Posts Tagged ‘wirehaired pointing griffon’

WE have been waiting two years to get a puppy from the same breeder we got Murphy from. Murphy died just over two years ago, and our other dog, Harvey, died a short time later. It has been a long time with NO pets. I promised I wouldn’t look for a cat until we had a new dog. All we have had are the backyard birds (and squirrels), so when we learned a new litter had been whelped back in September, we were thrilled and begand to make plans for Puppy’s arrival.

Only our plan was to pick him up when he turned 8 weeks old the week before Thanksgiving. We would make a leisurely drive over to La Grande, Oregon, where my husband’s family still lives and spend a couple nights with them. Then a marathon drive to (almost) Twin Falls, Idaho, to pick out the pup and drive back to La Grande the same day – weather permitting. Finally, a leisurely drive home after seeing family again and resting up.

Don had First Pick of all the males, of which there were five.

Last Tuesday, the 10th, the breeder called to see where we were. Somehow, he had us coming for Puppy a week early. There were probably several reasons for the mixup: he had local buyers who were itching to pick out a pup, he was going on a Black Powder hunt the weekend of the 14-15, outdoor temperatures were dropping below freezing, and the nine puppies were getting far too active for a working man to keep up with. They were getting to be a pain in the ass.

Not wanting to lose our First Pick option and wanting to appease the breeder, we decided to go a week early. As in RIGHT NOW. We were late getting on the road (mid-morning) and I had just a smidgeon of time to request travel prayers. We hydroplaned through the Columbia River Gorge and sailed over the mountain passes to La Grande and Grandma’s house, where we holed up over night. Darn Grandma reminded us we were dealing with a Time Change between Oregon and Idaho, and it wasn’t in our favor.

We were up at zero-dark-thirty on Veteran’s Day so we could make out Idaho Time appointment. Snow, snow plows, snow packed roads, rain, and sun glare. We zipped through Boise unhindered (that’s like zipping through Seattle unhindered: a huge accomplishment given Boise’s growing pains). Forgot our Idaho map, but I was beyond certain that we needed to take the second exit into Bliss in order to reach our destination (Filer) on US Highway 30.

I love this stretch of road. You go through a bunch of small Idaho towns, follow the Snake River through the scenic Thousand Springs canyon, and avoid Twin Falls entirely. I haven’t been through Twin Falls in over 50 years but I know Highway 30 like the back of my hand. Only our breeder moved and we had to enter his address into my cell phone: gotta love those Idaho country addresses.

We arrived within our window of time.

Meeting puppies is a crazy business. We have always been last on the list for puppies and got the last pup to leave home. That doesn’t mean we got the runty or the stupid one (well, in Sadie’s case, it did mean we got the stupid one), just that we didn’t have choice in which dog we got to bring home. They’ve all been good dogs (even Sadie who helped raise our kids).

This time, however, we were the first to pick out a pup. And, yes, we took the Pick of the Litter. the big guy. First born. Boldest. Friendliest (although . that was a tie with a smaller sibling). The other three males just weren’t as interested in us and one was more interested in going his own way than in people. I could see him being a replica of our last Griffon, Murphy. Five roly poly busy puppies chewing on something.

Papers were signed, vaccination records passed over to us, and the first puppy to leave home was loaded into the car. He was too little to put in the big dog crate, so he curled up on Don’s lap for the ride home.

And ralphed on Don’s lap before we were back on I-84 West.

He was fine with the four point five hour drive back to La Grande on an empty stomach. Slept most of the way. The snow, ice, rain, and wind disappeared. We were back at Grandma’s in daylight hours some ten hours after we’d left in the morning. Puppy was a little disoriented but being the bold character he is, he was unfazed. Even the 18 year old cat didn’t faze him – too much. She did land a swat on the face that warned him not to mess with her. She’s raised a number of German Shepherd pups in her life and has no qualms about setting a puppy to rights about Cat Social Distancing Zones.

The honeymoon. Puppy went to sleep around 7:00PM Pacific time and slept until around 6:30AM. He whined a few times, looking for one of those eight siblings he’d just left behind, but a soft voice put him back to sleep. He curled up in the big kennel and slept. He made a few mistakes on Grandma’s carpet, but she’s raised more puppies than the cat has trained (and more kittens). Grandma spoiled puppy with a ton of toys, only a few of which we took along home.

