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Introducing…Chispa!

Chispa and Daisy, meeting for the first time in Bavaria

Chispa and Daisy, meeting for the first time in Bavaria

Introducing…Chispa! Yep, I'm officially crazy. I went all the way to Germany to get a puppy. Wha? Aren't there hundreds of amazing puppies right here in the USA? Why, Daisy, why? Yes, there are perfectly good puppies right here in the USA. But, the internet has made the world smaller, and so when I found out about Chispa's litter, something just FELT right.

And so, last week, after being home for just one day after my trip with Frodo to the World Agility Open in the UK (which followed hot on the heels of the AKC Agility World Championships Team Tryouts), I got back on a plane, headed to Amsterdam, where I met up with my good friend Anna. Together, we drove all the way to Southern Germany, just a holler away from Austria, picked up little Chispa, and then drove all the way back to The Netherlands, where I caught a flight back home.

I'm totally in love with this puppy. I had only JUST started thinking about another puppy – I mean, after the journey Frodo and I have had to get to where we are now, we are at such an incredible place right now, why bother with a puppy? Also, what about Chipper? Ah…Chipper. I miss that boy. He lives with my ex-husband now, and is a wonderful companion to him. So, with Frodo about to turn four (next month), I started thinking.

And, just about as soon as I started thinking, it was as though the universe provided. I'd seen a half sibling to Chispa (same mother) last year in Brazil at the 2014 Americas Y Caribe, handled by a member of the AyC Germany Team. She was exceptional in her LACK of “flash”. There was no one thing that made me say WOW. Rather, she was fluid, efficient, looked at ease with the jumping, and just gave an overall impression of being an incredible teammate. Then, just a month or so later, I met ANOTHER half sibling (same mother) at the WAO in The Netherlands, again, competing for Team Germany. And again, it was the same thing. I never thought there was one single WOW thing. But overall? Wow. The dogs could quietly run a course and you'd never know how fast they were until you looked at the time, and just…wow. And then, yet another dog (same mother) floated to my attention having won a round at the European Open in the summer of 2015.

Does all of this ensure that Chispa will be a winner? Of course not. But there was just something about the ease with which these dogs were moving around the course that made me think, “here is a teammate who I would like to work with.” And so, when Anna contacted me and told me it was a long shot but MAYBE if I was interested she'd inquire, I said HECK YES.

First things first – attachment and bonding

It was such an easy decision, and also, such a BIG one. I spent a lot of time on the flight over to Amsterdam AND on the way back, and every moment in between (and still!) thinking a lot about bonding and attachment theory. If you're not familiar with the concepts of bonding and attachment theory, read up a bit. It's worth it, and while the research has been done mostly on children and struggling couples, it resonates for me with our canine partners as well. How would I ensure that right off the bat, I bonded with Chispa? Would there be a connection? Well, she's just a puppy, really, it's up to ME to have an open heart and to radiate a sense of “I will take care of you” to her. Obviously she doesn't understand English (or German!). So, I resolved to just BE open to that attachment. Don't look to see if she's THE ONE. Of course she is!

Resolved to make the attachment my first priority, I also wanted to take a page from current trends in bonding with newborn infants, which also comes from the studies on bonding and attachment theory. I wanted that puppy to be with me, TOUCHING me, as much as possible. So, during the full day drive from Bavaria back to Anna's apartment, Chispa was in contact with either me, or with Anna. AND, she slept with me on Anna's couch that first night, and the following night as well. Yep, I slept with my 8-week old puppy loose on the couch, curled up so she wouldn't fall off. Well, except for those couple of times she fell off. Oops.

On the drive home, she was in the lap of whoever wasn't driving. Sleeping soundly for the most part. Getting her first lessons on how to be a great traveler, while sleeping.

Travel essentials

Speaking of learning to be a great traveler…I knew that one of the great things about traveling GET Chispa was that she would be thrown in to travel right off the bat. Not in a forced way, just…she'd need to come along for the ride, and I'd need to be there for her. During that first day, when she was taken from the litter, she not only traveled by car for hours and hours, she also got to eat in a restaurant with Anna and me for lunch. She got to walk on grass, and gravel, and cobblestone streets. She got to go in to an underground parking lot. She got to be carried up stairs. She got to run and play on hard floors, and carpets, and she got to drink out of a variety of water dishes (food was all coming from the hand). Oh, and a BIG travel essential…yes, Chispa, I'm sorry, but you will need to poop and pee on leash, and sometimes in a tiny patch of dirt beside a busy street. No pressure, just…these are our options at the moment.

