etiquette For a Border Collie Puppy

Subtitle: How to Avoid Monikers Such as “Chick Magnet”

Apr 16, 2015 (Nine weeks old)

Good morning ... so this is what morning looks like!! After a business career consisting of many 4:00 AM wake-up calls and early flights to the next appointment, I swore when I retired that I would sleep in as long as I wanted.

Well, apparently, that lofty goal is over and done with ... thanks Admiral B.C. Hugs, esq.

So, here I am...uncharacteristically up at 6:00AM. We have finished breakfast and successfully visited the toilet area. It’s playtime with the new toys. That is, after a sneak attack on my pant leg and shoe – he crouched as if stalking a sheep, eyes fixed with an intensity only known to Border Collies...THEN a BIG LEAP onto the prey!! Fortunately, Hugs' attention span is measured in nanoseconds and he's off to something else with me in tow to watch his every unexpected move. The latest “caper” was attempting to remove the mesh covering from the bottom of the living room sofa. He is now “exploring”. He has a busy, purposeful stride ... most unnerving. I am going to write a new diet book I'll call The Hugs Diet.

Gotta go ... he just pulled my car keys off the coffee table and is chewing the strap.. More later. Have a great day. I know I will!!


April 16, 2015 (Nine weeks old)


I have four (4) driers and think I will try “both” approaches – one with boiled liver and one that is raw. The shelf life can be extended by using the kitchen vacuum sealer – the products are great and the customer support non-existent. On the bright side, the things seem to work forever. I wonder if beef roast would be just as good ... certainly chicken would be okay.

I caught the Admiral squatting on the bath mat and lifted him immediately. It’s amazing, how the pee shut-off instantly. (Damn, I can’t even do that!!!) We ran to his “spot” and he proceeded to complete his urination and then proceeded to the “Tootsie Roll” stage. He is, thankfully, taking a nap on the fenced-in porch now, and it's almost time for his lunch.

I have him sitting on command – a treat is used, of course. He has his Mother’s sense of smell and great hearing ... he absolutely knows, without looking, when I pick up the treat bag!! I’m NOT overdoing the treat thing. He puts his legs up on me and I point to the ground, so he sits and gets his treat and lots of praise. He likes to walk in my Square Foot garden. I fixed that today when I squirted a few drops of water his way and he made tracks OUT of the raised bed.

He’s squawking. Gotta go get him off the porch and start his lunch.

More later ... if you can stand it


April 16, 2015 (Nine weeks old)

Hi ,

I got the new 42 inch crate assembled and put the cover on it. It’s at the foot of my bed and is much larger than I expected – but, that means Hugs will be able to use it as he gets bigger. He’s something else. He follows me around like he’s attached to me. The potty training is going well, a treat and lots of praise seem to be working. Actually, he barks and I take that as a signal that he has to go, and 90% of the time he does.

Well, I am thoroughly exhausted from my 100% vigilance program. He is definitely a “Hoover” ... stuff goes in that little mouth ... and then comes back out when I catch him. He's eaten leaves, small cones from the Cypress trees in the back, and anything else that looks good to him.

It’s only 9:50PM and I’m going to hit the hay. At 7 AM (I hope. Today it was 6:30AM), I will start all over. He is so smart and those beautiful little eyes don’t miss a thing. He is going to be easy to train ... just like the book said, “they understand you the “FIRST TIME” 95% of the time. He is also a bit “manipulative.” He will sit beautifully in front of me with those beautiful eyes expecting a treat. He's finding out that it doesn’t work.

Okay, good night.

Jim and “Hugs”

April 17, 2015 (Nine weeks and a day old)

The Look of Love Is in the Dog’s Eyes

Dogs who trained a long gaze on their owners had elevated levels of oxytocin, a hormone produced in the brain that is associated with nurturing and attachment. After receiving those long gazes, the owners’ levels of oxytocin increased, too. Click on the link and watch the video – interesting ... I think I have been “overdosed” on oxytocin ...

Hugs just had his lunch at precisely 12:00 Noon. He spent the night in his new “gigantic” cart and all went well. We start the day at roughly 7AM (sometimes earlier depending on ABCH’s schedule).

We are learning “not to bite so hard” ... My right arm has several puncture wounds that were inflicted by a small BC, all in good fun, of course!! I use some homeopathic stuff (Gingko Biloba and Vinpocetine – both of which tend to thin the blood. I found several references on how to deal with it ... the one I like is to mimic the dog’s cry of pain ... the next stage is to “squirt” him with lemon juice or whatever – I don’t like that idea and don’t plan to use it. He is such a quick learner that I'm sure he will figure it out.

Take care,

Jim & Hugs

April 17, 2015 (Nine weeks and a day old)


I visited your Facebook page and I saw the photo of Hugs and some “old man.” I didn’t recognize him, but Hugs was unmistakable.

Bonding. Is that what you call it??? My right arm looks like a pin cushion from mock battle engagements – I’m afraid that he is winning. I went on-line and found one suggestion – “cry like a dog” and they stop. Well, that may be true of lesser canines, but this one is a bit more determined to win the battle and looks at me with a “mocking muzzle” as if to say, “cry baby”. A friend said that a small water spray bottle will do the trick. I'll let him chew that.

Otherwise, the potty training is coming along so-so ... if I don’t watch him at strategic times, he will sneak into the bathroom or bedroom and urinate on the bathmat or carpet strip I have next to my bed. Thanks for Folex – the best carpet cleaner made. Regardless of what happens (i.e. I may be too late) I take him to his “spot” anyway. He gets a reward each time and he definitely knows the word “treat”. He assumes the position – sitting properly and waiting.

