Wow, what a weekend Chez Brown. Our new beauceron puppy, Jais Ange (“Angel”) Mes Yeux Vigilants has come home!! We decided to bring him home rather than ship him, and I am so glad we did. At 8-12 weeks, puppies go through a heightened ‘fear phase’ where scary things can have long-term impact. Our Phobos experienced something traumatic in shipping that created a fear that lasted his whole life (and we know he wasn’t fearful of it when he left his earlier home, so it has to have been the plane) so we decided that wasn’t worth it. So I took an overnight trip to Kansas City to pick him up.
I left the office early Friday, drove across the highway and left the car in a nearby lot in favor of a plane to Dallas, and another from Dallas to Kansas City. Saturday morning I got up and drove the 45 minutes or so to Mes Yeux Vigilants (“My Watchful Eyes”) in Independence, MO. Although Susan, the breeder, was away at the Eukanuba dog show, her husband Fred was a sweet and generous host. He chatted with me for 15-20 minutes while Angel got to run around, make sure he didn’t need to ‘go’ again before our long drive, talked over their current feeding schedule, found a home-smelling toy to put in Angel’s crate to help soothe the ride to a strange place, etc. But eventually it was time to go.
I put Angel in his carrier – and he instantly let me know that he did not care to be put in a box! I felt like a whale biologist (“The beauceron puppy has an extensive range of unique vocalizations and subvocalizations….”) lol. Our first stop was the local PetSmart, where we picked up a harness. In addition to being able to leash him without pulling on his puppy neck, I was able to attach the car’s seat belt to the harness, securing him without the need to crate him. He liked this much better, crawling over the the edge of his seat nearest me, resting his paws on the center console, and cruising off to a nap.
- He didn’t have any particular interest in chasing after people – but was polite and friendly to every person who came near him. He even surprised one mom, whose young son had been ‘toothed’ (not really bitten, but an overly playful dog who didn’t know his own strength got mouthy with him and scratched him) and was afraid of dogs – but who was willing to pet Angel! (And then he asked me to go away lol).
- He experienced many unusual and unexpected sounds and stimuli. He didn’t freak, or get frightened – he mostly just stopped, waited a sec to see if it mattered, decided it didn’t, and moved on.
- Partway through this time, I realized that while I had stopped to talk to someone, he had sat on my foot. This is a herding dog’s way of keeping track of his charge while looking in another direction – he can watch for danger, but you can’t leave without him knowing it. When I moved my foot, he instantly got up, turned around, and was watching me. To some, this might be a cute indication of herdiness. To me – it was the moment I realized that Angel considered me his.
- I am allergic to dogs. After a few hours of puppy love, I was a bit sneezy. Angel does not consider my sneezes interesting (Phobos always thought they were play barks, and would go ballistic ). He looked at me, waited to see if it mattered, then ignored it.
- We did a lot of running around in the airport – near boarding time, I was working to keep Angel awake, and to tire him out enough that he would sleep most of the flight home (which he did). But from the moment we got off the airplane, it’s like he knew that part was over. He squirmed and complained about being in the kennel the whole way back to the car.
- I decided to take the ferry home – get him out of the kennel, maybe take a stroll on the car deck, since he had already been crated for nearly 5 hours. That’s a lot for a little bundle of energy! Plus, you know, it was his first day away from his mom and sister – so, trying to do fun things and not make it torture. Realizing that it was pretty late in his time zone, I decided to give him some dinner too. So we had dinner aboard M/V Walla Walla, and for the first time in my life I saw a beauceron *stop eating before the bowl was empty. Who even knew that was possible!?!
- The ferries were running late “due to adverse weather conditions.” In other words – this was the loudest, windiest ride I have ever taken on the boat. Rattling metal stuff, loud boat engines, whipping icy wind – all of which Angel took in stride. After eating, he took a stroll, had a ‘go’, and happily crawled back into the back seat of the car and slept the rest of the way home.
- When we got home, I left him momentarily with Bernie while I retrieved luggage and such from the car. When I left the living room, I heard Mr. Mouthy making noises – apparently he was not pleased with my leaving his Supervision Zone.
- Once things settled in enough, it was play time. We gave him a long, fuzzy fabric fox to chew and tug on. I took the two ends, and wrapped them lightly around Angel’s nose. He cocked his head at me for a moment, tilted his head down to slip it off his face – then leaned down and grabbed an end, pulled it over the center and grabbed both, then the far end – til he had it folded and was holding the folds in a manner that did not leave any trailing edges for me to wrap around him again. Clever boy! He continued to do things that demonstrated a great deal of intelligence, and the need to learn things just once.
- Abruptly, he stopped playing, walked a circle through the office and back into the dining room, and began to squat. Perhaps this was coincidence – or perhaps he was already learning that this was the direction to go (the dog door is here, and we have taken him out back through the adjacent door each time. At this point, though, that had only happened once). This morning, before breakfast, when I walked back to this area and picked up his leash, he came jogging and tail-wagging, went out, and the instant he hit his section of the yard, stopped to pee. For those who have not house-trained a dog – this is pretty darned awesome, trust me.
- He did not like sleeping in the crate – puppies often don’t, as it is their first experience of sleeping alone. So a great deal of whining the first few nights is not at all uncommon. Truth to tell, I’d happily let him come sleep at our feet – but there is the whole house-breaking thing… By the time we get that worked out, the whining won’t be an issue any more. It’s like that….
Dog people have learned a lot about Angel now – many of those items give lifelong personality hints. And all of the things they say are good. We could not have hoped for a more well-tuned example of the breed, and we are impressed by him at every turn.
Now, on to see what happens on Day Two!!