Introducing: Finn-MacCool. Finn joined our pack on Friday July 11th.

Finn comes from Border Collies and Aussie rescue. Finn's a male Aussie, six months old (so said the rescue), about 36 pounds.

Here's what I know about him: he and two siblings come from the Yakima, WA area. They were surrendered to a shelter there in May, by a breeder who said they were mini-Aussies (but she also said their father was a Lab - no one believes that, however). A volunteer was picking up the three pups to transport them to the rescue. None of the dogs had collars, so a leash was looped around the neck and through the handle in order to control them. When Finn struggled against his, the volunteer became concerned and loosened it. That was all he needed to RUN! He was gone.

His siblings made it to the rescue, and were quickly placed. I had considered adopting Finn's brother, but he really was small, and I didn't want too small a dog who might become "coyote bait" out on the trail. I decided to wait and see what came along.

While I was at dog camp in late June, a young Aussie was found tied to the door of a different shelter, not too far from where the three pups were surrendered in May. It was Finn! He'd been on his own for a month, but was in excellent shape so it appears someone had taken care of him. He safely made his way to the rescue. After hearing his demeanor described, and learning that he was already 35 pounds and quite a bit larger than his siblings, I decided he and I were meant to be. I could see the intelligence in his eyes.

Finn was given the name Gulliver by the rescue, based on his earlier travels. I just couldn't see myself calling out, loudly, "Gullie! Come, Gullie!" without embarrassment, so I started surfing the web and researching dog names. I've always enjoyed mythology, and names with meaning, so I honed in on sites about mythology.

I found a wonderful site - - that not only has lists of names of mythological gods from several cultures, but each god's description on the web site is very tongue-in-cheek and fun to read.

Given that Finn is a redhead, I narrowed in on Norse and Celtic names. Suddenly I found this, and knew I'd stumbled upon the perfect name:

Finn-MacCool (Celtic) - "Legendary hero of the Finians, the heroic Finn-MacCool delights in cross-country running into strange situations with dogged persistence."

A good description of Finn's life to date, and of my hope that he will become my trail running partner in the near future and for many years to come.

I drove 4.5 hours to meet Finn and the rescue owner at a herding trial in Athena, OR. It was about a hundred miles (round trip), closer than where the rescue is located in northern Idaho. I immediately took to Finn, and after some paperwork, he and I got into my car and headed for home. He traveled really well - not a peep out of him as he curled up in the travel crate I brought. That was a nice surprise.

I got home about 8 PM after another 4.5 hour car trip. I was exhausted. This had turned out to be a 12 hour day, getting Finn. Yet I still had to make introductions to the girls.

I wasn't worried. They're both excellent with puppies (or any dog that doesn't challenge them aggressively, for that matter). Finn is still intact, so the added hormones would be another reason for the girls to welcome him to our pack.

Indeed, introductions went smoothly and quickly. The girls flirted shamelessly, and Finn was completely submissive. In fact, if the girls had any complaints about Finn, it was that he was unwilling to play with them that evening, despite two dramatic play bows by Meadow and lots of flirtatious prancing by Maia. "What a dud," I'm sure they thought.

Finn - smart boy that he is - probably felt a bit intimidated by these huge dogs and decided caution was the best strategy. I firmly believe that in time he will become the boy chew toy the girls have always enjoyed playing with in the past. In fact, the worst problem will likely be that they'll double-team the poor guy and he won't have a chance!

Finn's first night went remarkably well. He became my shadow, and followed me anytime I moved. When it was time for bed, the girls were outside (where it was coolest), but Finn wouldn't go out unless I went with him. Being six months old, he appears to be fully house trained, and with some encouragement, pees in the yard when I ask him to. He followed me back into the house, and slept on a small rug right next to my bed. He slept through the night, and wasn't eager to get up the next morning, either.

This actually caused me a bit of worry - he was being too calm, and I was hoping for a high-energy running partner! He has some snotty discharge from his nose, and the rescue woman announced when I arrived to meet him in OR that one of the other rescue pups had just shown with "something respiratory." Lovely. Was this why he seemed so mellow? Too mellow for a six month old pup? Or was it stress?

Yesterday, the girls continued to try to get Finn to play with them. He's coming out of his cautious shell slowly, but he's still unwilling to let loose with them. Again I worried he was sick. If the girls chase each other, he'll run alongside, but he's not yet willing to play wrestle with either girl. On a two mile walk through the neighborhood, he was terrific meeting people and dogs, but seemed tired.

