Backyard breeders have taken a lot of flak in the dog world, justifiably so for those who treat the pups as a cash crop. But painting them all with that same broad brush is inappropriate. Some truly love the breed but are just not into the politics and time requirements of showing. Our friend, Charlotte, from North Bay, Ontario, was such a breeder. She did her homework, carefully researching available studs to mate with her very sweet and athletic girl, Maia. She and her husband had raised phenomenal children in a loving home, so when one of her pups was available we jumped at the chance.
Charlotte used colored collars to differentiate the pups. One of the boys had a blue collar. Collectively they were summoned with a cheerful, “Pitou, Pitou, Pitou!” (Little One in French) Later, when the blue boy became a kisser, she called him “Bisou” (French for Kiss). All these names rhymed, so of course we needed to find a name the puppy would respond to. We settled on Kazoo because in addition to kissing he made a variety of musical notes.
Kazoo is, and has always been, a delight. He had the shortest puppy stage of any dog we’ve ever shared our lives with, growing quickly into adolescence and then into adulthood. He started going white around the muzzle before age two and by five his entire face, shoulders, and rump had gone white. He grew very large by golden standards, and by his second year weighed 92 pounds. But despite that size and a booming bark, he has been from the beginning an extremely sweet and intelligent dog. When Tamara taught him to retrieve her slippers, he quickly learned to hide them so he could play the hero by “finding” them for her. He retrieves all the food bowls at chow time, sometimes stacking them together and bringing all of them at one carry. He remembers where the ball was left outside, or where a squirrel was last seen. He is our early warning system, letting us know with a very impressive, very deep WOOF! if any animal, person or vehicle is passing by.
For all that he is not a particularly brave dog. He hunts mice in the field, but until Barley’s passing would invariably lose them to the smaller, more aggressive hunter. And should a rodent a fraction of his size stand its ground, a woodchuck for example, Kazoo will back away where Barley would charge in and crush its skull without hesitation. Kazoo loves water, and will lay down in any puddle no matter how small or disgusting it is. He also has a comically bad sense of mouth to eye coordination, missing virtually everything thrown his way. He also has the most finely tuned senses of hearing and smell of any dog we’ve had. You’ve probably seen videos of wild foxes leaping in the air and diving nose first into snow to hunt mice. Well, ninety-two pound Kazoo does that as well…and more often than not comes up with a mouse! He loves rough play and looks quite ferocious with his long fangs.
In his seventh year we brought a puppy into his life. And in raising Glenlivet from a sharp-fanged bundle of fluff to an intelligent and well-adjusted young dog, Kazoo has shown the patience of a saint. In fact, we sometimes refer to him as Saint Kazoo, the Patron Saint of Puppies.
Kazoo is not a fan of travel. He tolerates short sidecar rides but is physically too large to fit comfortably. In the car he generally lays down with an “Are we there yet?” expression. He is a homebody, loves his mother most of all, and is content to sit in the yard surveying his personal domain when he is not stretched out on his favorite piece of furniture. At his size, he takes up the entire piece of furniture!
January 2017: Kazoo, exhibiting the patience of a saint, has done a fine job of raising a puppy. Thanks to him, Glenlivet has had a fantastic start in life!