Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Picking Out a Puppy

I would like to write about almost anything other than my job. Unfortunately, my experiences lately fall under the following extrememly boring categories:

-removing layers of dust from my bookshelves, folding laundry, etc
-emailing my friends to tell them I am too busy/tired to hang out
-pwning the undead in WoW and lamenting my coworkers'/guildies' attraction to the Horde (boring background music, ugh!)
-sleeping on the train
-youth group activites (Found a dead chicken wrapped in white cloth during a beach clean-up. That was the most exciting event. Probably should have reported it to the police b/c chicken killing rituals are probably not a sign of emotional balance/functionality. Didn't think of that until later).

The only thing left to talk about is my hyperactive dog, MacGyver.

A bit over a year after our fluffball Rusty died Mom announced that she was feeling well enough to handle a new dog. She wanted a dog a little bigger than the 18 lbs shorthaired Lhasa Apso (they do exist! Silly genetic throwbacks. For visual see Tibetan Spaniels) we had for 13 years and decided a Border Collie was exactly what we needed.

I had been obsessively checking Petfinder for a few months for small Chinese fluffy things but if Mom wanted a border collie, something around 40 pounds, and at that point I figured, a dog is a dog, so I modified my search. I soon found TINY CUTE half border collie half spaniel mix pups at a rescue about an hour away. Although he didn't let on, my dad had apparently been looking forward to Mom's okay, so when I showed them pics of little fuzzbutts with brown eyebrows and white nose stripes he was ready to go.

"Sure, we can go to look," Mom said. Go to look. Hah, right.

We spent the drive picking out names. These pups would have had to be seriously weird/expensive for us not to have brought one home.

As none of the pups in the spacious shed seemed to have extra eyeballs I carefully pushed aside the wire fence and stepped into their area.

"I know they can't understand what's going on," the rescue lady said, "but it seems like they do, because at first they jump around like 'Pick me!' And then as soon as one of them is chosen they stop."

There were about 8 CUTE mixed puppies in the pen; one or two were dead ringers for their Border Collie mum, black and white with brilliant blue eyes; others had chestnut brown on their ears and brown spots on their tummies, apparently from their "spaniel" dad. More on that later.

I had no idea how I was going to pick, but that didn't matter. One of the fluffballs milling around my feet decided to investigate further and put his front paws on my knees. His black and tan face gazed up at me with the expected "I'M CUTE! And I want you to think so although I'm not yet sure why" expression.

"PUPPY!" I squealed, and picked him up. He was so still in my arms. Terrified, the rescue lady said. In shock at being so high off the ground. I brought him over to my parents, who held him and scratched his black-rimmed chestnut ears - ears of the floppy variety - and shook his much larger than necessary brown-spotted white paws. He didn't do much. Just sat there being soft and cute and pliable.

His eyes were hazel. I had earlier been taken in by one of his brother's bright blue eyes, so I decided to get to know him, as well. I made a note of the first puppy's unique ears and gently plopped him back down among his siblings, who no longer found me interesting. He waddled off to drink some water.

His brother was just as sweet, but it was too late. I'd already bonded with little brown ears.

"Are you not going to take that sweet little puppy?" My mom asked. "You already held him!"

"Okay, fine," I said, already feeling the guilt. I returned black and white and blue and retrieved brown ears. Rusty had dark red fur, and although I had trained my brain not to expect another Rusty, the chesnut ears made me think of him. Rusty had blondish red ears but other than his 3 of 4 white paws and white tummy he was dark rust, which was sort of near chestnut.

"I can't pick a dog for his ears. That's not reasonable criteria!" I told myself as if it mattered.

"I think it's gonna have to be this one," I told the rescue lady.

The pupster began to squirm after we got in the car. "Something's going on here" he seemed to say and I don't think he was sure he liked it but he seemed to like us. There's something about puppy kisses that heals heartbreak.

"I'll take care of you, little puppy," I said.

