Friday, October 1, 2010

Duffy the Schnoodle on a Blustery Day

When I looked out my study window at 09:00 yesterday morning, I saw rain drops on the Spanish Tile; so I decided that we would go to the river. I got on my boots and grabbed my knapsack. My Ridgeback girls were right behind me. I went down the hall to Susan's room and asked, "does Duffy want to go to the river with us?" Duffy is a four-month old Schnoodle (one-half Miniature Schnauzer and one-half Miniature Poodle) who weighs about ten pounds. I'm not sure Duffy understood my question; although he may have. In any case when he saw my knapsack, my boots and my hiking hat, he began barking in excitement. I didn't need to hear Susan's answer to know that he definitely wanted to go.

This was Duffy's first exposure to Rain, and at first he tried to shake it off, but it wasn't raining hard and didn't seem uncomfortable to me. Duffy apparently soon felt the same way because he began doing his usual things, running out to the end of the leash as Ginger or Sage chased by, sniffing the droppings of whatever animals had been there before us, digging in the sand, and watching the girls chase each other.

This was Duffy's seventh trip to the river and he was exceeding my expectations. I had worried that he would continue to object to being on leash while the girls got to run free, but he didn't. He doesn't have his full size yet, but he probably has no more than six or seven pounds to go and that is too small to contend with the occasional feral dogs and coyotes we sometimes see down there. Ginger at perhaps 100 pounds and Sage at around 85 are too much for the coyotes and feral dogs we've seen. I worried about them also, when they were young, but they happily chase whatever they encounter. Perhaps Duffy, if I let him off leash might want to chase the rabbits and squirrels, but what would happen when he met his first coyote? At ten pounds he stays on leash. Whether I'll let him off when he reaches adulthood remains to be seen.

Duffy is a cocky little guy. He marches along on leash like he owns the river, and that remained true despite the wind and rain. His little ears were blown back, but he purposely marched on, ignoring the trees being bent over us and the river sand being stirred up and flung at us by what I would estimate to be 20 to 25-knot wind gusts.

I tried also to keep an eye on Sage. She had an operation a week previous to remove a hematoma in her right ear flap. It was healing well enough, but I tried to pick a route along the dry river bed that stood the best chance of not containing anything for her to pick up and perhaps set back her healing in some way. She is the chief scavenger of our little pack and true to her nature it took no time for her to discover a raccoon carcass and come marching proudly by us munching on a raccoon leg.

Three of us are still recovering from our river outing of yesterday, but not Duffy. He needed his morning wrestling match with Ginger as usual. How does a 10-pound Schnoodle wrestle with a 100-pound Rhodesian Ridgeback? I was a bit skeptical about it too, but Duffy has managed to her heart's content. He leaps through the air at Ginger. I have watched Ginger's head and have not seen it move from the impact. Ginger is a very powerfully-built, but she is also very gentle and usually loves to play. By flicking her head she can send Duffy flying, but he is back at her again in a flash. He can keep it up much longer than she can. I hear Ginger's playful growls behind me in my study, but when her growls get louder and more menacing I decide the game has gone on long enough and call a halt. Another of Duffy's pleasant qualities is his willingness to listen. When I turn and say that's enough (using my "mean" voice) he gives it up, and usually decides on his second favorite thing, chewing on one of Ginger and Sage's bones.

Susan plans to drive to Tucson to show off Duffy to her niece, who is very much a small-dog person and anxious to get a look at Duffy. I will be interested in learning how Duffy fares against their other dogs, especially their Miniature Schnauzer Charlie. I'll be very surprised if Duffy doesn't have them all whipped into shape in short order.

No comments: