In Search of Puppy Breath

Connery's first baby picture--about three weeks old!

Connery’s first baby picture–about three weeks old!

Puppy breath.  Slightly sour, slightly tangy, a hint of skunky.  No kind of smell that a person would normally crave.

At least, not until there’s a puppy in your hands and you suddenly realize how much you’ve missed that very thing.

I’ve always timed my puppies carefully, according to the age and need of the current pack.  I stay aware of who’s breeding the sort of dog I like, occasionally reaching out here and there with the intent to wait if there’s something perfect to wait for.  (I waited two years for Connery, for instance…)

I most recently started serious puppy-planning about five years ago, but things got…complicated.  And a little bit Fate-ish.

The pack itself had been ready for a puppy for a couple of years, but a series of major relocations kicked my precarious health into the basement.  So by the time I reached out to an online friend about her small breeding program of accomplished performance dogs, I was a little behind the curve.  And still not ready, but one starts solid planning a year or so ahead.  Not unlike planning books, if I say so myself.  Shortly after that, we made it onto my friend’s puppy list.

Shortly after that, I got a localish nudge.

Dart’s Breeder:  Got a pup here who’s perfect for you.

Me:  Aurgh.  OMG.  Temptation.  But…too sick for a pup right now.  Also, on a list for a ~year from now.

(A couple of months pass.  Belle Cardigan retires from performance.  Connery is not well.)

Dart’s Breeder:  Seriously, this puppy is meant for you.

Me:  Temptation!  Wah!!  Still sick!  Wah!  Already waiting for a puppy!  Wah!


My Online Breeder Friend:  I don’t know how to tell you this, but [insert personal tragedy].  There will be no breeding, possibly ever.  (We cry together for what she’s going through.)

Me:  Deep breath, self.  Connery is unwell and I have no idea how that’ll turn out.  And while I wanted a puppy for all sorts of reasons, the most of which being how important it is to lay performance groundwork in this highly intelligent, independent breed…it is time to be smart.

Me:  Dearest Dart’s Breeder, is that puppy (ten months now) still available?  (O humble)


Dart’s Breeder:  Why, yes he is, because his needs are so clear to me and he cannot go to non-performance home.  What took you so long?  Did I not TELL YOU THIS WAS YOUR DOG?

And he was.

(Note: It is official that she can remind me of this on a regular basis.  But I can’t truly second-guess myself…I knew I wasn’t well enough for a puppy when he was first available, and on looking back, I know I was right.)

That very weekend, little Cubbie Beagle come home for a month try-out. Three weeks later he earned his CGC certification (Canine Good Citizen) in spite of tremendous transition issues driven by his intelligence and emotional nature.  He was renamed D’Artagnan and nicknamed–you know this is coming, right?–Dart.

It turns out that Dart is the kind of scary-smart dog who needs all that groundwork in the most critical way, because by ten months old he considered his world completely defined (and to his own standards!).  His potential is off the chart, but we still have a lot to overcome and no certainty that I can do it, though he does continue to tease with incredibly exciting glimmers of what might be.

I did know it would take about three years to fully housebreak him (it did) and until he was five-ish to hope for consistency in performance (he just turned five and I’m seeing those glimmers).  And because of those things, I knew we wouldn’t be ready for a puppy in the optimal time frame (when Dart was about four), and we weren’t.

So when we lost Belle last April (‘13) and Connery was still struggling behind his uber-bawhsome cheerfulness, we didn’t consider puppy-hunting in spite of my commitment to a baby “for the next one.”  Instead, with perfect timing, we became Rena Beagle’s new home.

Rena loved her dumbbell...

Rena loved her dumbbell…

Rena was already five years old (Connery was nine, Dart was four), already had some training.  And she was a princess.  She was perfect.  Of course, neither her past mom nor I realized that the trip here would trigger lurking health issues into one crisis after another.

I pushed myself to an emotional limit before an injury a year later turned into Rena’s final vet visit.  I was emotionally crushed, physically exhausted, deeply grieving, and full of guilt for failing to meet Dart’s needs along the way.   In spite of the hole in our pack, I dove back into supporting the two Beagle boys full time and mentioned to Dart’s breeder that we would love to be considered for a puppy…in a year or so.