A year later, cute puppy is known as MacGyver. He is over 60 pounds with legs as long as my arms and paws almost the size of my hands, including my fingers. He's ruggedly handsome with tufts of fur on his neck that suggest Wolverine grooming, and has slight hound jowls.

Also, he bays. And howls. Spaniel my arse.

Turns out his boy next door daddy was a hunting dog, probably Foxhound and German Shorthaired Pointer and someting blond (Mac has blond roots).

The GSP is an interesting breed. Wiki tells us:

Since the German shorthaired pointer was developed to be a dog suited to family life and as well as a versatile hunter, the correct temperament is that of an intelligent, bold, and characteristically affectionate dog that is cooperative and easily trained.
[Oh yeah, and he knows when he's being trained and behaves perfectly. The rest of the time? If he feels like it.]

Shyness, fearfulness, over submissiveness, aloofness, lack of biddability, or aggression (especially toward humans) are all incorrect traits. [Mac behaves incorrectly when we try to bring him into the house. These episodes are marked by pulling, don't-you-want-to-play-wrestle-with-me biting (a big no no, playful or not), wriggling, and bucking like a wild horse.]

The GSP is usually very good with children [YES! He sits perfectly still, except for his thumping tail as 3 year olds rub their hands all over his face],

although care should be taken because the breed can be boisterous especially when young. [Mac usually takes a human's appearance in the backyard as an invitation to play. Playing means running into us and possibly knocking us over. We have since taught him that playing also means catching or chasing a ball, but the playfight tendency has not been extinguished.]

These dogs love interaction with humans and appreciate active families who will give them an outlet for their energy. [If he does not receive attention at every moment of the day he whines at a pitch almost too high for birds to hear. Or he gooses us with a Kong in his mouth.]

Most German Shorthaired Pointers make excellent watchdogs.
[Shrews and voles and motorized scooters beware! People? Not so much.]

The breed generally gets along well with other dogs.
[Another dog! I wanna makes friends! OMG, can we go meet him? *pulls on the leash with the strength of ten horses*]

A strong hunting instinct is correct for the breed, which is not always good for other small pets such as cats or rabbits. With training, however, the family dog should be able to discern what is prey and what is not, and they can live quite amicably with other family pets.
[Hey, a mouse! Wanna play? *shrew-thing hisses and tries to bite him* *Mac paws it gently in response and wags his tail*
UPDATE: Mac has since learned that these creatures are not friends, but intruders, and possibly toys. When he catches one, he shakes it and tosses it across the yard. It is often still alive and functioning at this point, which means he has to recover it before it escapes, to return another day and eat our spearmint!]

*end Wiki*

So, this is what became of the cute puppy who used to fall asleep in my lap. These days his head barely fits in my lap and if he gets tired enough he'll tuck himself in his crate and go to sleep on his own. He's 14 months old, neutered, and a graduate of puppy obedience school - which means very little, except that he knows how to put on a good "I'm an obedient dog" show (but he does sit and wait at the door and at corners! I can open the door and while a false start may occur once in a while he won't dart out until I say "okay, go." However this discipline has very little bearing on his behavior in other situtations). The jumping and biting when we try to bring him inside isn't so bad now; he restrains himself a bit. A bit. It helps when I pick up the fallen tree branch he likes to chew on. I hold it, he comes running, I grab him, he grabs it. He wriggles a little and chews as we make our way to the back door. It's a temporary fix, I hope, but I guess it falls under the category of "teaching him alternate behavior." Maybe? Sort of? It is an alternative to biting me.

Due to my 3 hour total commute I don't get to spend much time with him lately. *GUILT* He's a beast but I heart him.

And no, he has not yet learned how to diffuse bombs with a paper clip and one paw duct-taped behind his back. We're still working on heel.

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1 Comments:

At 5:16 PM, Anonymous Jim said...

So this is the weird guy who stole your password at work so I could read your blogs because the stupid computer wouldn't display it. Or Jim, for short. Anyway, that's a really cute story. Seriously, it should be told at Christmastime. It's heartwarming and obvious how much you love your puppy. And when you start to write bad things about your co-workers... well, be nice to me anyway :p

 

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