Three weeks with Pippin

Yesterday, Leif and I celebrated 3 weeks with our Pippin, a five-month old Brittany Spaniel (technically a Brittany dog in North America).

Three weeks with Pippin
A five-month old orange and white speckled Brittany dog sniffing leaves and snow on the Mont Royal.

Yesterday, Leif and I celebrated 3 weeks with our Pippin, a five-month old Brittany Spaniel (technically a Brittany dog in North America). It's therefore been 3 weeks that I've been trying to string together little moments here and there to sit down and crank out this blog post. Adding a puppy to one's well-disorganized existence takes up a rather amazing amount of time and energy — after 3 weeks, I'm still catching my breath, honestly.

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I don't have a lot of time before Pippin wakes up, so let's get started on his backstory, shall we?

In early November, I was doing research for my novel (by the way, if you ever need a surefire way to fail your NaNoWriMo objectives, adopting a puppy works like a charm!) because I was thinking of having one of my characters own a hunting dog, maybe even a Brittany Spaniel, which is a breed I was familiar with through family lore. My great-grandfather kept these kinds of dogs, épagneuls bretons, for hunting in Brittany, and my dad still has fond memories of Zorro walking him to school and back as a kid. To describe the fictional dog accurately in the novel, I went looking for reference photos of Brittany dogs — according to the French standards, not the American ones, as there are slight differences — which is how I found élevage familial de Laperrière, just west of Ottawa. I saved several photos for reference in my novel project folder, and without reading too closely, left my information on a waiting list, thinking that maybe one day, in a year or three, I could think about adopting a dog.

Two days later, there was a message waiting for us on Leif's voicemail. The breeder unexpectedly had a few puppies available, right away. His first question, once we managed to get a hold of each other on the phone: "what do you want to do with this dog?"

Épagneuls bretons are very, very active dogs. In fact, when you type "épagneul breton" into Google, the first suggestion of a question I got back was: "À quel âge un épagneul breton se calme ?", or "At what age do Brittany dogs calm down?"

Thanks Google!

Laperrière, in particular, raises his dogs to hunt and work. The possibilities are boundless, and I immediately started dreaming about skijoring, canicross, agility, scentwork — I even wondered if I would like to go hunting! The breeder was encouraging about all these possibilities while also firmly stating that these dogs need an intellectually engaging outlet. They need a job to be happy.

A very short week later, on an atypically beautiful November Saturday, Leif and I got on the road. We didn't want to make any final decisions until we met the breeder, the mama dog, and the puppies. The meeting went very well. The mama dog, Jessiecaille, was incredibly sweet. Leif liked my choice of dog (who really chose me first!) and agreed to bring puppy back with us to Montréal.

And just like that, Pippin joined our little household!

A few important lessons from these early weeks:

  • Pippin is a very affectionate and cuddly dog, his absolute favourite activity is napping (for approximately 3 milliseconds) on our laps;
  • Pippin is very sensitive and intelligent, especially when he's pretending not to understand what we're trying to communicate with him;
  • Pippin loves snow!!! Praise the gods!!! My dreams of skiing with Pip are inching closer to reality...
  • The lack of sleep caused by big transitions is just as difficult for puppies as it is for people. To manage the big stress of the transition, siesta time is of primordial importance, and even with the extra sleep we're all honestly always knackered. The only creature in the household who is always perfectly refreshed and well-rested is the cat, Ben the Flooffissime himself. What an icon.
Pippin loves lap time. I've never met such a cuddly puppy! I hope he stays this cuddly as he grows up!

Before doing any kind of canine sports with Pip, I need to wait until he grows up and gains confidence and (a bit more) strength. Leif and I are focused right now on giving him the tools he'll need to be happy in a very busy urban environment. It's a lot of work! But in the last three weeks, we both keep catching glimpses of the adult dog Pippin is growing into, and we can't wait for all the exciting adventures we're going to have together!

Bienvenue, Pippin!

An absolutely hilarious photo of Pip on the Mont Royal, tip of the tongue sticking out, illuminated by the setting sunlight.

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