Niko (ADOPTED!) is a 2 year old, border collie and Siberian husky mix. He is a super sweet dog, who needs a patient, gentle, loving person to be his companion. We can see that once he feels secure Niko has a wonderfully happy, loving personality. As a young, mix of two working breeds, he does need a good long hike and some active, tongue-hanging out exercise each day. This is NOT a dog for apartment life while people are away at work, or for people who want a dog by their side, without the ability or commitment to exercise a young working breed properly each day.
He does not have a mean bone in his body, and was a favorite of several staffers at the shelter. When Niko was getting to know his foster dad and feeling safe and happy, he showed some puppy-like traits of doing zoomies and play bows. However, currently Niko is still afraid of everything that moves. He tucks his tail between his legs and tries to hide at the sight of people or dogs coming towards him.
When inside and he feels safe, Niko is just happy to quietly hang out with his foster dad, following him from room to room, and lie down near him. Around the house, he is very calm and affectionate. If his human is sitting at a table, sometimes Niko will rest his head in your lap. He can be playful when inside, but not often. If his foster dad tries to initiate play, Niko will play a little with his foster dad. He has shown no interest in any toys or balls. We believe that Niko has never been given toys and doesn’t know what they are. He also does not have the desire to chew on anything.
Our boy is extremely smart and learns quickly. He has two spots that are “his” at his foster home, and he will go right to one of them and lie down. At night, Niko sometimes sleeps on the couch, or one of “his” spots. He is a very quiet dog, and we have not yet heard him make a sound. So far, he has never barked, whined or made any sound.
Niko is extremely obedient and seems to already know a few things. He is completely housebroken. He also knows “Come” and will lie down on command. If you say ‘No’ to something he’s doing, will stop immediately and come to you. He has just learned to return and heel when given the command "With me.”
Niko has probably never walked on leash in the past. When putting on a leash near the door, Niko will flatten himself and cower. He also will not leave the house unless his person has attached the leash to him and is holding it (see 4 paragraphs down, on transitions). Once outside, he is fine. He will pull slightly, and sometimes zig zag in front, when on a leash. In just a week, he has learned that he is supposed to walk on the sidewalk and not down the middle of the street.
When walking outside on city or suburban streets, Niko is very cautious and nervous. about meeting people and animals. When other animals approach him he will lay down or try and hide behind his person. If more than one dog approaches, he will begin to tremble or try and jump up onto his person with front paws. If he is introduced slowly to a dog, he is fine, but has no interest in interacting with another dog. Niko is also afraid of all children. We have not yet seen him around cats.
Niko does love being outside and hikes in nature. Once outside on a trail, his personality shows. He happily runs back and forth, and will check in frequently with his foster dad. When called, he will return to his foster’s side immediately, and checks in by touching his foster’s hand with his nose, sometimes giving one lick. He loves going far ahead on the trail and then races back at full speed. So far, the only animal he isn’t afraid of are birds. When he sees birds nearby, Niko hops after them. He did this when they saw a wild turkey. Here's a YouTube link to Niko and his foster playing outside: https://youtu.be/QdlSzk-9D-I
Niko is afraid of many things that he is not familiar with, and especially the possibility that something new may be a bad thing. He is confused and anxious about seeing reflections in mirrors and windows, especially the dog (himself), and not being able to reach his foster’s reflection.
Any change from one environment or situation to another creates great anxiety and fear in Niko. Taking him out of the house for a walk, or getting him in or out of a car, or in or out of a building or room, are all fearful obstacles for Niko. Once he’s transitioned to the new location and nothing bad happens, he settles and will relax (lays down, etc.). This is basically fear and uncertainty of the unknown. He is especially afraid when entering an institutional type setting (building lobby, veterinary office, etc.), which may remind him of the shelter. Once he has done a certain type of transition multiple times with positive associations, and understands that what will happen next is going to be fine, he is no longer afraid. Entering his foster home is easy now. Niko is apprehensive about getting into and out of the car, but once he is in the car, he is relaxed and falls asleep.
He will need a very patient, caring and understanding person/people, to teach him how to trust, become socialized and gain confidence. Although he loves his new foster, he is very afraid of what any person may do to him. When Niko saw his foster dad pick up a wooden stirring spoon to cook with, the pup put his tail between his legs and turned to hide.
We also believe that some of his worries when out on walks is because he may have been confined to a yard and never been out in the world before. As a result, he may not be used to the everyday sights and sounds when out in public. We believe that in the right hands, over time, that he could become a self assured and happy dog.
Niko is a mix of highly active working breeds, and he is not an appropriate dog for people who live in apartments and/or who will leave him with nothing to do during the regular workday (when people go back to work). He needs people who have experience with giving a highly intelligent and active pup the mental and physical activity, and who know how to begin working with him on his fears and self confidence. This pup is an extra challenge because he will need to learn about people, other animals and the outside world in a slow and encouraging way. This is NOT a dog for a first time dog owner or one who is not familiar with these active working breeds, or with a dog who has been mentally and physically abused. For these reasons, we are only willing to adopt him to people who are within a few hours’ drive from the San Francisco Bay Area.