As per my daughter’s description of her three dogs (when they were puppies) Hugs is a super-powered Hoover vacuum cleaner. I can’t tell you how may small cypress pine cones I have removed from his little mouth ... not to mention the leaves, dirt, and whatever else he can suck up. He is the most friendly little guy. We were “doing our business” at 7AM this morning and the next door neighbor was walking to his car. Hugs went wild. Needless to say, he makes everyone feel good. He seems to like his new BIG crate and goes to bed without complaining – not a peep until around 7AM.

Then the fun begins, anew!! Well, it’s almost 10:30PM – my new Hugs-imposed bedtime ... no more nightowling for me.


April 18, 2015 (Nine weeks and 2 days old)


I am being attacked relentlessly. The biting is getting a bit out of control. I may have a solution – distraction -- the red bone. We sit together in a chair and every time he tries to bite me I put the red bone in his mouth. It’s either that or a transfusion. Also, the newest wrinkle – I like plants. Apparently Hugs does too. The white under side of his muzzle is a house plant soil black. I won’t let him go into the front yard because I have a big Sago Palm – poisonous to puppies. He chews on just about everything.

Forgive my rambling ... my Mother said, “Jimmy was vaccinated with a phonograph needle.”

Hugs is “recharging his battery” under the couch, sound asleep. Though I eagerly await his awakening, he gives me a chance to do stuff without worrying about him.

By the way, 60 Minutes has had some incredible stuff on dogs and, in particular, Border Collies ...

The Smartest Dog in the World

There are several related stories that I found fascinating (like the MRI on a dog and the rersults) ...


April 19, 2015 (9 weeks and 3 days old)

A paper towel attack took place this morning.

This event was believed to be a puppy terrorist attack. Paper towels were maliciously pulled from the roll and scattered over the entire front porch. Authorities say that allowing rolls of paper towels to be reached by “PT’s” (Puppy Terrorists) is the primary cause for the current paper shortage. The suspect is approximately 1.5 feet tall with black and white hair, distinguished brown eyebrows and mutton-style side burns. Be on the look-out. Use extreme caution – the suspect has been known to bite. More later ...


Apr 20, 2015 (9 weeks and 4 days old)

Hugs Escape...Maybe.

Apr 20, 2015 (9 weeks and 4 days old)

In a surprising turn of events, on a trip to his “spot” on “business” this morning, Admiral B.C. Hugs (aka “Hugs”) demonstrated another native Border Collie trait – DIGGING. Yes, the Admiral spotted his owner pulling weeds at the base of a small Fig tree and decided that his assistance was needed. Approaching the task with the same energy and enthusiasm that characterizes this canine, he sent clouds of dirt between his legs and into the air. This sent “chills” up the spine of his owner as he surveyed his Square Foot Garden (a 128 square foot raised vegetable garden) and wondered how long it would remain safe from such “excavation”.

In other news, this morning, the “Admiral” discovered the “Miele Monster” – a canister-type vacuum cleaner with a “chewable” hose. Viewed with extreme suspicion, the Border Collie pup beat a hasty retreat to safety under the coffee table. Could it be that Hugs looked upon this device as a “competitor”? After all, it does the same thing that HE does. More on this, later.

And, finally, a health note on Border Collie pups ... a major threat to their health and well-being is BOREDOM. The symptoms are clear – head down on the carpet or floor and eyes focused on ANYTHING or ANYBODY who will initiate an anti-boredom action. This can be the squeaking of a toy; the throwing of same; the presentation of an old cloth oven mitt for the purpose of tug-of-war. WARNING: failure to react in a positive manner will result in negative behavior -- the chewing of the edge of a relatively expensive area rug; the gnawing on the leg of the coffee table; or the attempted destruction of an upholstered easy chair.


April 22, 2015 (Nine weeks 6 days old)

In an experiment, Hugs went to an unauthorized, therefore uncontaminated area (actually, the outfield of the little league field in a park not far from here). The violation of the “No Dogs Allowed” was exactly why we violated that rule – we haven’t had all of our vaccinations, yet. Besides, we didn’t have to “go” anyway. The entire effort proved fruitless since all Hugs wanted to do was “smell” the grass instead of frolicking and playing as I had hoped. He is not pleased with his halter and leash – we plan to work on this.

In other news, it was “Puppy-Pick-up-Day” – now that Hugs knows his spot it isn’t necessary to leave any identifying incentives laying around. We are still working on the other side of the equation inasmuch as it’s just us two guys living here, I went into the bathroom and, naturally, Hugs had to come along. When he saw what “I” was doing, he decided to join in ... Except his aim was the bathmat. I know that as his master I am supposed to set a good example – I’m working on that, too.

Breaking headline: Hugs biting subsides with introduction of spray water bottle. Inasmuch as Border Collies are incredibly intelligent, it didn’t take more than one or two “mists” of water for him to get the message. The hard biting has completely stopped and an occasional “mouthing” happens when excitement overcomes him or in his “wild dog” run. A “wild dog” run is characterized by a high-speed run around the entire house with intricate maneuvers such as “figure 8’s.”

As I type, I look down and see that hugs is sound asleep -- between my feet -- his normal pre-lunch nap. When he wakes, the excitement starts anew. Never a dull moment.


April 24, 2015 (Ten weeks 1 days old)

Dateline: San Diego – Enthusiasm goes wrong. I made a LOT of dried treats from frozen beef, chicken and pork. I have four dryers and a meat slicer, so the process is less tedious. The Admiral was at my side watching every move. HIS enthusiasm is difficult to describe. I have been giving him an itsy-bitsy-teeny-weenie slice of dried beef as a reward for his performance at his “spot”. I guess I overdid it ... He did his “business” as usual before bedtime and I put him in his palatial crate. During the night he, uncharacteristically, made some whimpering noises. A friend told me that this was to be expected and that I should ignore it so as not to create a bad habit. So, I ignored him. Well, that was a mistake because he had to go ... again!

So, we had an incident in the cart ... now all cleaned up as though it never happened. He went outside with me to his “spot” and did his business and a little later he had a loose movement ... obviously, too many treats. So, I have learned my lesson and will use far more discretion on the frequency and quantity of treats dispensed. He didn’t eat his breakfast, at first, but later in the morning he went back to his bowl and ate most of it.

