MARCH 23 STAGE LEFT – ENTER COUGAR
About tea time last night, K, the lady who had bred Birdy phoned us again, with a bit of a saga.
Around New Year, she had bought a new pup for herself, a pure Stumpy-tail Cattle Dog, something she’d long wanted. This pup was the accidental offspring of two working dogs, somewhere down in South Gippsland, and was the only pup born (or that the farmer let survive?).The farmer was impatient to get his mother dog back working, so the lone pup was sold to K, at only six weeks of age.
K’s existing dog – Birdy’s mother – acted as a kind of surrogate, ensuring some degree of dog socialization of the new pup.
Since New Year, though, K’s life had changed rather radically, she’d had to go to work full time, and she really had no time to train this new pup and manage two dogs.
We would really be doing her a favour if we would go round and see the pup, with a view to taking her.
This was just too soon for me. I was still a weeping mess over Birdy. I told John to make the token gesture of going round there, as he was more hard-hearted than me, and able to say no.
John returned. He and pup had taken one look at each other – and it was love at first lick! She was, he said, totally adorable. Moreover, he was sure she was looking at him in a way that was pleading for him to remove her from a rather rough and ready household of teenage boys, one of whom had named her Cougar.
There was really little discussion. John’s heart was committed.
Next evening, after dark, we both went to K’s, paid her for the out of pocket costs the pup had entailed, to date, and brought Cougar – soon to be Couey – home. K lent us the crate she was used to.
Couey was, at this time, four months old, all awkward gangly long legs. I had to agree with John – she was gorgeous. She tentatively explored the house, was only prepared to venture into the yard if one of us went with her, then seemed content enough to sleep on a footstool by my feet, while we watched TV.
Her first few, acclimatizing nights, were spent in her crate; then she graduated, happily enough, to what became her permanent bed.
Couey had never been out of K’s back yard, since arriving there on Xmas Eve. We were soon to find that, as a result, the outside world was a large and fearsome place to a timid dog. She was already house trained though – a blessing, and obeyed some basic commands. After a couple of days she was tentatively exploring the back yard – but not prepared to actually venture into the shrubbery.
A couple of days after acquiring her, we took Couey for a Vet check. She cried while we were driving there in Truck! Had to carry her inside. She was two kgs heavier than Birdy was, at the same age. She checked out all OK. We resolved that she would benefit from puppy school, and booked her in for sessions run at the Vet Clinic.
Three days later, we ventured out with her on a lead, she totally froze, terrified, when a car went past. She walked much better on the lead than we’d expected – clearly a very quick learner. But she barked at other walkers on the trail, and cowered at objects like prams and cyclists. Poor little girl. Introducing dog and world would be a long process.
By now, we’d been well amused by Couey’s explorations about the place. She fell into the swimming pool and got a massive fright. Instinctively, she could swim – but in the ensuing seven years we lived there, she never once went swimming in that pool, or any body of clear water. This was good, in terms of pool upkeep. On a really hot day, if we were in the pool, she would – very carefully – pick her way down onto the broad top pool step and lie there, with her tummy in the water. We were to discover that muddy water was a different matter…..
It took Couey only a couple of days to discover a supply of ripe figs, dislodged from the large back-yard tree every night, by possums and bats. Clearly, she was not exclusively carnivorous.
Puppy school continued horizon broadening. At 4 months, Couey was older than the other pups, much bigger than all of them, and initially terrified of them all, cowering in the corner behind me. But it all improved, with time, though she never became much interested in dog play. Apart from a degree of dog socialization, and owner training, the trainer taught the pups to tolerate thunder. She taught me the enormous value of peanut butter – for training purposes and pill administering.
After more research on the Stumpy breed, I found that purtist breeders and those showing the animals, regarded a mixed parentage of red with blue/black Stumpys as of no value. Couey had one red and one blue parent and this could be seen in some lights as a red tinge to her otherwise mostly black coat. I wondered if, in fact, K had seen this after acquiring her and realized she could never be used as a high quality breeder? Our gain……she was to become the best companion dog we’d ever known.
And so the weeks passed. By the end of April, Couey had been spayed, recovered, and we judged it was time to see how she took to caravanning……