Tuesday, July 20, 2010

And Then Came Willow, Maxie's Grandmother

Barb the breeder, and her brood. 
There's Max, right where the counter corner points.
After I got Max I had a million questions, and talked to the breeder frequently.  I learned that small dog breeders in particular, are a tenderhearted lot, and in many cases all their breeding stock become family pets living in the house.  They even have a hard time selling off the puppies (in case one might be a conformation dog), and after their dogs are removed from their breeding program (get neutered), they still can't part with them.

So it came to pass that Maxie's breeder, Barb Neuman and her husband Dan, had 15 Papillons and a few large dogs -- a menagerie, running all over their house. No way they could provide them all with daily walks, frequent baths, grooming, and training a solitary pet receives, and I'm sure their vet bills were enormous.  And the noise level, with all that yapping, was thunderous.

 Wind In The Willows
During our many visits both before and after I bought Maxie, I noticed one dog in particular, Wind In The Willows, who was extremely fat.  She sat on her pillow most of the time we were there, huffed and puffed, and looked uncomfortable.  But she always greeted John and me in friendly fashion. And her colors matched Maxies.  There was something compelling about Willow. I found out later that she was Maxie's grandmother.

A month or so after we bought Max, Barb remarked that with her fibromyalgia she simply did not have the energy to keep up with all these dogs.  I suggested she sell or give away a few.  She had 3 in mind and wondered if I might want one.  She and Dan brought them to our house for a look-see, but I didn't meld with any of them.  So, on a whim, I asked her if I could have Willow.  At first she said No because Willow was one of her "family dogs" and favorite pets, but then she decided Willow would be better off with me as I could give her more attention.  And the short story is, 3 months after I brought Maxie home, I got Willow.  We agreed to be co-owners. So now I had 3 dogs -- Fooh, Max and Willow!
Here we are at Maxie's 1st Birthday, July 2008

Willow at 16 lbs, the first week I had her home, after a good
shampoo and cutting the knots and split ends out of her hair.
Willow weighed 16 lbs!  Her eyes were blood-shot, she couldn't go on walks without panting.  She couldn't go on field trips without getting so over-heated her tongue would turn blue and eyes bulge out.  She wheezed at almost every breath.  Her lungs rattled.  She was lethargic. She had huge knots of hair under her ears and in her armpits and tail for lack of dialy brushing. And at 6 years of age, she was set in her ways and not very trainable.  Still, she was loveable, and I figured I could give her more individual attention, help her get healthier, and enjoy watching her lay on our couch.  We called her Willow The Pillow.

It took me 18 months, but by regulating her food (she eats the same quantity as Max now), with regular exercise and daily massages, she now weighs 9 lbs.  Max weighs 7 lbs., as much as she lost. She has begun to learn a few tricks, she runs about and plays more.  She is extremely loveable, and a wonderful Pet Therapy dog, though she doesn't like to be picked up for long.  She sleeps with us every night, and loves her doggie bed and routines.  I toss her around like I do Maxie, to let her know she is thin and supple now and to break her mental pattern of "being fat".  She is quite devious when it comes to food, though, and can jump over a 2.5' high gate when she wants to.  You can't leave any food out that she can get to.  She doesn't understand "leave it, stay, or no".  Her personality is totally different from Maxie's, who is compliable and anxious to please.  She's the boss and none of the other animals mess with her.  She will charge any dog, any size, but she doesn't bite.  Just growls and barks. She has beautiful straight, thick, silky hair.  She is more heavy boned than Max, longer bodied and shorter legged, a rectangular body more than a square, not so delicate features, a wider face, but she has a perfectly symmetrical blaze, and a thick tail that wags furiously back and forth when she is excited.  We call her Pom-Pom Girl.

Her other signature movement is to roll on her back and cock her head way to one side as if to say "Rub my belly".  Well, all dogs do that but she looks particularly cute when she does this.

Willow and Max at Jonathan's school - 2009
She and Max make quite an entrance when we take them on leash together into nursing homes, schools and other places.  Willow greets everyone and wags her tail while Maxie sniffs around, then when everyone is done admiring Willow, I get Max to do a few tricks, which wows everyone even more.  They compliment each other so well. They are a matched pair.

I take Willow to trials to keep Max company in the crate, too.  They are practically inseparable.

When I brought her home in my car, Willow jumped up in the back window ledge.  And that is where she rides to this day.  She looks like a stuffed toy.  When I leave the car to, say, go into a store, she hops up there and waits.  Even if John is in the car, she just stares in my direction until I come back.  She loves me.  She loves John too.  And we love her. It's just one big love fest!

Here are some recent photos of our Willow:

The girl feels mighty fiesty these days.
Willow's chest and face have gotten a lot thinner.
Willow's long, flowing, beautiful silky hair.

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