Let’s sit

I will sit for bacon!

We wanted a Cockapoo in part because our research indicated they are pretty smart dogs. Luna has already proven she’s got the potential to be on puppy honor roll.

Steering out-of-control puppy behavior has been a priority from day one, based on life with Bichons. Knowing one’s name, potty training, nipping at George the-Old-Man-Bichon or now chewing on shoes have been our initial training efforts.

Pre-puppy, we pre-ordered treats and bought a cool teat bag on a belt so we’d be ready when she arrived. The treats were a bust — except for Amazon (these treats went home with friends for their pit bull.)

Leftover crumbled bacon was a hit. Within 24 hours of homecoming, she started turning her head when we called “Luna.” We worked on both name recognition and “sit” at the same time. Half the time we call her she automatically sits.

Smarty pants now knows there are treats in the bag; she also almost immediately sits when the bag goes on my waist, hoping it’s training time.

Training goes something like this:

(High-pitched baby voice) “Luna? Luna? LUNA!”

She investigates; George wanders over, stands right next to us.

“Sit Luna. Sit Luna. GOOD GIRL”

(Regular voice) George: “Breathe. GOOD BOY.”

I think we have conquered a few easy tricks. We’re trying to get her to sit and hand out her paw to shake. Our daughter is trying to get her to stand and to spin.

We thought we had potty training nailed, but she’s nailed a particular rug a few times when we weren’t supervising closely; we will have to go back to treats plus praise when she makes the big deposit at the Bank of Grass where she has an account.

Sometimes, sending her to a finishing school isn’t such a bad idea.

Breeding the right ingredients

Breeding conjures up elitist selection, estates and luxury cars with people, but not with dogs.

Breeding in dogs is still about selection, but it’s all about traits, not boarding schools.

  • What color(s)?
  • How big or small?
  • What kind of temperament?
  • What activities will the dog do (hunting, showing, family)?

Several months ago, this was a daily discussion, along with pictures and videos of dogs. Now that wish list is our reality: LUNA!

More important than the outcome is the breeder who puts the parents and ingredients together and cares for the puppies before they arrive at a new home, to fit or terrorize.

Breeding is not an excuse for dogs that don’t behave — many well-bred dogs end up back at the breeder or in shelters because their humans weren’t ready to make the commitment. We have come to realize that training our first two AKC Bichon puppies — and two human pups at the same time — was a bit much even for Type-A parents.

We have also come to realize, 14 years later, that George, the Old Man Bichon, was probably bred for shows. Having a father who was likely his uncle may have contributed to his looks, but also to his odd behaviors; however, he is still a sweet doggie on a lap. Lily, our first bichon who passed away this spring, was from a different breeder with a larger gene pool and more like Luna. We called her our “Heinz 57” dog.

We looked at many Cockapoo breeders, hoping to find one locally, but happily settled on a breeder who was highly recommend by way of testimonials. Cockapoo of Excellence (www.cockapoopuppies.us) provided us not only pictures and videos, but also the reassurance that their dogs matched with us. Temperament was most important: loving but independent, followed by coloring. So we sent (and offer) this testimonial:

Subject: Luna
Thought you might like to see Scott and Luna are enjoying playing catch! She had such a busy day, she curled up and is sound asleep on the cat’s favorite blankets!
I also wanted to say thank you. She is such a love!! As gentle and kind as she is, I know someone loved her, took really good care of her and is probably missing her! Just know she is well loved and we promise to take good care of her. We were all so sad when Lily passed away. It’s nice to know another little angel is here to cuddle and play, so thank you!!

If you’re thinking Cockapoo, send us a note; we’ll tell you our experiences: scottwolff@comcast.net.

Delta is standing by for your Cockapoo.

This blog is part of a series about our first year with a Cockapoo named “La Signorina Lunetta di Excellence” (AKA “Luna”). Go to www.lunapoo.com to read my blogs.

Homecoming for the Pupka

This blog is part of a series about our first year with a Cockapoo named “La Signorina Lunetta di Excellence” (AKA “Luna”). Go to www.lunapoo.com to read my blogs.


Sometimes, new family members arrive early and in the night.

Luna arrived Thursday, June 14 at 8:21 PM, a day early, due to potentially hot weather at her departing airport.

