He never saw it coming when we dragged my husband to the mall for a party dress for our daughter. What started as an innocent shopping trip for a 9 year olds new frock, turned into a $1,000 night where we walked out with a shocking pink evening dress for her, and a nine pound ball of fur for me? No, not for me..for the kids. Isn’t that why a family dog is brought into the fold?
Our daughter was trying on dress after dress with an attitude that the show Bridzillas wouldn’t even be able to tolerate. ‘”Oh, this will NEVER do, I hate this color, it makes my hair look brassy,” she was huffing from behind the dressing room curtain.
Our son, 6 at the time was twisting in the uncomfortable chairs near the mirror as if someone had his head in a vise. “Just pick one already, I hate this”, he shouted at her. I insisted that their father walk one store down to the Puppy Store and let him play with the dogs while us women, decided on a dress. He was reluctant, but agreed. And so it began.
Those store clerks are good. They must be able to detect a sucker upon entry, because the two sales girls immediately velcroed themselves to us as we walked up and down the aisles, looking at small furry faces with sad eyes. It seemed they all knew what this was about. And as we approached their cage, each dog would snap out of their sadness to perform for us, trying their best to out do the others. They would jump on two legs, bark and whimper, run fast circles, roll over, whatever they thought would garner attention. And then, we approached HIS cage. The small, scruffy looking pup with his back to us. He laid in a tiny ball, no response came from him, while his roomate, a Rat Terrier threw himself desperately against the sides of the cage, PICK ME, PICK ME..was his demeanor. But I wasn’t at all impressed, but rather fascinated by the “so ugly he was almost cute, little pup in the corner who could care less if we were there or not.
I inquired about him to the salesgirl who flipped through a mountain of papers and said, “Yeah, he’s a Cairn Terrier, the oldest pup in this store, he just hasn’t sold, he’s been here for months, and he is on special for half price.” Well, after that run down, I was sold. This little guy needs a home. He was so depressed from being there so long, he didn’t put on the show, the dog and pony dance, he KNEW in his heart, he wouldn’t be chosen. Well, on that night his luck did change, and our lives changed FOREVER!
To begin with, let’s just get this out in the open, and please no throwing of fruit. I am a cat person. Sure, I had dogs as a child.
But I always chose cats as an adult. I like their independent nature, some find it aloof and callous in a way. But I like to earn affection. Hell, dogs just lay it out there, they’ll give you love and licks no matter what. But a cat, well, you must EARN their affection, and depending on the day, you might do nothing right to get it..I like that. So, with this lack of expertise, I embarked on dog ownership knowing nothing of puppy training.
We got the crate, I bought puppy pads, I got stacks of newspapers, toys, treats, etc. etc. I talked to other neighbors who all had dogs, and asked for advice on training the newest member of our family. Nothing they said could prepare me for what lie ahead.
From day one, this dog would always mess up his crate. Everyone told me something different. Line the whole crate with paper, no line only half the crate with paper. Still another said keep the crate bare and no toys, then another said, “put his blanket and toys in the crate, no dog will mess on their belongings.” Well, they hadn’t meet Scruffy, the wonder crapper!
Every day would start the same, I would get up, walk to the living room, turn on the light, drop to my knees and scream, “Nnnnooooooooooooooo!!!” There he would sit, pressing his face against the front of the cage, with a pleading look of “Get me the hell out of here..it stinks!”
It became so bad he would mess his cage numerous times during the day. I was doing nothing but hosing down his crate, and doing laundry. I would mutter under my breath, “who the hell wanted this? Oh, that’s right..I did.”
I finally consulted the vet and they ran numerous tests. Worms, nothing. Parvo, thank God, nothing. Test after test showed nothing wrong with the dog. The vets suggestion, “feed him once a day, and take him out immediately.” Well, that wasn’t working and I was ready to drop him off in the dark somewhere in a cute wicker basket!
Then, Eureka! On one of out weekly trips to the library, my daughter chose a book on Cairn Terriers. As I cleaned the dinner dishes one night, she began reading the chapter about genetic disorders in Cairn Terriers. As she read, my eyes bulged..
“Cairn Terriers are known for chronic diarrhea and intestinal disorders.” As she read I felt elated and depressed at the same time. As she continued, the book went on describing all the disorders that are common with the breed. So, I found the answer to our immediate problem, but also discovered that in old age, this dog might very well be deaf, blind, crippled, incontinent (That one came early it seems) and a multitude of other things, this was surely God stretching me.
After a call to the vet, the answer to his bowel habit were solved with a prescription diet at $25 a bag. This dog is more expensive to feed than my children! But, at least he is no longer “crapping to the oldies”.
Now, I am working on the other little “genetic dispositions” of the breed. Like digging with his mouth like an excavation tool
gouging out trails of expensive sod if he is left tied out in the back yard one minute longer than is required to do his business.
I find out through the book my daughter got that the breed was used centuries ago as ratters in farmland and barns.
And why is the little darling tied out and not allowed to roam in a fenced in backyard? Because, the first time we let him out and went back to other things inside, he ran away. That’s right, squeezed himself through the bars of the fence, and when found was at the end of our street (not a short street either), on his side in a neighbors yard suffering heat stroke..he had literally passed out and they were giving him water through a syringe. Why was he so tired? He took up with a lady jogger who had passed by when said break out occurred and he kept the pace with her all the way down the street..til he passed out in the neighbors yard, who knew him immediately (he already is well known in the neighborhood), and they started aiding him while the wife called us to let us know they had him.
On a positive note ( and I do like to find the silver lining in every mountainous pile of crapola..) He is a sweet, loving little dog, always happy, always affectionate. Very smart, was able to fetch and retrieve from day one..loves to play Frisbee, take walks..he is the Norm of the neighborhood, everybody knows his name. And he is fiercely protective of his home. Hates fireworks, growled and charged the cage door all night long on July 4th, just wanting to get those bad old fireworks so bad it was killing him! And he doesn’t appreciate anyone walking too close or in our front and back yards..he let’s them know real quick with a lip drawn high above the gum, that the sweet face is just a fooler..he could rip your balls off your body PDQ!
So, dog ownership is WORK! Not something to be taken lightly or a decision to be made without careful thought and consideration. But, in the end, there IS an answer to almost every problem when it comes to raising a pup, and the outcome is a sweet, loyal soul that becomes a trusted member of the family. We’re glad he came along, poop and all!