Sunday, December 09, 2012
Remy Comes Home
In the coming months, this blog will be filled with our experiences around all of the above. First I want to capture a bit of our experience bringing Remy into our lives. The whole thing has been completely different from how we adopted our other canine family members. Baxter was found through an ad in the paper, Kirby was found through a Petfinder listing from an animal shelter. In contrast, we were on the list for Remy before the little guy was even born. Wirehaired Pointing Griffons are a fairly rare breed so there aren't that many breeders out there. And because they are starting to become a bit more popular, it is even more important to find a reputable breeder who really knows the breed's history and traits, is super careful about genetic health and who provides the type of environment little puppy Griffs need in order to be properly socialized. There are a few such breeders around the country and their pups are quickly spoken for.
The owners of Supreme Point Kennels, veterinarian Lisa Boyer and her husband Robert Miller, are just that type of breeder and they are in a neighboring state, so we considered ourselves fortunate to get on their puppy list. (There are some good breeders here in Oregon too, but timing was also an issue for us, and the timing of this litter was ideal.)
As noted in previous posts, following Mama Trey's pregnancy, whelping and puppy-rearing through photos and videos posted by the breeders on Facebook enabled us to engage in Remy's birth and early puppyhood in a very personal way that wouldn't have been possible back in Baxter's puppy days, at least not from a 10-hour drive away. After our whirlwind-long-drive-weekend visit with the 6-week-old puppies and the confirmation that we would be getting "Supreme Point's Do I Feel Lucky," the wait to bring our little guy home seemed interminable. He was available on Thanksgiving, but we weren't...so another week passed.
Finally...it was time to make the all-day road trip down to lovely Loomis, CA. We had planned to pick Remy up early Saturday morning, but we got in fairly early, so we called to let the breeder know. It turned out coming that evening was actually more convenient for them, so off we went. The whole thing was quite the family affair. On a rainy Friday night we received a warm welcome from Lisa and Robert; two of their children, Pavel and Becca; puppy-mama Trey; grown-up half-sister Blaze; Max the mini-but-mighty Maltese and the family's amazing dog-loving cat (whose name escapes me). The two remaining pups, our little Remy and his sister, Supreme Point's Grand Torino (also to be named Remy, totally a coincidence) were still downstairs... We and the breeders knew that once we set eyes on the puppy, paying attention to paperwork and asking essential questions would be next to impossible.
Trey and Blaze padded around the dining room table and took turns putting their heads on our laps as we went through the paperwork with Lisa and Robert. They answered many of our questions before we had the chance to ask them -- chip, vaccination schedules, food, best toys, etc.
Then they brought up the puppies, who proceeded to wrestle around the living room in various configurations with all of the aforementioned human, canine and feline family members. At one point, I looked over and Remy -- all ears and giant feet -- was in the middle of the living room floor rolling around with the cat, who was gently swatting at Remy's little moustache. A few minutes later Remy was in the middle of the living room floor rolling around with Max. Then with the other Remy. Then with Pavel. Becca carried the puppies around. It was obvious that our little Remy not only came from a very sweet mama dog, Remy's first 9 weeks of life were spent in a home filled with much caring, cuddling, playing and love from every member of the family.
We posed for pictures (the puppies were having too much fun to sit still) then it was time for Remy to say goodbye to his mama and the only family he had ever known. It was a bittersweet moment.
Remy adapted remarkably quickly. That night we put his first collar on him. No struggle. We attached a leash. Again, no struggle -- he got the gist of it almost immediately. I held him on my lap as we drove to the motel. He sat calmly looking out the window and seemed fascinated by the lights and cars whizzing by. At the motel we introduced Remy to his little big brother, Kirby, who had been observing things from the gated area in the back of our car this whole time...
Kirby wasn't quite sure what to make of this puppy as they sniffed and circled and sized each other up. I think it helped that we were on neutral territory. And, for Kirby, it also helped that there was a bed he could crawl under to get away from the little gonzo guy who somehow still had tons of energy, even after all that wrestling around on the Boyer/Miller's living room floor. (Kirby made it known, in no uncertain terms, that the under-bed area was strictly off-limits to the puppy.)
We spent the rest of the evening playing, reveling in the joy of having a new puppy (and hoping we might tire Remy out so we could get a decent night's sleep). We introduced Remy to his crate and he went in and out, brought toys in there to play with and seemed immediately to think of it as his space -- which was great. But when that crate door closed and the lights went off around midnight, little Remy began to whimper. I stuck my finger in through the door and he sucked and chewed on it. Soon, the tired puppy had nodded off, and so did we.
Then came the 3am "hey, I'm not in Loomis anymore" wake-up call... The adorable little creature we had put into the crate only three hours earlier had turned into a little ball of fury, unleashing a repertoire of progressively louder whimpers that turned into yelps that turned into howls that morphed into an other-worldly yodel and finally a very high/very low growly yowl that was accompanied by kicking and biting at the door of the crate. Not wanting to get kicked out of the motel, but also not wanting to immediately teach him that whining would get him out and onto the bed, we took turns crouching next to the crate, talking calmly, until Remy dropped the volume a bit and finally wore himself out.
Remy was bright eyed and rearing to go at the crack of dawn. As Jamie took the dogs out to do their duties I shuffled, bleary-eyed, over to the coffee machine in the room, to discover that it only came with decaf. We fed the dogs (Remy's a chow hound) and happily hit the road in search of caffeinated beverages.
Remy, it turns out, is a great little traveler. He protested initially at being put in the crate, but after a few minutes he calmed down and went to sleep. After a while I took him out of the crate and he sat happily on my lap, playing with his toys, watching cars and scenery go by, chewing on my hands and licking my face. He particularly enjoyed watching large semi-trucks as we passed.
We decided to make the trip home over the course of two days, to allow plenty of time for play and potty breaks and a couple of visits with friends. The first night we stopped in Ashland, Oregon and had dinner with a dear friend who was, of course, smitten with the puppy. Remy must have been worn out by the end of the first day on the road because that night he slept seven hours straight, no whining, which the sleep-deprived and road-weary humans greatly appreciated.
The next morning we visited a few of our old haunts (we lived in the area for 5-1/2 years) then hit the road...stopping to visit another friend in Grants Pass along the way. Remy took it all in stride. Truck stops were fascinating places with lots of loud noises to investigate (here is where the difference in wiring between Kirby and Remy was apparent -- at every loud noise Kirby cringes and tries to find a place to hide...Remy startles, then immediately wants to go toward the noise to see what's going on).
We were careful not to let Remy onto the grass or dirt (he has only had one set of vaccinations, so he doesn't yet have full immunity to Parvo and other puppy diseases) so the little guy had to get used to doing his business on pavement. No problem.
The rest of the drive home involved a lot of drive-thru coffee (humans), sleeping (dogs), potty breaks (everybody) and good tunes.