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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December 2014 -- Year's End

What a turbulent year it's been.  December was a hard month to end it on.  December 5 was the day we picked to say Goodbye to Big Guy.  At that point, he was becoming emaciated.  His tumors were getting quite large, and a couple of them appeared to be rupturing through the surface of his skin.  We took him to the vet and had him gently put to sleep.  I grieved that dog harder than I thought possible.

Most people don't know that we had been looking for another schnauzer even before Big Guy got sick.  We put feelers out through our groomer/breeder/shelter friends.  The first to bear fruit pointed us to a breeder in Centralia who had some standards.  Details were sketchy at the time, but we drove down on a Saturday to check them out.  She had a couple of 10-month-old sisters that were not destined for the show ring.  One was black, the other pepper-and-salt.  They were quite affectionate, and we couldn't decide on which one we wanted.  So we took both. I should mention that the kennel we got them from is nationally known and highly regarded in the show circuit, having been to been to Westminster:  Sketchbook Standard Schnauzers.

Isabel and Indigo

We named the black one Indigo and the other Isabel.  They are playful, athletic and damned smart.  Both learned to sit in about 3 days.  They are already crate trained and we are working hard on house training.  We call them the Sisters of Chaos, but we exaggerate.  They're pretty mellow for adolescent puppies.  They've only destroyed two three pairs of Stacey's flip flops.  Indigo is a friend to everyone, and has very pretty eyes.  Isabel is shy around strangers but full of mischief at home.  While both have cropped ears, one of Isabel's fell down, which gives her a comical look.  We're trying to break them of chasing the cat and barking at things from the window.  We love them to bits.

Another of our feelers turned up a giant schnauzer in Indiana.  We took a weekend to drive out and visit family in Crawfordsville and spent the night with Stacey's brother and sister-in-law in Indianapolis..  We drove down the next day to take a look at the giant. Kitty is a champion in her own right (Ch Fanta C's Gunsmoke's Leading Lady), 6 years old and a retired breeder.  She licked our faces and seemed very well behaved.  Though we had expected to pick her up in January (if, indeed, we wanted her and were allowed to have her), but decided to just take her home then.  Prior to that day, I had only seen two giant schnauzers during my whole life, and one was Big Guy.  Fanta C Giant Schnauzers had several magnificent adults in outdoor kennels and three puppies inside.  The pups were so adorable; all they wanted to do was lick your face.

Kitty has the cropped ears of a show dog.  She is already crate-and house-trained.  She walks on a lead perfectly and is generally cooperative.  She doesn't get up on furniture, nor bark much at all.  She rides in the back seat of my truck and just lays down, never barking.  We are working on sit and a few other commands.  She is playful and becoming integrated into the pack.  As the weather got cold recently, she climbed into the little fish pond and broke through the ice with all four feet, which then were covered in nasty mud.  So she got her first bath at home. I am still learning her personality, but she appears to be very sweet and loyal. She satisfies some inner need we have for a big dog.

Miss Kitty at Christmas

We still have the white miniature schnauzer Gretchen, of course.  So if you're keeping score, we now have four schnauzers in various sizes and flavors.  It's kind of crazy in our house right now, as we all adjust to a new routine.  I grew up in a house full of dogs, so 4 is not in the "crazy dog people" range for me.  Our plan is to make them well trained and well behaved so that the house is as orderly as it can reasonably be.  It's a process we are working.  We thank Shammy Johnson for connecting us to the standards and Carol Bridgeman for connecting us to Kitty.

I just finished reading the James Herriot (All Creatures Great and Small) compilation of dog stories.  It was fascinating.  One of the things he recommended is that, upon the loss of a dog, one should get a new one right away.  The new one does not replace the lost one (for, like Big Guy, each is unique), but I think the new one keeps you so busy that you don't have so much time to think about the old one.

I have had few opportunities for photography this month except for the dogs.  You'll find some decent shots in the online album below.

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