Friday, October 27, 2017

The Howling

Like many Terrier owners, I'm a tad obsessed with our Scottie . . . and smitten.  


I had always been told that training a Scottie would take oodles of patience, maybe obedience school, but my original girls, Scout and Scarlett, were smart and well behaved. All these years later, Jasper is the same. He learns a trick after one try--that is, if he thinks the trick is a good idea. The first time I introduced him to the concept of "walkie," he never forgot, and the second time I said the word, he turned immediately to the sidewalk. 
The Scottish Terrier's origins are murky, lost to history, but it is thought that the Celts and Scandanavians developed the breed. In Perthshire, Scotland, they were bred to hunt badgers and foxes without being directed by man. In fact, Westies, Scotties, Cairns, Sky, and the Dandie Dinmont are the five original terrier breeds in Scotland. Because Scotties were working dogs, hunting on their own, they evolved into independent thinkers and problem solvers. A Scottie's motto is: Yes, I know what the heck you want, but I have a better idea. They will only allow a human to be in charge if the human has earned the right to lead.
If you know a breed's history, you have a fuller understanding of their behavior. And if you understand how traits came into play, you will be better equipped to raising a happy dog.
Scotties are playful, curious, keenly intelligent, stubborn, loving, sensitive, and dominant. They can be one-man dogs, and if they aren't well-socialized, they can be standoffish with people and other dogs. 
Like many terriers, Scotties aren't known as lap dogs (I've heard that they don't like being restrained--after all, they may need to chase a fox), but Jasper enjoys being cuddled. 

Since they were bred to chase vermin, the Scot possesses an instinctual drive to chase, so when you're walking your Scottie in the yard, he should be kept on a lead or he could sprint away, ignoring your calls.
Aww, you wouldn't do that, would you, Jasper?
Yes, I would, he says. 
Jasper is getting his Howl-O-Ween on, waiting for bones and pumpkin treats. He is celebrating his first holiday with his sister-cousin, Charlotte, a 9 1/2 week old West Highland White Terrier.

Originating in the Scottish Highlands, a Westie has "Westitude." Are you familiar with the dynamic terrier temperament? Bold, independent, smart, stong-willed, loving, and loyal, with an inborn penchant for chasing small varmits. The Westie is smack in the middle of the spectrum. Our breeder explained that Westies are a bit milder in temperament than Scotties, more amenable to training, with a softerType A personality. She also told us that Scotties can choose one person to be their most beloved, but as a rule, the Westie likes everyone. I have seen this myself at dog shows. Scotties will give bystanders the side-eye, but a Westie is your new BFF. 
There's a bittersweet legend about Westies. Originally, they weren't white. Bred to ferret out small critters, the Westie was courageous, smart, and tough. But after a beloved Westie was mistaken for a fox and accidentally shot, the coat color was tweaked to prevent another tragedy. Thus, the West Highland White Terrier came into being.
Westies and Scotties are "window watchers," just waiting for a stray dog or squirrel to trespass in the yard. They are much happier and healthier when their human takes them for daily walkies. We've also taught Jasper to fetch a ball.
Both breeds can be great watchdogs. Although known for their barking, I believe it's Terrier Talk.  When Jasper barks, he needs a potty break. If he hears a weird night-time noise, his bark is much deeper and serious. 

We debated the notion of adding a second puppy to our household. The decision wasn't taken lightly. Our Yorkies' long and serious illnesses had prompted me to research health issues in Scotties and Westies, and I looked for a breeder who was conscientious. Ours attends seminars and workshops, and she is devoted to the betterment of her breed--and not just conformation, but longevity. There are never guarantees, but it behooves anyone to do your homework.
I have been asked why I didn't settle on another Yorkie. I've also been asked why I didn't rescue an older dog. As for the first question, I was just too heartbroken to look at Yorkies, and when I finally did, I found a slew of backyard breeders, and many were focused on creating a "pocket" or "parti-color" Yorkie. I did a cursory study online and was surprised to find a plethora of "designer" breeds: Cavaliers mixed with poodles, and so on. (I don't know if this is accurate, but a vet told me that mixing two breeds, such as a Yorkie and a Maltese, doesn't necessarily give hybrid vigor. In fact, the puppies can end up with health issues from both breeds.)
I won't retrace my steps here, but if you're interested, I wrote about how we decided to return to our original breed, Scotties, on another website. Even then, we found many questionable breeders. It took time and luck to find one we trusted.
The second question can be answered more succinctly: it was a family decision, based on losses that just about broke us. It's not the right decision for many people, but starting over with a puppy was the right decision for us. 

