In Praise of Small Dogs

This blog post was going to be about Willow’s Big Kennel Adventure, but I’m suffering from writers block on that one so you’ll have to have this one instead!

Regular readers of this blog might remember my friend’s dog Millie. As a huge favour to my friend we had Millie to stay overnight at New Year and, as an even bigger favour, she’s now back for the entire weekend. Don’t get me wrong, Millie is a beautiful dog:

Millie

… she has a lovely temperament, is a real softie and not particularly big for a GSD but, compared to Willow she is HUGE.

And it’s hard not to make comparisons. So, my list of the advantages of small dogs:

1. They physically take up less space. I know, it’s in the name – SMALL dogs. But when you’ve got a small house and a dog that’s in the way, it’s a lot easier to step around/over a small dog (and when they decide to get under your feet it’s also easier to step ON a small dog, but this is not an advantage.)

2. They are physically less intimidating (obviously not a plus if you’re looking for a scary dog). If Willow stands on her hind legs, she comes to about the top of my thighs. If Millie stands on her hind legs, her face is level with mine. Not only that, a primitive part of my brain kicks in at that point gibbering with fear that I’m about to be eaten. If you don’t believe me try it – stand up eyeball to eyeball with a dog that’s big enough and no matter the temperament of the dog, there is something about being that close to a mouth full of canine teeth that kick-starts the ‘I’m prey’ part of your psyche.

3.  Talking of eating, small dogs need a lot less food. I buy my food in 1.5kg bags one of which will last about 2-3 weeks. The largest size bag I can quickly find is 30kg which, by my calculation, would last Willow about a year. Buying in bulk is obviously cheaper but buying food for a small dog is cheaper still.

4.  Because they eat less small dogs excrete less. Today I found myself thinking ‘Do poo bags really only come in one standard size?’ Because one standard size is fine for clearing up after Willow, but really not up to the task of clearing up the mountain of excrement that Millie deposited shortly after arriving. And the odour is definitely in proportion to the quantity….

5. Small dogs make much better lap dogs. We don’t encourage Willow to be a lap dog, but when stretched out on the sofa if she decides to lie on top of me it’s not a problem. Many years ago Millie’s Mum owned a Rottweiler/GSD cross who took a real shine to Husband and frequently attempted to sit on his lap. Well, it was funny for the rest of us but not a pleasant experience for Husband.

6. Small dogs are easier to control. We took both dogs out for a walk at lunchtime, or rather Millie took me out for a walk and Husband and Willow trotted along behind trying to keep up. By the time we got to the field to let the dogs off the lead, my arms and legs were aching from trying to keep Millie in line. Big dogs are just that much stronger and have the weight to put behind it. Conversely, as a last resort you can pick a small dog up and carry them to where you need them to be.

Having said all that, it is by no means a criticism of Millie as a dog. She and Willow have a great relationship and it’s really sweet to see them together: Willow and Millie

So what have I missed? Any other advantages of having a small dog? Let me know in the comments.

An Eventful Weekend

As it’s the weekend before Christmas we needed to exchange some gifts with friends and family. Setting off on Saturday morning we drove down to Tintern Abbey to meet up with a friend and her beautiful one year old white German Shepherd, Millie in a car park.

White german shepherdSo far Willow has been rather nervous around other dogs, despite having been fostered with three other dogs, including the most enormous Bull Mastiff I have ever seen, and initially this was the case with Millie. Millie is a very bouncy excitable dog, but ultimately very sweet and gentle. Initially Willow tried to keep as far away from Millie as possible but once we started walking with the two dogs, she relaxed and happily trotted along on her lead while Millie, off the lead, bounded and bounced all around us.

After our walk we retired to The Anchor Inn for coffee and cakes. The staff were more than happy for us to take the dogs inside but we opted to stay outside where the dogs didn’t have to be on best behaviour. Willow had obviously relaxed really well by this point as she started playing with Millie, which was lovely to watch. I actually had to check with our friend that that was what they were doing! The funniest thing was watching Millie trying to be submissive to Willow because, given the size difference, she had to get down very low to be below the level of Willow’s head!

We will definitely be visiting The Anchor again, but in the meantime leaving Tintern we drove on to see Husband’s brother and his family. Because she was in a new environment, Willow spent the first couple of hours sat in a corner watching everything happening around her. Eventually, again, she relaxed and quietly wandered around getting to know everyone. She was extremely well behaved the whole evening, either sitting quietly or gently making everyone fall in love with her.

This morning we had more giant steps forward. We took her for a walk along a canal towpath which is very popular with dog walkers. To get there we had to negotiate some quite busy roads. So far Willow has been very nervous around roads, scared to walk near the cars and having to be carried. As mentioned above she has also been very nervous around strange dogs. On this walk she dealt really well with both. She was obviously not happy but she kept walking when there were cars around and also allowed some strange dogs to come up and touch noses with her.

I think, having made such progress, she’s allowed to take a little nap.

Sleeping Willow