Doggie NASCAR

This is actually a quite tame version of the sport… These events used to happen frequently until one day Jacques did not properly apply his brakes and crashed into Rocky. I think his pride was hurt more than anything, but Jacques went for the sympathy vote by howling and limping until even my husband surfaced to see what was going on. He quickly regained his composure and went about his day but since then he’s been a little hesitant to participate in Doggie NASCAR with Rocky. (It hasn’t stopped him from solo Doggie NASCAR in the back yard…)

The Internet Lied

After seeing those initial photos of Jacques (then called “Lil’ Dude), I decided I needed to do some research on Westies. My head was trying to talk my heart out of wanting him… I had heard stories about terriers. I think my head’s strategy was to prove to my heart that these were impossible dogs and that he just wouldn’t fit into our family.

My head had the right idea. Unfortunately, the internet lied. I looked on the AKC website as well as numerous other sites, blogs, and forums. I saw words like “independent” and “trainable.” The sites stated that Westies aren’t usually lap dogs but that they like to be close to their family members. They said they were “clowns” and “feisty” and that they didn’t like to share toys.

My thoughts were…
-“Independent.” Niko was independent. He liked to do his own thing. I can handle that.
-And “trainable…” I can handle that! I had both my Shepherds doing all sorts of great tricks and while they were crazy at times, they were both pretty obedient.
-“Not a lap dog and likes to be close to the family.” Okay, I’ve have a big dog who thinks he’s a lap dog. I’m cool with not having another furry creature in my lap, and I like the idea of having everyone nearby.
-“Clowns and feisty.” My Shepherds were both. I’ve got that under control.
-“Don’t like to share toys.” Well, other posts said that they’re trainable. I’ll just teach him to share his toys. It can’t be that hard. Piece of cake.

So based on that information, I went full steam ahead and let my heart talk my head into wanting this little guy.

Jacques fell asleep guarding his toys after I made the mistake of trying to put them back in the toy bin.

Jacques fell asleep guarding his toys after I made the mistake of trying to put them back in the toy box.

HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!! What a fool I was!!!

Here’s what these people/posts/websites really meant:
-“Independent.” Stubborn, stubborn, STUBBORN. It’s been over a year and Jacques STILL refuses to shake when asked.
-And “trainable…” Okay, this was the biggest lie. Oh sure, they’re trainable – when they want to be. And only if you can a)1) figure out what motivates them at that very moment in time, b)2) break their OCD/laser like focus on whatever they’re obsessing about at the moment, and c)3) can break through their ADD to get them to pay attention to you for longer than 0.3 seconds.
-“Not a lap dog and likes to be close to the family.” This was a false generalization followed by an understatement. The MOMENT I sit down, Jacques catapults himself into my lap, usually when I’m not looking and/or am unprepared. I’ve gotten better at catching him before he does, but when I say no, he sits and stares at me as if telepathically trying to change my mind. And when they said like to be close to the family… they really meant “under your feet at all times.” Literally. When getting up from a seat, we have to look under our feet because there is always a little white fur ball there.
-“Clowns and feisty.” I now understand this to mean “special” and STUBBORN.
-“Don’t like to share toys.” OCD, ADD, OCD, ADD, OCD!!! You cannot TOUCH a toy in the house without him going crazy. And you literally can’t keep toys in the toy box for longer than 2 minutes without him dragging them back out. If you want to mess with him (not that we would ever do that!), play with 2 or 3 toys at a time… You can see him start to have a mental meltdown because he doesn’t know what to do or which toy to go after.

"My toy!! Mine!"

“My toy!! Mine!”

The internet lied. And I believed it. So… here we are.

Those of you with terriers and/or Westies… Is this typical behavior or did the universe play a colossal joke on me??

Is My Dog Part Cat?

I think Jacques is part cat. Let me throw this disclaimer out there – I have never owned a cat. That being said, I’ve been around quite a few of them and have heard a lot about them from various friends and family members. That being said… I still think Jacques is part cat and here’s the evidence:

He jumps up and starts running laps around the house as if some boogey man is after him – all for no apparent reason. (I don’t see the boogey man hot on his tail…)

He perches on things. (I have way, WAY too many pictures of this so I picked out a few that I thought best represented this behavior.)

The subject exhibiting cat-like perching behavior...

The subject exhibiting cat-like perching behavior…

He’ll stare at you, even make eye contact with you, and then his eyes will start to close as though he’s so bored by you that he can’t be bothered to stay conscious. Or maybe he’s narcoleptic. I don’t know. (I need to get pictures or video of this… it’s HILARIOUS.)

He “hides” under things with the “If I can’t see you, you can’t see me” attitude. (Strange. Very strange.)

He's not very good at hide and go seek...

He’s not very good at hide and go seek…

He stalks things – mostly scorpions, spiders, and flies. (The flies keep him pretty busy since he has to track them throughout the house. It’s only really annoying at night.)

It might not be a ton of evidence, but I think it’s a pretty good start. All of these sound like  cat-like behavior to me…

More perching...

More perching…

Now, if a fly would come between Rocky (my big dog) and the window, Rocky would smash it with his head, but he wouldn’t stalk it. Is that because he’s lazy? Maybe. But maybe it’s because he’s not part cat! If Rocky makes eye contact with you, he usually tries to convince you to give him a B-O-N-E or T-R-E-A-T. There’s no way Rocky could hide under anything unless it was a bus or something. And jumping up and running around for no apparent reason and perching – not happening. Never has. Again, is it because he’s lazy? Possibly, but I think it’s because he’s not part cat!

