Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Introducing Zenzi!

She's the one in the lower left corner, looking up at the camera.

When Kibeth passed, routine things were really hard.  I had already planned on getting my border collie puppy next Spring, but I was stunned how hard it was to only walk 2 dogs, only feed 2 dogs, only kiss 2 dogs goodnight.  So I decided to soothe my broken heart by looking at dogs available for rescue.  I figured I was safe -- there literally are NO purebred border collie pups available for rescue (nor breeders), and I don't have the stash yet for the $1,500 super puppy I was planning to get.  Her passing also made me want to rescue more than get a "super" puppy.

I found some Australian cattle dog girls I liked a lot.  They were under a year old, pretty close to me, and seemed to have good biographies.  I sent out an adoption application, but was rejected due to my living in an apartment, despite my active lifestyle and heavy duty training plans.

And then someone on livejournal said, "I don't know if this is your thing, and it can be super shady, but have you tried Craigslist?"

Well, I've listed ads on Craigslist for violin lessons and dog training.  I think I've gotten one successful client that way -- the rest were spammers.  But I thought I'd give it a go anyway.  Doesn't hurt to look, right?

So then I found an ad for an oops litter born August 6 out of a beautiful Australian cattle dog mama and a border collie dad.  There were 9 puppies in total, 6 females, 3 males, all of whom just dewormed, but too young for shots.  A rescue said they'd take 4 of the puppies, 4 were up for adoption, and the family planned to keep one of the puppies.  The proceeds from the four puppies who couldn't go to rescue were going to go toward spaying/neutering the parents, and training them more formally for herding work.  The family lived on a small farm in Coachella, CA -- about 2 hours away from me.

I hemmed and hawed.  An oops litter?  How irresponsible are these people?!  I didn't want to take a puppy that young.  They were coming up on 6-weeks old.  They should stay with the Mom at least until they are 8-weeks old.  That's vital to good socialization -- and I didn't want to go through another Dolce situation for my performance dog.

I emailed the owner, Linda, hoping she'd keep the puppies until 8 weeks.  She explained that the reason she had to get them in homes now was because her kids were back to school, she had work, and couldn't care for the puppies anymore.  It was pick a puppy now, or lose her forever.  Linda did say that the mama had already weaned the litter.

I took another look at the photos.



And I thought about it long and hard all day.  I do have a lot of time to socialize the puppy.  I do have 2 excellent dogs to socialize her with -- Dolce is super playful and JoJo is the best Mama dog I could hope for.  I do have the resources to do remedial socialization puppy classes. I've heard several success stories of puppies rescued too young and turning out beautifully with extra work.

I talked to Rick about it.  He said it was up to me, but it sounded like fate.  How many things fell into place for this litter?  How uncertain are their futures if their prospective parents don't understand the extra work involved in a puppy so young?  I can't save them all, but I might be able to for one.  I decided to drive out there, meet the parents of the litter for myself to assess their health and temperament, and then evaluate the puppies.

Well, when I got there, the Mom was in her crate beside the welping box.  They were expecting someone else to pick a puppy at any time, and they didn't want the Mom to get run over.  I met with her, she was very friendly, and tolerated my interacting with her puppies without a fuss.  They called the Dad over for me to greet.  He was extremely polite, very gentle, super soft attitude.  He was a little suspicious of Rick at first, but warmed up quickly and had no further issues.  He was built pretty well, though a little short-legged for my taste.  Both mom and dad were very healthy -- clean, good eyes, good coat, the dad moved very well, and the mom's conformation was excellent.  So I met with the puppies.

They all let me do whatever I wanted.  They were hot, it was 90º outside, but they were awake and aware.  The owner's daughters and their friends also interacted and held each of the puppies -- the puppies just loved it.  I could poke, prod, grab feet, tickle gums, touch teeth, pull ears, tickle bellies, hold tilted upside-down, hold with them on their backs, and anything else.  I squeaked toys, made weird sounds, moved suddenly, clapped, etc. and tried to assess their startle personalities.  None of them were phased, but a few were mildly curious.  The owner had said she mostly kept the welping box in the house (huge plus), so I'm not surprised they were so good about sounds.

