Fox Terrier About Town

Adventures of a Vivaceous Pup in Fancy London

Archive for February, 2008

Persian Carpets Are Not For Puppies

Murphy Warned About Puppies and Carpets

This Spot Is Not For Puppies


Ben comes from Istanbul and I am in Blackfriars at a board meeting. I have taken puppy with me because the clients want to see him. It’s okay to bring a puppy to an antiques warehouse. He seats on my lap at the meeting and I entertain him by letting him chew on a toy that I brought with me. He wriggles sometimes but now he knows that I am the boss – or he is beginning to know, and we can negotiate less wriggly movement. Every day is one little step forward for a puppy, one giant relief for his owner, me, in gaining the battle of Who Is The Leader Of The Pack, or whatever sentence they use to basically define what Mums do with their offspring. I was the leader of the pack when I was the head teacher of 24 six year old kiddies in New York City Dwight School. In those days, those little upper class muppets did what I told them to do and I never thought about packs, top dogs or any such thing.

Ben is back and he opens the door and there I am puppy house in hand and puppy wriggling inside. The foyer is literally covered in $20,000 Persian antique carpets. Ben lets puppy out of the house and little foxy starts trotting around like a lamb. Then he starts sniffling the ground. And before we can say “No!” puppy squats his back legs and starts to wee on the carpets. Ben goes livid and I jump over the carpets to snatch the peeing puppy from the ground. Puppy stops weeing and doesn’t know what is going on. Ben then spends the next 20 minutes soaking the pee off the hand-tinted carpets with rolls of toilet paper. The wee comes off and the carpets seem okay.

Lesson One: when puppies sniff the floor, they are looking for a fine place to pee.
Lesson Two: Ben has developed a magnanimous sense of understanding of puppy behaviour, or he just knows how mortified I was and did not want to rub it in anymore
Lesson Three: Add Ben to a couple of more night prayers because he deserves it

Socialisation and Habituation

The socialisation and habituation period for a puppy is between 6 -16 weeks. This is the time when your puppy is much less fearful and much more likely to approach and investigate novel things. At this time it is very important that your puppy is heavily socialised with other animals and people, remembering to include dogs and people of all shapes, sizes and gaits. This must be good experience for your puppy. After the socialisation period ends, your puppy will behave to increase distance, through the mechanisms of flight or fight, from anything that he has not been socialised with. Living in London there are lots of horses and swans and scary red buses.

Puppy Training Is Fun

Training should always be enjoyable. Try to integrate training into your everyday life and play with your dog during and at the end of sessions, as this will ensure he looks forward to his training. Try to train in 2-3 minute sessions, 4-6 times a day.
Always finish a training session on a positive note, with something your dog can do well.

BASIS OF TRAINING
Initially, you will need to lure your dog into various positions using a food reward. Once the dog is going into the desired position willingly and regularly you can then start saying the word before the hand signal.

NAME: Say ‘dog’s name’ to gain his attention.
CUE WORD AND HAND SIGNAL: Give calm instruction e.g. ‘sit’, then hand signal straightaway.
ACTION: Dog goes into the required position.
REWARD: Say ‘Good’ give the food treat/praise/ play.

REMEMBER when you are not using food rewards use your release command ‘ok’ to let your dog know that he has finished that particular exercise.

ONE SECOND RULE: Once your dog is in the correct position, and you are ready to release him, he must be rewarded within one second for him to learn the correct association of word and action.

Regularly put your dog on his lead in the house when you are training, to ensure success as you have more control of him. This will also reduce his excitement when he sees the lead, as it will no longer be the signal for a walk.

THE 3 D’s: Every time you teach your dog something new, this needs to first be done where there are NO distractions e.g. indoors.

When he can perform the behaviour perfectly you can then start added the 3 D’s ONE AT A TIME AND GRADUALLY.

Duration – The time your dog remains in that position, e.g. start with 3 seconds then gradually increase the time to 1 minute.
Distance – Gradually increase the distance between you and your dog when he is in that position.
Distraction – When he can do it perfectly indoors practice on the street, then in the park with minimal people and dogs around increasing to a busy park.

Remember if your dog moves out of position when training, just put him back into the position and start again. It might be worth going back a few steps and taking it a little slower.

Puppy School Oh So Posh

Heel Puppy, Heel! Good Puppy!

Heel Puppy, Heel! Good Puppy!

One of the things that I pre-booked before Dashwood came home was puppy school. This is very common in London. Apparently not so much in other parts, but it is one of the best things a little puppy can get. And you, as the owner, if you have never brought up a puppy, is the best schooling too.

This is what you get in Puppy School:

* teaching your puppy how to come, sit, lay down, heel, and obey basic commands;
* learning about puppy hygene: how to clean those ears, and the eye gunky stuff;
* introducing your puppy to other dog breeds, different from him and so needed to be explored;
* teaching your puppy basic manners towards other puppies, humans and children;

The couse is just six Saturdays, but it is worth doing. This is the site that will locate your nearest puppy class.

Dashwood and I went to Dog Hollow, off the King’s Road, SW3 and we had hilarious episodes there. Above all, the ladies running the puppy classes are extraordinarily dedicated and knowledgeable and made our learning a delightful and worthy process.

The One Week Acid Test

He has to be right where I am. Next year he\'ll be typing at the laptop, probably

He has to be right where I am. Next year he'll be typing at the laptop, probably

So now I know what it takes to bring up any living creature that pees, wees, poops, cries, and additionally, grunts, tries to bite you if you brush him, and you have to have an eye on just in case he is looking for electric cables to chew. No, a baby would be a doodle compared to this. I eat babies for breakfast! I didn’t mean that. What I meant is that babies you put them in cradles and then you are off to whatever you need to do – like conference calling clients, and you are done for the next 2 hours at least.