You know.  This time DETERMINED to get an actual puppy!

Which brings me back to that little whisper in my friend’s ear last spring, and the news that Dart’s sister Tyra was bred in early November, and the weeks of waiting to see if she’d taken, and the more weeks until they were born, healthy and beautiful, and the weeks of visiting as often as possible to meet them and play with them and assess them…

And that brings us to next week, when we bring home the first puppy breath to grace this household since Connery came home.


Now the question is…

WHICH ONE? play best


About Doranna

My books are SF/F, mystery, paranormal romance, and romantic suspense. My dogs are Beagles, my home is the Southwest, and the horse wants a cookie!
This entry was posted in The Dogs!, Tristan Beagle and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to In Search of Puppy Breath

  1. Kada says:

    Wait, what? When did Dart get to be 5! {blinks and missed it}
    {Sniffle sniffle cry} It has been a hard couple of years hasn’t it?
    Which one indeed. Whichever one it is, he will be yours. 🙂 I believe it’s impossible to choose the wrong one. 🙂

    • Doranna says:

      I know, it hardly seems possible! Even though he was almost a year when we got him!

      It’s been a terrible, no good couple of years. Losing Belle was hard but fair, and went as sweetly as Belle could have wanted for her very sweet self. But all of Connery’s illnesses, the delay in getting him help, the damaging meds he needed, the injuries as a result…and then to have Rena’s health issues layered in on top of that. Include my Dad’s situation and my own health and I think it just about sucked me dry.

      But a PUPPY! It is time.

  2. Marilyn says:

    There is something so VERY special about A Puppy.

    When Shadow and Sunny passed their 14th birthdays, and we knew it was not IF, but WHEN they left us, I went back to their breeder and asked if he would be having a litter any time soon, as S&S had been so wonderful. He said no, for numerous reasons, all of which I had to agree with, and then he added, “But you might like to look at a very nice bloodline out in California…” “California!” sez I. “How the heck do I look at puppies in California?!” “Webcam,” says he, and sends me the link. And so I got to watch this litter of longhaired Dachshund pups from the time they were about two weeks old. And, OMG, they were born on my birthday!

    OK, in June (just for the heckuvit) I called the breeder and explained carefully that I did not want a show dog, I wanted a healthy dog who would be loved and cherished all his days. He said he had no problem with a pup to a non-show home as long as it was a good home, and S&S’s age and health argued ours was a good home. So then I went back to Brian and told him what the breeder had said. And then (and I think I was set up for this one!), Brian says, “Say, I have an idea! I’ve been wanting to get back into showing, but I couldn’t justify, given our situation, breeding a litter just to get one or two pups to show. Why don’t we go in together on a show dog — he’ll live with you, and I’ll show him.” So we did.

    Master Harper arrived on 11 August 2012, full of bounce, not a bit scared by his plane trip. Sadly, we lost our Sun-dog ten weeks later from a cancer that just bloomed out of nowhere. But Mr. Shadow is still with us — 16 years, 9 months, and 11 days, and continues to train Harper in How To Handle A Human.

    Meanwhile, Harper and Babette Beagle have bonded and are best play buddies. Babette NEEDED a younger dog to romp with — we coped with her Beagle Energy by taking her on play dates to friends. A puppy was just the challenge she needed! Harper now needs one major to finish his conformation championship (and there ARE no majors in the immediate area, ie, within 6-8 hours) and, thanks to Connery doing Barn Hunt, we’ve discovered a sport which Harper adores, and my shy Babette is beginning to like. But oh, those puppy days!

    If little Tristan — and he won’t stay little for as long or as short a time as you might wish, as you know well! — has his biological uncle’s scary smart intelligence, he will be an awesome performance dog, and a challenge, for sure. May his Uncle Connery’s love of DOING and sheer determination rub off on him!

    WHAT an adventure!

    Ten days to Lift Off!

    Have fun, all of you! (And I’ll look forward to the progress posts if Tristan gives you time to make them!)

  3. Patty says:

    Oooh so cute! Jim got Lani, I saw aussie mix puppies on FB and there you go. We got Agent Coulson! Can’t wait to see the new pup and hear all about his? exploits!

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