Hugs is back to normal and is currently taking a nap after a morning of exhausting play. A plain old rope found in my garage is ideal for “tug-of-war” as is a parachute cord tied to his favorite toy – Mr. Carrot.

Jim & Hugs

Apr 24, 2015 (Ten weeks 1 days old)

Dateline: San Diego – A fence over a fence. Realizing that Hugs had no trouble slipping between the fence bars surrounding the back yard, it became a matter of some concern. The side and back fences border the driveway and the street across from the elementary school. The traffic to and from the school is periodic – mainly morning drop off of the kids and afternoon pick-up - often heavy enough to pose a threat to an unsuspecting puppy interesting in “meeting” the kids. So, this afternoon, I obtained two rolls of 16 gauge 28” x 50’ garden fence. I “wire-tied” it to the existing fence and it’s just the right height. By the time he grows enough to go over it, he will be too big to get through the original fence.

In other precautionary areas, for those owning puppies in regions that are sub-tropical like California and Florida, the popular and elegant Sago Palms are a real threat. They are members of the Cycad family (I have both a big Sago and a Cycad in the front yard.) I am blocking access to my front yard because these plants are poisonous -- As a further precaution, I am raking up any and all seeds or nuts that may be present. Another line of defense is that I never take my eyes off him when he is outside. Nevertheless, he can disappear in a split-second, so constant vigilance is necessary at all times.

Here is what I found:

All parts of sago palm are considered poisonous, with the seeds (nuts) being the most toxic part of the plant. Sago palm contains cycasin, which is the primary active toxic agent resulting in severe liver failure in dogs. Ingestion results in acute gastrointestinal signs (e.g., drooling, inappetance, vomiting, diarrhea) within 15 minutes to several hours after ingestion. Central nervous system signs (e.g., weakness, ataxia, seizures, tremors, etc.) and severe liver failure can be seen within 2-3 days post-ingestion. Clinical signs include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, inappetance, abnormal fluid accumulation in the abdomen, abdominal pain, jaundice, and black-tarry stool. Aggressive decontamination and treatment should be initiated. Even with aggressive treatment, the survival is about 50%.

If you suspect your dog or cat ate sago palm, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline immediately for life-saving treatment recommendations.

Jim & Hugs

Apr 25, 2015 (Ten weeks 2 days old)

Dateline: San Diego - Following a brief, much needed, evening rain shower, all is well in Hugsland. With the withdrawal of all treats, “things” have returned to normal. Our morning trip to the “spot” is much more comfortable now that the extra fence is in place. It’s actually 36 inches high, so he isn’t going anywhere. Today is the day I put the barricades to the front yard in place. There’s no end in sight – I must do a search on house plants which are under attack as I type.

BC – Considered the Smartest Dog in the World: For those that are experiencing, as I am, a kind of “smart aleck” demeanor in your B.C. puppy, I have found that saying things like “oh, you think you are so smart” ... seems to work well.

Hugs is 13.3 lbs as of this morning (unofficial bathroom scale method). I think that includes a pound of dirt, sticks and other delectable morsels sucked up from the backyard.

In Other News: The “biting” is, somewhat, under control – ruling out the impromptu “sneak attacks” that have rendered two pair of nice sweat pants “holy”. However, on the bright side, the loss of blood is now minimal.

Best regards to all ...

Jim & Hugs

April 26, 2015 (Ten weeks 3 days old)

Dateline San Diego - Hugs gets up full of p*** and vinegar and he just got more supercharged as the day progessed. He was wound up and determined to do what HE wanted to do, regardless of any attempt on my part to protect him from himself. Like eating dirt. I thought that “Hugs” didn’t fit him, today – perhaps “Dirt Dog” would be better. He is “on to me.” He gets a piece of dirt in his mouth and RUNS from me. He knows that I will “pry it out of his little mouth” and that’s not what HE wants.

Reading the book “Chaser - Unlocking the Genius of a Dog that Knows a Thousand Words” is a bit of a downer – but, then, again, I’m not a Psychologist with 40 years experience. I am going to have to reassess my approach to training Hugs. Not that I have done anything harmful ... more like what I haven’t done.

I start, anew, tomorrow. He is going to be a challenge if his behavior, today, was an example. He peed on his bed in the living room – a bunch of toys were on the bed, so they got wet, too. No big deal – into the washer and dryer. But the fact that he did that was a little off the wall. He had been so good about going to his “spot.” Maybe I’m expecting too much from a 10-1/2 week old ... do ya think???

Thank God I’m a Taurus with a long time reputation of never giving up. I can see that I have met my match. It’s truly going to be a match of wits. This guy is really, really smart ... damn ... maybe too smart for me!!! LOL He loves kids and met several on the other side of the new fence this afternoon. He also watches TV. Yeah, some kids were on TV and he was definitely watching. If you telephone here, don’t be surprised if he answers.

Jim and Hugs

April 26, 2015 (Ten weeks 3 days old)

Dateline: San Diego - Breaking News: “Nose to Tail in 40 Minutes” is an inexactitude. Today started with a “mistake” and a “misunderstanding”. Right out of his Cart, Hugs made his “IMMEDIATE” trip to his “SPOT” and did his business, or so I thought. We then proceed to his favorite part of the morning – BREAKFAST. He makes short work of the 1/4 cup of nibbles and is supposed to have a “digestion” period of 20-40 minutes. Not so this morning as he made unnoticed tracks for the bedroom and a three tootsie roll deposit. I immediately told him “NO” and then went outside and immediately transported him outside to his spot. Of course this was for instructional purposes, only, since the deed had already been done. Since Border Collies are reputed to be so smart, I thought I’d try to appeal to his intellectual side by saying, “we don’t do our ‘business’ in the house,” to which he said, “you do.” Not wanting to continue further I decided that it would be best to play “tug of war” and be more vigilant, next time.

