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Meet Alpine!

Meet Alpine!

It all happened when I met Charlie.

I fell for him immediately. 

He was fun, handsome, engaging, and loved to eat and play–a welcome change to what I’m used to. 

I wasn’t really looking for that kind of relationship, but the universe gave me enough signals that I thought I should listen.

Charlie is a dog, a Border Collie to be exact.

He’s not my dog, but I got a dog because of him.

We had Charlie in for a board and train earlier this summer. He was a delight to work with. A lot of the dogs we get in for boarding have no food or play drive, and therefore no motivation to work.

As you can imagine, it makes training particularly challenging.

But Charlie wanted to work and play and eat and work some more.

He was a joy. I’d take him out for extra sessions because he was so much fun.

One day, his breeder popped in to check on him. She lives about 45 minutes away from our facility and was in town for an appointment.

Not overly personable at first, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of her in the beginning, but I thought it was awesome that she came by to check on one of her dogs.

That is the sign of an excellent breeder to me.

I worked with Charlie for her for a bit and then she went on her way.

When Matt came in later that morning, I told him that she had stopped by and said that if I decided that I ever wanted a Border Collie, I think I’d get one from her.

“You should,” he told me. “She breeds amazing dogs. I used to have one from her.”

Matt has two Malinois, so I was surprised to learn that he once had a Border Collie. He went on and on about how well bred the dog was, how much drive he had, and how much fun he was to work with.

Hmmmm. I thought.

I emailed Kailey, the breeder to let her know that it was nice to meet her and that if I ever decided to get a Border Collie, I’d like to get one from her.

She replied back informing me that she had just rebred Charlie’s parents and the litter was due in August.

Hmmmm. I thought, again.

When Charlie’s parents came to pick him up at the end of his board and train, I told them all about Kailey and the new litter.

They already knew about the litter because they had a deposit down for the first female pick.


They had decided to focus on Charlie instead and would not be getting a second (third, actually) dog.

The first pick was mine, if I wanted it.

I was done with “hmmmms” as soon as they said that. That information was enough for me to make a decision: I wanted a dog from this litter.

I emailed Kailey and let her know that Charlie’s owners offered to transfer the first female pick to me and that I wanted to switch to male.

Done and done.

In a few months I’d have a dog.

I had sworn off puppies because of Laila, the puppy I never wanted. (who was also the puppy that sent me down the dog training rabbit hole and well, here I am, a dog trainer, today).

I never wanted a puppy for various reasons, mainly because I believed that I couldn’t run with them until they were a year old or more (which I’ve since learned isn’t exactly true). 

I also didn’t want to deal with puppy-ness.

I just wanted an adult dog.

But, in a few months, I’d find myself with a puppy of my choosing from an exceptional breeder.

Working as a dog trainer for an established facility has made me realize just how important proper breeding is for dogs.

Owning a challenging dog that has bitten people has also shown me how stressful it can be to own a dog that can be a ticking time bomb.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore Sitka and he’s an amazing dog.

But I’ve put in a TON of work with him. He lucked out that I came along, because I fully believe that he’d be put down in the hands of the wrong handler.

It’s also stressful to take him places or have him around people who don’t respect his boundaries.

I was excited to have a drivey working dog with good genetics that I could shape into a reliable companion.

And so, 750 words into this blog post, I’d like to officially introduce you to the newest member of my pack: Alpine.

He’s a red bi-colored Border Collie from Forthright Farms in Centerville, WA. He’s one of seven in his litter and his parents are Molly and Clark, whom you can see if you visit the website.

His dad is a fabulous herder who moves cows with precision and calm (there are videos if you want to see him in action). 

Alpine, 11 weeks at the time of this writing, is wicked smart, has both crazy food and play drive, and has let me sleep through the night since his third day with me.

We’ve been doing a lot of free shaping, getting started on tracking work, and have been getting out and about to experience the world.

In addition to becoming another running companion, I’m going to work with him to become a detection dog, ideally for conservation work and want to do tracking and trailing (think Search and Rescue). 

Turns out, when you know what you’re doing and have a well bred dog, puppies aren’t so bad after all.

John Richards

Tuesday 28th of November 2023

Congratulations Jen! He's a beautiful dog. May you two enjoy a wonderful, long relationship. Be well my friend.

Jen Sotolongo

Tuesday 26th of December 2023

Thank you, John! I hope that you're doing well! I miss you!


Wednesday 22nd of November 2023

Beautiful dog ! Best of luck

Jen Sotolongo

Tuesday 26th of December 2023

Thank you, Elizabeth!


Wednesday 22nd of November 2023

Jen - Congrats he's beautiful!!

Jen Sotolongo

Tuesday 26th of December 2023

Thank you!


Wednesday 22nd of November 2023

What a cutie! You will certainly have your hands full. Again 🙃

Why breed when there are so many unwanted and needy dogs out there?

Jen Sotolongo

Tuesday 26th of December 2023

Thanks, Karen. He's such a good pup and so much fun. I went with a breeder because after having worked with so many dogs as a trainer, I wanted a dog that had the drive I was looking for, had good genetics, and whose parents I could meet. I used to be all about adoption only, but the more I work with dogs, the more I see the value in getting a dog that has exactly what I want.