At one point yesterday evening (three photos, immediately above) Finn found Meadow's ball in the grass. He picked it up, then curled up with it. Meadow came over and - I held my breath - stared at him intently, their noses nearly touching, but didn't try to take the ball away from him. Whew. I wasn't sure how Meadow would handle the toy issue, especially if Finn had dared to growl at her or show his teeth. Maia's not interested in toys unless they squeak, so we no longer keep those in the house - she gets VERY possessive and will rip the toy apart until she finds the squeaker. I wasn't worried about her. But Meadow can be possessive of her toys, in a nice way. If Maia happens to lay down next to one of Meadow's toys - her teddy bear in particular - Meadow will carefully walk over, get the toy, and move it to a "safer" spot. I had already put the teddy bear in a drawer, in anticipation of Finn's arrival.

So observing Meadow and Finn with this ball was interesting. And reassuring.

When I took the ball from Finn and tossed it for Meadow, Finn just watched. When I tossed it a second time, he leaped up and beat Meadow to it! Now that took Meadow - and me - by surprise! This was the fastest he'd moved since his arrival! It also showed me he was "acting" mellow and simply biding his time as he gaged the girls' personalities. Smart boy. After reaching the ball, Finn walked right past Meadow with it in his mouth, taunting her ever so slightly. He again lay down with it between his feet. Meadow approached but didn't take it. I took it, and tossed it for Meadow. She got it - faster, having seen Finn's speed - then lay down with it between her paws. Finn pretended to ignore her.

Meadow still wanted to play, however. She tried to entice Maia with the ball. Didn't work. Maia tried to entice Finn by prancing around. Didn't work. None of them is getting the reaction they want!

Finally we all gave up and went inside.

I brought out some chew toys for Finn. Meadow immediately wanted them for herself. She started trying to hoard them all. I did my best to make it clear to both Meadow and Finn that they would have to share toys.

When the girls went outside, I tossed a tennis ball inside for Finn, and he ran to chase it. He's quick. I understood, now, that he's smart enough to assess the personalities of the dogs around him before showing his own. I like that. A thinker.

Later, I saw that Finn had collected a rope toy and a ball and laid them neatly on Meadow's comforter/bed.

It appears I now have two toy hoarders.

This situation will bear watching as Finn grows.

Lucky for Finn, Meadow's very willing to let him sleep in her favorite spots - on the comforter, and the rug near my bed. If Finn's on the rug, Meadow will lay on the floor two feet away. No issues there.

Finn arrived without any training. I was hoping that my job training him would be made easier by the girls' example. The photo below shows that so far, that's been the case. Finn quickly learned to sit or lay down for a treat. At first he didn't understand why he couldn't get his treat first, but he's learning patience and pack order.

I have a long row to hoe with Finn in terms of training, but already I can see a really smart boy under all that red fur. When he comes reliably (he's still learning his new name), it'll be time to start running short distances in the forest - on leash - to see how he reacts to the deer, elk, cows, fox, birds, people and dogs we encounter there. I suspect I'll be focusing on "leave it" commands.

Friends dropped by this afternoon with Widgeon, the Springer/Lab mix I've babysat often in the past. I wanted to see if Finn would play with a dog more his size and age. Almost immediately - with the girls inside so they wouldn't try to referee or get in the way - Widgeon enticed Finn into a game of chase. Oh my can that boy run! He's fast and agile! The look on his face was suddenly very focused - his breeding came through and he was herding Widgeon. The intensity of his focus was amazing. I watched closely for signs up nipping and saw none. But what I did see, after we all moved back into the house, was that Finn started tying to keep Widgeon away from me.
With the girls, he'll try to insinuate himself between me and them when I'm petting them; I gently push him away and make him wait until I'm done. In those instances, he's all submissive and attention-seeking; so far, the girls have been very tolerant of him. But with Widgeon, it was different - his ears were perked, his face intent, and he was guarding me, jealously, from her. He was much more pushy than he's ever been with the girls. I would hold him at arm's length by his collar while petting and cuddling Widgeon to show him that I'm the one who decides who gets my attention, not him; he never growled or got angry, but I can see that this guarding/jealousy issue could become a problem in the future if I'm not careful. I'm hoping it's mostly the newness of his situation and his intense bonding to me, that he'll quickly gain confidence and grow out of it. He'll have to, by September's session of dog camp.

I can hardly wait until another friend with an 18 month old Border Collie-Aussie mix is back in town - I'm dying to see how Finn and Dylan play.