Of course, Jay argued that it was too soon, too much money. I was planning on starting a Maine Coon breeding program with the kitten I would get in June and a dog would be a problem, he protested. I countered with how well socialized our kittens would be by growing up around a dog and children; it could be a selling point. Besides, you just got your bonus, right? I ended my phone conversation with my husband by asking, "So you want me to call the breeder and tell her we're coming tonight?" and Jay caved.
Knowing that I wanted the blond puppy, I made sure that we got to the breeder's house before her next scheduled appointment for a puppy buyer that evening so I could pick first. This was in 2001, before everyone had websites and Internet access. The two puppies were much larger than I expected for 7 weeks old, weighing in at 14 pounds each. While I signed papers and talked to the breeder, Jay and Kelsey (Tyler was at a baseball game, oblivious to what we were doing) held our choice, a darling blond Golden female puppy. When I came back outside, I found my formerly reluctant husband holding the puppy like a baby, tears running down his face. Jay realized then how much he already loved her, our precious new family member.
|Chardonnay at 2 months, trying out the swing|
As a puppy, Chardonnay liked to play by nipping our heels with her sharp puppy teeth, leading to her being banned from outside family sports most of her first year. I often felt like I was chasing a toddler around, constantly cleaning up after her, sticking my hand into her mouth to pull out whatever non-edible item she was eating, yelling reprimands, buying rawhide by the bag to keep her occupied, chasing her down outside to put her back in her crate....she was exhausting and frustrating to live with. I often threatened to put her outside for a year until she grew up enough to listen. I promised myself then that I would never get another puppy. The only thing puppies have going for them is their undeniable cuteness.
|Racing Jay and Ben down the hill this past winter|
True to my persuasive argument with my husband, having a Golden Retriever has been a positive selling point to potential kitten buyers. I have had kitten buyers tell me they will wait for one of my kittens because they also have a dog and it's important to them to have cat-dog harmony. Chardonnay is an important part of their socialization, enabling my kittens to walk into a new home without a fear of dogs. She also considers it part of her job to clean, snuggle and occasionally play nursemaid to the kittens.
|"You can try all you want, but I'm telling you guys I don't HAVE any milk!"|
Our neighbor has a year-old Standard Poodle he's trying to train. The other day he was walking his dog and Jay was walking with Chardonnay. Chardonnay sat on command beside Jay while the other dog jumped excitedly at the end of her leash like Tigger from Winnie-the-Pooh. Our neighbor chastised his dog, "Why can't you act like Chardonnay?" Jay replied, "I hate to break it to you, but it took ten years to get her like this." Actually, it didn't take that long. Other than Chardonnay's bad habit of jumping on new acquaintances and coprophagia obsession, she's pretty well-trained. I can point to a spot on the floor where I want her to be and she'll sit there. She will usually stay on command even if I go out of sight. Chardonnay will even stand still without any restraint or a collar on while I bathe her with the freezing cold water from our garden hose. She only chews on her own toys now, though she will occasionally still grab my shoe if she feels I'm ignoring her, smiling as I go after her to retrieve it from her mouth. Chardonnay doesn't chew on the shoes; she just relocates them for her amusement.
Happy Tenth Birthday Chardonnay!