So, is this behavior a small dog thing or is Jacques part cat? Hmm…

More perching and even more snoozing...

More perching and even more snoozing…

Bringing Home Jacques, Part II

When we returned from our trip, we were surprised to see a different side of Jacques. Gone was the mellow, sleepy little guy we adopted. He was replaced by a blur of white lightening… a little hellion. A cute hellion, but one nonetheless. Our living room was turned into a doggie NASCAR track as he would suddenly run round and round full speed with his head down and ears back. If he had wheels, I would swear he turned corners on two of them! He did this until he would suddenly stop and go about his business like nothing had happened. I thought this behavior was a result of him being boarded for a week… HA! As it turns out, that’s how he really is! The mellow guy routine he pulled for the first few days with us was just a ploy – and we bought it hook line and sinker!

Once we realized that we had been hoodwinked (which didn’t take long), we enrolled him in doggie obedience class. I was used to dealing with Shepherds who are very accommodating, very people pleasing dogs. Westies – HAHAHAHA! Yeah, no. I knew I needed the training more than he did. So we committed to making the 2-hour round trip journey every Saturday for the next 6 weeks. I knew we had our work cut out for us when upon seeing us coming to the first class the instructor said with a big smile, “Oh boy. A Westie.” My first thought was, “Crap.”

We’ll just fast forward through those 6 weeks and say that Jacques and I were asked to stay after class a number of times. We were the flunkies. Even the 2 giant Saint Bernards and the teacup poodle were progressing better and faster than us. (Remember, I’m used to the Shepherd mentality. This was REALLY hard for me.)

Jacques on Doggie Obedience Graduation Day! (It was nice that the instructor let us graduate...)

Jacques on Doggie Obedience Graduation Day! (It was nice that the instructor let us graduate…)

We might have been flunkies, but by the end of those 6 weeks my husband and I had a better understanding of Jacques and his needs. Jacques wasn’t completely ignoring us when we called him and he would even occasionally sit on command (when the mood struck him). I think it’s fair to say that Jacques learned a little about what was expected of him. He and Rocky were getting along. Rocky, who is geriatric by vet standards, would even participate in a few rounds of doggie NASCAR. (Thank goodness I have a decent size living room!!) At the end of those 6 weeks, Jacques was fully integrated into our family.

Bringing Home Jacques, Part I

After seeing his picture in a text message, I briefly met Jacques (then named Lil’ Dude) at the local vet’s office to take pictures of him for the humane society’s website. He was adorable! About a week passed… and I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I found myself researching the Westie breed and thinking about names. (Researching Westies… HA! The information I found was not exactly truthful… but that’s a whole other Oprah.) I finally decided to go see him again. I was sure that when I saw him I would be convinced he wasn’t right for me or my family. I called to let the vet staff know I was coming and was told that he had been adopted. I was crushed. And I was baffled about feeling that way.

I spent the Christmas holiday thinking about Jacques and what could’ve been. Hard as I tried I couldn’t get him out of my mind. (I had even picked out his name by then!) The day after Christmas my husband, our dog, and I were returning from our holiday travles when I received a call. The lady who adopted Jacques couldn’t keep him. (Turns out having 5 dogs, several cats, goats and a pig was a little much for her. Who would’ve guessed.) They wanted to know if I was interested. Without hesitation I said, “YES!!” (Thank goodness my husband is a good sport!) I then proceeded to bounce around in the car like a crazy person for the rest of the hour long car ride.

When we picked Jacques up he was less than interested in us. He was MUCH more interested in the sounds and smells around him. (This would become a recurring theme for our first six months together.) And when we got him home… he was greeted by our 95 pound welcome wagon named Rocky. Most dogs are usually intimidated by Rocky’s sheer size. Not Jacques. He really couldn’t have cared less. For the rest of the night (when Rocky wasn’t sniffing or following him), he laid under our feet as we watched TV. He was very mellow. My husband and I thought, “This is our kind of dog! Relaxed… mellow. We can handle this!” Little did we know, it was all a ploy.

Rocky & Jacques (before Jacques' MUCH needed haircut!)

Rocky & Jacques (before Jacques’ MUCH needed haircut!)

My husband and I traveled out of state for New Years. While we were gone Rocky stayed with some good friends and Jacques got to camp out at the vet’s and get vaccinated and snipped. When we returned, we picked both dogs up and headed home. This time Jacques’ homecoming would be a little different. This time, he wasn’t holding back…

They hadn't known each other very long when this picture was snapped. It took Rocky a few weeks to adjust. Jacques hit the ground running. Literally.

They hadn’t known each other very long when this picture was snapped. It took Rocky a few weeks to adjust. Jacques hit the ground running. Literally.

A New Journey

I always considered myself a “big dog” person. I mean… I liked small dogs, but I was always partial to the bigger breeds. My first true love was a German Shepherd, Niko. He was joined by a Rottie-Shepherd mix, Rocky. They were my world, my everything. When Niko crossed the Rainbow Bridge in 2010, I didn’t think I would ever be able to love another dog again. As time passed and Rocky longed for a companion, I found myself searching for a new family member but could never connect with one. I tried and tried and looked and looked but to no avail (and being the webmaster for the local humane society, I saw A LOT of dogs!). Just as I was about to give up hope, a blurry picture of a little white dog came to me. This was the beginning of a new journey for me and my family. It was a journey that would prove that I didn’t know Jacques…