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Of puppies and babies.... part two

Animal Planet has a series called "Dogs 101" that I occasionally watch. It profiles the various breeds, and I think it's generally pretty accurate. Catching up on my puli listerv, I discovered that the puli segment (for some reason, Discovery's websites won't let you embed) has finally been filmed and aired. Many of the people on the listerv's dogs were in the segment, and I think that they were filmed in the summer.

It's actually a very good description of the breed. The puppies in the segment were 7 1/2 weeks old when they were filmed, a little younger than Celosa was when she came home to us. Most of the people on the listerv were pretty satisfied with the segment. Puli people are in a constant state of correction and explanation of the breed, so non-puli people talking about pulik is always taken with a massive grain of salt.

The only quibble on the listserv was the statement pulik being better in a household with older children. Many of the members related their own stories of raising little kids with pulik, and by and large, it seemed pretty positive. As someone who's thinking about bringing young ones into my life in the next few years, I got a little concerned. But then I remembered my own upbringing.

Pisco, my parents' first puli, was about two and a half years old when I was born. There are fantastic pictures of me taking naps with him, and he apparently loved me instantly. Unfortunately, he was hit by a car when I was about a year old. My parents quickly got Pancita and Picante after he died, and they were puppies around the time Jose was born. Pancita was 11 months old the first time she went into heat, and as my dad likes to say in reference to the doggie birth control pills my veternarian uncle gave him, "You get what you pay for." A few weeks later, around the time Claudia was born, there was a litter of six puppies. The pictures of the baby girl and the baby puppies were ridiculously cute. Pancita never seemed to mind that Jose and I played with her puppies.* I remember that the dogs thought that Olivia was the best thing EVER when she was a baby. Pancita used to camp out under her high chair and clean up all of the fallen food. None of us were ever hurt or injured by the dogs, and the dogs came out of it relatively unscathed. Pancita and Picante died in the mid-80s, and Chispa came into the family in 1989. I was 16 and Olivia was 11, so at that point, I suppose we were "older" kids.

Relampago was ridiculously good with kids. Which was strange because he didn't really like people in general very much. He liked individuals, sure, but he was generally suspicious of most people. In particular, he hated anyone who made sudden moves. Except for small kids. I remember one time in particular, some friends of my family brought two developmentally disabled two-year-olds to the house. The boys were terribly adorable, and Relampago instantly gravitated to them. When they first got there, he was insanely curious. They were in their parents' arms, and he kept hopping up to sniff the boys. At some point, their parents let them down to walk, and Relampago hovered nearby, not letting them out of his sight. He stood still to let them pet him, and he let them fall into him without incident. The entire hour or two they were at the house, he didn't let them out of his sight. At the Christmas tree cutting party, he was always pretty good with the little ones, too. He knew that they were easy marks for food, but he was never agressive in taking food from them, and he always let them pet him. On walks, especially at Hermann park where there were likely to be large masses of kids, people would always come over to ask about him (and later Crianza). Relampago was wonderful at letting small kids, sometimes in large groups, come up to him and pet him. He would patiently stand there while the kids would pet him and ask questions about his fur. Crianza was grateful to have someone who was a little less skittish than she take the brunt of the attention from strangers.

Crianza, as I said, is skittish. I don't think it's a kid thing in particular, but a people thing. She has been known to play soccer with some six year old girls at the Christmas Tree Cutting Party, and she's happy to accept food from people of all ages. I'm actually very curious to see how she'll be this year, given that her sister will be attending for the first time. Celosa tends to help draw Crianza out of her shell. I think Crianza doesn't want all of the attention to go to Celosa, so she's willing to be more social. Either that or Celosa has shown her that it's not as bad as people think it is.

And Celosa... Obviously, she only has ten months of experience to draw on. But I think she'll be fine. My only real worry with her and little kids is her, er, boundless enthusiasm. She may accidently knock someone over, oblivious to her own strength and speed. But she's really a sweet dog, and not agressive at all. She's had encounters with two kids so far. One was a little girl of about 14 to 20 months that wandered onto our front porch a few months ago. She saw Celosa in the window and wanted to say hi. Celosa came outside, and under very strict supervision, the two little ones explored each other. Celosa was very good about sitting still (not something she's known for) while the little girl petted her, and the only mishap was when Celosa tried to kiss the girl. Every one came away laughing.

The other was a little boy of three who came to the ranch in early September. He had been bitten a few days previously by a dog (from the descrption, it seems like it was a provoked bite), and he was in a "I'm afraid of dogs" stage. After an hour of convincing him that Celosa was a puppy and unlike the other dog, he allowed her to come outside with him. Celosa was great, but she was also curious and went up to sniff the boy. Before any of us could advise him that it was a bad, bad idea, the boy ran. Celosa thought that this was a great game, and ran the other way, to cut the boy off at the pass and show off how good of a herder she was. After a few attempts of trying to get away from her, it didn't take very long for the boy to realize that a) Celosa was faster than he was, b) Celosa was much, much, much smarter at playing chase than he was, and c) running was making things worse, not better. Celosa was awesome, though. She came back to me as soon as she was called, even though I know she would have continued her game of chase. There were tears, but they were tears of panic. Celosa never touched the boy.

The Christmas Tree Cutting Party is in a few weeks, and there will be a lot of kids there of all ages. I'll be interested to see how the pulik are with them. I suspect that they'll be fine, and they'll end up eating a lot. Celosa loves people, and so a couple hundred who come to the ranch just to see her will totally make her day.

*Chueco, who was named "crooked" in Spanish because two year old Jose dropped him when he was itty bitty and he limped for a day or two, went to my uncle who lived in Dallas at the time. Duchess went to my uncle in Pennsylvania. Brujo, Spanish for "warlock" and Morangie, part of the name of a single malt scotch, went to one of my dad's colleagues. Lucy and Jalapeno went to the ranch manager. Jalapeno was unfortunately killed as a fairly young dog when he got kicked by a horse. Chueco and Duchess were my uncles' respective soulmate dogs, and both lived about 16 years.


( 4 comments — Say something )
Nov. 11th, 2009 08:18 pm (UTC)
I remember when Bonnie and I were little, that Relampago seemed to know it and was different than he was with big ~cats. He is the first dog we weren't scared of, you know?
Nov. 11th, 2009 09:51 pm (UTC)
I forgot about that. He could tell which one of you guys he was with better than I could! He liked you a lot.
Nov. 11th, 2009 11:29 pm (UTC)
And we all love him very much! He could even tell when it was me and not Bonnie!
Nov. 12th, 2009 02:11 am (UTC)
How's your French?

Marvelous cartoon sketches from someone who understands (and loves) dogs. Google's gonna butcher the translation, tho, because so much of it is slang. The artist manages English well if you ask for help.
( 4 comments — Say something )