Welcome Home, Bryn

After having Fauna here, it definitely reminded me what the MOST important thing is when bringing home a new puppy – that they get along well in the household. With my potential puppy plans having ALL fizzled out, I was back to square one. Which is fine, we’re not in any particular rush, and SO MANY BOY PUPPIES, it’s crazy how few girls were even being born. Bonnie was on the job keeping her eyes out for any herding puppies in Idaho that might work for me. And it just so happens that her neighbor Robin Brown had gotten a couple puppies from a guy in Idaho. She’d picked them up a few weeks ago, they were now 12 weeks old, a boy and a girl. Hm, a girl? An actual girl available?

So Bonnie went over to meet her, and she was very super friendly, confident and really happy and sweet. She did not get at all upset with her giant brother that kept running her over, just popped right back up with no ill will. Just a very happy, wiggly, fun, confident puppy. And a CUTE little brindle tri – the only girl in the litter. She hadn’t had any training or anything, so Bonnie introduced her to treats (ha!) and taught her to offer a sit in no time.

So … I liked her, she had a really wonderful energy and sweet thoughtfulness that spoke to me. But I didn’t know anything about her, vaguely related to Rooster on one side of the pedigree, complete unknown on the other. Idaho cattledog lines, which in general I’m not a huge fan of cattle dogs, but apparently the pups were out of lines Robin knows, and she doesn’t like the real gritty, pushy cattle dogs – but prefers a more thoughtful dog that can take care of business if need be, but is level headed and not causing trouble. She felt this girl would be a medium eye dog, bold and forward, but not oblivious and hard headed. I saw some relatives, who were some nice workers that moved fairly well. You know, for dogs with tiny legs.

Idaho is land of the low rider border collie, and I think this puppy will be a fairly stocky low rider as well. But she passed Carol’s conformation test, so she seems to have some nice shoulders and an okay rear, from what she could see. Some of the relatives are fairly stylish in working, and Robin said they were ‘cat-like’ in movement, which I’m taking as a good thing. I don’t have big expectations puppy will be the best agility dog, but I’m optimistic she’ll be a good herding dog. As long as she has fun in agility, I’m good. Finding a good herding dog is harder, and that is always a crap shoot. This is a BIG crapshoot, as I really don’t know anything about her immediate relatives. So, yeah – health concerns, who knows? Temperaments, who knows? I can say her and her brother seem like super nice puppies.

So first I wasn’t going to do it, too many unknowns – but then again, she really seems like a puppy that would be sweet to Asher (without getting overwhelmed by him), and I just … liked her. I liked her thoughtful energy and her people focus, and she just felt ‘right’. And who knows what the future holds, all litters are a crapshoot, really. If I liked her, why not? One benefit of random Idaho dog I know nothing about, I don’t have any expectations of her to be anything, and that’s a nice place to start. Though she’s not a tiny puppy, so I feel like I can say I know more about who she actually is as opposed to an 8 week old.

So, once again, Bonnie to the rescue – she agreed to keep the puppy until I moved, which is no small task – puppies are a lot of work! Luckily she’s not a tiny baby puppy, but, yeah, definitely owe Bonnie big time. Thankfully Bryn was not much of a troublemaker, got along with her dogs, slept through the night in a crate and is sweet, but independent enough that she’s not needy. She was slow to warm up to playing with Schmeckit (all the other dogs had no interest in her), but after a few days they were playing great together.

She passed the test at Bonnie’s so off she came to Oregon … where I then passed her off to Carol! This puppy gets AROUND. Bryn was so shell shocked and car sick when I got her from Bonnie, but we gave her some Bonine for the car sickness and when we got to Oregon she came out sassy as hell and giving Carol’s dogs the business. Ha, no shy wilting flower! So she stayed with Carol until I sent off Fauna back down to California. Carol said she was BUSY, and it was funny to see how she didn’t really go for the dog toys to play with, but metal tins and hair brushes. She didn’t grow up with toys so she made up her own. She went to Frenchman’s with Carol and Lisa’s dogs (and told them what for too!) and just made herself at home wherever she went.

Finally, I got to pick up my puppy, and I was not sure at all who she was. She seemed to be a different dog at every house! But we met at Home Depot to pick up some things, and little rural Idaho dog, who I am pretty damn sure never saw much of anything as a puppy, walked in with no worries whatsoever. Giant trucks, carts, new people, forklifts, saws, you name and she was just solid. So score one for genetics, because that was not the result of socialization as a puppy, that’s for sure.

So the big test, what would my dogs think – and how would she do with the cats? She already showed a very strong herding drive towards Carol’s dogs, I wasn’t sure what she would think of the cats. She didn’t want to chase them, and for the most part ignores them – but will occasionally start contemplate herding them. I’m really trying to put a stop to that right away. The same with biting other dogs, that’s the cattledog in her, we have a No Biting rule when she gets overstimulated or there is too much motion.