More B.C. Info to Digest: Amazon delivered three books yesterday:

1. Chaser by John W. Pilley – “Unlocking the Genius of the Dog Who Knows a Thousand Words” I can only say, move over, Chaser, Hugs is on the way!!

2. Border Collies, A Complete Owner’s Manual with a Special Chapter: “Living with a Border Collie” – this is a 98 page primer that, initially, tries to discourage you in your selection of a Border Collie based upon the incredible challenge involved. There’s no doubt that there ARE any number of challenges. I can attest to that in only a week into our journey to stardom.

3. And for “recreational reading”, “Ottolenghi ... The Cookbook” (discovered by eating at a bistro in Santa Fe, NM’s art community). This place is a gourmet's paradise, not that I am a “gourmet” but the food was great.

With Hugs around the only time to read will be after he goes to bed ... and, under my new BC-Imposed Lifestyle, that’s only a matter of a few hours before my mandatory bedtime –because 6:30-7:00AM is our “starting time”. Our newest interest is the “laundry basket” and dirty socks.

Craig’s List: Under SHEEP ... Sheep rental. Local sheepherder is offering his flock for Border Collie training. By the hour or by the day. Do-it-yourself or Trainers available at extra charge. The Sheep are experienced and willing to help train your B.C. in the finer points of sheep herding. No nippers or biters allowed.

Jim & Hugs

April 29, 2015 (Ten weeks 6 days old)


One thing is for sure, Hugs is “strong willed.” I think, in the long run, that is great. In the short run it is frustrating. I think I am expecting too much from ME. Afterall, he’s a puppy and in the book “Chaser” he says, “let them BE puppies.”

Hugs loves people and gets all “wacked out” when I have my neighbor and other friends in. Everybody loves him and that goes double for me. I remember Mom saying, “this, too, shall pass.” I can add, "but not fast enough!"

He has the “lay of the land.” You should see him run in the backyard – a “maniacal” run in circles and figure 8’s. I should have such energy!!! I have everything secured, I think. But with this little Houdini, I’m never sure. I came up with a “creative” idea for his “chewing.” I went to the pet store and bought a long rawhide/whatever thing. I used my “lopers” – a tree branch cutting tool – the only thing strong enough to cut this into smaller pieces. I slipped one piece in each end of the red bone and another into the “tire” and it worked like magic – what a refill. He loves both.

Jim & Hugs

April 30, 2015 (Eleven weeks old)

I think I may have a solution to the flea problem. I have used, successfully, a non-toxic natural insecticide called CedarCide. It kills fleas and other bugs on contact but is advertised to be safe for puppys, dogs, cats, etc. The company is out of Texas and they distill the unique sap of the red cedar tree, native to Texas. My buddy has a “bunch” of dogs and uses it. His complaints were that he had to reapply it frequently for it to be effective and that it’s pricy – $29.00/bottle. This is because he is in a heavy flea infested area.

I used it on my last dog, Buster and, I, too, got tired of reapplying it two or three times a day and went for the Comfortis. BUT, with a puppy, that’s not an issue. I’m going to try it. I have two bottles left out of a case I bought,so it will be convenient to try.

He’s having a good day and not being too cantankerous – I am practicing the art of distraction in too many ways to list here.

Jim & Hugs

May 2, 2015 (Eleven Weeks 2 days old)

Dateline San Diego: Border Collie Source of Orthopedic Problem in Seniors – Hip Connection Syndrome

As Hugs settles in and takes over, he does so with “stealth.” - One never knows exactly where Hugs may be, but rest assured, HE knows where YOU are. If I make a move toward the backdoor, front door, bathroom, bedroom, kitchen – miraculously, the “invisible” dog appears and attaches himself to my hip. Several “step-on’s” have resulted in a sharp outcry as small feet get under big feet. In fact, I never knew he was there!

Pack Leader? Alpha Dog? Major Controversy Erupts - In a pitched battle for supremacy, an on-going struggle for Pack Leader is in full bloom. To say that Hugs is “strong willed” is to push the limits of “understatement." I view this in a self-serving optimistic manner. I think of his future athletic performance and know that he will never give up ... no matter what the odds. In the meantime, I have stocked up on band-aids and Neosporin. How long before we see evidence that Border Collies want to please their masters?

The Rawhide Revolution - The “red bone” with the open holes in the end for messy peanut butter and the round “tire-like” treat holder can be modified. I went to the local pet store and purchased a 10-12” rawhide bone. These “bones” are hard ... very hard. A garden tool used to cut large branches (a loper?) is the only way to cut these “bones” into smaller pieces for insertion into the red bone and black tire. Careful measurement is necessary to get the right size so that they cannot be removed. This has been a BIG hit in the life of “Mr. Chew-it-Up" Hugs. Countless “vulnerable” items have been spared the “Wrath of Hugs.” So far I’m doing better than my son-in-law who lost a fine pair of very expensive designer sunglasses among other valuables to his “pack.”. I have found that vigilance and innovative distraction to be the most effective damage control method.

Round Rose Garden: Raised Garden Boxes Turned into Race Track - Hugs has a kind of “manic” state that comes out of nowhere. While in the backyard, he suddenly changes into “Speed Dog”. He runs high-speed laps around the rose garden and shoots out after several revolutions to run right down the middle of my raised vegetable garden boxes and then back to complete a few more laps. A discussion with my Vet has produced no significant findings as to the cause of this behavior. Initial tests indicate a strong connection to “puppyhood”. More on this breaking story, later ...

