We just got back from Bemidji and Aitkin yesterday.
Bemidji was to pick out our puppy. My cousin, Ben, (Squeak’s brother) has a dog named Molly. She is an incredibly sweet, intelligent, and easily trained black lab. She’s about 1 ½ years old.
Her first litter ended up being 12 puppies. Father of unknown origin, but the two primary suspects are a couple of Springers seen in the area. Suspect number three is a big black-and-white mutt.
Molly had a stroke shortly after delivering the puppies. She not only survived it, and appears to be on track for a 90% recovery or better…but she has taken excellent care of the puppies. They are all alive, all fat and healthy, and all well socialized and trained to go to the bathroom in the corner of their pen farthest from the food dishes.
They are also well-socialized for Cats, as a stray kitten has taken to coming into the open porch and wiggling in and out amongst the puppies to get at the food. You can imagine how truly gentle these puppies nips must be, for a kitten to not get mauled by them. They treat the kitten as one of their own.
Rocky wanted a duck and pheasant dog, so we figured one of her puppies would fit the bill just fine.
We left the boys at my Aunt Betty’s house, and went to pick out the dog. You know puppies and boys. I had a vision of our kids instantly bonding with a different dog than we picked out, and their hearts being broken. Instead, we would pick out the dog, and then bring that dog out for them to bond with, and then let them play with the rest of the puppies.
First test was to see which dog was the most curious, used its nose the best, etc. Rocky’s brother told him to drop a duck or goose wing down and see which dog found it, sniffed it, and grabbed it first.
We didn’t have a wing, so instead Rocky dropped his cap. A scrappy little all-black one noticed it right away, sniffed it, picked it up, and was immediately set-upon by about six others. He retreated to a corner and defended his prize with surprising tenacity.
We couldn’t keep track of him in the sea of black dogs, however. Only about four or five of the bunch had any white markings.
The alpha was easy to pick out. We named him “Bruiser”. He was by far the fattest of them all, and was always jumping on, rolling over, nipping, or otherwise pushing the others around.
According to Rocky’s brother, that’s the one you want if you have a lot of time to spend training a dog. If not, you want dog number two or three. We figured we could go to dog four or five in the pecking order of this bunch and still get a really confident and assertive dog.
The first dog to notice us was a moderately fat-and-happy girl with two white back paws and a white blaze on her chest. She climbed up on the straw bale and greeted us with curiosity. When she was picked up, she seemed happy, rather than freaked out. Her heart rate was even and she took to nibbling on Rocky’s fingers right away.
Rocky got into the pen, and right away, four puppies made it their mission to untie his shoe laces. They worked and worked, and when they had the laces completely untied, the walked away, heads held high in triumph.
We narrowed it down to four dogs, and couldn’t decide. They were all friendly, intelligent, confident, assertive without being bullies, explored any new setting with curiosity, used their noses, and “pointed” at things they wanted to explore further. They were all girls. Indeed, we picked all the girls in the litter. It would get down to between two dogs, and then one would do something impressive, and it would be back to three and then four and then down to two again. They were all evenly matched.
What to do. We brought in the boys, for help.
Adventure Boy picked one with four white paws and a white blaze on the chest. Rocky and I voted for that one as well. Grasshopper picked one with two white back paws and a white blaze.
Correction, Grasshopper BONDED with the one with miss two-white-back paws. As in fell in love with her. As in, the thought of being separated from her nearly brought him to tears.
We knew it.
Adventure Boy was pretty attached to “his” dog as well, but as he always does, he deferred to Grasshopper. But HE got to pick the name. Grasshopper wanted to name the dog “Blaze” for the white blaze on her chest. Adventure Boy suggested “Mara Jade” after Luke’s love interest in the Star Wars novels. So “Mara Jade” it is…”Jade” for short.
We will be picking up Mara Jade in a couple of weeks, when the puppies are fully weaned.
A little more about the name. I think Adventure Boy has kind of a crush on the character of Mara Jade. After all, she IS every geek boy’s dream woman. Strong, capable, dangerous, and a little bit evil. I told this to my Kung Fu friend, Chris, and he did the silent-belly-laughing thing.
“What?” I asked
“I’m not sayin’ anything. You stuck your chin out on that one, and it’s just too easy.”
I guess Mara Jade will fit into our family just fine.