Me and Juko

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

There were a couple things I wanted to do with my pseudo-sabbatical. For one, I wanted to travel. Another thing I wanted to do while my time is mostly my own was to get a puppy that I could train to travel. A year to work with a puppy is about right to have a good dog for its lifetime.

Juko came home on Saturday. I had to drive down to McCloud, California, to get him. Four hours driving in the rain, ice and snow, so even though I said I wasn’t going to take him unless we clicked, it would have been hard to turn around. But we clicked.

He’s a purebred Beauceron, but since only one testicle descended, he’s only “pet quality.” Believe me, he wouldn’t have been affordable for me if it weren’t for the flaw. Since puppies’ personalities are unknowable, you really only get three things from a breeder puppy, as opposed to the local animal shelter: You get likely personality traits. You get likely looks. You likely get a clean slate. I’ve rescued many shelter dogs. Alice, my dog who died a few months ago after 14 or 15 years in my home, was a shelter dog. My girlfriend’s dog is a shelter dog. But those shelter dogs always carry their baggage. I didn’t want a dog with baggage.

So far, the only thing I know about him is he’s thoughtful and mannerly. He wouldn’t go to the bathroom outside until I took him out on the leash and gave him “permission.” He’s already housebroken, so he must have held it for hours even though the dog door was there. He’d even go outside and look at the grass. He sleeps with his eyes open, which is kind of cool for a watchdog. I was just watching his eyes move around in his sleep.

He’s skeptical of everything. I was a little worried that he was going to bolt every time there was a loud noise, but he’s already mostly gotten over that, but if there’s a loud noise—for example, there was somebody cutting down a tree on our walk today—he will stop and take a long look. I can almost see the calculations going on in his head.