With a puppy, after you get up between 4.35 am and 5.20 am daily because he collapses in his house at about 9.00 pm and he REALLY needs to pee, life has completely developed into having eyes behind my back, wolf ears that hear behind doors, and sixth sense that tells me when some noises are just not right. I feel like Robocop in hypermode.

I have survived a week. We have survived a week. I can do this.

First Visit To Vet – Where Are Thou Balls?

The Abingdon Vet Clinic

The Abingdon Vet Clinic

At nine o’clock precisely, we enter the vet’s clinic in Kensington, W8. Little puppy is wrapped around in his brown blanket because it is so cold. I should have brought his house because now he wants to explore everything in the waiting room and if you hold him tight, he grunts like a Gremlin. It’s not even three days that I got him and I am already knackered and can’t remember how my life was before I had to wrestle with a little force of nature the size of a stuffed Paddington bear.

The vet grabs him and wrestles with him. He looks at me as if offering his unspoken condolences. “He is a bundle” he says politely, “you have to show him who’s boss or he will just take over”. I can almost finish his sentence. He is the fifth person to give me the spiel. I know, I know. I got the raucous puppy, yes, thank you very much. He holds him and starts pushing in between his back legs. “I can find one testicle”, he says puzzled,”but not the other”. Well, we still have time to see what develops.

I don’t have a clue as to when puppies are meant to drop their balls. I am just trying to teach him where to pee and poop. Let’s leave the golden balls issue to the Vet.

First 48 Hours Is The Acid Test

Asleep inside his house, after a long day of many novelties

Asleep inside his house, after a long day of many novelties

I cook steamed rice and chicken and serve goat’s milk and this puppy jumps around at the site of food every time. It’s a relief. The night comes and I have to put him inside his house, which he does not like. He cries and barks in his squeaky puppy grunt, but I close the door of my study and then the doors to the open plan kitchen, and then the doors to my bedroom. Still, I can hear him. But, no,no,no. Everyone has told me not to go because the show would then never stop. I fall asleep. At 4.35 I wake up. I put my feet to ground to have a better sense of any movements at the other end of the house. He is crying. I get up. Good morning new day. The puppy flies out of the little house and we both go out into a pitch-black garden, bitterly cold in the depth of February. The little pup runs around like a mouse high on cheese. I feel sad he was locked up all night. There’s got to be a better way, but for now, this is what it is, poppet.

Dashwood Comes Home

Seconds after he is home, Dashwood sits on the carpet in his unique gypsy style and begins to explore his new home

Seconds after he is home, Dashwood sits on the carpet in his unique gypsy style and begins to explore his new home


I visited Dashwood every week until he was almost ten weeks old. The breeder did not want to hand him over to me whilst his brother was still unplaced. I understood. Now, if I would have known the dynamics between the two brothers, I would have grabbed Dashwood the second I set eyes on him. But that is another story for another chapter in this blog.

It is Friday 8th February and about 2.00 o’clock in the afternoon. There I go in my Golf, with the little puppy travelling house, the cuddly blue bear inside the house, the blanket and my heart leaping with emotion. I write down every feeding tip, and syrupy vitamin he still has to take, and telephone number for the vet, and… I wrap him up in his brown blanket and put him in the little house and drive into the Friday traffic. Cold, cold but sunny February day. In the car he is making funny moaning noises every time we have to break and his house rattles a bit.

When we get to North Kensington, the Gas workmen are wrapping up and when they see me getting out of the car with a little puppy in a little house, they all mill around us and welcome Dashwood home in true Cockney style, with jokes and funny puppy names that rhyme with teapot or something Britishly absurd. We are home, at last, after almost a month of wait, my puppy is home. Life is never going to be the same, ever.

Names, Toys and Puppy Houses

Dashwood first day at home with his first chewing toy

Dashwood first day at home with his first chewing toy


Choosing a puppy name can be the most stressful part of the whole process. I wanted a glorious-sounding, true English name, for a true English breed, a gallant name, a brave name, an uncommon name. My friend Ben suggested “Sausages”. I must clarify that Ben is a true English gent, and as such, full of eccentricities. Naming my puppy like pub food was not on my menu. He then went for Mr Snodgrass, a Dickensian character from the Pickwick papers. It was a tongue-twister. I tried with different people, just to see if it was me, but everyone battled with the name to no end. I finally came up with the one, the name that was always there for my puppy: Dashwood, from Jane Austen’s novel “Sense and Sensibility”, and well suited for his lineage as his father, the big Crufts champion, is called Willoughby. Ben has refused to call him Dashwood to-date, so this one pup in addition to posh pedigree, has two ultra posh names which probably puzzle everyone at the park.

When you bring a puppy home you need to have:

cuddly toys to sleep with;
soft toys to play with;
something to sink those puppy teeth on;
a little puppy house, because fox terriers like sleeping in houses!
a warm blanket to stuff onto the house and turn it into a warm cave;

I go to the Westbourne Park Road pet shop and buy all this kit in complete clueless motions. I am just learning all this as I go along.

Five Generation Pedigree

Dashwood’s Kennel Club Family Name is Russmews Battle of Wills born to breeder Mr DG & Mrs A Wurtzburg. His father, champion Baglan Battle Hymn of Russmews and mother Sarabel So Alone of Russmews were quite old when they had him, over 10 years at least.

The lineage extends, on his father side, to a lineage of champions that include Townville Tarique, Sceftesbr Cabinet, Gavingale Diplomat, Baglan Some Boyo, Scheftesbr Chianti, Blackdale Ambassador, Townville Texan, Townville Tassie, Blackdale Eurocrat, Louline Pemberton, Valken Downtown Boy, Valken Skylark, and many more Baglans,Blackdales, Townvilles, and even Norgeian and Swedish hounds.