Wow. Just Wow! The challenge and thrill of being a new dad, again. I wanted to wait until I had time to sit down and catch everything up in one fell swoop. But that is just not going to happen. Recognizing that, I thought I'd begin catching up in little pieces.
My son, Jim, drove down from Brooklyn, NY for the sole purpose of driving 3.5 hours with me to pick up Elise. The breeder's home is at the top of the Manassas Gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains. We arrived, excited to finally meet the breeder and to see our new little girl. Stephanie answered the door, greeted us with hugs and welcomed us in. Ahead, in a pen area, was Sophie (the mom) and the 3 siblings (Elise, Henry & Hughie) with wagging tails and excited squirms.
Stephanie opened the gate and each came up to say "hello". The "boys" immediately went back to playing. Elise climbed up into my lap and began to smother me with kisses. And Sophie began to talk and gave me the "what for". I'm sure she was telling me that I needed to take good care of this little girl's heart!
We then went outside and onto the rear deck. The boys ran off to play and Sophie moved off to keep an eye on them. Elise stayed with us. Looking back, Elise never strayed more than a few feet away from my son or me the entire time we were there. From the very first moment, it was as if she was trying to ask, "What took you so long to come get me?"
Elise continued to cuddle and kiss Jim as Stephanie and I moved from the pen area and into the kitchen to attend to paperwork. Sophie was at the gate and began barking for attention. Stephanie opened the gate and Sophie immediately came over to where I was standing and leaned into me. Apparently, she was done with the "what fors" and now wanted to let me know of her approval. I sat down on the floor and gave her back every bit of loving that she was now offering to me. It really did feel good to have "Mom's Approval"!
As we left, Sophie offered one last goodbye to us all. You could see in her eyes that she'd done this before... but I'd also swear that she was smiling. Jim climbed into the car to drive and I climbed into the passenger side with Elise in my arms. We waved bye and slowly drove away. About a half mile down the mountain, Elise yawned and made a little squeaky squeal with each yawn. She did that 3 or 4 times and we never heard another sound from her again.
We stopped multiple times along the interstate as we headed home. We'd take Elise out of the car to go potty and she never gave any notice to the loud noises of the cars racing by. Her early sound tempering had certainly been successful. The only difficult part of the drive was the knowledge that Darcey and Gina (who was caring for Darcey in our absence) were chomping at the bit for us to be back home with this beautiful little girl.
We finally arrived and Elise excitedly greeted everyone... including Gray, Jim's cat. As Elise was put down on the floor, I opened her crate. She immediately walked in and laid down... claiming her space in front of the cat. Gray wasn't sure what to make of this unafraid little puppy but she was curious.
I've attached two pictures (for starters). The first is at one of the rest stops alongside the interstate. And the second is one taken shortly after Elise claimed her crate. Gray can be seen tentatively reaching a paw in to say "hello".
Elise is a cousin of the Havanese. The breed is Coton de Tulear. They are know as "the ultimate antidepressant in the form of a dog". Our lost Coton, Elsie, was every bit that. This one, Elise, is looking to follow that same form.
She's so beautiful. it sounds like you all win in this. While Elise brings you great joy, love and laughter you give the same to her in return (not to mention a good bed and some kibble). I hope Elise has been a good dose of happiness for Darcey. Thank you for keeping us updated despite your busy schedule!
Jeanette had been our groomer for nearly 13 years with our previous love, Elsie. I remember asking Jeanette, a couple of years ago, if she'd like a referral and she politely responded, "I've been doing this for quite some time, now... and I'm no longer taking on new dogs... and am allowing my business to begin winding down. But thanks for being willing to recommend me!"
Now with a new pup, I had to make arrangements for getting Elise groomed. So I reached back out to Jeanette and asked if she would consider taking on Elise... and, if not, if she might be able to provide a referral. Of course, I sent a picture of our new little girl. I was both surprised and elated when Jeanette immediately responded with, "I'd love to take care of Elise! I was so hoping you would ask. Let's get her in when she hits 13 weeks." Elise turned 13 on Wednesday.
Jeanette performs her grooming magic out of her home. I pulled into the driveway and parked. Elise and I exited the van and I put Elise down on the ground. When I'd bring Elsie, all those many years, she'd immediately head towards the side of the garage to the entry door. Elsie loved Jeanette. So I was caught quite by surprise when Elise immediately began to head towards the side entrance to the garage. Of course my mind immediately went to "Elsie's helping guide her". Darcey would later suggest that Elise could smell the path that all the other dogs would take.
Jeanette first suggested that I come back in a couple of days to pick up Elise. I smiled and said, "Two days so easily becomes two weeks... so how about we say two hours?" To keep the time as short as possible for this first visit, we agreed that she'd text me when Elise could be picked up. An hour and half later I was headed back to Jeanette's.
Elise was happy to see me and was beautiful with her new "do". I was elated to see how relaxed and mellow she was... for what I imagined would be a stressful event. Nope. She hadn't been a problem at all with any part of the process. The only minimally difficult part had been the clipping of her face with shears. Elise was very curious about the scissors... what they looked like, how they worked, how they tasted, what they were going to do next. What she was not... AT ANY POINT IN THE PROCESS... was scared or concerned.
I have to give a lot of credit to the breeder. In the short 9-weeks that they had Elise, they did much to make this little girl feel very self-confident and self-assured. I would later find out that they had an app that ran on their SmartPhone that sounded like electric clippers and made the phone vibrate with the sound. They had also worked diligently to make the pups comfortable with having their paws, ears, face and tail worked with. And this breed has hair that can grow in their ears that is best kept plucked. Elise did not offer the first complaint at that plucking process.
As we were getting back into the car, heavy construction trucks were moving up and down the street and making lots of very loud noises. Elise barely gave them notice as we got ready to leave. More positive indication of the result of the breeder's program of noise acclimation. We got home and Elise wanted to quickly go inside. She went into the family room, moved to where Darcey could see her and made a little "harumph". I think she wanted to show off the fact that she had a new face and could see again.
I've just uploaded a couple of pictures... one before and one after grooming. The after one was later at night. I'd given Elise notice that it was bedtime. We'd already done our last outside potty trip. It was time to begin Darcey's night routine... but instead, we'd gotten to gabbing. Elise was looking at me with a "I thought we were going to bed" look on her face. I had to take a picture. Oops... I'll be right back. Elise just rang the bells to let me know she'd like to go outside. Will be back in a flash...
Okay... I'm back. The bells... these hang from the door knob and end near the floor. It took only two days for Elise to understand that if she "nosed" the bells to make them ring, that I'd get up and we'd go outside to go potty. Once, this last Sunday, she rang the bells only to go outside and sit in the sun. All other times, she's needed to go potty. Such a smart little girl.
Well it is getting on near bedtime. Elise helps supervise the process of getting Darcey ready to go upstairs and then getting her into bed for the night. She's actually quite the little helper.
Jim, it sounds like you have a little delight on your hands. I am so pleased for you! And it really sounds like you have a great relationship with her- she sounds so clever!
Our dogs had a similarly dedicated breeder who had desensitized their dogs to many different sounds and experiences. To the point where my youngest dog used to follow me around while I vacuumed asking for his turn after I finished with the carpets.
Your little Elise looks like such a cute moppet. That face would be very hard to resist!