There was a big storm threatening to move in on Thursday. Snow in the mountains, wind in the gorge, and copious amounts of rain. We decided we’d overstayed our window of time to make it back to the Portland area on good roads and left early. Over the mountains, through the passes, down Cabbage Hill, and into the fog at Boardman, we sailed at just over Oregon speed limits. No wind, dry pavement, no rain or snow. Puppy slept almost the entire way home.

He didn’t sleep through the night. Don thinks he is still on Idaho Time. He is learning how to tell us when he needs to go outside to poo and pee (some accidents have occurred). He understands the word, “NO!” He goes hard for a couple of hours then crashes for a while. He’s been on his first walk around the block on a leash. He fell in love with our yard during the first ten minutes of his life here. He thinks our house is the perfect home.

He just does not have a name. All the names we thought we would use don’t seem to fit. Don wants to use a single syllable name. Most dog names are two syllables (more is pointless, especially with a hunting dog ). Two of the grandchildren have thrown in suggestions (“Gator” – really? This came from the child whose father – our son – refers to him as “gator bait” when hiking or camping. They live in Florida).

He’s a normal puppy terror: sharp teeth and newspaper shredding. He tries to eat every plant in the back yard (not a good idea). He “talks”. He nips. He sleeps. He plays hard. He’s smart, but not in a devious way: he wants to please. He’s already picked out the pecking order: Don first, me second, him third. He doesn’t challenge me like Murphy did. His wiry hair hasn’t grown in but he promises to be a wiry dog in his adulthood. He is not afraid of anything but he’s not aggressive. He even likes rain.

He’s not my dog. I can’t initiate a dog naming contest because it will only irritate my partner and my husband of 40 years. He’s seven weeks old, born September 24th, 2020. He’s smart, independent, and – I hope – the best dog we have ever had to date. I’m in love.

You can send me your name ideas and I will try to run them past the Man In Charge. Ultimately, though, Don has to decide.

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Harvey Albert got a hair cut this weekend. He looks so handsome. This handsome fellow caused me to reflect on the dogs in my life, starting with the very first dogs.

I don’t have a photograph of my mother’s dog, Squeaky. I remember the dog, in that corner of my memory that is more sensory than pictures: he was a nippy little dog and I didn’t like him very much. I vaguely remember being awakened by him nipping on my fingers and toes. He didn’t try to hurt us and our parents thought he was amusing, but i didn’t like him. I think he was a Chihuahua-terrier mix of some sort.

Squeaky died some time after Butchy adopted us.


Butch looked a little like the dog in the old photo above, except 1) Butch was not all Cocker Spaniel and 2) he was a lot like Farley Mowat’s “Dog Who Wouldn’t Be” than an actual dog. Butchy wandered into our lives when we lived in Elko, Nevada, before I was even in Kindergarten. He brought a lot of bad habits into our lives, but he also brought a larger-than-life personality.

He could not be restrained. We had an 8′ tall chain-link around our back yard. Butch climbed it.

Butchy, along with a handful of other dogs, was “grandfathered” in when they finally passed a leash law in Winnemucca. I could name them all: old dogs that had never been restrained, had never threatened anyone outside of their own yard, and were known to always be at the heels of children. All of them were the dogs that made growing up a treasure: dogs that were bigger than life.

Butch, for instance, chased rocks. You could throw a rock into the muddy Humboldt River and he would dive until he found the same rock to return to you. Sometimes, he would be underwater so long, you thought surely he would drown. But then he would be dog-paddling with his short Spaniel legs back to short and he’d drag his impossibly long Labrador body out of the water. Between his teeth would be a rock so similar to the one tossed that we were certain he’d sniffed out the original.

Butchy was good with cats, kids, horses, and grocery store owners. He was not so good with garbage collectors, uninvited salesmen, and other Alpha dogs. My mother once used him to chase off the Hoover Vacuum Cleaner Salesman, who, as he kicked and scrambled out of our driveway, yelled back that he would “sue” my mother for turning the dog loose on him. Butch didn’t follow him beyond our driveway, and didn’t do too much damage to him: Butchy was not much more than an ankle biter.

He chased cars. I was ten years old when he died of a “high iron diet” and our father took him off to bury him privately. Each one of us kids mourned him privately and publicly, and we all swore there would never be a dog as wonderful as Butchy.

My best friend’s family had a Norwegian Elk Hound they called “Nipper” because he nipped. I knew Nippy for years, and never saw him nip anyone, so I always figured it was a puppy misnomer. Nipper was fun because you could point at a hole in the desert sand and say, “Get him!” Nipper would dig to China as long as you kept telling him there was something to dig for. The story behind Nipper was that someone turned loose a bunch of puppies at the city park and told the kids standing around that “if you catch one, you can have it.” Of course, Nipper’s parents could not refuse the triumphant boy who lugged his (nipping) prize home.

