Thirty-four years ago, we wanted to buy a dog. We had said we would wait until our new son; Matt was a year old and walking so the time had come. We had taken Matt to the “Nut Tree” which was a restaurant, gift shop, and a mini amusement park. While we were there, we fell in love with a dog we saw. We asked the owners “What kind of dog is that?” They responded that it was a Bouvier des Flandres. Our love of Bouviers started that day.
It began with a trip to the library to check out the AKC book about breeds. The picture accompanying the write-up showed a bouvier laying calmly with a baby resting on its’ belly. We loved hearing about the temperament, the intelligence, the ease to train, and the other positive characteristics of the breed.
Our first Bouvier was smart and caught on quickly. The breeder suggested that we establish a schedule for our Nikki. I took this to heart and for the next thirty-plus years to present, with our four Bouviers, we have kept to a routine. Certainly, there have been times when we have had to deviate a bit but the basics have stayed the same.
With Nikki (#1) I was inexperienced in dog training. She decided that she was Alpha Dog and that I should follow her lead. My husband, Michael quickly modified this behavior with a firm correction. He then announced that I would be the one to take her to obedience training. This was the best thing that I could have done. Before long Nikki was responding to my commands on and off leash. Once we got over the “who was the boss” I realized that I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent with our sweet girl.
Our second Bouvier was born in Port Huron, Michigan. We had researched breeders and Joy-a Len Kennels won hands down. Judith Allen and her daughters LeeAnn and Becky are amazing.
Riley was Bouvier number 2. We picked up Matt at Hockey Camp and drove to Port Huron. It was a great road trip and we enjoyed meeting all of Joy-a-Lens canine family. Riley was solid black and sweet and smart. While at the Allen’s we met Goldie, who true to her name, was a warm golden color. Before we left that day, we put down a deposit in case one of the litters in the future produced what was known as a “fawn” puppy.
Several months later we received the call that a fawn puppy had been born and she was ours if we wanted her. We drove to Chicago and met LeeAnn at O’Hare with our beautiful Tawny. Riley and Tawny became quick friends and Riley taught Tawny the rules. This was the first time we had tried having two bouvier’s at the same time. It was a great adventure. Both girls lived a good long life.
As I said earlier, we followed a similar routine with each of our girls. We are now on our fourth Bouvier and the routine we established all those years ago still work for me. Our bouvier number four is Quincy. She joined our family in August of 2017. I wish I could tell you what color Quincy is. She is a blend of colors from Black to Gray to fawn to almost white. My husband always said she was the color of a Norwegian Ski Sweater.
We took a road trip to Washington State to pick up Quincy. It had been a very hot August and we did not want to chance the heat in baggage on an airplane for her. We also brought back her sister, Chloe. Chloe is owned by LeeAnn who lives in Indiana. These two puppies caused quite a stir when we stopped for meals and for the night. They were two fluffballs and loved attention.
Back to our routine. First thing in the morning we go out back so our girl can do her daily business. As an alternative, sometimes we do a walk around the block instead. This depends on the weather and what else is on for the day.
Next, we come inside for fresh water and I prepare breakfast. Science Diet Kibble and a good-sized fork full of wet food. This is followed by one milk bone. Next, I cut up a banana and we share every other bite (by fork). I have my morning activia and Quincy licks out the container.
Tricks come after breakfast. We practice sit stays, down, heel, come around and stand. I use Cheerios as a reward for each step. The day goes on with these types of activities.
At noonish, Quincy checks her puppy watch and knows it is time to go outside and then have her string cheese. We often have a few bites of apple or watermelon or one of the mini carrots. One more milk bone finishes lunch.
Things we work on during the day include clipper and scissor trims, tooth brushing, and car rides to run errands. We mix in walks throughout the neighborhood and playing in the backyard. Of course, we have some chill time so I can get my computer work and other paperwork done.
In other words, now that I am widowed, Quincy sees to it that my time is filled with service to her. Dinner happens between 5 and 6 followed by a few blueberries and usually the 3rd milk bone of the day. If it works out for everyone, we fit in play time with my niece’s two Labradoodles or my sister’s two Springers. These are Quincy’s favorite times. She loves being with other dogs and has yet to meet a dog she doesn’t like.
There is one question I have answered hundreds of times over the past 30+ years. “What kind of dog is that?” Quincy sits by patiently while I answer questions about her breed. She is known in our neighborhood as our “Gentle Giant”. Our neighbors don’t always remember my name but they always remember Quincy.
I love the time I spend with our dogs. It has become my favorite hobby and activity. They always keep me on my toes.