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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Poodle Physics

I have written in the past about our little poodle, Paris. She has been gone from us for more than a year and a half, and we still miss her. But we have progressed to the point where we can have happy memories and even laugh about the way she was, which makes things a bit easier to handle. When Trent and I went looking for puppies, we knew that we wanted to get a small dog, and that we would prefer a female since we were planning to train her to use a litter box. The shop where she was purchased, which is run by a woman who buys from private breeders/families, and not puppy mills, had two sets of puppies when we went looking.

So here we were, looking at a litter of Miniature Schnauzers, all males, and all as cute as a bug's ear. Next to them was a litter of champagne-colored Toy Poodles. I didn't want a poodle, really, because I thought that they were nervous and sissified. I wanted a dog that would be all dog, even though it was small. We pulled one of the schnauzers out of the enclosure and put it on the floor. It immediately toddled over to Trent and started humping his shoe. Okay, not going to happen. 

Then we looked at the poodles. There were four sisters, all curled up in little circles. The funny thing was that there were three lying in a tight bunch, and a fourth using the others as a pillow. When I reached in, the one on top looked at me and practically said, "Pick me up! I love you! You are going to love me!" I did pick her up, and she immediately nuzzled her tiny head into my neck. My heart started to melt instantly. I looked at Trent, who said that he thought she was too mellow. I put her on the floor, and she spied a piece of paper. She dashed and pounced on the paper, and that's when Trent's heart melted. Before the afternoon was over, we were a family of three, and we took our precious two-pound baby home.

This dog always had a lot of personality. And her behavior in the pet shop was a sign of things to come. From day one, she was a little mountain goat. She loved to climb, and always wanted to be on the highest spot available. She'd disappear into the spare bedroom where we had some furniture and boxes stored, and start climbing. But at her young age, it was easier climbing up than getting back down again. We would hear her crying to be rescued because she had followed her nose to the top of the mountain, and didn't know how to get back down again. When she got older, she would lay on the back of the sofa, or on some pillows, or a pile of laundry, which was one of her favorites. If it was still warm from the dryer, that was even better. She would make her bed, pulling and pushing the clothes around until she had an acceptable nest. 

Something that amazes me is that even though dogs like to wake slowly and stretch all over, easing into wakefulness, they can go from sound asleep to fully alert and protective in 0.2 seconds. She was not about to let anyone bother her mommy and daddy. If someone came to the door, she would jump up and turn in the air so that she was facing the door. Her legs were planted in a bring-it-on stance, and she let everyone know that they were not to even think about trying to come into her home. A few years ago, I saw a dog trainer on television who had both pit bulls and poodles, and he said that if you wanted a watchdog, not to bother with a pit. A poodle was much tougher and more protective. And Trent and I both talked back to the tv to tell him that he was right.

I was amazed at some of the things she could do that seemed to defy the laws of physics. We could throw a toy from where we were all watching tv on the bed, and she would go sailing off the bed, changing her direction in mid-air. When she tried to sniff at the wastebasket and it began to tip over, she taught herself, at a very early age, to walk around on her hind legs to check things out. She would tuck her front paws close to her chest so that she wouldn't accidentally knock anything over. And she would hop behind us on her hind legs, sniffing the air if we were carrying a plate of food. But if we tried to make her hop around or walk around on her hind legs, she'd look at us like we were out of our minds. I do believe I heard her say that this was not the circus, and that she did not dance. No big deal; as long as she knew how to sit, and also sit pretty (sit up), we were fine.

Another amazing thing that I learned from Paris is that poodles often take up more room than you would expect. Paris weighed eight and a half pounds as an adult, and was ten inches high at the shoulder. And she liked, as many dogs do, to lay next to something warm. True to her puppy shop behavior, she liked to cuddle and be on a lap. If we were lounging around with our legs outstretched, she'd do what I called knocking on the door. She would gently pull her paw over your leg three times and look at you, waiting for you to move your legs into a 4 shape so that she could curl up between them and have warmth on two sides. And unless you, too, have had a toy poodle, you might not know something truly amazing. An eight and a half pound poodle can take up as much room on a king-size bed as an Irish Wolfhound. Paris would sleep on the bed with us, and there were moments when we were nearly falling off the bed due to little Miss Bed Hog. She managed to stretch out, touching both of us, while we were clinging to the edge of the bed, trying not to fall off. And if we crowded her accidentally, she was not above giving a little kick to remind us of our place.

We miss those days. Waking up with a warm poodle giving you kisses and then throwing herself down on the bed so that you can rub the sweetest, softest tummy in the world is a true joy. Even though we used to complain that she was a bed hog, we miss those days. She would be thrilled when we woke up from her pushing us around, and let us know how happy she was that we were awake. And she was always very obliging about settling down for naps. She was a loving and delightful creature. And she taught us all about Poodle Physics!