As for the boys, she played it cool that first day, and that was all it took – the boys ADORE her. Navarre can play with her really pushy and kind of rough and she has no issues with that. She doesn’t beat up Asher (yet, anyway), and she even charmed Haku, as much is able. The boys really like her, she’s okay with the cats, she is approved.

Border collies from cattle lines tend to be more on the homely side, which is why I find it so funny that Bryn is SO RIDICULOUSLY CUTE. I assume that will fade at some point, and maybe she’ll grow up homely, but she’s ever so adorable still. Her tiny nose, her dark eyes, her expressive ears, her tiny legs – she just makes you want to squish her. And she LOVES being squished! When she comes in to be pet she just melts into you, no frantic wiggling, she just leans into the loving and is the SWEETEST. Absolute sweetest! She’s sweet, but not needy, she’s a very confident dog and pretty independent. She wants to connect with you though, the eye contact is just … gah, did I mention the cuteness?

Training-wise, it’s interesting starting with an older puppy – she does pick things up quicker, but she doesn’t have the skillset I’m used to having with a dog this age. So we’re still working on just getting her to offer behavior and learn to problem solve. She’s one of Nature’s Stationers. Her natural response is to just … sit there. So getting her be less passive has been the goal. It only took one reward for sitting on a station for her to just park herself up there though. She can be animated, but it’s not her natural response, she’s been more quiet her training process. Not the sort of dog that is throwing behaviors left and right and swearing at you, like Fauna was. Much more thoughtful – and polite.

So we haven’t done much, as moving is just … so much. We are moved in, but still in limbo while we get the place painted before I really start unpacking. Bryn has been introduced to hand touches, left/right spins, lie down, wave with both paws (her favorite!), stationing, bouncing up and down, relax and handling skills. I’m still waiting for it to feel like she really understands how to use her behavior to communicate, so waiting to introduce new concepts.

We’ve been working on play skills, which have been slowly coming along. She was pretty tentative in the beginning, assuming that any tugging meant that I wanted the toy and would rather cuddle than play. But with practice and encouragement she is getting to be a fiercer tugger, and I can pet her a little while she tugs now without her immediately outing the toy. Switching toys is tough as she really wants to hoard all the toys, so she runs off with her prizes. Getting her to then come back and play with the toy I have is tricky, my imaginary dog I’m playing with has to be having a REALLY good time! Like many dogs before her, Bryn’s absolute favorites are squeaky things, and one particular squeaky ball she likes the MOST. So once I was getting her trading easily between two squeaky toys, she finally made the connection that bringing the toy back to me was more fun than playing on her own – and she retrieves! She’ll be a normal toy obsessed border collie in no time, I think.

Bryn is definitely a slave to motion, and she really likes to herd the other dogs. The problem being, they just leave her in the DUST. Those tiny legs of her just can’t compete with Asher and Navarre’s HUGE strides, no matter how much she hustles. So there is lots of Bryn trying her heart out to catch up … and then stopping sadly to watch them run away. Maybe someday, girlie. Or maybe not, her legs are REALLY short! Hopefully we can get herding things we want to, and not dogs and cats. She’s already been in with the sheep at Bonnie’s (when you’re tiny, sheep fences are nothing!) and showed some nice moves. I’m very optimistic about her as a herding dog, assuming her little legs can get her where she needs to go!

It was pretty hilarious, we went hiking with a borderpap that was almost the exact same age and she was about the same height – though Bryn is WAY heavier. She is getting bigger and at 16 weeks she’s 14 lbs. Which is … small? Normal? Having these giant boys I’ve lost all perspective. I really want her to stay small! She’ll probably just end up being a REALLY stocky 20 inch dog. She’s pretty perfect though, maybe she’ll humor me and stay under 18 inches and get me a 16 inch jumper. Her legs are so short, it could happen!

I did send off her genetic panel, it’s the best I can do to see if there is any ridiculously stupid, completely preventable disease she might have. She’s just kind of perfect I keep assuming there must be something up with her. Well, to be fair, there is housebreaking, which she just has ZERO clue about. Getting outdoor puppy is much more challenging in the housebreaking department, and she’s much more spry than an 8 week old puppy, harder to keep tabs on her. And she has opinions, she’s all sweet and into you … until she doesn’t want to do something, then she is really good at saying, “Screw you, I’m outta here …”

So welcome Bryn! Also known as ‘Muffintop’, Munchkin, Shorty and Bryn the Brindle of the House of Many Toes (she has rear dewclaws!) – the last is from Bonnie.