Welshies

Before Jeremy passed away we had decided that it was time forSaki, our now 8-year-old Shiba Inu, to have a little brother. With both of us working and with a somewhat active social life, we never spent as much time playing with her as she would have liked. We figured -- I'm hoping correctly! -- that having another, younger dog around the house would be stimulating and entertaining for her, as well as for us.

Saki

Saki is amazingly well-behaved, which is typical of her breed. She almost never barks, unless something is REALLY wrong (usually defined as another dog getting into her stuff!) When she does bark, you know about it -- two loud, sharp yelps and you come running! She doesn't dig, she doesn't gnaw, she doesn't make messes, although she is fond of eating paper towels, which give her a tummyache so those are kept out of the way. She likes to play right after her walks (one in the morning, one in the evening, about 12 hours apart) and she loves to go to the park. She'd love being off her leash, too, but getting her to come back takes major ingenuity or significant bribes (a slice of luncheon meat will do nicely, thanks) -- it's just too much fun to play chase / runaway, y'know?

As for interactions with other animals, Saki does OK but I wouldn't say she's overly gregarious. Before we left Atlanta we spent 18 months living with Eden and his two cats (one of which is now deceased) and she got along fine with them. (What Beastie and Tyler thought of Saki is another story!) And she seems to do reasonably well with dogs that her size or a bit smaller. The larger the dog, however, the more nervous she gets. That's partly due to an unfortunate incident that occurred sometime during our first year here in Houston. Jeremy was out walking her when he saw this cute guy walking a couple of dogs, one of which was huge. (A Great Dane, perhaps?) "How are they with other dogs?" he asked. "Fine, oh fine, they're always great," the other guy said. And as soon as they'd finished sniffing each other's butts (the dogs, that is, not Jeremy and the guy!) the Great Dane pounced on Saki and held her pinned to ground with his Great Jaws. The other guy was mortified, Jeremy was pissed, and Saki was traumatized. For a month she didn't want to go outside except to pee and poop and then it was right back indoors. And ever since then she's never had any interest in big dogs.

So there was the question of breeds. Smaller than Saki, definitely. Lively but not requiring constant attention. And not overly vocal -- Saki tends to cast a dim eye on dogs who ONLY know how to bark.

This is what the Dog Breed Information website says about Welshies:

The Welsh Terrier is a vigilant, active, cheerful and uncomplicated dog, which is affectionate and intelligent. Loving, loyal and hardy, it is usually patient with children and can withstand a bit of rough play. Welsh Terriers are curious and playful. Happy, energetic and spunky, they are best with a young, active family. Welsh Terriers are generally brave, though some tend to be timid when touched unexpectedly. Socialize them well when they are young to combat this tendency. Some are very combative with other animals and some are not quarrelsome at all. The Welsh Terrier is a little calmer than the other long-legged terriers. He likes to swim and some like to dig. Some can be difficult to housebreak, especially bitches. The Welsh Terrier is bright enough to understand quickly what you want of it but is also cunning enough to try to divert you from your intentions. Give these dogs constant variety in their training and remain consistent towards them.

Combined with it's size (no more than 15 inches tall, generally 20-21 lbs.), the Welshie seemed like an ideal choice. And they're so cute! You don't believe me? Take a look at Mollee's page or the webpage of the Welsh Terrier Club of America.

Finding Welshie puppies, especially in Texas, has proved a bit of a trick. Before he passed away Jeremy made contact with a breeder in Midland (way out in west Texas). In June we agreed that the next time her girls had a litter we'd be at the top of the list. And then came July and all the trauma that ensued. I never heard anything from the breeder in Midland and it's just as well because during those first couple of months I wouldn't have been able to deal with it. I kind of assumed she must have been one of the many people I e-mailed about Jeremy's death.

Eventually, though, I decided to follow up. It turns out she hadn't heard -- and that we hadn't heard from her because thus far this year the girls have steadfastly refused to get pregnant. Even so, she put me in touch with another breeder, this one much closer to Houston, who had a couple of boy pups. Our e-mail exchanges were amusing -- she thinks of the pups as her babies and she was more than a little taken aback to be getting e-mail out of the blue, inquiring about the availability of puppies that hadn't even been advertised.

I think Jeremy's webpage put her worries to rest. She put me in contact with a Welshie owner here in Houston who was gracious enough to invite us over to meet her two grown up Welshie females. I was a tad nervous about it, wanting both of us to make a good impression! I felt like I was taking my child off to a la de dah birthday party in the rich folks' neighborhood. But A., the owner of the Welshies, a beautiful dark-haired woman with grown children and the slightest trace of an accent (Spanish? Italian? I'm not sure which), was completely gracious and welcoming, complimenting Saki. The two of us traded stories about "our girls" for 15-20 minutes while Saki and friends got to know each other and ran around A.'s backyard. It turns out that the older of the two is the mother of the boy pup that's available. If he's anything like his mother, I'm already in love.

I thought to myself, Jeremy would enjoy this soooo much. Even her house is the kind he'd like! And then I thought, You're with me here now, aren't you? No answer, of course, but I knew.

We'll see. The next step is for me and Saki to visit Boy Pup and his family in central Texas. If things work out right, Saki could have a new little brother by Christmas.

Keep your fingers crossed!

RPJ


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