How appropriate that the opening of the 135th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and Valentine’s Day fall on the same day. I’ve become convinced over the years that the most obedient, well-behaved dogs are either those you find on the show circuit, like Westminster or the AKC, or are service dogs. And that’s about what, 2% of the entire population of dogdom? So for the rest of you dog owners, who suffer through the angst, trials and good-natured foibles of Louie, Maggie, Max and Lassie, you have found a home here.
I grew up with a female Boston Terrier, and when we had to have her put down because of blindness and tumors, my own version of Tiger Mom (see my post from Feb 6), said, “you’re starting high school now. You can have another dog when you have your own home.” My work and travels didn’t permit that until 2001, when I moved into my present home. The day after I moved in, amidst all the boxes, and mother, I brought home my second little Boston Terrier. Mother advised me to wait, but, not your call this time, Tiger Mom.
My little pup eventually evolved into several more dogs, and I’m now at my present number of four, only because the city I live in has a dog max ordinance. My neighbors are probably ever so thankful. My boys are my Boston Terriers, Chipper and Spunky. My girls are my German Shepherd Dogs, Czarina and Olympia, an empress and a goddess. Do I consider myself a breed authority? Absolutely not; I wouldn’t be that presumptuous. But in the realm of dog owners, I’m right up there near the top with experience. I’ve gone through behavior issues (aggression, chewing, digging, dominance, separation anxiety), health issues (surgeries, diseases, infections, allergies), death, re-homing, training, kenneling, traveling, and that’s to start. I could have put an addition onto my house with what I’ve spent on my pups through the years.
So let’s meet my Valentines.
– a.k.a., Wiggle Butt. For everyone who has owned a dog(s), you know what I mean when I say there’s always that one special pup who sings to your heart like no other. For me, it’s Chipper, from the first day I saw him. At nine years old, he’s still a tug-o-war maniac, lives for ball-playing, can run and keep up with the girls, inhales his food, and is Mr. Alpha Male, except during thunderstorms, when he turns into an agitated, hyperventilating mess. Unfortunately, he’s also passive aggressive, thanks to all my wonderful neighbors whose dogs were off leash and pounced/nipped him when he was a pup. So now he wants to get It before It gets him, therefore visits to PetSmart etc are off limits, and Chipper the Nipper remains the bane of Pet Sitters.
Spunky – a.k.a., Spunky360. If you can’t see him, he’s into something. Spunky is Chipper’s half-brother; they both have the same father, but that’s where the similarities end. Spunky will turn 4 years old on Sunday, and he’s his own man. He’s not as avid a ball player as Chip, but would rather go exploring and see what he can get into. He climbed onto the bar top, turned the water on, and promptly fell into the sink. He’s my master chewer and is four-legged vacuum. He’s had two surgeries for foreign objects. I’m forever taking things out of his mouth. But, the little imp warms your heart because he’s such a cuddlebug, loves to get tickled, and he’s relentless when he wants attention.
Czarina – my problem child. It might be due to her being German and having a Russian name. However, she lives up to her billing. She watches over all the pups, and tries to keep them in line, but never with Chip. Alpha Female met her match in Alpha Male. But she’s a wonderfully tempered, sweet girl. I can take her anywhere. Unfortunately, her health has been the issue. She’ll be 3 yrs old April 7, and she’s been through three bouts of panosteitis, numerous ear infections, and now has been diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease. My Czarina is always by my side, and just recently, I saw when she put herself between me and a out of control Giant Schnauzer, and warned him off, how deeply the bond is between us.
Olympia – my butterfly. I got her three months after Czarina, despite all my research and listening to warnings about having two female pups so close in age, the training headaches, etc. Perhaps because I set myself up as the Boss in the house, not sure. But my girls have bonded beautifully, play together non-stop, and are inseparable. While Czarina is the dominant of the two, Olympia’s the diva, and every now and then will show the diva temper if Chip doesn’t play ball by the rules. Olympia’s also my allergy queen at the moment, allergic to dust (show me a house in America that doesn’t have dust) and orchard grass, whatever that is.
Poco – rest in peace. She’s the little Boston pup I brought home in 2001, and passed away in my arms February 13, 2008. Another sweet girl, who watched out for her brother. She saved Chip’s life when a Belgian Tervuren attacked him one evening. If it hadn’t been for her, I don’t know what I would have done. One month to the day after my mom passed from Dementia, Poco began seizuring. At first we thought it was epilepsy, but the seizures were too frequent and severe. After an MRI, she was diagnosed with meningoencephalitis. She lasted another 4 months on a drug therapy protocol, but the seizures broke through. The vets couldn’t save her and she died in my arms at the hospital. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her. She’s now in Rainbows Bridge with mom and dad looking after her.
And so, I’ll probably be writing about the pups with the spring approaching. Spunky’s sure to get into the hostas again, chewing them off at the nub, and then leaving me frond bodies all over the yard; Czarina will chase after the squirrels, and warn away the deer and coyotes; Olympia will dig another Florida panhandle in my grass; and Chipper will probably come up with an entirely new set of ball-playing rules for 2011.
My true passion is my pups and the animal kingdom they represent. I love to share my stories about my pups, as well as any advice I can offer or answer questions that you, my readers, may have about your own pups. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have to run now….after Spunky!