If all goes well, this week or next Clue is going in for her followup x-rays to see if her pelvis has healed. If there is no narrowing of the birth canal, she can theoretically be bred. If there is intrusion of bone into that space, we’ll be scheduling her spay. So now, while we’re in the nebulous land of maybe, I wanted to let you get to know my buddy Clue.
Clue came to us because of this:
Yeah, the older kids REALLY wanted a dog of their own. At that point we still had three Danes at home–Celie (an adult bitch) and two puppies. So my office looked like this:
However, Clara (the fawn bitch in the picture above) didn’t turn out to be show quality, so was placed.
And then Java (the black bitch above), who was prehaps the most beautiful dog I have ever bred, we determined was just too submissive for the show ring and was being totally beat up on by the grown-up bitch. So we put her in a WONDERFUL home (where she continues to be friendly but timid).
The (spayed) adult bitch ended up leaving us after a series of events that still make me feel very sad, but are not worth going into here. Suffice it to say that we knew even as of that summer that we were not going to keep her.
I had my name in for a litter of Danes that were to be born in Finland. The breeder there was using an 11-year-old stud dog and I REALLY wanted that longevity. So we believed there was another big guy on the way. (As it turned out, she switched stud dogs at the last minute and I backed out of the litter, but of course we didn’t know that then.)
Meanwhile, however, we had kids clamoring for a dog that they could walk and train and be really “owners” of. I had promised that when Meriwether was nine, we’d get them a smaller dog. So for years I had been researching what second breed to bring in. We pursued Sussex Spaniels for a long time, talking to breeders, but in the end I couldn’t hack the heart problems and the neonatal mortality rate. So we switched our attention to Cardigans.
I attended the 2005 Nationals in Massachusetts and fell in love with the easygoing spirit of the show, how incredibly friendly and helpful everyone was (that is, erm… not the way it is in most of the Dane world). I talked with a couple of excellent breeders, but the one whose dog I loved wasn’t comfortable putting a puppy with me because I fed raw. So she suggested I go talk to the breeder of her special’s father, a woman who had been recommended to me by several other people because she had consistently good shoulders and temperaments in her dogs. I knew absolutely nothin’ about nothin’, as they say, so I just figured what the heck and I called her.
Betty Ann is an absolute gem and a HOOT on the phone, but she had nothing for me. But I knew that she was the one I wanted a puppy from, so I kept calling. And calling. And finally she said that she was ready to put a puppy in a crate and send it to me. I had the picture of the puppy, a little merle bitch with one blue eye and one brown, and I was good to go.
It was the first time I’d shipped a puppy in by air, and I had no idea what to expect. I got to the cargo area, picked up my crate, half-ran outside, hyperventilating because I was so excited, and set the crate down. I opened it, and out walked a VERY poopy puppy, messy from her tail tip to her taped ears, with a grin on her face and sparkle in her TWO BROWN EYES.
I called Betty Ann, hands shaking–what had happened? She laughed. “Well, you said you wanted the best bitch, and the other one was my pick at eight weeks, but this one was my pick at ten!” She was exactly right; I had specifically said that I didn’t care what she sent me except that I wanted a bitch, and I trusted her to pick. And she did!
So I held this little nine-pound puppy on my lap, completely ruined my shirt, and by the time we got home she was no more “the kids’ dog” than I was. She and I had an understanding. And that understanding was that she was MINE.
From that very first day, Clue has slept one of two ways: on my feet as I work on the computer or she’ll climb up behind me on a couch cushion and sling herself over my shoulders, with her head hanging down over one shoulder and her tail on the other side. I never taught her either one, especially the “living stole” routine–that’s just the way she is.
When she was ten weeks old, she looked like this:
And her rear and topline looked like this:
I had never had a corgi of either breed before; I had no idea what they were like. So I thought she was just a normal Cardigan. I thought that all Cardigans launched themselves in wiggly glee at every single human in sight; I thought that all Cardigans slavishly adored all other dogs. She played for hours a day with the Danes. I took her to puppy K and playgroup and she played for hours with everything and everybody else. She never, ever stopped wagging; every human was wonderful and every dog was heavenly.
When she was a few months old she looked like this:
And I didn’t really know if that was good or bad; I knew that I couldn’t make her look ugly if I tried, so I figured I’d enter her in a few shows.
At my first show with her, I didn’t know how to put her on the table. The judge helped, and laughed when she covered his face with kisses as he was moving her. There was a more experienced bitch in the ring too, so whe pointed to me and handed me a purple ribbon, I just about fainted. No one had EVER pointed at me. The Danes had all been handled, so I had been able to see them win, but having the point be at YOU.. it’s a totally different thing, a much greater joy, a huge amount of fear too.
The next day someone pointed at her too.
The third day, someone pointed at her and this time there were several other bitches. And ringside they told me that she was beautiful and her movement was flawless, and that was two points.
The next weekend, Steven Gladstone stood and laughed when she hit a perfect stack, then danced on her hind legs and tried to crawl up into his lap and snuggle. And this time when the point came, it was an opposite sex over a bitch special, and she had won a major. I still didn’t even know how to hold her on the table.
The rest is pretty much history. She was shown eleven more times after those first four, winning a 4-pt major, a 5-pt major, and another 3-pt. She went up over specials at most. I never had to show her–I followed her around the ring. She LOVED every second of it, loved the grooming and the excitement and the salmon and she’d move out like an Afghan Hound, way out at the end of the lead, LAUGHING, oh constantly laughing, tail wagging, because she knew if she did the mats all the way around she’d get to kiss a judge at the end of it. She taught herself to stack, she flirted with everybody who came near.
As a show dog she was a freak, a perfect dog. At home she is the most consistently happy dog in the entire world.
She adores the kids, and seeks them out. When she’s not playing with the other dogs, she’s beside a child.
She does not know that she is small, or has a tendency to be fat. She thinks she can fly.
When we brought home Bronte, she just about exploded with joy. Here was another dog who could run like the wind on tiny legs and it was just the best thing that ever happened to her.
Since Bronte was eight weeks old, they have been inseparable. They could not be more different, personality-wise, but they each think the other is just the coolest thing around.
Bronte is usually a little worried about something, most of the time. That’s why you see them like this a lot: Bronte is feeling a bit like she overstepped herself by getting up so high, and Clue is telling her to cowgirl up; it’ll be fine. And while you’re up there, bite that little black and tan thing on the butt, will you?
While Bronte is her favorite, she really does love every dog in the world. And they love her back.
And they should, because she is beautiful. On the rare moments when her tail stops wagging and she closes that laughing mouth, she is stunning.
She has a swirl on the back of her head, right behind her ear. It is where everyone must kiss her.
It gets a pretty constant workout.