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January 2011



So I know this gorgeous dog. One of the nicest blue Danes I’ve ever seen.

Never takes a bad picture.

Well, except maybe this one.

Oh, oops, I guess this one.

Wait a second. Is he attacking a giant rabbit?

Oh dear. Maybe I spoke too soon.

Maybe I spoke a LOT too soon.

buying a puppy

The tragic myth of being “chosen” by a puppy

Some of the worst decisions in all of dogdom are justified by this line – “He chose me.”

I am tempted to make this post about why this is the case, why we want to make the acquisition of a dog a wholly emotional decision, and (further) why we want it to not just be emotional but an inexorable decision BY THE DOG in the face of which we are hopeless – because it’s ridiculous. Are we somehow thrilled by dogs who are stalkers?

But what I really want to make it about is this gorgeous bunch of Australian Shepherds thundering toward me.

I took this photo about a second and a half before that lead puppy made it to my face. This was the last photo I could take for several minutes, in fact, while I held the camera above my head and laughed helplessly as six babies chewed my ears, sucked on my hair, licked my nose, and wiggled gleefully into my coat.

Once they had all been gently detached from my person, they went running all over the place, except for one.

This dude was on top of me, biting my face, tugging my pants leg, generally making himself a glorious nuisance the entire time. When I put my hands down he ran to them; when I smiled he grinned. I talked to him and he stared into my face as though I was the only person on earth.

So why did I not re-mortgage my house and come home with him? Didn’t he choose me? Isn’t it inevitable? Hasn’t my heart spoken to his, and his spoken back?

Well, for one thing it’s because he’s Leslie’s keeper puppy and I don’t have that much courage in the entire world. But mostly it’s because of this:

Same set of puppies.

There’s “my” puppy, and there’s all that love.

Why? Because he’s that kind of puppy. In fact, a TON of puppies are that kind of puppy. If I went to see a litter of Tervs or Danes or Chihuahuas or Kerry Blues, there would be a puppy “choosing” me in each litter. That puppy would, in fact, “choose” every human to walk into the room, and try to choose the piano and a space heater. Sparkly, pushy puppies are geniuses at it.

Bringing home an Australian Shepherd puppy is the wrong – WRONG – choice for most families. Bringing home a Kerry Blue is wrong for even more of them. Bringing home a puppy of any breed from a pet store or from a bad breeder is even worse. You must choose. YOU must be the one who selects and who takes responsibility and makes sure that the breed and the puppy is a wise and considered choice, and IGNORES the fact that one puppy thinks you’re the bob-omb.


No means no

I am not sure what I love most about this shot – Pi puffing out his cheeks as he tries to stop before he crashes, Thyme imperiously insisting that he put on the brakes, or the fact that Sterling is still smiling a nanosecond before 170 pounds of dog end up in her lap.

It may also be that I know about ten seconds later she was playing “How big is Pi? So big!” with him.

And let me tell you, when you play So Big with a Dane, you’re not kidding.



As much as I love Cardigans, there’s a reason they are a muse for very few sculptors and Danes attract so many.


A major! At freaking last a major!

photo: Friday in the Breed ring after winning WB

Doug and I have more than a healthy dose of superstition regarding a dog with two points. Lucy died with two points; we moved to New England and rehomed Mitch with two points. Clue and Bronte rocketed past two without us even noticing; Friday hit two and stuck there. And stuck there. It began to feel eerily familiar, and more than once we nervously joked about how “hilarious” it would be if Friday got caught in a manhole cover and lost a toe, or got a bad scare and turned white, and was stuck at two points forever.

Friday has been at Sarah’s house for the last three months, for those who weren’t aware of arrangements. Sarah and I were talking in September and I said “Friday is being such a pain in the bottom” and she said “Shade is being such a pain in the bottom” at the same time and we looked at each other and said, “Hey….” and before you know it we had swapped dogs and took each other’s black dogs home.

Friday needed to decide that showing is fun. Shade needed to decide that eating was fun. The experiment was a roaring success – Shade went home six pounds heavier and Friday’s baiting her fool head off – for Sarah. My job is to hide behind poles and take photos!

Anyway, this weekend was our last chance to get points on Friday before I took her home to grow up a bit. The spectre of the TWO POINTS was intact on Friday – reserve. Saturday – major reserve. Sunday I watched her win her class and my hands were shaking so hard I could barely press the shutter down as she came back in for Winners. Sarah made her look like a rock star and she ohmyheavensfinally got the judge’s point.

And there was great jubilation!

The best present for me after that was that Friday came home with us. We really missed her and I am so happy to have her home. Happy also for a bit of a break; in a few months we’ll take a look at her again and see if she should go back out. Slow-maturing dogs are a joy – just a very delayed one! I didn’t bring Clue back out until she was two and a half, and honestly I could have waited even longer. She looked better at three than she did at two; she looks better at four than she did at three. So I am determined not to be impatient with Fri-Fri as long as she’s having fun and continuing to enjoy the ring.

And as long as Sarah’s available!


Wishful thinking

Terrible shot, nothing in focus, but I had to try! Up on the wall is Leslie’s gorgeous and brand-spanking-new BIS ribbon from The AKC/Eukanuba National Championship (TM), and Leslie and Sterling are sharing Reckon the Aussie’s photo book from the event (which also just arrived). When I saw Pi lean in (to get ideas?) I grabbed my camera off the couch.

It decided to focus on the ribbon, which is fitting considering that ALL of us were focused on that ribbon. If I were Leslie I’d work that thing until it was in tatters. “Oh, I’m sorry, what’s that on the bottom of my shoe? Oh, it’s just MY BEST IN SHOW RIBBON FROM EUKANUBA.” “Yes, hold on, it’s a little chilly and I need a wrap –I’ll just grab MY BEST IN SHOW RIBBON FROM EUKANUBA.”  I figure I could at least applique it on a bathrobe or something – every time I opened the closet I could flutter, “Oh, thank you, Judge Fournier, for MY BEST IN SHOW RIBBON FROM EUKANUBA!” And then I’d do an embarrassing dance.

So I guess on second thought it’s better that she has it on the kitchen wall where it can’t get into that kind of trouble.


Joy abounding (pretty literally)

This last Tuesday I had one of those days that I get to hold in my little heart and get warm from for weeks on end. Which is good, because I am pretty sure my bottom hasn’t thawed out yet.

Sarah Davis and I got to go up to Kensington to visit Propwash Farm and take pictures of oh, such a fabulous variety of dogs.

While sitting in the snow.

The abuse my sit-upon took was more than worth it to see two Danes wonder whether a Cardigan is going to explode in their faces,

and a baby Australian Shepherd run with dinosaurs.

The successful pictures are headed to their respective owners, but thankfully I have a lot of out-takes.

A LOT of them.