Wednesday, November 23, 2011

It's difficult to be calm and balanced when you're middle-aged

Read all about it... that oughta be our family motto.  Lord knows we can't contemplate any sort of travel without consulting the appropriate Rick Steves book.  Heaven forbid that we booked any accommodations without checking reviews on Trip Advisor.  The planet would probably stop rotating on its axis if we purchased any sort of electronic device without first getting the scoop from Consumer Reports.  

It's no different in regards to the process of selecting and raising a puppy.  First we had to read a couple dog breed books and watch many episodes of Dogs 101.  That narrowed down our selection quite a bit and we finally decided on the Cairn Terrier.  

Never fear, Cesar is here!  Cesar with his lovely Spanish accented English is gonna teach us a thing or two about raising Ollie to be a wonderful dog.  

The day before we went to visit the breeder, I picked up a copy of this book and plowed through about 120 pages so I would know what to look for when selecting the right Cairn pup for us.  Here's how the whole thing went down.

First off, we left the house for an almost two hour drive through some patchy fog to an area east of Cambridge.  The breeder was a very nice lady and her adult daughter.  They had quite the set-up and lots of Cairns to choose from.  We started off by looking at some of the older ones.  They seemed very sweet, but our youngest daughter had come along for the selection process and she really wanted something puppy vs teenager.

The breeder trotted in three pups who were 10 weeks old.  They were a golden color and had the cliche tubby puppy bellies.  All of them were males, roughly the same size and seemed to have similar temperaments - rearing up on the enclosure, yipping for attention and tumbling each other about when we ignored them in order to see what they would do.  According to Cesar, you need to stand back and see what their reactions are.  We were looking for a pup that didn't have to be center stage, that seemed calm in the face of excitement.  

When the breeder saw that we were rather lackluster about these puppies, she then fetched another group of three that were only 8 weeks old.  These were more a red foxy color.  The obvious pick of the litter we referred to as "big boy" because you could tell he ruled the food dish.  He reared up on the side of the enclosure to yap at us and demand attention.  When that elicited no response from us, he then turned around to take away toys from his two siblings.  He quickly became bored with that and returned to bark at us multiple times.  Obviously he didn't have the calm submissive, medium level energy Cesar told us to look for when picking a pup.

The other two pups were more similar in nature.  However, one was really good at entertaining himself.  He was the runt of the litter, but very cute.  He would find a toy and play with it until one of his brothers would wrestle him down and take it away.  However, that didn't faze him and he would just find another toy and promptly start playing with it.  He was very good at entertaining himself rather than bullying his littermates or yapping and rearing up to demand attention from the humans peering down on him.

The breeders did a good job of training the pups to remain calm when picked up, so it was nice to pick up our first choice and get a chance to see him up close.  He remained still and didn't try to squirm away or lick us in the face.  When we put him back in the enclosure, he did rear up on it once to see if we would pick him up.  He waited about 15 seconds in silence and then got down to find a toy and get busy gnawing on it.  

Cesar's book was very helpful and I feel like we did a good job selecting a puppy.  I've been reading up on the next steps - crate training, creating a routine and housebreaking.  The next couple months are gonna be really interesting around here.  I just hope we're all up for the challenge of having a little one in the house.  

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