Every puppy was adorable and had wonderful temperaments, but there were only 3 black and white girls left.  The brown and whites weren't as cute to me, so I eliminated them on looks.  One puppy looked a bit long-backed, one puppy felt a little thinner, and then there's the girl above.  She was a happy medium, and so I tried to get her to play.  She wanted absolutely nothing to do with my zillions of toys I'd purchased (just in case, you know), but lit up for the towel they'd been using.  She had also just dived into the food tray -- clearly food is a very good thing.  She was the one, so we took care of business and set off for home.  This was Saturday, September 15; exactly one week to the day that Kibeth crossed the rainbow bridge.

The car ride home, which I was secretly dreading for fear of the adverse reaction to being away from her littermates so soon, was uneventful.  She just slept in my lap, enjoying the cool air from the A/C.

Our first stop was at the McDonald's close to our place.  We planned to get something to eat for Rick, who was kind enough to drive me home and let puppy snooze in my lap the whole way back.

I let her out to pee if she wanted in some out of the way wood chips.  Sure enough, first try, she peed.  Good puppy!  Oh yeah, and played with my pant legs, a soon-to-be no-no.

She's a little panda bear!

When Rick finished eating, we went home to grab Dolce.  We planned to do introductions via a good friend of ours, Pam.  Dolce is accustomed to meeting dogs with Pam, and those greetings have always gone well.  We especially wanted the same result with the new puppy, and sure enough, he took to her in Pam's arms without a problem.  When she came home, he was totally fine with her.

She has to live in the Zenzi Room until she gets her first shots at the end of this week.  No interacting with dogs, no walks outside.  However, we have been taking her for car rides, and we bought a front pack so she can tag along for walks with JoJo and Dolce.  She's been to Pet Supply, the vet (who gave her a clean bill of health, thank God), and met people who have come over to the house.  She has been an exceptional puppy.  Barely cries, sleeps a lot, and now likes dog toys.  She automatically figured out to pee and poo on the pads, so potty training at this stage is going well.  Her poops turned to mush on Taste of the Wild, so we got Canidae ALS so her diet wasn't so rich.  Her poops are back to normal now.  Even the vet says she's an exceptionally good puppy, and also on the bigger side for her age.  Who knows what she'll grow up to look like.

She nips a lot.  It's expected, but unacceptable.  Playing with her toys, I make them squeak if she gets too rough, and she lets them go.  Good puppy!

With me, though... Yelping doesn't work.  She thinks it's fun.  What works?  Oh man, if I leave, it's over.  "Mom... MOM!  I promise no teeth.  I'm sorry!" We play again, and she's usually way better for much longer.  Still, we repeat everyday.  She's catching on.  I kind of use her puppy KONG when she's extra mouthy for handling exercises as a binky.  Works great!  If she goes for hands, toes, or clothes, though, play time is over.  Boohoo on you, girly.

But when she's had some time to think about what she's done wrong for latent learning to set in, we go at it again.  We play, she sleeps.  She eats 4x a day, and pees and poops a lot.  That's pretty much our routine right now.  Nights are fairly easy, I'm surprised to say.  She woke us up 4 times the first night to pee and/or poo, 3 times the next night, and once the last 2 nights.

Can't wait for shots and immunity to diseases to really get into the world!

The plan is to start puppy class at 8 weeks, then a second one at 10 weeks.  We'll pick one after those two finish, and stay in them until she's booted out for being too old.  I'm hoping that will be enough, combined with all the training and playdates we have planned.  So far, she seems like a very balanced, happy-go-lucky, healthy puppy who is on the whole, exceptionally well behaved.

Oh, and of course, she loves music.

Stay tuned... :)

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