As for the socialization of puppies, we talked to experts in the breed and decided that it would be much easier to introduce a puppy while Jasper was still a pup himself (but already house trained and learning basic obedience skills). 
We tried to use our heads, not our hearts, but in the end, the final decision was emotional. The time was now or never to add a second dog to our pack.

We were "dogless" for two years, and in that time, our house always felt a tad hollow. After Jasper arrived, the house became a home--at long last. And Charlotte has made it even happier. She's playful, with a sunny disposition. Jasper is beguiled, though he managed to take one of her itty toys away, then parade it in front of her, only to return. As he passed by, she snatched the toy and pranced away. "She will completely rule him," our breeder said.
I believe it.
At home, our decor isn't farmstyle. It's pet friendly. Lamp cords are wound around the lamp base, safely out of reach. Electrical outlets are plugged up. Anything chewable has been removed. We have baby gates, a leash rack, a basket filled with raincoats and sweaters, and plenty of Nature's Miracle. You'll find fluffy beds between the sofas, toys flung on the floor, and a box of treats on the coffee table--the kind of doggie decor we love best.

We're looking forward to a howling good time in 2018.

When we knew that Charlotte would be joining Jasper--and us-- we felt as if our little family was finally complete. Once again, we are an "8-Paw" family.
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29 comments:

  1. What a fun, fun post. I love Scotties. They were the only dogs my mother-in-law ever had and her brother the same. They were always well-behaved and quite friendly.

    Loving your pups all dressed up and that new baby is darling. They are going to have a ball raising that one.

    Happly HOWLoween! xo Diana

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  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience in this post. If you feel that if you help one future dog owner, you will have succeeded...then know you did just that with me! I had a mixed breed terrier rescued from the pound. Ginger was my best friend through a long divorce, an ear that always listened and never criticized. I recognized so many of her terrier traits in your descriptions of the breeds, and feel after 26 years of missing her maybe it is time to try again. Thanks for such a wonderful view of purposeful doggy adoption.

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    1. They really do earn the title of man's best friend, don't they? Just last night, I told my husband that I wish we hadn't waited two years to bring another dog into our lives. My friend Jain said it's the magic elixir, and she's right.

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  3. Hi Michael,
    The first time I heard of a Westie was in Marne Davis Kellogg's The Kick Keswick Series. Kick had a White Westie and she carried it everywhere. I fell in love with her dog and Kick. I love your new puppies. Please keep sharing the cute photos of your puppies anytime.
    Fondly,
    Betty

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    1. Thank you so much, Betty.πŸΆπŸ’•πŸΎ

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  4. Cuteness overload...those paws, that face...I think I'd carry her around in my pocket all day! I'm lovin' all the Howl-o-ween toys, pumpkins and sweaters for Jasper and Charlotte. I had to chuckle that she snatched her toy right back from Jasper, I bet he's thrilled to have a pack member. My girls are 12 (hard to believe) but we've talked about adding a puppy now to our pack so we have a transition dog. It's hard to think about.... if only I could go to the puppy pumpkin patch and pick one and bring home.Thanks for the yappy start to my morning! Eight paws are the best.

    P.S. I'm having technical difficulties this morning and keep losing my comment. I finally copied and pasted my comment to save it. Sorry if I'm repeating myself, it's either not enough coffee or cranky technology.

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    1. Well, you coined the phrase "8 paws," my dear. The toy Jasper stole (and Charlotte stole from him) was the little string-knotted caterpiller you gave him. They like the life preserver, too. Somehow Jasper did not rip these apart--they're durable! I've had trouble leaving comments on blogs via Bloglovin (though I assumed it was a glitch in our connection.

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  5. Precious, just adorable, both of them. I am a terrier person too, they just are so smart and have so much energy. We have been dogless for right at 2 years now too. DH likes watching Welsh Terrier videos on youtube, and will wear me down soon to have another furkid. I do miss having a dog in the house.