Dealing with the Know-it-Alls on Dogs – A friend observed, yesterday, that Hugs has BIG PAWS. He then waxes eloquent on the fact that this is an indication that Hugs will grow into a BIG dog, much bigger than I expected. After he left I consulted my friends at Google. This is not true. This is just another puppy urban-myth. To the contrary, the overall growth of a Border Collie will be “proportional.” In other words, the rest of him will “catch up” to his paws

Border Collies: Sheep Dogs or Miner’s Dogs? - Hugs “excavated” the entire base of my Cheriamoya tree in the backyard. His digging intensity indicated a “native, instinctive” ability. The tree needed “cultivation” anyway and the “black on white” aftermath (Hugs “had” four white legs prior to this project) justifies a BATH later today.

I must close, now, it’s time to take a trip to our “spot” followed by His Majesty’s morning nap – best regards to all.

Jim & Hugs

May 4, 2015 (Eleven Weeks 4 days old)

Dateline San Diego:

Bionic BC Discovered in San Diego - It all begins with the “presentation” of a toy, a red toy, a pink toy or a knotted rope known as a “floss-toss.” Any toy will do. There is a low, sinister “growl” coming from behind the toy. One is expected to drop one’s hand into which this toy is inserted in anticipation of a “tug-of-war”. This behavior takes on “bionic” proportions since it seems to be never ending. Failure to comply often leads to OB (and that’s not Ocean Beach) that’s “owner biting.” For whatever reason, there are periods of “mock attack” that aren’t so mock. A sharp “no” is of little value, but a fenced-in “front porch time out” is. When a “cooler head” prevails he is allowed admission to “polite society” once again.

New Scientific Breakthrough – Dirt has the nutritional benefits of the popular dog food brands. San Diego, a center for medical research and medical instrument development has contracted with Admiral B. C. Hugs for a new scientific, double blind study to prove the nutritional efficacy of plain old garden dirt. The Admiral was selected from a large field of canine dirt-eaters and found to be capable of consuming large quantities of the all natural substance. Researchers believe that the results of this study may impact even human food.

Gardening Dog “Assists” Owner – In an effort to do some standard gardening chores, Hugs proved that even canines can have a green paw. As I pulled weeds from the garden, Hugs grabbed hold of them and ran, only to return to repeat his form of assistance. He pitched right in when I took a garden spade in hand and started digging a hole into which I wanted to transplant a tomato plant. Taking the cue, Hugs started digging his own hole – the purpose for which is still undetermined. His method is unique – dirt flies between his legs onto the brick garden path requiring later clean-up. We have had inquiries from the local Garden Club for an appearance of Hugs at their monthly meeting.

Treats Prove Unsatisfactory - I spend a lot of time converting some “out-of-date” frozen meat into chemical-free, homemade “jerkey treats” for Hugs. They are made from beef, chicken and pork. Sliced very thin using a big meat slicer and dried over night, they come out perfect – but much, much too rich for Hugs. As for the “taste test,” they passed with flying colors. On the other end of the spectrum, they passed, but that wasn't so good. So, I vacuum packed these treats in air-tight Food Saver bags and put them away for future use – when someone’s tummy matures a bit.

Another mess-up (pun fully intended)...cheese. In “Chaser” the book by Professor John W. Pilley about the world’s smartest Border Collie, he used “cheese” as a treat. This is another case of “too soon” for Hugs. So, I took the advice of a friend and use his very own “nibbles”. A handful in my pocket works just fine ... without the mess.

We are still dealing with the “biting” – when he’s really excited after a round of tug-of-war. I have found that if I hold his mouth shut for a few seconds he “gets the message.” For a while, at least. He’s really “wound up” right now – we have played with every toy in the house.

Oh, yeah, after my shower I grabbed the towel off the rack and began toweling off only to find that Mr. Hugs had the other end of the towel making it impossible for me to dry off. This “guy thing” is something else ... the next thing you know he will be “snapping a towel at me.”

A dreadful thing happened today – two people observed that Hugs is GROWING. No, no, no. I refuse to believe my own eyes, but it’s true. We are having so much fun at this stage. He even went back to the Cherimoya tree and re-excavated. Apparently the hole wasn’t deep enough to suit him. Likewise a rose garden project needed attention.

It’s now 8:00PM and I just “tucked” His Majesty in. No complaints and there shouldn’t be. I have renamed my circular rose garden “Hugs Downs.” He must have made a dozen laps at ultra-high-speed. My game plan may be working – he did his “business twice” – so the earlier feeding may be working. And, by taking him into the backyard after dinner, he has time to wear himself out for bedtime.

He is SO SMART. We have mastered “Down” in a NY heartbeat. I have instituted an old “Buster” routine. I would yell, “Puppy Hug” and he would come and put his head on my chest as if to hug me. I picked Hugs up and said “Puppy Hug” and he relaxed and seemed to enjoy the cuddling. He’s something else and I couldn’t be happier with my decision to adopt him. I can’t believe that you and Gregg decided on me in favor of the other potential buyer. You may rest assured that you made the right decision. I’m sure that Hugs would agree!!!

That’s it from San Diego – home of Admiral B.C. Hugs, Esq

Jim & Hugs

May 6, 2015 (Eleven Weeks 6 days old)

Dateline San Diego:

Egg McMuffin Stand-off - A confrontation over a “homemade” Egg McMuffin ended in a “time-out-on-the-front-porch” for you know who. Refusing to accept NO for an answer, the Admiral appeared to turn a bit “ugly," threatening, even. With needle-sharp puppy teeth bared, he lunged for my plate which initiated disciplinary action. He was, no doubt, confusing the mock-hostilities that are engaged in vigorous “tug-of-war” contests.

One Hour Non-Stop Throw-Retrieve-Tug-of-War: In an effort to fully exercise an energetic Border Collie puppy before bedtime, we set an endurance record (for me) of one hour non-stop activity. When I called for a truce I received a look that said, “Sissy.” A direct path to his cart at 8PM ended all “festivities” for that day. At about 9PM, I collapsed into my easy chair and fell asleep until 3AM when I got up to “go to bed.”

