Saturday, April 19, 2008
With Bentley gone, I was going through the routine of each day, but the joy was gone. I needed something to make me laugh and what better than a puppy doing stupid puppy things to make one laugh. I decided I should have a chocolate Lab and started searching. As fate would have it, there were no chocolate Lab pups available locally at that time. One morning Rob suggested we take a look at one of the local shelters and see if they had any pups. That very morning a woman had turned in a litter of nine week olds. The mother was a Husky and the dad was a Lab- Chow mix. There were five of them, one yellow, two black and two chocolate. As I reached for one of the brown ones, a black pup looked up and we both reached for him at the same time. He was the fuzziest one of the litter.
We named him Tsar in honor of his Siberian ancestors and everyone told me what a cute little guy he was and how he wouldn't get very big. I knew better. I could picture him as a large dog lying at my feet in my library, and he didn't disappoint me. He grew very quickly and is now over 60 pounds.
Tsar presented us with some real behavior problems. I had never crated any of my dogs, but I did have a safe room for them to spend time in when I was away from home. In this house it was the laundry room. Monty and Morgan had both accepted this well. It's a spacious room with a window and only the washer and dryer. I would put their beds, water bowl and toys in there and they would play happily until I came home. Tsar, however, was claustrophobic and panicked if I shut him in the room. He would try to claw his way out and scream until he was rescued. Then he would sob for a long time until I finally got him calmed down. Confinement obviously wasn't going to work with him.
As long as we were home with him, Tsar was a great pup and very calm, but if we left the house, he went wild and started destroying things. First it was anything of mine that he could find or anything I had recently handled. Then he moved on to larger items. He chewed the cushion of the love seat. We were able to repair it and turn it over, but then he chewed the other side and it couldn't be hidden. Soon he had chewed both cushions and started on the arms, then the sofa cushions, then the carpet. We didn't know how to handle this and discussed whether we could keep him, but I wasn't ready to give up on him.
We adopted Tsar in January. He did exactly what I needed him to do. He made me laugh, but soon I was looking at pictures of Portuguese Water Dog puppies on the internet. It wasn't planned, I just loved looking at them. Then one day I contacted a breeder and told her about Bentley. She was very sympathetic and offered to sell me a pup. I thanked her, but declined. Then I found myself contacting another breeder and the same thing happened. I wasn't planning to buy a PWD pup, I had four dogs and one was a puppy. Then I contacted another breeder. This was a Portuguese couple who spent part of the year in Portugal. Their dogs were from Portugal and they had a litter born the day before. I talked to Robert and sent them a deposit. She sent me a picture and asked which pup I was interested in. There was one all black one that looked like Bentley. I chose her.
The day she turned eight weeks old, we met her plane. After an eight hour flight she was ready to run and nip. When she met Tsar she was very happy. They were only four months apart in age and loved playing together, and getting into trouble together. We named her Boo's Legacy Samba Dancer and she reminded me so much of Bentley , both in looks and actions that I was totally happy with her.
She loved the water and loved the snow and she snored like a Portuguese sailor.
Unfortunately, she enjoyed joining Tsar in his rampage through the house in our absence. We had to do something. After consulting our Vet, we put Tsar on drugs for his anxiety and enrolled both pups in obedience class. I took Samba, who had immediately become so attached to me that she wouldn't let me out of her sight, and Rob took Tsar. We went through eight weeks of classes and saw big changes. Tsar loved class and would run to the car every morning hoping it was school day. As soon as he saw me pick up the equipment we used in class he would start dancing around the room. In class, however, he resisted every command. Finally, after six weeks, he went down on command and the whole class cheered and told him what a good boy he was. He ate it up and decided it might be OK to obey, at least some of the time. Obedience was a big self confidence builder for Tsar. Two weeks after classes ended we were able to take him off the drugs and he has not destroyed anything in the house since. Now we can walk out for hours at a time and know that Tsar won't touch anything. He is calm and quiet and a perfect pet.
Samba did well in class, too, and the two partners in crime are now great house dogs. I began making plans for Samba about this time. I decided to enter her in the next local dog show.
Neither Samba nor I enjoyed the dog show. I was nervous and couldn't believe I was actually doing this and Samba could feel my tension and just dragged around the ring. We did manage to win breed, but we were both so stressed out that we didn't stay for group and went home, curled up together and slept for three hours. I decided not to put her through that experience again.
When I was three years old and shopping in the city with my mom, I saw a woman walking an Afghan Hound. It was love at first sight and I always wanted an Afghan. I was never able to get one, conditions were never right. Now suddenly conditions were right. I had the space, the time and the funds, but now my heart belonged to a different breed, the Portuguese Water Dog. Bentley had been a great ambassador for the breed and I loved their enthusiasm and their happy attitudes. These dogs almost never had a bad day.
Soon Rob and I began to talk about breeding Samba. Ever since my first accidental litter, many years ago, I had wanted to breed a planned litter. I had always thought it would be Afghans, but now we had a beautiful PWD. We had different ideas going into this, however. Rob thought it would be neat to sell the pups and have some extra income. I pictured a little pack of PWDs running through the yard and playing in the water together.
We did all Samba's genetic screenings and everything seemed fine. I started studying pedigrees. At night, instead of reading a novel in bed, I read pedigrees and the stud issue of the breed magazine. I narrowed my choice to three. I contacted the breeder of dog A and we started negotiations for using her stud dog for breeding. We went around in circles for weeks. Every time I thought we were making progress, she would ask for the same information I had already supplied and we would start over again. I realized we were never going to come to an agreement and moved on to my next choice. This breeder owned both dogs B and C. She offered me my choice, I chose B, and we signed a contract and waited. We were going to try artificial insemination, so the timing was very important. We waited and waited through Christmas and New Years and finally the big day came. There was a big storm that day where the stud dog lived and power and phones were out. I couldn't get in touch. Timing was crucial and we were two days late. It didn't work. We'd have to try again in six months.