Saturday, September 20, 2008

Royal Point's Admiral Brillo Comes Home

PUPPIES! After waiting about two years, I finally met my future puppy.

This blog is dedicated to Royal Point's Admiral Brillo, the wirehaired pointing griffon. I am certain he's destined for doggie greatness, and he is therefore absolutely worthy of his own Brillo log.

It is 0545 on a Saturday morning, the 20th of September, and the subject of this blog has just (nearly) slept through the night for the first time. I was in a deep stupor when I heard his puppy noises and playing sounds creep into my dreams. It took me a moment to sort of come-to out of dreamland and realize those sounds signalled a very real, and usually very pee-filled, puppy waking up!

But let me back up and start from the beginning, before I get ahead of myself...

I have been wanting a dog forever, or at least since graduating high school and moving away from a family that had always included at least one laborador retriever. But I know, and I wish more people would realize, that owning a dog is a huge responsibility that requires A LOT of time and effort. In fact, it is life-altering and much akin to having a child. As puppies, they require 24-hr care and surveillance, and although adult dogs are less intensive, they require a whole lot of daily care. With a dog, you can't just decide at the last minute to fly to Italy or spend a weekend at the beach. Your doggie needs you...and I dare say a proper dog owners needs his doggie.

With my active lifestyle (USMC, traveling, never sitting still), a dog was always out of the question.  But I have settled down a little, and I am married, and we have a house with a yard, so it's Doggie Time.

My mom gets credit for finding this breed. She was out on a walk in Boise with her Newfoundland, Bentley, when she met an extremely well-behaved, seven-month-old female. She had never met such a well-mannered dog, and at seven months? Incredible. She knew I was looking for an athletic, smart, eager-to-please, medium-sized breed, and she had just discovered it in the wirehaired pointing griffon. And for an added bonus, these little (not really little, at 50-70 lbs) hunting dogs barely shed! She called me immediately and said I should look into the griff.

This is Brillo's papa, Ruckus. He's a big boy, so I expect a similar size out of Brillo.

Here's the proud mama griff, Tipper. She looks like a wookie. Haha. Her littermate is the #1 griff in the country!

I guess it's pretty obvious I liked what I found during my research. The only problem was locating a breeder who was expecting puppies and who would sell to a non-hunting family. The bred is rare and good, and a lot of the "good" has to do with the fact that it is rare. Somewhere around 300 griffs are registered each year, as opposed to 300,000 golden retrievers, just to give you a point of reference. Griff breeders and owners want to keep it that way.

Look at that mess of pups. That's Brillo on the right, with the spot on the middle of his hind quarters. Can you also see how his coat is different than the others? He has longer white hair on top, and darker underneath. I think his coat is the cutest... Everybody thinks he looks like a stuffed animal.

They say if you don't hunt a griff, you will break his spirit. To keep that from happening, I am going to keep Brillo active every day by taking him hiking with me, letting him run with me while I mountain bike in the San Diego hills, letting him romp around and swim at the lake and at Dog Beach, and making him my running partner. I also plan to do agility trials with him. If you aren't active, DO NOT get a wirehaired pointing griffon. You and he/she will both be miserable.

I began my search for a griffon back in 2005/2006, when I was in Iraq. I found a local breeder who was planning on having pups, but his bitch (not being rude here) never went into heat. He recommended the breeder he bought his dog from (sic), and I gave her a call. Ginger at Griffon Ranch vetted me like a VP candidate (good on ya, Ginger!), and I got on the waiting list for a pup after passing the doggie mommy test.

I think that's Brillo behind me, and that big guy in the middle in front, facing to the viewer's right, is the one we wanted at first. I am so happyhe was taken so that we ended up with the dog we were supposed to have--my Brillo!

Well, the pups were going to be ready in June/July of 2007, and Dave was going to be just a couple of months into a 6-month deployment to Iraq. Reluctantly, I called and cancelled, wanting Dave to be a part of the dog's life from the beginning, as I would be. So, we waited, and I did a tour in Iraq, and then we both came home and I called Ginger again. She wouldn't have a litter until the following year. I looked around and found a breeder in Boise, and, luckily, that bitch had a false pregnancy (again, not trying to be rude), and I called Ginger again. Taking the false pregnancy as a sign that I should have one of Ginger's pups, I put in a deposit, months and months before the dogs were even bred. I was first on the list for the boys. They were born July 22, 2008, and they would be ready in 8 weeks! Yay!

That guy is saying, "Pick me, pick me!" But I didn't pick him.

As soon as she called and told me they were born, and that I had seven to choose from (!), I started buying baby presents. This dog has more toys than most human babies. He even has his own room, a modified kitchen nook. But he deserves it!

A long time ago, I thought if I ever got a wirehaired dog, I'd name him Brillo. I kept that in mind while Dave and I discussed other names, and we both decided we really liked "Admiral." The only trouble with Admiral is its length. Two syllables is pushing it, and three is just ridiculous. But if you tune into your southern side, you can slur it into two syllables: "Admirl." Nah. So we decided to wait until we met him to determine his name.

Dave had to take an unexpected trip to Germany for work, and we realized he'd be gone on puppy day, 16 September. Dang! My mom came to the rescue by volunteering to go with me to help pick out the puppy. Mom lives in Boise, and the Griffon Ranch is an hour north of Sacramento, in Brownsville, Calif. She flew into Reno on the 15th, and I drove up to meet her. We met the litter later that night.

When my mom and I met the pups, we both immediately picked a sweet one with a broad head and two spots on his shoulder. He stood out for his sweetness (ran right up to us), and we both said, "That one." Well, that one was the pup Ginger had chosen to keep for herself. The special attention she had been giving him made him extra warm and friendly toward people. Just as Ginger was telling us that one was taken, a darling little fur ball with a white face and a bed-head appearance to his coat introduced himself to me. He did a great job selling himself, and I decided he was the one. He wasn't the biggest, and his head wasn't the broadest of the bunch, but he sure had a big personality! Also, Dave and I were both hoping for one with a lot of white on his head, and this boy was the whitest, with a shock of white on the top of his head like a blond surfer boy. How could I not pick him?

Grandma Katie holds the new granddog.

Oh, and, by the way, he is DEFINITELY a Brillo. His pedigree name is Royal Point's Admiral Brillo. He's very swank.

We picked him out and then had to leave him to get his puppy shot and microchip, and we returned the next morning to pick him up and drive home. He was such a good boy! He slept in his kennel in the back of the Mini all the way home. Twelve hours in the car is a lot for a new puppy, but he didn't complain once. We stopped every hour or so on the way home so he could potty, play, and stretch his legs.

At our first stop, he put his paws on something other than linoleum for the first time in his life. I put him on the ground, and he was walking funny, walking sideways and picking up his feet funny, and he appeared to be sort of dizzy. I was panicked, thinking something was horribly wrong with him. We figured out that he was just confused by the new surface of dirt and leaves he was feeling under his feet. Haha. Everything is so new to this little 8-week-old wonder hound. It's really fun to watch him explore his new world.

How can you not fall in love with that face?

And here's daddy saying by to little Brillo. One day, I'll have one of those big behemoths in my home instead of this fluffy little puppy. Haha.

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