Monday, June 23, 2008

Wag First, Sniff Second

In late December of 2003, I went to visit a kennel south of Atlanta. I came home with a 4 month old GSD puppy. I had not planned to get a puppy that day, I just wanted to see the kennel.

On the drive home I alternated between panic and picking out a name. Although it was after Christmas, the Twelve Days of Christmas was playing on the radio of my Grand Cherokee. This is my favoriate Christmas decorating theme. And the name came to me: Piper. Scottish name for a German dog, odd I know, but that was it.

I took her to my vet as soon as they were open, and Karen referred me to Twelve Paws. It was the beginning of a wonderful relationship. Piper loved puppy class, and later Michael in particular. I found friends in Elaine and Micheal as well as in class and "puppy run around", Piper found a place where she was comfortable and could have fun.

Below are Michael and Piper at the beginning of their mutual admiration and love affair (look at her tail-girlfriend had a long tail).

Here's a normal night at Twelve Paws:

Here are Piper and Jacy, with Becky's legs in the background. I think.

Twelve Paws Academy and Social Club Players:

Maxee is the most laid back of the group, I think. He was always tolerant of the ADD puppies!

I don't have a picture of Fargo, but Fargo is king. Amen.

Dakota - I always think of him as the Big Brother of the group, maintaining order and decorum with body blocks and steely glares. Alas, not everybody got his point.

Annie - she will live in my memory with a latex hamburger either in her mouth or between her paws. She chooses when to let you throw it for her to retrieve.

Jacy - she reminds me of me, staying a little on the edge to be sure nothing surprising happens, or if it does, she can see it coming first. Very judicious in selecting her friends. She came over to let me pet her, so I count myself a friend.

Baxter (and Robin) - he was sometimes called bad boy Baxter, but of course he wasn't. He played with Piper and all the dogs and had the greatest expressions. He and Robin always did their homework. And showed up me and Piper.

After we (since the whole Twelve Paws bunch loved her too) lost Piper, the The Twelve Paws Cotton Locating Team (TPCLT) helped me find a golden retriever and went with me to pick one out. We were all a bit taken aback by the farm approach we saw there, but I found baby Cotton there and brought her home. She was smelly. Really smelly. Here is a picture of the TPCLT sans Michael and Robin (Robin took the picture - thank you Robin)

About 5 months later, Bailey's family finally gave him back to the breeder after a couple or three false starts, including my possibly getting him before I found Cotton. The TWCLT + Cindy reconvened, and although Robin could not go, we set out in two vehicles to get Gus (nee Bailey). Gus had been buzz cut in February when I got him, and the picture below is after some growing out of his coat. Two dogs was a big adjustment, but again, Twelve Paws was available for counseling. Everyone came home with me and Cotton to support both of us as we welcomed Gus home.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Important things I learned at Twelve Paws:

  1. yogurt and pumpkin are good for canine upset stomachs

  2. always be selective about the food you feed your dog, and don't feed too much (because of this, my dogs weren't in jeopardy when the major brands had so many recalls last year)

  3. excercise addresses a lot of issues

  4. try new things

  5. dogs are family, too

  6. it's okay to make a mess, just clean it up

  7. wag first, sniff second

  8. relationships are everything

In 2007, Michael and Elaine decided it was time to do something new, and Twelve Paws is no more. The training center has probably been leased by someone else by now, and it's hard to keep in touch without that weekly check in for socialization for canines and humans (well, it's hard for me, since that's something I'm not good at).

Hey, everybody from Twelve Paws: Thanks and I miss you!


  1. That made me cry! I'm forwarding to Elaine and Michael.


  2. The memories we share will last forever. All the hard work was worth the rewards. Piper really was mine, she just lived with you. I still have her collar. I miss her. I love you and your furry friends.




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