After Butchy died, my dad was content to just have the cat. My mom, however, could not live without a dog and mourned the loss. Someone dumped a purebred Miniature Schnauzer in the almost-ghost town of Paradise Valley. The folks living there – ranchers, for the most part – told my dad that they were considering shooting the dog as it was a pestilence, running loose and chasing stock.

He brought the dog home. Mr. Tack stayed with us for a couple of weeks, but it didn’t seem like he was happy or my mom was any happier. The dog moped. Reluctantly, my mother allowed my dad to return the dog to the wilds of Paradise Valley. She regretted the decision almost instantly, and soon the registered (but now paperless), abandoned, and moody Mr. Tack came to live with us.

We knew he was our dog when he first howled in the back yard and then began barking at people passing on the streets.

Tacky, as he came to be called, was obnoxious. I took him to 4-H to learn obedience training and to learn how to train a dog. Tacky defied every rule and even laid down in the show ring and went to sleep! Worse, when my mother was mad at one of us, she no longer yelled, “Terryjackiedenny!”, she now yelled, “Terrytacky-jackiedenny!” My name was continually mixed with Mr. Tack’s name.


Mr. Tack’s only redeeming feature was his connection to my mom. He talked to her; she replied. He bit every family member, but he never nipped her. He attacked the garbage man. He ran away. He nipped the dog groomer. But he was devoted to my mom. She loved that dog.

Sometime in my childhood, I encountered dogs that were not good with children. there was Princess, the German Shorthair Pointer. She was kenneled most of the time with her dam, Queenie. They were used strictly for bird hunting. Princess would occasionally escape and when she did, she would attack children and other pedestrians. She was not a well-socialized dog.

There was Kelly, the Black Lab. Kelly took it in his mind to bark and attempt to chase children. The thing with Kelly was this: if you bent over as if to fetch a rock to throw at him, Kelly was back on his own front porch in no time. His bark was worse than his bite.

Then there was the Gordon Setter that belonged to the woman who had the <shudder> pet <shudder> monkey. Her name was Jackie. The monkey was evil, vicious, and, well, evil. I’m not very fond of monkeys, either (especially Spider Monkeys). This Gordon Setter nearly bit me in the face. I’m not going to lay the burden of guilt on the dog: we were telling ghost stories and he was the dog in the room (Jackie was the aunt of a friend). The Setter smelled fear. It growled a warning. I stood up, real fear settling in. Dogs will attack the scent of fear: the dog leaped at me and I jerked back. I felt his teeth slide across my face harmlessly.

The damage was done: if the dog was not a family member, I was afraid of it.

In my early twenties, I attempted to adopt a dog of my own.


I found this sweet Dalmatian at the city pound. Mandy. She was a nervous, purebred wreck of a dog. But she came to love me unconditionally. Unfortunately for her, I met a man, fell in love, and when he discovered she was gun shy, it was only a matter of time before she had to be re-homed. I have always regretted losing Mandy.


Then came this dog. Dogs like Butchy don’t happen twice in a lifetime, do they? I found her in a newspaper ad: part English Pointer, Brittany Spaniel, and English Setter. She was three months old when I stole her home to surprise my husband for his birthday.


We named her Rosie. People mistook her for a Beagle. She had a heart as big as the ocean, and she was a darn fine bird dog.


Rosie was good with children and cats. She was great with male dogs, for the most part. She was never good with other female dogs.

We moved into a trailer park in Rose’s twilight years. Everyone warned us to watch our dog around the Chow-Chow at the top of the hill, Bear. Bear didn’t like other dogs, we were told. We laughed: Bear hadn’t met Rosie.

Bear did come down to meet Rosie, his hackles high and a growl in his throat. Rose saw him coming. She balled all of her energy up and ran at him, hitting him square in the shoulder and rolling him. Bear ran all the way back up the hill, completely cowed. Rose was the new Big Dog in the neighborhood.


If those jammies look like the same jammies in the other pic, they probably were. My son wore the same jammies his sister outgrew. He can be happy this isn’t a photo of him in the pink ones.

Rose, like Butchy, died of a high iron diet. We buried her under a little Douglas fir.


Then came the first dog we paid for. Rejoys Hannah’s Promise. That was her registered name. We called her “Sadie”. She wasn’t much of a bird dog, despite being a pure bred English Pointer. But she was a great family dog.


