On Life with Arie, I’m going to start featuring guest bloggers to talk about their pets. I am proud to feature one of my friends from college, Sarah Gray, as my first guest blogger in her post entitled “Trying Green Eggs and Ham”.
Enter my husband, Steve, and his near obsession with the Komondor breed. After I introduced him to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, things were never quite the same in my house. Steve began to research Komondorok (the correct plural form) almost compulsively. Though I had seen the white, dreadlock-sporting monsters many times on the TV, I’d never been particularly interested in the breed. Steve, however, was quick to broaden my understanding of the giant dogs beyond the quippy description given on the televised dog shows.
This Hungarian dog was bred to guard sheep. Great hon, are we going to be starting a flock in our ½ acre suburban backyard? The hair mats naturally, and the mats are then ripped into cords by the owner. That doesn’t sound time consuming at all. The males weigh anywhere from 115 to 135 pounds. Are we getting a bigger house? They are wary of strangers but faithful to and gentle with even the smallest members of their families. We’re never having company again, are we?
Despite my skepticism, we started attending local dog shows and talking to breeders. By some colossal coincidence, there was actually a Komondor breeder nearby, something that was about as likely as being struck by lightning, twice. We even made a pilgrimage to a breeder’s home to meet several of her dogs in their home environment. She warned that they needed to time to accept visitors, so they may not be overly friendly. Of course, every one we met was an absolute charmer. By the time we left, even I was feeling less ambivalent toward those mountains of white with their friendly, twitching noses. Higgins, in particular, felt that as ambassador for the breed, he must lie across my feet and go to sleep. I’m not made of stone, people.
Fast-forward to today and meet Sam (registered name: Ibis Green Eggs and Ham), our Komondor puppy. Do not be fooled by the term “puppy,” however. Sam is an 80+ pound, nine-month-old with energy (and love) to spare. He’s big, and he’s clumsy, and he drags in every bit of dirt and debris he can from outside. He drinks his water with all the grace of a pig at trough and then proceeds to put his wet, hairy mug directly into your lap. We love him.
Training Sam has been challenging to say the least. We attended puppy kindergarten with him and have worked with him daily on obedience. Komondorok are bred to guard sheep without the constant presence of humans, so they are independent thinkers (read: stubborn and hard to train.) His behavior remains a work in progress, though we are blessed with a naturally affectionate and mostly submissive dog. Of course, he has his moments, as he did the other night when he sat on my best friend’s head.
He has his shining moments, though. In July, he participated in his very first dog show. While we do not plan to show him ourselves, because of our arrangement with the breeder, she has the option to show him if she chooses. Because a minimum number of a specific breed must be entered into a dog show for the wins to “count,” Sam was entered into the Greenville Dog Show as a sort of “filler” dog. He behaved beautifully and acted as if he knew what he was doing. He even won two ribbons – don’t get too excited, they don’t count toward any points or anything – and overall, it was a fun experience.
Now that his moment of celebrity has passed, he’s back to lounging about and destroying things in turn. Our remaining cat, Abby (we lost Hobbes to cancer and congestive heart failure) hates Sam with a flaming heat, and he thinks she is a striped, furry playtoy. We have a daughter, Lucy Addison, who at 20 months old has become completely oblivious to the size and power of our oversized dog. When he trespasses into her space, she merely waves a hand and says, “Oh, Puppy.”
As for me, I’m still not sure you could call me a dog person. Sometimes Sam’s affection is just a little too available for my taste. Nevertheless, I can’t resist his black, wet nose or his man-sized, huggable head. Taking him out in public remains a feat, as we are constantly stopped and asked to explain the monster on the end of the leash. I really don’t mind the questions, and I answer them patiently, for the most part. Just don’t ask if we have a saddle for him. We’ve heard that joke already. A lot.
Leave your comments here for me or Sarah, and visit Sarah’s blog, “Wife, Student, Crazy Person,” for more of her fabulous writing.