|Pip in her kennel|
First off, I still can't get over how well behaved she was from the very beginning, thanks to her excellent breeder. I keep reading online that Havanese have serious problems with housebreaking, but I suspect that this breed, and maybe others, have an earlier learning period regarding their potty habits than most people realize. Julie's starting the litter out with puppy pads and then taking them outside from a very early age has to be responsible for how she came to me already housebroken. Of course her tiny body makes "holding it" trickier, which is why I have to pay attention to her cues when she's ready to go out, but that's usually quite easy. She's had only two housebreaking lapses in this whole time, both my fault. When I'm paying attention she's 100 percent reliably using the backyard.
Julie got her used to sleeping by herself before I took her, and gave me a special bed pad that smelled just like home, so there has been NO whining at bed time. When we slept at Russ's sister's house the first two nights, she went to sleep fine in her kennel, right next to my bed. The first night, I touched her in the middle of the night and she was shivering--the house was chilly--so I brought her into bed with me and she snuggled right in and fell back asleep. The second night the radiator was on, and she slept by herself all night. The third night I was at my friend Kathy's house, and again put her in her kennel for the night, and again she slept right through till morning.
She is extremely playful and exuberant when in that mode, but settles right down if something is going on that requires that. And she's extremely affectionate. It takes her a bit to warm up to other people, but she's not timid, and quickly makes friends with everyone, though from the very beginning she's clearly been my dog. She follows me from room to room. She loves sitting or sleeping on my lap while I'm writing (she's doing that right this minute), but doesn't mind if I put her down--she just ends up back at my feet or nearby.
Her one naughty behavior is chewing on the wrong things, but from the start she's been very responsive to my saying "Uh uh!" Occasionally I do have to escalate to a more serious-sounding "No!" but she's learning the rules around here very quickly. The things she's most fixated on are our shoes and slippers. I gave her an old pair of my shoes, and when she grabs one she's not supposed to have, after I take it away I tell her to "Go find Pippy's shoe," and she runs off and finds one of those (I keep one upstairs and one downstairs).
The stairs in our house are exceptionally small--I doubt if they meet current building codes--and she goes up them whenever I go upstairs. She's scared to go downstairs, and I'm just as glad about that, so whenever we go back down, I sit at the top and say, "Wanna ride the Mommy elevator?" and she hops right on. There are three small steps up from our family room (where the back door is) to the rest of the downstairs. She runs right up them when we come in from outside, but won't go down them. Kasey, our younger, more playful cat, has figured this out. She lets Pip chase her all around the house, back and forth, and when she tires of it, she just goes into the family room and Pip stops.
Pip has been wonderful with big crowds of people. My godmother Rosemary (who just happens to live 3 blocks from Julie the breeder!) turned 80 the day after I got Pip, and was given a huge birthday party on the day I left Chicago. Pip came along to the party, where she got to meet dozens of my relatives and Rosemary's friends, and was perfectly wonderful with all the commotion and being held by people. She also came with me when I did a program for the Minnesota River Valley Audubon Chapter last week. My friend Jane came along to watch her if she got restless, but Pip curled up in her Snoozer for my entire talk! I took her out after the program and she was SO adorable, letting people pet her and being friendly but quiet. Back at Jane's house, she goofed around for half an hour or so, but then settled in and went to sleep when I did.
When I take her outside, she's extremely attentive to bird sounds and movements. She searches the sky in the right direction when our noisy Merlins call, but notices tiny Pine Siskin and chickadee calls, and geese flying over, too. A small airplane flew over this morning, and she tracked it from horizon to horizon. Her favorite birds are the two pairs of pigeons that visit. They used to fly away when she approached, but are getting more tolerant, and she just wags her tail at them from a polite distance. When they do take off, she tracks them in the sky.
I knew I'd love her, and that I'd be able to teach her to fit in with our family and my peculiar habits. But I'm still surprised at how easy the adjustment has been for her and me, and how very little work this wonderful little puppy has been..