Dirt and Unidentified Object Consumption Continues: Now that Hugs has explored every square inch of the backyard (front yard off limits), he has consumed most everything in his path – dirt, leaves, fallen fruit (tangerine tree), a variety of sticks, peat moss, and bird seed. His exploration of the space under the deck that surrounds a hot tub resulted in a “halloween-like appearance.” He emerged from under the deck covered in cobwebs – a macabre sight!! A friend is concerned that his area should be “off limits” since we saw a Raccoon come out from under the deck. That was five years ago. Since then, I spotted an Opossum – the critters like the warmth emitted by the hot tub.

Workman Interference: Hugs is fascinated by a young handy man who is putting in a new kitchen floor. An unnoticed slow leak caused some damage and it was easier to put in a new floor than patch the old one. The handy man has three dogs of his own, so he is “tolerant.”

This has been a slow news day ... so we will conclude for now.

Jim & Hugs

May 8, 2015 ( Twelve weeks 1 day old)

Dateline San Diego -

Hugs Meets Heidi: Heidi is a cat that befell a similar fate as “A Man Named Sue” (Johnny Cash). Heidi was abandoned. Heidi took up residence next door under my neighbor’s porch. Since she seemed to be hiding all the time, I named her “Heidi”. I told my neighbor that I was not opposed to ONE cat, but a dozen was not what I wanted. We agreed to take Heidi to San Diego’s Traveling Spay-Neuter Bus on the next Saturday morning. Indeed, we took little Heidi to the “bus” and paid $35.00 for the procedure. The man in charge took Heidi into the bus, but returned immediately. He said, “first of all it’s not a “her”, it’s a “him”and “he” is already “fixed”. He returned my $35.00. My neighbor friend owns the triplex next door and one of his tenants befriended little Heidi and began feeding him. But, Heidi remained an “outdoor cat”...pretty much.

Searching for Love in Just the Right Place – I’m not what you might call a “cat” person, but my kids had a bunch of them – Lemon, Nosey, and Mac (short for Machiavelli). Heidi was a bit stand-offish at first, but before long he was allowing me to pet him. This turned out to be the beginning of a nightly visit for a 10-20 minute “massage” session complete with accompanying purring that was loud enough to wake up the neighbors. Heidi is a particular cat. He would turn his head to give access to just the right spot to be scratched. “A little more to the, up a little higher...ohhh that’s it.”

Introduction of canned cat food – I was at a local Pseudo-Discount store and spotted some canned cat food – all flavors from “Puree of Tuna” to “Chicken & Tuna Pate’ – so, I picked up a few cans for Heidi. Naturally, this was a big hit. Now, I have a chorus of meows and puppy barks for CAT food. Yes, Hugs “would like” to partake of the gourmet tuna and pate’ along side Heidi. However, I don’t allow him to participate, much to his frustration. I don’t think Hugs is ready for cat food. Amazingly, there have been no “fist-a-cuffs” and no hisses or paw slaps. Oh, I do get a few puppy barks. The two of them have come nose-to-nose without incident as yours truly watched with bated breath. It’s as if Heidi realizes that Hugs is a puppy. Heidi would run awayat the sight of Buster, my late Miniature Schnauzer. But, with Hugs, he seems to have no fear. I wonder why?

Vampire or Zombie Border Collie: Red rubber bone with added rawhide bone in each end. A wheel with a non-removable treat on one side and added rawhide bone in the other – a new toy certified by Caesar Millan – an orange, squeaking ball with a long mesh tether (great for throwing, fetching and the mandatory growling “tug-of-war”) are ALL TO NO AVAIL. It seems that Hugs has developed a taste for human flesh and blood. Those “needle sharp teeth” are a constant threat, particularly in the heat of battle. He loses all control and resorts to his natural instinct to devour his master. Much work is needed. More later, if I survive.

Rain in San Diego?? Yep, it “sprinkled” last night and, actually rained this morning. Hugs is going to be a “water dog.” He LOVED the rain (It happened as he was involved in a “business” deal). It seemed to “invigorate” him into one of his wild runs around the yard. I hate to break it to him, but with the drought we don’t see much rain and we have just been told that we must cut back on our water use by 16% more. I guess it’s gonna be Dog Beach, for sure.

Hugs “The Handyman Helper” – I am having new floor installed in the kitchen. Hugs is very interested in the whole situation and has injected himself into the project. The young carpenter/handyman came to me and said, “I love dogs and I have three of them, but would you mind if Hugs were placed on the front porch? That is, if you want this job done any time soon.

That’s it for now ... more, later, if I survive this onslaught of puppyhood.

Jim & Hugs

May 9, 2015 (Twelve weeks 2 days old)

Dateline San Diego:

Hugs Get First Bath in San Diego – After a much needed rain in drought-stricken Southern California, the large hole under the Cherimoya tree that was recently excavated by Hugs was filled with water -- much to his utter delight! After an unauthorized snack of bird seed put out for the Finches, Turtle Doves, and other feathered friends, Hugs proceeded to his “mud hole” – and DOVE in head first with both paws churning full speed. Instead of dry dust and dirt spewing out between his legs, it was liquefied earth otherwise known as MUD. Hugs went from a two-tone Border Collie to a “monotone” Border Collie – all black. No white legs and paws; no white collar; not even a white tail.

Fortunately this occurred close to his bedtime, so I took him into the warm shower and sudsed him up with a good shampoo put out by Dinovite. He was unbelievably cooperative and obeyed the “sit” command and let me scrub away – After a very, very thorough rinse to make sure no residue was left behind to cause itching and scratching, I used two big towels to towel him off. I then applied a small amount of Cedar Cide on one of the damp towels and rubbed it all over his fur. I noticed about a half dozen drowned fleas as I rinsed him. Cedar Cide is a topical flea killer and is non-toxic to puppies. To be effective, it must be reapplied daily. With the obligatory “nighty-night-treat”, he went right into his crate and there has not been a “peep” out of him for the past 20 minutes – and I don’t expect any – his crate training is a big success ... so far.

