Friday, October 18, 2013

What Was I Thinking?

What was I thinking?  Why did I think I could "manage" two enthusiastic young Dals so close in age?  What made me think I could raise and train two youngsters just 5 months apart, while living in the city in a house with a small yard, owning 3 older dogs, and still working full time?  And maintain my sanity!  But I decided to do it, and although I sometimes wonder about that decision, we are managing.  Pretty well, actually.

16 month old Fern and 11 month old Max are coming along nicely, but it's been a huge investment in time and energy.  Both are high energy, very enthusiastic dogs, way too smart for their own good, but they have reasonably good manners and are fit, happy, and well-adjusted.  I love them both and because they are such clowns they keep me smiling - most of the time.  Occasionally it gets to be a bit too much, but a Time Out in a crate, for one or both solves that.  Obedience training also makes a huge difference.  Fern did two separate Puppy Classes, and Max did two concurrently, one at PetCo and a better one at a Training School. Max is currently doing a Beginners Class, and Fern will do the same this winter.  The time spent training a puppy is invaluable as it establishes a bond and teaches the pup to learn.  It's an excellent "Management Tool".

I always remind myself that "a tired puppy is a good puppy", but of course you can't actually tire out a young Dal.  Nope, they are not hyper.  Dals aren't hyper, they are enthusiastic, just as youngsters in many other breeds are enthusiastic and energetic.  A breed meant to spend the day running with a carriage must have energy and stamina, just like many of the sporting breeds that were bred to hunt all day.  Additionally, most Dals are bright and easily bored, so you have to keep them busy and channel all that energy.

Max and Fern spend a lot of time playing and wrestling with one another, and with dad/grandpa Argus and aunt Josie.  Argus is Max's sire, and Fern's grandsire, and Argus himself was a high energy, incredibly enthusiastic dog.  I love the fact that the breed is so cheerful, so happy all the time, especially when you are interacting with them. 

Argus, Max & Fern get walked in the evening.  Every evening.  Even if it is raining or snowing or bitterly cold.  It's good for them and it's also good for me.  We do longer walks when the weather is decent, usually one to two miles per dog, but sometimes I cheat and we only do a few blocks, especially if time is short.  The thing is they each get a walk, individual attention, and a bit of training.  A few Sits and Stays, a Recall or two with a food reward, a bit of heeling, but mostly brisk walking.  I use a Flexi lead much of the time, so the dog covers a lot more ground than I do, but sometimes we use a 6-foot lead, as dogs need "city manners" too.  The key here is individual walks, individual attention.  Sunday is Dog Park Day and Argus & Fern look forward to that.  All three dogs get some off-leash running as often as possible.

I've had quieter Dals than the current group, old Watson for example was always calm and civilized even as a Teen-Dal.  Rob was the same way, and so were many of his offspring.  Argus is the other side of the coin, and tends to do lively enthusiastic kids too.  Having owned both, I guess I really prefer the silly, always-happy ones.  The funny ones who make me laugh. BUT they are more work. It would be easier if some of the dogs who go to pet homes were quieter and more laid back, and we have a range of personalities and energy levels in this breed.

Henry is like Argus, always happy and enthusiastic, while Argus's daughter Nena is like her mother Read, calm and sensible.  It will be interesting to see the range of personalities in Nena's litter.  The litter Max was from had 5 livelier and 2 quieter pups.  I can't always pick them perfectly, but normally the clues are there at an early age and I do my best to match the pups with the appropriate homes. 

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