This week, Pyrrha will be taking her first visit to her other “grandparents,” my husband’s mom and dad. They were here the first few days we had Pyrrha, when she was still a nervous wreck, so I am excited to have them meet her again and see such a different dog. Yes, she still has her fair share of fears, but I think she’s transformed significantly since they last saw her.
My in-laws are great dog people and they have recently had a rotating door of foster puppies and dogs for their local lab rescue. Their most recent foster just got adopted out this week, so Pyrrha most likely won’t have a canine playmate over the holiday, but she will be lavished with lots of attention and peaceful walks around their pleasant, wooded neighborhood.
In the spirit of the holiday, here are some things I am thankful for, with regard to Pyrrha:
I am thankful for Pyrrha’s sweet and gentle spirit, for the fact that I have never seen her display aggression, even when she is faced with one of her fears. She shows a lot of self-discipline that I don’t think even I would be able to exhibit in her condition.
I am thankful for her growing relationship with Guion.
I am thankful for how content she is to be in her crate when we are gone, that she has not shown any signs of separation anxiety.
I am thankful for how well she gets along with other dogs now, something that I really didn’t expect a few months ago.
I am thankful for her playfulness, for her vestiges of puppy energy (even when they can be frustrating!).
I am thankful for her quietness.
I am thankful for her growing ability to accept strangers, particularly men.
I am thankful that she now likes to cuddle with us on the couch, an activity that previously frightened her.
I am thankful that she is healthy and fit.
I am thankful for her considerable store of intelligence, even when it gets her into trouble.
I am thankful for how much she has grown since May. Every day gives me more hope for her progress in the future.
What are some things you are thankful for, regarding your own dog(s)?
When I first visited the home of my (then) future-in-laws, I was delighted to learn that they had a dog. Aoive (pronounced “ava” instead of its Gaelic spelling, “ee-fa”) bounded up to me when I walked in the door; I was very happy to meet this gorgeous, silky English springer spaniel. She’s now six or seven years old, but it’s hard to believe. I think if I had just met her I would have guessed that she had just turned three. This dog has a LOT of spunk.
Sometimes too much spunk. Guion has a love-hate relationship with Aoive, which commonly borders on “hate” because of her neurotic tendencies. Deep down, she’s very sweet, but mostly, she’s pretty weird. She’s often anxious and rarely still. She is very “hands-y,” in which she must always have her paws on some part of your body. She may suffer from pica, to a small degree, because she likes to eat non-nutritive things like toilet paper and dish rags. Aoive is the only dog I’ve ever met who is entirely uninterested in other dogs; she avoids them completely. Like many springers, Aoive also suffers from seizures and takes a daily medication to prevent the attacks.
Guion’s mom, Windy, wonders if some of Aoive’s issues may stem from the fact that she was taken away from her mother too early. Mike and Windy adopted Aoive when she was a bit older, so they don’t know her complete puppy history, but I think this is a pretty good guess. Conscientious springer breeders may often keep puppies with their mothers longer than the standard recommendation of eight weeks for this reason. Puppies who are weaned or removed from their mothers too young tend to develop behavioral problems later.
Comparatively, though, I don’t think Aoive has any problems that can’t be actively managed. Mike and Windy have done a great job with her and clearly lavish a lot of love and affection on her. Even though her neediness can occasionally be annoying, she’s only expressing her natural breed tendencies. I read somewhere that springers were bred to be in constant motion 10 to 12 hours a day! I love spending time with Aoive and look forward to visiting her in Southern Pines again soon. We’ll take a nice, long walk next time we do.