Sunday, April 6, 2014
LIFE WITH ONE OF “JULIET’S” PUPPIES
Well, life with almost one of “Juliet’s” puppies. Our newest dog pack member, Ries, is the grandson of Jolie, the model for “Juliet” in “The Deadly Dog Show”. Ries, in turn, is the model for Juliet’s new puppy Romeo, who will be featured in guest shots (or more) in upcoming books in this series. He’s seven months old (that milestone happened on March 26th), and most certainly has a personality. In fact his personality is bigger than he is at the moment. He shows every sign of potentially becoming our best hunting dog ever---and that’s quite an accolade with three of the women in his life (mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother) having their Senior Hunter certifications and some, if not all, of the necessary successful rounds completed to qualify as a Master Hunter. Ries is working his way up the hunting dog hunt test ladder, currently completing his final qualifying round at the Junior Hunter level.
Dog psychologists have defined a “fear period” from 8 to 18 weeks when the puppy will fear any bad experience he/she has had for the rest of their lives. The human analogue of the “fear period” takes place when a child is 8-18 months old. As responsible breeder/owners, it’s our job to give the puppy as many different experiences as they can possibly handle during this period, and to make the experiences positive ones, to get the best possible temperament and self-confidence in the adult dog to come.
Ries is the only male in our pack: Great Grandma, Vinia; Grandma, Jolie; and Mother, Schöne are trying to train him in how to become a dog---what we call “dog lessons”. Schöne spends most of her time with him in puppy play, so has totally reverted to a 3.5-year old puppy. Jolie spends less time playing with him, but has her puppy-like moments too. She also tolerates his using her as a pillow on floors, beds, and sofas. Vinia does most of the formal training, snarling and growling at Ries when he dares intrude on her space on the couch. But she too has puppy moments (at 10+ years of age) where she plays with her great grandson.
Ries is a lover, not a fighter. He plays with his pack and any other dogs he meets. He likes being a lap dog (currently a 40+-pounder, destined to be a 70+ pounder). He’s adventurous and loves life. A couple of months ago he visited his first wetlands preserve and ran through his first deep water (up to his chest). It was cold water so we didn’t know how he’d feel about it. But he followed Schöne and Elaine right into the water since they seemed to like it. We know he likes warm water, as he showers with Elaine whenever she lets him join her. He also obviously thinks he’s still small. He loves sharing Elaine’s chair with her whenever he can get up on it behind her. If he can wrap his neck around hers, it’s all the better.
Ries has mastered the “come” command, but still has a ways to go with “down”. He loves jumping on things, dogs, and people who, he reasons, must love the experience as much as he does. Why on earth would people have laps when they sit down unless they were designed for him to sit or lie upon? And, one of the major dog lessons has been to keep ever vigilant for the dreaded virtual squirrels (as well as the real ones). Barking, growling, squeaking, and staring out the window in rapt fascination are all appropriate responses to squirrel scent or sightings, real or virtual.
Several nights ago Ries started curling up in Elaine’s lap with a big chew toy and actually watching TV with her for a couple of hours. I think he likes the bright colors and the sound, but maybe he got into the plot as well? He’s very much a lap dog when he flips his switch to the “off” setting.
Vinia likes playing with the puppy on her terms---out in the open (backyard, out in the field). At night she wants her couch unpolluted by puppy germs! And she has the growls and snarls to enforce the “puppies off” rules. Ries loves testing her. After all, she may have changed her mind since the last time! But he gets the dog lesson and leaves her alone after she lets him know that’s the rules for the night. Last night when I went into the family room to join Elaine for a bit of TV watching, Vinia had clearly decided to make a statement to Ries. She collected all the loose cushions and pillows she could find to build a fort on “her” couch. Burrowing deeply into the couch, surrounded by cushions on all sides and at the top, Vinia made sure that the puppy understood what she meant when she snarled “Keep Out! This means you!”
Speaking of older playmates, our son Matt and his family visited a couple of weekends ago. Part of his nuclear family is Doug the dog, Jolie’s littermate (twin) brother. Doug and Ries seem to have bonded, so a relatively small and a very, very, large puppy have a two-dog playgroup they’ve organized. Doug is careful not to hurt Ries and they seem to derive endless pleasure from the classic game of “chase me”. Indoors and outdoors!