My Great Idea Not So Great - You may recall my cutting of the raw-hide bone into a piece that fit the rubber tire chew toy. At first it worked like a charm and Hugs gnawed on it constantly. It was tightly wedged into the open space and, try as he would, he couldn’t get it out ... until yesterday!! I reached down his throat, just in the nick of time, and pulled the raw-hide piece out of his throat – it was,literally, on the way down his throat. It was a close call and I don’t want to think of what the consequences would have been had he actually swallowed that chunk of raw-hide. In retrospect I ask myself, “what was I thinking?” Seemed like a good idea at the time. Fortunately I can say “live” and learn.

Hugs Humps Handyman’s Leg -- I know that Border Collies are advanced, but I didn’t realize the extent to which that goes. The handyman was finishing the kitchen floor when he called me to “take a look”. At first, I didn’t believe it, but there was 12 week old Hugs humping away on Victor’s leg. I guess they start early. I’m searching for a command, but what? “Bad dog, NO HUMP.” I’ll have to think about this one for awhile. Besides, Victor, the handyman is not AKC Registered.

That’s it for now from wacky San Diego

Jim & Hugs

May 16, 2015 (Thirteen weeks 2 days old)


We played for hours, today. He never seems to wear out, but does stop for an occasional drink. I have some five-gallon buckets filled with water that I “age” in an attempt to remove the fluoride and chlorine through evaporation before watering my raised garden boxes. Works for Hugs.

It’s funny how my next-door neighbor laughs a lot at our “banter.” I throw a “floss toss” and Hugs returns it with a prance. It’s priceless. Then we have the obligatory tug-of-war, complete with mutual growling. His latest trick is barking with the floss toss in his mouth. I say, “Hug’s it’s not polite to bark with your mouth full.” The neighbor laughs.

Hugs picks his retrieval route to avoid standing water. I have some flooring material covered with a tarp that has caught some of the recent rain. Hugs runs for the floss toss and detours around the puddles on the tarp. He understands “get toy.” From time to time, my throw isn’t on target and it goes into the bushes or a big flowerpot. He finds it every time. He actually searches until he finds it.

Frisbee – Hugs was almost immediately able to master its pick-up. When it lands flat down, he has no “handle” to pick it up. He used his paw to push it around until it raised enough for him to grab it. Again, the “proud gait” back to me.

His biting isn’t as bad, although the accidental nip when playing still occurs but that doesn’t count! The house breaking is what it is. All of my friends have been dead wrong in their advice and I have three books that tell a different story. The idea of taking the dog to the scene of the crime and scolding him is considered totally useless by three top trainers. The “rub their nose in it” is also totally useless and abusive and may cause the dog to fear you. The professional advice is to watch them and take them to their “spot” when you suspect they need to go there. Accidents will happen and are to be expected. They are puppies, after all. Feeding at the same time each day will give an idea of “when,” but is no guarantee. (This is true for Hugs – he can “go” anytime without prior notice). Oh, yeah, he honored my greenhouse, today.

Hugs follows me everywhere and knows every square inch of the backyard.

I can’t get over the “relationship” Hugs has with Heidi (the cat). Hugs is so curious and actually “licked” Heidi’s face. When Hugs got a little too rambunctious, Heidi slapped him lightly with his paw, but no claws were extended and no “hiss.” Don’t worry, I’m right on top of the two of them. Nothing is going to happen.

I found the refills for the Starmark “Tire.” It’s a godsend. He gnaws on that thing for up to 30 minutes at a time and I believe it has prevented the property damage that many less observant owners report.

It’s really funny...the Border Collie’s EYES. Priceless. Sometimes I can “feel” him watching me. Then when I look up, I discover that he is watching me. The only problem is “why.” He’s a real schemer. He KNOWS that I don’t approve of “foreign objects” that he may have found and he takes evasive action to retain them. We have our “time outs” called “PUPPY HUG” and we cuddle up for a couple of minutes. He knows the word “kiss.” I used it and got a big wet tongue on my nose!

Well, it’s almost crate time – one more trip to “the spot” at 7:47 and then “cookie-bedtime.” I put some of his nibbles in the crate and say, “good-night, I love you” and then pull the curtain down while I heave a sigh of relief. Another fabulous day comes to an end.


May 17, 2015 (Thirteen weeks 3 days old)

Major Discovery, EAR Language in Border Collies: A major researcher in San Diego, California, has determined the “semaphore-like language” projected by a Border Collie’s ear position may have significant meaning. Researchers are not absolutely clear as to the exact meaning, so the index below is only an approximation.

1. Both ears together forming a “pinhead” or pointy-head shape: “I’m busy and even though my ears are up I’m not listening to you.”

2. One ear (usually the right) is flopped over, inside-out: “I’m in a devil-may-care state of mind and looking for almost anything that will entertain me.”

3. Both ears straight up in a symmetrical pattern: “Did I hear you say TREAT?”

Research into this phenomenon continues at the prestigious RRI (Ristow Research Institute for the Study of Border Collie Puppies) in San Diego.

Other studies are planned to understand when his “spot” is not his spot. For example, what mental processes are involved in “moving” to the Cherimoya or Orange-tree base? Is there a connection between eating green things and doing one’s business inside the GREENHOUSE?

Coming soon ... Do Border Collies track or follow their owners everywhere out of love or mistrust? Do they fear abandonment? Or, could the smell of a pocket that once held TREATS be the reason. Tune in for the next exciting report and remember, “NEVER TAKE A BORDER COLLIE PUPPY FOR GRANTED.” Chances are ... they are smarter and sneakier than you are!

Biting Status: It can be somewhat controlled with a small spray bottle filled with water. After a couple of “squirts,” just the sight of the bottle curtails further attacks. Well, most of the time.

