I brought Zachary home when he was just 7 weeks and 6 days old. He looked and felt rather like a child’s novelty pyjama case. He was white and grey, very floppy, very soft and very fluffy. His black nose was like a large button, and his bright blue eyes could have easily been glass.
His breeder described him as a very clever and gentle Border Collie puppy. I don’t dispute the “very clever”, and he could be exceedingly gentle when it suited him, but I soon discovered that he was part kangaroo, and the other part, sabre-toothed tiger.
“Don’t let puppies jump” comes all the advice, in case it damages their joints. But how do you stop a kangaroo-tiger cross from bounding and leaping? But it was the sabre-like teeth that were the most troublesome.
When it comes to puppies, I am no “newbie”, but I have mostly had German Shepherd pups in the past. Don’t get me wrong: German Shepherds can be chewers, and I have lost more than the occasional piece of clothing from an unsupervised laundry basket, but in my experience, Shepherds have always had the grace to wait until an item of clothing is off your body before shredding it.
Zachary’s speciality was shredding clothing while I was wearing it, and often shredding the flesh beneath. He is the first pup ever to have broken my skin. In those first two weeks he left me bruised and bloodied, with my clothes hanging off me like those of the Incredible Hulk.
There was no aggression, I hasten to add. His attacks were all driven by love. He would launch himself at me with unbounded joy, then sink his sabre-teeth into any skin or clothing he could grab and swing his body weight below. Gravity would do the rest.
We are now seven weeks on and the tiger has mostly been tamed. He tries hard to remember his manners, bless him, although the kangaroo is still in evidence. But biting is now limited to chewing on my arm while I tickle his tummy. Our bite inhibition training is paying off.