Toby was a pound rescue who came in with a box full of what looked like purebred Newfoundland puppies. He had a Newfie tail, and webbed feet, but was obviously sired by some sort of collie by the looks of him.When we brought him home, he was 16 weeks old and had rarely been outside. He was afraid of almost everything. He was great inside and with the family, but outside, even a bird call he'd never heard before would send him running back in to safety. The neighbour used to babysit a huge yellow Labrador Retriever and one evening she asked if we'd like to go with them for a walk. Toby walked carefully by the Labs side and soon started imitating his behavior. It was really interesting watching Toby suddenly not be quite so afraid of things. After that evening, he was quite the brave little dog.
While he enjoyed agility work, his favourite thing in all the world were tennis balls. He was a mouthy dog and chewed them after he'd played with them for a while. We never pursued flyball for that reason. He didn't just want to chase the balls, but when he was tired, he liked to chew them. The expensive ones would last forever but once a week, the two of us would climb in the car and go grocery shopping. Beside the grocery store was a dollar shop. I'd pop in there, pick up a packet of cheap tennis balls. I'd leave them in the car and he'd stick his nose in the bag, just touching the packet of tennis balls and not move the whole way home. He'd carry his packet of tennis balls into the house or wait excitedly until he got one to play with.
He was a good was a good pet. He was good with people and kids. He never did figure out that he was bigger and stronger than the cats though. While I never had to do formal obedience training with him, he learned so quickly that it seemed he was well behaved without training. His house manners were impeccable. When we lived in town, the neighbours once asked me if he actually was able to bark as they knew we had a dog, but had never heard him bark in over 2 years. He did bark, when it was necessary but only then. He was active up until the last couple of weeks of his 13 years. He will be sorely missed.