Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Welcome to My World...

TOTO: The Other Side of the Story (by Michele Stadnik)
So, "The Wizard of Oz" is your favorite movie, you just LOVE Toto, and have always wanted a dog just like him? A dog who's small, cute, lovable, and doesn't shed all over your couch? You've done your research and learned that Cairn Terriers are (take your pick):

Good with children
Friendly
Loving family dogs
Adaptable to living in small apartments as well as large homes

Well, YES and NO.

Probably NO ONE ever told you that Cairns will almost INVARIABLY:
Chase squirrels
Chase bunnies
Chase bugs
Chase bikes
Chase paper fluttering down the street
Chase anything that moves
Chase things that aren't moving, just to GET them moving so they'll have something to chase
Bark at cars
Bark at bikes
Bark at birds
Bark at trikes
Bark at trucks
Bark at the phone
Bark at fireworks
Bark at thunder
Bark at the doorbell
Bark at the doorbell on TV
Bark to hear themselves bark
Bark just to get your goat -- or your attention
Or both
Bark sometimes just cause it feels so damned GREAT
Dig up that mouse hole
Dig up your tulips
Dig up your roses
Dig up your lawn
Dig under your fence
Dig under your shed
Dig up your linoleum
Dig up your carpeting
Nip at people's feet if you haven't redirected their intense prey drive
Nip at your hands too, if not trained properly
Try to control their universe and everything in it -- INCLUDING YOU
Will succeed at this unless YOU intervene. And even then, they'll try again. And again. And again and again and again and again.
Lunge at other dogs on leash
Lunge at people, unless trained not to
Lunge cause it feels good and they're in a hurry to get where they're going, and you're the only thing holding them back from experiencing the next exciting adventure around the corner or around the world.
Bolt out any open door in the blink of an eye
LET ME REPEAT THAT: THEY WILL BOLT OUT ANY OPEN DOOR IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE
And won't return until they're good and ready.
Sometimes not even then
Refuse to come -- unless they want to
Refuse to sit -- unless they want to
Refuse to stay -- unless they're bored silly, and if so, that's the BEST time to move around to stir up the action anyway
Refuse to stop barking -- unless there's something in it for them...like a fabulous treat
Refuse to do what you want at the PRECISE moment that it's most important that they do...like when you're trying to show off how obedient and well-trained they are (which is, of course, a grand delusion on your part).
Nor, it seems, has anyone told you:
A Cairn can never, ever, ever be trusted off-leash, EVER.
Not even for a second. Regardless of how well-trained you have deluded yourself into believing he is
That all the dogs you've had before and have trained so well don't matter...if they weren't Cairns.
Because Cairns are different.
Very different
That they're generally NOT the best breed for a home with small children.
That one bears repeating: Cairns are generally NOT the best breed for a home with small children.
That Cairns WILL shed a little (or a lot) if you don't groom them properly.
That they're relatively resistant to housebreaking (don't expect them to be housebroken in a week, or even a month)!
And even when you think they're housebroken, if they've got something else on their agenda at the moment, they're likely to conveniently "forget."
That they are affectionate -- on their terms, not yours.
That they are stubborn and hardheaded, not to mention incredibly independent
That obedience training is a necessity, not a luxury. And that it's just the FIRST step in the process.
That you should read the previous sentence again, and forget everything you think you know. If you haven't owned a Cairn, it doesn't apply.
That they were bred to hunt and kill, and their intense prey drive can NEVER be trained out of them. Toto may not have KILLED those flying monkeys, but that's only because Toto KNEW they were fakes. Otherwise, they'd have been dead, not merely outwitted.
What they SHOULD have told you is:
They're wonderful for THE RIGHT OWNER
They're loving -- IF YOU LOVE THEM, TREAT THEM WELL, AND HAVE EARNED THEIR RESPECT
They're smart -- PROBABLY SMARTER THAN YOU
They're sweet -- WHEN THEY WANT TO BE
They're funny -- VIRTUALLY ALL THE TIME, IF YOU ENJOY DEMENTED, DEVIOUS, DEVILISH HUMOR
They're good with GOOD, WELL-BEHAVED CHILDREN WHO HAVE GOOD, RESPONSIBLE PARENTS. And if they haven't had a bad experience previously with ill-behaved kids. Otherwise, it's a recipe for disaster.
They're strong
They're hearty
They're brave
They're relentless
They're devious
They're insightful
They're indomitable
They're energetic beyond description
They're intelligent beyond belief
They're the BEST dog you'll ever own
BUT...they just may be the WORST dog you can imagine.

THAT PART IS ALL UP TO YOU!

Oh, and by the way, Toto was actually a GIRL!

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