Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Socializing Puppies

Because the roads between her house and mine were passable, and her twelve-week-old Cavalier puppies needed to be exposed to big dogs, my friend brought three of Bisou's half siblings to our yard to play yesterday.

But before we let my dogs out, my friend, my husband and I set about putting up a makeshift fence of chaises longues around the fishpond.  The yard is large, the pond is small, and the human-to-puppy ratio was one-to-one, yet no sooner had we put up the first chaise, than one of the puppies fell in.  No sooner had he been fished out, than he fell in again.

As I ran indoors to get a towel, I wondered why that puppy, who could have wandered anywhere in the yard, had instead chosen to fall into the very pond that we were trying to keep him out of.  It occurred to me that this was another instance of the "dogs-on-the-rug" behavior:  have you ever bent to straighten a crooked rug without all the dogs in the house instantly converging on that rug?

The diving puppy and the dogs on the rug exhibit the trait that is responsible for the early domestication of the dog as hunting companion, a trait that no other animal--not even ASL-speaking primates--possesses:  the tendency to focus on whatever their human is focusing on.

After we got the puppy dried off and the chaises aligned around the pond, I brought out Bisou.  She was delighted with her two half-brothers and -sister, and showed it by growling at them and standing over them as they rolled onto their backs.  Bisou is a great growler at dogs, but only those she likes.

Then it was time for the piece de resistance, Wolfie.  Lest he overwhelm the puppies, who were barely as big as Wolfie's head, I put him on the leash, and it was all I could do to slow him down a bit as he catapulted towards them.  As he bent to sniff them, the two males scooted under a chair, but the little female ran around behind and sniffed him.  "There," I said to my friend, "goes Bisou's true sister."

Speaking of Bisou, when she's around my two shepherds, she looks to me like a mere wisp of a dog.  Next to the puppies, however, she looked amazingly powerful and robust.  Size perception is so relative.  I remember changing my two-year-old daughter's diaper after bringing her newborn sister home from the hospital and thinking "What is this huge child doing still in diapers?  She needs to get toilet-trained right away!"  And she was.

Eventually we put Wolfie on a down-stay and the puppies each had a cautious sniff, after which they collapsed into a pile and fell asleep.  We recognized that they had absorbed all the socialization they were capable of, and called it a day.

12 comments :

  1. "Because the roads between her house and mine were passable,"

    Sounds like the beginning of a first line of a novel starting in media res.

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  2. It probably shouldn't have dogs as main characters, though.

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  3. I guess you have not read some major "quick read" mystery genre. I think you would make a fortune especially if you could make the location in VT or Catalonia or back and forth throughout generations in both countries! I'll help since I've never lived in either but have pictures in my head. Go see The Help because those images are not "pictures in my head" but real.

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  4. No. It led me far away in time and space and there weren't any spaniels.

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  5. O.k. A mystery that takes place in Vermont and Catalonia, starts in medias res, and has no spaniels. I'm taking notes.

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  6. Possibly the frogs are from 1940's Catalonia and know the whole tale, no pun intended ;-)

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  7. mrb, thanks for your order! The cards are on their way. I hope you enjoy them (I signed each on the back).

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  8. Wait - A mystery that takes place in VT and Catalonia sounds great, but why can't there be spaniels? BTW - What's media res?

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  9. Alix, on second thought, I'll put spaniels back in. In medias res means a narrative that starts in the middle of things, such as "the frogs had been driving her crazy long before the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy fell into the pond."

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  10. I was thinking South America myself, and no dogs, but I could do Vermont with spaniels instead. Or perhaps Civil War Missouri and hounds.

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  11. Hmmm. Maybe a "Because the roads" contest...

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