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    1. Welsh Terriers are so adorable. I love all terriers, too.

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  6. Dear ML- this is all so good to learn. I can feel your passion and pain through all this and can only imagine how you came to decide to add another furry friend or two to your hearts. It's a BIG deal.

    I lost my Romeo kitty= truly my dearest friend - a few years ago and I still cry nearly every time I see his picture. Me? One who didn't even like animals???? Fall so head-over-heels in love with the sweetest pet in the entire world?

    Ouch. Sigh.

    So you to do this is remarkable and marvelous and I am truly happy for you all. You have too much fur love to give just to give up! Jasper and Charlotte are lucky to have you, and visa versa. My ♥ goes out to you now and always.

    Give them loving pets and treats for me. And find peace inside knowing your beloved Scout and Scarlett are happily playing with Romeo and all those other wonderful four legged friends in the park near Rainbow Bridge. We will see them again - our hearts tell us so! ♥♥♥

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    1. I believe you are right--we will see them again. xxoo

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  7. Your dogs are just adorable, Michael Lee! We love our little miniature Schnauzer who will soon be 5 yrs old. She has great energy but also is a happy little lap dog.

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  8. What cutie pies! My cousin is crazed for Scotties. So much so that when she retired she opened a yarn/loom shop called Red Scottie.
    Brenda

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  9. The post was wonderful. My granddaughter has a Westie - Skittles is her name and she is some dog. She came to my house for xmas a couple years ago put both of my dogs in their place - she was the Alpha LOL. They all got along fine and when bedtime came all three joined me in bed. Needless to say I didn't have much room, but we had lots of fun.

    Jasper is so cute and I love their outfits.

    Happy Halloween.

    Mary

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  10. These two new additions to your family are precious! I am a terrier lover, too. And they all seem to have their own personalities no matter what the breed description states. My little Norwich, Lizzie, is a sweetie. May you and your family enjoy these two babies for years to come. Best wishes! Jill, Sacramento, CA

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  11. Congratulations, again! This is just so sweet, and you are obviously some of the most pet-responsible people I've had the pleasure of being acquainted with. It's refreshing!

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  12. Fabulous post on the history of the two breeds. Your babies are simply precious!

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  13. I am having bandwidth issues, as in none of your pics load, I can only read about your newest, but you can only imagine how thrilled I am for you to have a couple of new four wheel drive you crazy happy pups in the house again. Won't be able to see until next week, the new house only comes with my hot spot, as in a not spot... so happy for you, eager to have my own sighting soon :-)

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  14. Charlotte is too cute! I can imagine her and Jasper running about having a good time and how fun it will be watching them. I’ve been dogless for 8 years. I miss the unconditional love they offer and how they just love the human attention. I loved the pictures you shared- just too fun!

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  15. So happy for your new family member! Charlotte is adorable and yes one can immediately see that she will be in charge! It takes a lot of energy to raise one pup not to mention 2! I'm sure your days are filled with smiles and love~

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  16. I'm so excited to see you've added to your family! she's adorable, and so good to hear a little about the breeds and health concerns of each. We're a cat family by default, and heaven knows I'm dealing with health issues as they are aging... and so am I. ha ha. love your pics!

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  17. Your new addition could not be any cuter!! How fun that you can dress them up and have a photo session with such adorable props. My dogs want nothing to do with costumes or cameras! Best wishes for your puppy stages, may Charlotte bring you much love!

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  18. I think it's safe to say that your family must be "over the moon" ecstatic! I know the heartache you speak of and write about when you've shared the loss of your past pets. Animal lovers cannot function well without a pet/s and I'm one of them. Jasper and Charlotte are simply adorable and I'm so happy for all of you!

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  19. Omg how adorable your babies are! Once again your photography is stunning, I could not be any happier for you! Never seen them so tiny, cute cute cute!

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  20. Oh my goodness, at first I thought Charlotte was a puppy friend that belonged to someone else! Then I found out that she's YOURS! How exciting, Michael Lee, to be an 8-paw family again. I know Jasper and Charlotte will help to heal your heart. I'm so happy for you!

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  21. Congratulations Michael Lee on the new additions to your family as both are such adorable fur babies who even steal my heart, just looking at their photos. -Brenda-

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