Thursday, June 26, 2008

Personality Puppy

Yesterday was Mystie’s six-month birthday. Mystie (short for Mystique) is my younger Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. We adopted her about 4 months ago, and she has been an absolute delight--as well as a real canine character.

I’ve been owned by Cavaliers for many years, and I have to say that Mystie is definitely unique. She’s cute, but that’s a given for Cavaliers. She’s the Blenheim coloration--white and red--although her fur is still puppy-short. Even so, her ears are growing into fluffy and long Cavalier ears.

It’s her personality, though, that’s so winning. We got her partly because Lexie, who is five years old now, became very needy after we lost her dear Cavalier friend Sparquie last year. Mystie and Lexie get along famously. I don’t think Lexie has much choice. Mystie always goads her into playing by chewing on her ears and growling. Lexie retaliates by chasing Mystie, or stealing Mystie’s favorite toy of the moment and playing with it herself. They generally make every night a two dog night, curling up together no matter what the temperature is.

Mystie is the first Cavalier I’ve had who doesn’t immediately wolf down her food. I’m sure she’s not starving, since I do reward good behavior by treats, and she seems happiest with her evening meals when I give her a little canned food with her kibble. But she doesn’t like eating only dry food, which is, I believe, healthier for her. We’ve tried a couple of different puppy foods, and she’s more inclined to eat them if we put some pieces on the floor for her. And, no, it’s not the shape of her bowl that bothers her, since we’ve tried changing that, too. We have to keep Lexie away from Mystie at mealtime, since Lexie eats her own food fast and then goes after Mystie’s. And, yes, I occasionally put a couple of pieces of Lexie’s food into Mystie’s bowl, and they get gobbled first.

Mystie’s favorite pastime is playing Renfield (as in Dracula). She loves to chase flies. Not only that, but she also seems to think all reflections and shadows are kinds of insects to go after. She’s absolutely buggy over beams from a laser pointer, so much so that we’ve stopped using one around her since she’ll hunt for that “bug” for hours after it disappears, going into closets and under and behind furniture--anywhere a little creature could hang out, if it were real. Her housebreaking is not perfect, but she loves to go outside, especially into our dog run, to tear around after the insects buzzing there.

Then there’s her lovability. She leaps over furniture in a single bound. She jumps onto furniture occupied by me and stops, puts her paws around my neck, and starts kissing me.

Do you get the impression I love this pup. You’re right! Even so, my intention has always been for Lexie to be the alpha of their pack, and I encourage it. I also make sure that Lexie gets a whole lot of individual attention, since part of the point of getting Mystie was as a companion for Lexie, not to usurp her place in our household. I couldn’t possibly ignore Mystie, even if I wanted to, but Lexie is much more sensitive and will go off by herself if she thinks she’s being ignored--or if she thinks our scolding of Mystie for her sometimes inappropriate puppy ways is directed at Lexie. I make sure that Lexie is treated like the royalty she is, the primary pup of our family. She gets a whole lot of lap time, as much as she wants and sometimes when she doesn’t want it! Like right now, as I’m writing this. Of course she’s the first puppy love of this household.

Mystie knows some of the rudiments of doggy commands, but I hope to take her to puppy kindergarten soon. I don’t want to do anything that will change her cute personality, but she needs more limits, just like a child.

Lexie has always been inspirational in my Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mysteries. She’s absolutely the star of my series, since Kendra’s owned by a Lexie, too. But don’t be surprised if Kendra happens to meet a Mystie sometime in the future...

What’s your favorite puppy or kitty story? And how inspirational are your pets to your writing... or reading?

--Linda

10 comments:

Iowa Gardening Woman said...

I have two Cavaliers, my youngest is 4 months old, she does gobble her food the second you put it down as does my older Cavalier, they do seem to love their food. The breed is such a joy!

Linda O. Johnston said...

Hi, iowa gardening woman--what a descriptive name! All of my Cavaliers have been fast eaters until Mystie. And I absolutely agree that the breed is a joy!
--Linda

Kathryn Lilley said...

Happy Birthday, Mystie!

Linda O. Johnston said...

Arf! (Translation: Thanks, Kathryn, from Mystie!)

Helen said...

My favorite puppies are Cocker Spaniels and Golden Retrievers but the Cavaliers are also very cute.

Chris O. said...

Linda:
I loved reading about Mystie's behaviors and personality. It is amazing how similar she is to her cousin Lacey!! Today (June 26 ) is Lacey's six month birthday-they were born under the same sign, Perhaps the planets were misaligned at that time--that would explain their unique habits and behaviors. Lacey is not a big eater either--I worry that she must be hungry all the time but she is growing quite nicely and has LOTS of energy so she must be getting what she needs. As far as the jumping, playing, leaping, running, etc. I have never seen a dog (especially the royal breed of Cavaliers) so wild & crazy as Lacey. She slips and slides on the laminate floor in the family room playing with her toys and it is absolutely hysterical to watch. That followed by a few times up and down the stairs at break-neck speed. The finale consists of her jumping up onto the sofa into your lap full force using that as a springboard to fly to the top of the sofa and sit on your head/neck. We call her "kitty" as a nickname-she loves to be perched in high places like a cat--we are waiting to come home and find her sunning herself on one of the windowsills! I am glad to hear that Mystie is doing well and am comforted to know that my dog is not the only "weird" Cavalier! They would be fun to watch playing together. Keep up the good work!

Melissa said...

I adopted a tortoiseshell cat from the shelter a year ago, Tara. It was just the other day that I commented to my family that of all the cats I've ever had, she is the most entertaining. You never know what she is going to be up to next. It's fun how some just have these quirks you've never seen before. They are all their own individuals, just like people!

Linda O. Johnston said...

Lots of people agree with you, Helen, about Cockers and Goldens. They are both charming and adorable breeds. And, Melissa, isn't it fun when a pet surprises you with a different but winning personality?
Chris, it's delightful to know that you saw my post about Mystie and identified with it! Maybe it really is an astrological thing. As I've described Mystie to Rob in a loving but bewildered way, he's told me similar tales of Lacey, too. They could be sister Cavaliers! And you're right, it would be fun to get them together. One of these days...
--Linda

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Mystie is a happy puppy in a loving home! You are so lucky to have two Cavaliers.

cavalierloverUSA said...

I wonder if she is doing all the bug chasing because you use a laser pointer with her? My veterinarian said to never, ever use a laser pointer with dogs-especially with toy breeds because it can make them completely obsessive about chasing things and can even do nurelogical damage, so I would be wary of that and not use it anymore in the future.