Between the time I had Chispa in hand, and the time she made it back home with me, she'd been in cars, on trains, buses, and planes. She'd been in my arms, in a Sherpa bag, and in a small crate. She'd played with her leash and with chew toys on the floor of the busy Amsterdam Airport, much to the delight of onlookers. She'd been petted and picked up by several different people, men and women alike. Good therapy for everybody. And, she slept most of the nearly 10 hour flight home. It was a lot of new input.

…more travel

One day after being home at the farm, Chispa was loaded up again, along with all the other dogs, to head to the PNW USDAA Regional. She got to play in a strange hotel room, meet friendly dogs, play with puppies her own age and size, and again, was handed off to at least a dozen different people. Oh, and poop and pee on leash.

Now we are FINALLY home for a while, and my list of things to work on is growing. BUT, there's time, time for all of it, and there's no rush. I keep telling myself that. Yeah, I'm a fairly goal oriented type-A person. But, first things first!

What's next?

Over the next few days, I'll publish my current to-do list of behaviors I'm working on, along with a bit of video and some downloadable handouts. I hope you'll join me as I continue to keep track of where Chispa and I are going together – I'll also be writing some more about the philosophy I'm going to be working hard to operate under, not just for the good of our relationship and our training, but for my own personal self-improvement and such.

The past year has been a real eye-opener for me in so many ways, some of them dog training related, some of them not. But, overall, I find I'm spending more and more time in somewhat unfamiliar territory with respect to being REALLY open to things, REALLY brave with respect to stepping into the ring (really and metaphorically speaking), and it's a nice space to be.

So…stay tuned!

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Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 9 comments
ddulaney - a couple of years ago

Awesome introduction to Chispa! “Poppy” spent her first weekend without her littermates driving from San Diego to Santa Barbara and then up to the Bay Area. She also met lots of people and played with some new adult dogs. She did great on the trip and riding in the crate. Although I must confess her litter was litter boxed trained and so she used her litter box on the trip.

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    Daisy Peel - a couple of years ago

    That’s pretty convenient, although my guess is that you’ve been working to expand her potty options smile

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ddulaney - a couple of years ago

Yes indeed, the litter box is gone (except in the outdoor run) and we continue to reinforce potty outside and of course on-going crate training. She is very vocal when she needs to relieve herself – I hope someday to sleep past 4:00am! Thankfully she is willing to go back into her crate and back to sleep.

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j.reiley - a couple of years ago

What was the process of how you pick your new puppy? I’m getting a puppy around July 4th and visiting them at 6.5 weeks old. The breeder is doing the selecting. Would love any tips.

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    Daisy Peel - a couple of years ago

    Hah! I’m afraid I’m of little use in this department. Solar was picked for me by the breeder. Frodo was also pre-picked. And as for Chispa? I picked her solely on looks, which is not SO bad a way to pick, if all the puppies in the litter seem nice (they did). I never met her or even knew much about her til the day I got her, and if she hadn’t had a little puppy pimple on the rim of one of her eyes, I couldn’t have been able to tell her apart from her siblings smile

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MatthewDivens - a couple of years ago

Congrats on Chispa. She is adorable. I have watched the videos up through today, but didn’t notice a comment box on today’s blog. Question: I noticed you are not using a ‘clicker’ but rather you voice marks her being good for her response. Do you never use a clicker? Or is this so she relates to your voice now? (BTW- this is Polly Divens, not Matt…. but he is the one with the PayPal account).

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    Daisy Peel - a couple of years ago

    Hey there Polly! I love your question, and the short answer is NO. The long answer I’m going to post as the first question in the discussion forum for subscribers wink

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Julie Lust - a couple of years ago

Congrats on Chrispa! She is adorable. My puppy is already 17 weeks old. Are we to old to join the blog?

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    Daisy Peel - a couple of years ago

    Of course not! I’d like to think that most of our dogs, regardless of age, can benefit from paying attention to the basics wink

    Reply

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