Tuesday, March 6, 2012

My renewed appreciation for the Miniature Schnauzer

I have two of them.

My beloved Jordan

She has always been my shadow, my girl, my laplover, and my yappiest yapper ever.  It doesn't matter if someone has been out long enough to take the garbage to the curb, or been gone for 3 weeks, she still greets everyone with her yaps like there is no tomorrow.   She was my 40th birthday present.  I have loved her from day one, but our relationship took a deeper turn the day she birthed her litter.  I will never forget the look on her face as her eyes met mine, while wracked with pain, as she pushed the first pup out.  She allowed me to assist getting her babies cords cut, cleaned up and then left her alone to let the natural canine in her take over and the mothering in her to begin.  Talk about bonding.  As she ages, she is changing a little.  Packing on the pounds (don't we all), sleeping in bed more than in the sun on the rug inside the kitchen, and less on my lap an more next to me or under the covers spooning me.  She has always been loyal, well trained and obedient.  As we walk, I can give the command "wait" and she literally freezes.  If I tell her to come, she comes.  Obedient epitomized (except for shut up and stop yapping)

And then we got Captain Jack Black.

Jack.  Jack A. Roonie.  Jack A. Loonie.  Cukoo for Cocoa Puffs.  Of course his puppy years were challenging.  We seriously thought he was mentally crazy.  He would beg to go outside and then persist in attacking the propane tanks next to the grill.  He seriously thought he could take those suckers down.  He's wants to be inside.  Then outside.  Inside.  Outside.  Over and over again. (Yes, I know, I need a doggy door).  But now, for the past several months I have had more time to hang out with him and watch, observe and come to some conclusions about him.

First, one should understand what schnauzers were bred to do.  They are terriers, so they are ratters.  They should be "going to ground"  meaning they can rid the area of small varmin.  Since we don't have that problem, no biggie for that.  But they were also originally used to be watch dogs.  It's their nature.  Of course, the giant Schnauzer would be a legit threat, but the mini?  Not so much.  But that doesn't mean the instinct is gone or phased out through breeding.  Believe you me....it's there.  And ingrained in my Jack very deeply.

I've been watching his behavior very closely and have come to realize that what I thought were quirks and marks of crazy are actually all very methodical instincts.

When he scratches to go outside, it's for one of three reasons:

One, he needs to take care of business  (and thank heavens they are small like tootsie rolls).

Or, there is something outside that he feels might be a threat to our property.  Either a bird on the fence, a cat taunting him, the neighbor's dog, or people that may or may not belong near us.  Once at 3am, he was desperate to go out, as I opened the door and watched him bolt for the back fence I caught a glimpse of a man walking on the street behind us.  Jack had sensed it and needed to alert.

Or the third reason, is a simple perimeter check.  He will go out.  Take a look straight ahead, then to his left and then right.  He then runs the perimeter of our backyard checking through the fence and smelling for anything foreign or unusual.  After making sure everything is secure, he either is ready to come in, or if the weather is nice, he perches himself on the top step and watches the world go by making sure that nothing is out of place that he needs to attend to.

All perfect instincts for a guard dog.  He's on the watch constantly.

Another quirk is how he feels the need to climb right on top of me.  In my face.  If I am laying down, he comes to my chest and sits himself right down facing away from me (yes, I get his butt in my grill) and sits at attention.  He stays that way for several minutes.  Just at attention on top of me.  After several minutes, he will eventually relax and then either lay down on my stomach or legs.  Either way, he is either on top of me or next to me.  Again, I used to chalk it up as a weird, annoying quirk but realize after careful observation that he is indeed "on guard".  He places himself between me and the outside.  Once he has assessed the situation as safe, he then allows himself to relax a bit and "stand down".

He's also a TV watcher.  He is alert and cognizant enough to catch things on tv ( he likes to watch basketball, particularly the Utah Jazz) and does indeed pay close attention for lengthy periods of time.  I find it fascinating and now have started leaving Animal Planet on for him while I'm gone, although I think he might be happier with ESPN.  I think I will switch to that.

He's a lover.  He snuggles right up, rubs his neck on my face or neck and wants to love and kiss.  Affectionate is one of his most lovable qualities.

So all this time, we thought we had a crackpot for a dog, when in reality he is doing exactly as his breed has been produced to do.  Once I figured all this out, my heart has grown two sizes too big for this one.  Now, he and Jordan share equal, yet different, parts of my heart.  My bond with each one is equally strong but for different reasons.  Strange how that works.

And then there is Jace.