She was awkward and ungainly, always too skinny, and ever so loyal. Cancer took her, and we sat in the vet’s office, crying as she drew her last breath.


Nearly a year later, Murphy came into our lives. Entirely my husband’s dog, a bull-headed, and way-too-smart Wirehaired Pointing Griffon. He is our second papered dog, purchased – as Sadie was – from a reputable breeder. The difference between Sadie and Murphy (aside from brains) is that Sadie came from show stock. Murphy came from hunting stock.

If I was of a mind to give him credit, he’s a better bird dog than Rosie. He’s a little too stubborn, too strong-willed, and too big for me to completely credit him. He greets me at the end of the day as if I was the only person in his world. He will be seven this May. It is hard to believe we have had this dog for almost seven years!


And then, there is Harvey.


Sometimes, I think Harvey is Mandy reincarnated. I always wanted a Dalmatian; she was my Dalmatian. I love English Setters; he is my Setter. The similarities between the two dogs are amazing (except Harvey is not gun-shy). Harvey will be five this year. That is hard to believe.


I think, more than anything, I am so blessed that Harvey and Murphy think they are litter mates. There have been some cross words between them, but not very many. The one and only fight they have had was over gravy (Harvey won – he actually hurt Murphy). Murphy is the Alpha dog, regardless of the one fight he lost with Harvey.

They are such good dogs. And I have come a long, long way in recovering from my fear of dogs.

(But I still want a cat. Of course, I still want a horse, too.)


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We had our real first frost yesterday and today. This morning, I thought I would run out and get photos of Don’s Bonsai in frost and call that the photo of the day.

Murphy went with me.

Murphy was invigorated by the cold and wanted to play “stick.”

I put my camera on “rapid shoot”.

Murphy sort of went crazy on me.

It was so funny. I took one photo, then set my camera on “rapid fire” and proceeded to follow him around the yard. he was sure I was playing with him, and he grabbed that darn stick.

It was hard to keep him in focus.

Later, as we were leaving a party, the hostess said, “I am so glad Murphy is doing better!”

Don turned to me and said, “Blogging?”

“Oh, yes, but good things about Murphy.” I didn’t tell him I was posting this tonight.

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Murphy has the sad puppy eye thing going on.

Really, really sad.

Thick, slimy sadness going on.

He almost looks like my mother-in-law’s German Shepherd, he’s so sad. Look at the gob of slimy drool.

He wants something, and he wants it very much.

I’m making a bet it has something to do with this.

Huckleberry lips. Don’t you just want to kiss those berry little cheeks yourself?

I could almost pull a Murphy.

Almost, but not quite.

I think Murphy has the drool down.

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Two years ago, we acquired (for a hefty sum of money) this wild free spirit of a dog that terrorized my life. He was willfull, stubborn, dominant/aggressive (but not mean/aggressive), and disobedient. He was strong. He chewed on everything (including my glasses). He jumped up on people. He talked back.

One year ago, I wasn’t sure he would ever be a “good” dog, but he was showing some signs of improvement. He still had boundless energy and an insatiable hunger for anything left unguarded. He became an adept thief: store receipts, lottery tickets, hair bands, underwear, boots, tools, gloves… All of which he chewed on or ate.

He’s pooped a lot of paper.

This year, he had his testosterone clipped.

I noticed a difference immediately.

The whole dominant/aggressive act disappeared.

That’s all. He still chews, steals and talks back. But he doesn’t jump up on people (too much) and he doesn’t try to be Numero Uno. He has acquiesced to the Pack Order.

He knows where he stands.

“Help me. I have to share my sofa with little people. They won’t let me sniff little people’s bottoms. I am not allowed to chew on diapers. I have to let the little people pull my tail.”

He’s been so good. Zephan has taken to following Murphy around and popping him on the head, “No! No!” or pulling his tail.

Lately, there’s been a lot more of “No, Zephan, do not hit the doggie” than there has been “No! Murphy!”

Tonight, Zephan was sitting on the sofa watching “Sponge Bob” (who dreams up this stuff??) and Murphy climbed up there with his chew toy and curled up right next to the baby. Practically in the baby’s lap. His tail was in the baby’s lap. Talk about not learning.

“No, Zephan, do not pull the doggie’s tail!”

We moved Murphy to the other side of the sofa.

<sigh>. Quarantined to the far side of the sofa, what is a dog to do but look incredibly sad?

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