Time spent with my dogs and my dog friends (aka-friends who have dogs) are never wasted moments. This month my life continues to revolve around canine activities: training, tracking, walking, cuddling with puppies or simply sitting with friends, chatting while our dogs relax in their nearby crates.
One Saturday this month I hosted my first private training match (a term used to describe a mock dog show). There were eight people and eleven dogs in my 40×50’ building. You wouldn’t know there were that many dogs in the room as they were all well-behaved and relatively quiet, if not snoozing in their crates at least awake and chewing on a toy. The occasional vocal dogs were mine, who would whine when they saw another dog doing action exercises: running, jumping, retrieving. Their anticipation for their turn is what I want, but any noises from their crates is considered ill-mannered at dog shows Even the smallest whine is not allowed, something several of us work hard to stop without diminishing our dog’s drive to work, a fine balance.
Another cold morning I loaded my Border Collie girls into the Subaru and drove out into the countryside to help a friend train her dogs to track. Tracking is an AKC titled sport, where a dog follows a 440-500 yard course laid by a stranger, with two judges following at a distance behind. At the end of the track, which has aged between thirty minutes to two hours, the dog finds a leather article, usually, but not always, a glove. My friend’s Schnauzers are usually willing students, anxious to find my gray leather glove filled with training treats. I laid two tracks that morning and then walked behind the team as my friend worked each dog. Afterwards we leashed up our dogs and took them for a walk out into distant fields and paths. My young girls slept soundly all the way home. I slept well that night too.
Recently a local Border Collie breeder brought over a charming litter of six, seven-week-old puppies for their temperament tests. After the evaluator finished with each pup a professional photographer arrived and took probably a hundred pictures of the still rambunctious puppies. Eventually all the running and playing and posing wore out the pack and they stretched out on the grass, which opened up numerous opportunities for even more posed photos. We kept on saying “cute” and “aww” and “how sweet” as even the most high energy dog succumbed to sleep. One puppy was set into a sheepskin-blanketed basket, his feet and tail falling out of the side, oblivious to our admiring stares.
A large, fluffy, blue puppy, that we called the silver boy, was the most outstanding in appearance. He demanded attention and was initially the loudest. But one stood out in the temperament testing as the best obedience prospect. She followed the evaluator around, ran out to a toy and returned it, and loved to cuddle with anyone, a very happy girl. If I didn’t already have four dogs she’d be my pick.
But I’m not the only one to succumb to puppy fever. Other friends have recently gone through the process of choosing the smartest, cutest puppy, the one with the most potential to enjoy the games we humans play with them. But for now my friends will have to endure sleepless nights and a couple of weeks of potty training, something I don’t envy. I’ve already been there, done that. No puppies for me…for now.. not even the pick puppy who still needs a home. Here. Hold my checkbook, please. She is too cute and has so much potential. I’m in danger of being the crazy dog lady. Perhaps I’m already there. Ya think?