Jim & Hugs

May 21, 2015 (Fourteen weeks Old)

Dateline San Diego – Trail of Toys ... Like the sad “Trail of Tears” that described the injustices perpetrated upon the Native Americans, I awake to a “Trail of Toys” each morning. Ms. Pig, Mr. Worm, Ms Carrot, Mr. Squirrel, Orange Ball on a Tether, a Pink Frisbee and the list goes on. Hugs surveys all and picks one to start the day. He trots up and “shoves” it into my hand with a low growl. This is an invitation to “combat”. I have learned how to engage him as to avoid blood shed – both of my hands are evidence of past failure to understand the rules of “tug-of-war”, BC-style. In short, he CHEATS. This toy thing has me in a quandary – he is, gradually, destroying them. My sewing skills leave a LOT to be desired. Nevertheless, I must repair them since I’m attempting to use John Pilley’s method used with “Chaser” – toy-identification. I say, “get toy ... squirrel” ... “get toy .. Pig”; etc. If the toys are destroyed and irreplaceable we will suffer a set-back in our training.

Hugs Learns to Jump Up onto the Sofa – with the assistance of a friend (or is he?) Hugs was taught to jump up on the sofa. So far he has not damaged anything as I keep him occupied with his chew toys – a “tire-like” thing with a non-removable treat in the center; a red bone with openings on each end for some delectable substance like peanut butter; and a five inch beef bone, etc. The disturbing thing is that from this “vantage point” I noticed that Hugs was surveying the contents of the coffee table. The look on his muzzle was “hot dog” ... look at all that “stuff”. I plan to remove it this afternoon ... or pay the price! The price of avoiding damage is eternal vigilance and I DO MEAN ETERNAL!!

First Trip to the Vet in Mexico – I never say “all”. To say that “all” the veterinarians in San Diego are not good would be unfair ... I’m sure there are some “good ones” .... but I wasn’t able to find one. After using five different vets, here, I was at my wits end and my wallets contents. My late Miniature Schnauzer of 12 years had a severe skin problem. None of the local vets could find the cause and correct it. His back looked like a toxic waste dump ... it literally “oozed” a sticky substance. Bathing didn’t help and the topical sprays prescribed didn’t do a thing to correct the problem. One vet suggested doing a battery of skin tests ... at $2,500. I felt like I was on a “treadmill” spending hundreds of dollars and going nowhere. I don’t know what it is like in other areas, but here the protocol is exactly the same: dog goes into exam room and is lifted up onto the stainless steel table. The vet comes in and spends all of 3-4 minutes examining the dog. He leaves. The “assistant” returns, clipboard in hand. “Dr. says it will be (and she reads a long list of treatments) and that amounts to $374.85 ... we take Master Card, Visa and American Express ... how do you intend to pay for this? I would usually “audit” the list and ask that some of the items be postponed or eliminated. I would get it down to about $200. give or take. The bad part is that “nothing ever improved”.

Out of desperation, I took the advise of a friend and decided to visit a Vet in an upscale section of Tijuana, Mexico. It’s a 21 mile drive from Ocean Beach where I live to San Ysidro – a crossing point into Tijuana. I don’t like to drive in Mexico due to auto insurance issues, so I take the short walk across the border and catch a taxi to Rivera’s office. I use a travel cart on wheels for Hugs – he didn’t complain one bit. Figuring the cost of gasoline, parking and the taxi, it’s under $35 round trip. That compares to the average “office call charge” of roughly $49.00 just to see a Vet on this side of the border. I’m retired, so I don’t figure the cost of my time. Oddly, it’s not, entirely, the cost that is the issue – it’s the performance.

Desparation Trip for Buster -- On entering Rivera’s office, I noticed some of his clients with what I call “foo-foo dogs” ... the very fashionable, upscale breeds like Yorkshire Terriers. The facilities were spacious and immaculate. A professional-looking 40ish man came out of the exam room and introduced himself and invited Buster and I into the exam room. Before his assistant lifted Buster up and onto the exam table, Rivera said, “thyroid”. He said the symptoms could be recognized by a first year veterinarian student. He prescribed .3mg of Levothyroxin twice a day. Within a month, Buster’s coat had returned and was a rich, lustrous texture. Cost: $60.00. Later Rivera would perform surgery on Buster for osteosarcoma (bone cancer) and extend his life another three years – $350.00. He removed a toe and followed up with leg and full body x-rays to monitor the progression – it did not metastasize. A friend had a Chihuahua with a broken leg – local estimate $900. for surgical removal ... He had already spent $300. A trip to Rivera resulted in the expert removal of this limb – at a cost of $300. and now the dog outruns its litter mates on three legs. The only downside is that the California vets have a tight control on their turf – a prescription written by a non-US Vet is not acceptable anywhere in the U.S.; it must be written in this country. This means that my cost for prescriptions must include an office call and any “mandated” tests prior to filling the prescription. Buster had a “dead tear duct” tested four times at a cost of $70.00/test just to get his eye drop prescription filled.

What’s the point? People are puzzled as to why I

would go to the trouble to take my new BC puppy to a Vet in Mexico – that’s the story. Hopefully, my experience is unique. Hopefully, my problem isn’t universal. Here, it is pretty obvious, to me, that it’s the money and not the health of the animal and that’s sad. Again, I reiterate – I never say all; I’m sure that there are good, conscientious vets out there ... lots of them ... I just haven’t found one, here, in San Diego.

Well, in conclusion, Hugs got a thorough exam and his 12 week inoculation, and most important, an introduction to his doctor! Who, by the way, has been a BC owner. His “prescription” for ME was ... “get your running shoes on ...” He said that his BC would follow alongside him on his bicycle to a distance of 40 kilometers. At the conclusion of the ride the BC would look at Rivera as if to say, “is that all you have”? He was VERY impressed with Hugs and that’s good.

Jim and Hugs

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