Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My name is RIDLEY

I have a new puppy. Her name is RIDLEY! And Good Lord, look at those ears!! I've looked and looked for something I liked that had more size and also great hip scores. I had been supposed to get a pup from Ridley's breeder last December, but only one pup was born and it died shortly after birth in a litter sired by Titan. In the meantime, I found Izzy, who stole my heart and then broke it when it turned out her hips were horrible. So, when Sam Reed called me to tell me that Elka had three female pups and it so happened I was supposed to be in Connecticut at the same time the pups would be ready to go home, it was game on!
I wished that there had been 10 boys and 1 girl but I was willing to look and see if I liked any of the girls. Elka has the BEST PennHip scores of all Dutch Shepherds in the database. And I really want that. Again I made a choice of a puppy that I wouldn't recommend to someone else. There was little communication as the pups grew. No photos, no video. No Volhard puppy tests.
No contract to sign. On the plus side of the column the parents had PennHip scores and the litter is UKC registered, and the pup was up to date on shots. No tattoo or microchip. I did not get to see the parents work. And the pups had not been exposed to the wide variety of things I do with my own litters, even to the extent that when placed on grass, only the pup I chose felt confident enough to move and pursue. They were on concrete in their kennel and on the deck, but apparently not anywhere else.
So, as I said.... I wouldn't recommend this as a selection process! However, Ridley was totally focused on biting the towel no matter what environment she was in. We carried the pups to a weight room they had not previously visited and she continued playing tug. When the tug was "dead" the other puppy was bored and left it to explore while Ridley guarded it and continued to interact. She also showed a natural retrieve. When I dropped my big ring of keys, she ran to it and carried it off, playing keep away with the other pup. I decided that I could work with that.
She had never been in a crate, but after only a couple whimpers she never whined again during our 20+ hour journey home. And no messes! No anxious drooling or worry. She got out and potty and played at the rest stops and was an excellent traveler.
On our first vet visit she weighed 16 pounds. I had her microchipped and she gave no indication that she even felt it. whoa. high pain tolerance! She wasn't thrilled with the vet and even at her age will growl and bark. She has issues with suspicion she has to overcome, due to her lack of exposure. I have a couple months of intensive work while I can still imprint, so will drag the little munchkin everywhere with me!
It took me the first week to really create food drive. She tended to pick at her food and leave it, so that changed immediately. Now she is very food driven and will take food from strangers, even if suspicious. The world was big and scarey but between the food and the prey drive, she will go through anything. One lesson she has had to learn is that jumping on me and randomly biting is not acceptable. She would throw a little hissy when restricted from something she wanted, or just try to get my attention, by flinging herself at me and biting. NOT acceptable. The first time she got her little muzzle whapped she sat and licked it and looked puzzled like "THAT never happened before!" Slowly but surely, she is learning.
We take walks around the property where she is exposed to different terrains and covers and the sounds of nature. Today I threw her toy into the tall grass and the weeds and she showed very nice hunt drive. She has terrific prey drive and when I am carrying the toy she has intense focus as she looks up at me. But the hunt drive is so nice to see. I restrained her and threw the toy into cover and then released her to find it. She couldn't see it with her eyes, and I could see her working the scent. What a delight! I was very pleased with her persistence. She did not give up and come to me to fix things for her; she kept searching until she found it.
She thinks Cooper is pretty cool and likes to play with him. It's funny, she will chase him and play, but when Pre gave an enthusiastic play bow, slapping his front legs to the ground, it startled her and she yelped! But here she is in action with Cooper, her pal.

At the very least, I will have an interesting lesson in what can be overcome in lack of early socialization. The window has not yet been closed, so I think we can get it done. Stay tuned!