Jace isn't our dog, but he belongs to Tuffy and 'Tana.  However, with their work schedules and his boredom, he gets to come visit often.  He is all puppy.  He can literally play for hours at a time before he exhausts himself. Jack is his best friend.  I have never in my life seen a friendship between dogs like this.  They literally love each other as if they were brothers born in the same litter.  They both serve to amuse the other and provide the necessary canine socializing that is important to maintain a well rounded dog.  Jace is my lover- lover.  He will greet me by licking my face for several long minutes.  If that grosses you out, then so be it.  I pull my lips in and let him go to town.  Once he's loved me, he is off to be Jack's sidekick for the rest of his visit and I wipe down my face.

Interesting how with each dog I have ever owned, I have loved them all for different but equal reasons.  Some of us love the canine companionship and bond that a dog lover shares with  his/her dog.  They become part of our family.  Our kids.  Our own kin but with four legs and some fur.

I realize not everyone gets this or feels like I do but really, they offer so much.  They bring so much love and happiness to our families.  My children will have memories of our dogs for their whole lives (I remember our dog Sammy when I was 5 that gave me and my best friend Roger ticks).  Our kids learn to love something other than themselves and to develop compassion for animals that are reliant upon us for their safety and care.  I personally think it helps them to become better parents.  And perhaps, maybe it doesn't require a dog, but some pet of some kind that is reliant on us for survival.

So finally, after much musing, observation and deep thinking (hey, I got time to do that), I finally have realized exactly why I love my mini's.  No shedding, hypoallergenic, small turds, easy to control, quick to train, and so full of love, personality and loyalty that ofttimes isn't even found in humans.

Snap!  I think I've turned into that crazy dog lady


Lara said...

I am so happy to read this.

We decided to get a puppy (a schnoodle, actually, so half mini-schnauzer!), and we're picking her up next week. I grew up with dogs and have missed having one. My husband did not and has not, but he loves me and the girls so he's finally given in.

However, I am worried about all the work involved and if I made the right decision. Reading this answered that for me. I absolutely made the right decision and I CAN'T Wait!

Your dogs are wonderful. I love how you explained their personalities.

tammy said...

I get this.

I've loved all my dogs for different reasons. My first dog would comfort me and sit on my lap when I was crying and going through a particularly hard time in life. Then once Taylor was born, she would lay right next to him and if he started crying, she'd come find me with a concerned look on her face. Some of my favorite memories.

I could write stories about each of my dogs too. You may have inspired me.

Lindzena said...

Oh they are so very cute! I have decided - it is far better to be a crazy dog lady than it is to be a crazy cat lady. It is 'less crazy' I would say. I am so very excited to get a dog again someday soon, I miss having that excited little face waiting for you when you come home!

Lindzena said...
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Janiece said...

TOTALLY understand. I loved your post...and I really needed it.
I have been missing my Itsey a lot the past few days. Reku has been extra snuggly, I imagine she can sence the sadness.
Maybe he is just doing "His Dog Thing". I have always thought he A lot odd...oh right he is. heheheee

gigi said...

I have finally learned to love all 3 of my dogs but so wish that Bentley Bull Dog had small turds :p

" Hit It......." said...

I loved this post. Shnauzers are my favorite breed of dog. I love that you let your son bring his dog over. They do get bored; for that reason we just got a new mini shnauzer puppy on Saturday. Let the fun begin!

btw - Your schnauzers are skinny compared to mine; she is a yard cow. I need to get her on a diet. Do you let them graze all day or do you feed them on a schedule?

wendy said...

Count me in on the crazy dog lady club. We sure do love our standard poodle Lucy. She has big turds...but hey, perks of living in the country, and she doesn't even go in our "yard" (I use that term loosly)...she runs out to the pasture where all the horse poop is.
Sheeesh...I am surrounded by a lot of poop. And then when the cows come in June, it is a regular poop fest around here. ok, enough

But she has wormed her way into our hearts Can't imagine not having her around. She is 65 lbs and thinks she is a lap dog.

I don't know if you have seen the movie
HACHI: A dogs Tale.
It is a true story and a darling wonderful movie about a dog and his master.
Get it.

Wife Of A Salesman said...

I love my mini too...she has so much personality, so much love, so much forgiveness, and so much patience (which is perhaps the most important when there are also four kids and two cats in the house). We got her because Jim's parents have a mini that we love...he has been the most loyal and caring dog for them as they transition into empty nesthood.

Pedaling said...

after this post I vow to look at schnauzers in a new light.

I've been called the crazy dog lady before....

Dogs are the best! Especially smart dogs with little poops!

Jamie said...

Had a snouzer growing up and when my Grandma needed a companion we all said our sad goodbyes. While we were happy for grandma we all missed Pepper. Fiercly loyal dog and protector of my handicap sister. So I say it's a good crazy.