Our Luna

If she could talk, Luna would probably tell us that service in Cargo Class is not attentive enough, even for Delta. That Wall Street Journal they hand out in first class? It’s shredded and added to the crate downstairs. And don’t even get her started about the inflight treats.

But that doesn’t matter now.

So very cuddly! So very squirmy! So very puppy.

At home, the rest of the family were mustered late to meet Luna.

George the old Bichon: It’s another dog. Can I go to bed? Where’s my treat?

CoCo the bombastic Bombay cat: Waat dey hell! Smells like a dog. Yikes! It runs too! (CoCo has been the least enthusiastic family member so far, making some new yawls when Luna is close. No “Whacka Poodle” game today!)

The at-home daughter: she wanted a kitten instead, but I think she’s warming up.

(More about greetings and adapting in a later blog.)

Such a fluff ball! Such a waggy bundle of energy! Such a love!

We could have had a very long night, but we were surprised: very little whining. She’s since found her bark, but only a couple of little ones.

On her first morning, Luna was up nearly as early as we normally are, at 5:30 am, checking out her world and walking outside past a couple of neighbor houses before coming back. Leash and harness 101 to come.

Knock (or poop) on hardwoods: she has not had an accident inside – yet. And she’s already pointing at the back door when she wants to go out to make a deposit in the Bank of Grass. George hates the grass; Luna rolls in it!

And now there’s fetch. Lunchtime her first day, she and I played with her yellow tennis balls, back and forth. I roll, she lumbers under chairs, slides into the wall and grabs the ball, bringing the ball and a smile right back to me to do it all over.

We’re experimenting with treats and training, but unfortunately, either Blue or Buffalo upsets her so the treats we pre-ordered are a bust so far. We had some left over crumbled bacon that was a hit: we are working on name recognition and sit, with some progress. Glad we didn’t adopt a pig: it’s hard to find dog-flavored treats locally.

Much to her chagrin, Luna “enjoyed” a warm bath (no grooming this time!) After more play, this puppy crashed on CoCo’s favorite blankets.

We’re now her people. And now she’s an Oredogian (not just an Oregonian!)


Ready! Set! Go!

This blog is part of a series about our first year with a Cockapoo named “La Signorina Lunetta di Excellence” (AKA “Luna”). Go to www.lunapoo.com to read my blogs.

Getting ready for a new family member can be hard.

Getting ready for a puppy might be even harder.

Will I be a good puppy parent? What will this dog’s personality be like? Will this dog fit in with our family?

Not for lack of preparation: a dozen or so toys, crates, Blue Mountain puppy food and treats delivered weeks ago, color coordinated harness and leash, treat bag for the humans and even an Oregon State University shirt. But there’s more to get on the list.

And then there’s much studying: We found Zak George training videos and now subscribe and watch often, along with reading his book. Grooming videos remind us of our intent 10 years ago to groom our two bichons; buying the tools (and getting a message from the online store congratulating the start of our grooming business.)

Fifteen years ago, Lily the Bichon arrived, much like Luna will, in a crate on a plane from the Midwest. My first dog. I had never lived with a dog, knew nothing about taking care of one, raising one, taking care of one. Somehow, through the frustrations and confusion, Lily was The Dog my wife and I had hoped she would be: playful, trainable and a companion to our daughters. Eventually, she would spend eight plus years sleeping every night with one girl, then the other.

Not unlike “Hatchi,” a dog that waited for its diseased master every day at a train station, I’m hopeful that Lily will be there every day watching over us, guiding us to be good puppy parents.

Our other four-legged family members won’t be prepared, but will adapt: George, our 14-year, old-man Bichon, and CoCo, our bombastic black Bombay cat. George spends most of his days relaxing in his crate by choice. CoCo was a rescue cat and was socialized with big dogs; she thinks she’s a dog anyway and has never hesitated to casually slap George or Lily when CoCo felt they needed to be put into their place in the pecking order. (I call it her “whack-a-poodle” game.)

Luna will not be Lily. She will not be George or CoCo (CoCo is smiling at this.)  Luna will be a new adventure and, based on the pictures and video from the breeder, we love her already (OK, not so much CoCo.)

Homecoming is June 15.