Sunday, January 15, 2012

Havaneseland: Enter at your own risk

 As I noted previously, I’ve been considering getting a puppy for a while now.  On January 8, last Sunday, I went to visit a local breeder and her crew.  She warned me upon opening her front door that I would be jumped by small fluffy creatures and to enter at my own risk.   So, I did, enter that is.  And, so the barks began.  But I wasn’t intimidated; I am still in fairly good shape and can run, if I need to.

Havanese Land is like no other place I’ve been before.  I was guided through the front of the home to an area in the back with a secure baby gate.  Beyond the limited access entrance is a large combination family room and kitchen with glass doors looking onto the back yard. 

At the time, it seemed like there were dozens of long haired tiny white, black, gray and parti-colored creatures jumping straight up in the air just beyond the secure entry pod.  They nearly jumped as high as the four foot gate in an attempt to get my attention.  The breeder instructed me to scoot in behind her once the access route was open, and to immediately slam the door once in safely so as to prevent escapes. 

I flash back to the brief few years I worked in Corrections, in training that is, and what it felt like to go through a sally port and enter a prison.  A sally port is the same as a baby gate, kind of.  I had been given great privilege and responsibility and if I erred, I might allow a breakout.

There is potential for danger once entering.  In Havaneseland, you encounter members of the dog species who like nothing better than meeting and greeting new visitors to their world.  They really want to get to know and love you.  I was guided to a couch, safely, as the owner continued to remind me of the hazards of being in the company of the tiny Havanese dogs, a dog that originates from Havana, Cuba and is a relative of the Bichon Frise and miniature/toy poodle. 

Before I could manage to sit, the dogs were intensely competing for my attention and lap.  As I sat, I did so with one dog already on my lap and one on my leg trying to get there.   Two or three others were checking out the best way to get up there too.  These creatures attempted to lick me to pieces.  As soon as I landed and was settled, all of them, at once, were on the couch on top of me, next to me on both sides, and on top of the couch, to attack me from behind. 

They frantically tried to cover me with kisses and could barely contain their good fortune and utter joy in having a previously unknown human in their space.  One or another would take over the primary position of lap dog for a while, and then gaze down, across or behind them to their brethren as if to announce, “scoot it, I got here first, and I’m the one in the lap…she’s mine.”  Finally, I landed up with two girls in my lap, a boy at my side, another trying to get up next to me in a strategic manner and another girl on my shoulder, literally.  The girl on my shoulder put her face in my hair to kiss and taste it, and then worked on kissing the side of my neck.

How could anyone not love these dogs?  After 10-15 minutes, they calmed down and were happy to just take possession of my body parts as their personal chairs or cushions and gaze at me lovingly.  After a history lesson on the origin, care and feeding of these sweet little dogs, another visitor arrived.  Through the baby sally port and gate walked the mom of two boy dogs, one who was to be the marriage partner and father of the female dog ready to become a mother. 

The dogs immediately left to greet her and the two new dog friends, lavishing great attention again on even newer company.  Two returned to my lap to reclaim their space after a few minutes of greetings. 

We all retreated outside to let the dogs play and to introduce the groom and bride in a casual setting.  I had to laugh at the antics of two of the dogs, siblings who hadn’t seen each other in a while, both playing tag and running gaily around the yard with each other.  All the dogs interacted, took care of business, played and posed sweetly-they know they are cute.  Every few minutes they checked in with the humans, just to snuggle quickly, say hello, give a kiss or hang out nearby, before returning to their previous activities and antics with their pals.

I am sold.  I am dying to get a Havanese puppy.  I had previously filled out the on-line application, giving it great thought.  Now I worried that maybe I wouldn’t be chosen.  I was on my very best behavior, hoping the breeder liked me enough to allow me to pay her a lot of money to be able to take home one of her precious puppies’ months from now.  Mind you, I’d been to local breeders before – but, not to a “real breeder”.  This lady wants to be very sure you are going to be 100% committed to providing the best care and most love to her babies, in the future. 

When I got home, I immediately shot off a Thank you e-mail, as I had no appropriate Thank You cards at home.  I aim to please.  I threw in the fact that I had been a college valedictorian some 20-30 years ago – as the breeder is a retired teacher and still has that teacher presence.  I figured maybe that would lock me in.  After all, I hadn’t been a puppy mama before; I’d only had dogs of my own when I was a mere puppy myself.  I knew that was a weakness.  I assured her I’d been a cat mommy as an adult, many times, but of course…cats are different.
I think I am approved now.  We aren’t expecting a puppy baby until March and they wouldn’t be allowed to go home with their respective new families until they are at least 10-12 weeks old.  They will go home with a set of instructions and information on how to continue with their earlier training.  The breeder will be checking my home for puppy hazards and is available for help…much like a grandmother. 

I was given homework and told of a book I needed to get and read.  My puppy library is rapidly expanding and I now have 100’s of books and articles on raising and caring for a dog.

I can’t wait to get my puppy…and of course, that’s not guaranteed.  I’m on a wait list and we have to be sure that there are a sufficient number of healthy puppies born.  So, it will be June or July till I take my little boy or girl home.  You see, I don’t get to pick the sex or color of my family addition – the breeder bases these decisions on personalities – the dog and mine.  It will be a match made in Heaven. 

In the meantime, I made a trip to Petsmart and Petco, which I have to write an entirely separate entry about.  Who knew there were aisles and aisles of things for puppies and dogs? 

I was amazed to find that they sell protective disposable booties and fashion dog boots for their precious little paws.  I am building my puppy dowry, and as of now have an ottoman that can be opened, with some of the items I’ve already bought.  I just don’t know about clothes, do I get pink in the hope I’ll have a girl, or get blue and make sure the items aren’t too butch…or do I get green and prepare myself for both?  I don’t know.  I don’t even know for sure if I want a boy or a girl.  I hear the boys are lovers and the girls are, well you know girls are little princesses. 

Meanwhile, I’ve found the cutest little toys, teething bones, a towel for after bath, a comb, hair brush, toothbrush, food and water bowls, a raincoat in its own pouch (yellow) and some other random items.    

Keep your fingers crossed for me.  I cannot wait to bring a little fluffy angel home!

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