Saved and Owned By A Havanese
It all started back in early 2000. Maybe it was that "year 2000" thing that caused it. Anyway, I was living alone and working out of my home as an independent real estate broker. I had rock landscaping and was either on the computer (creating flyers, entering listings, searching for properties for buyers), installing signs, picking up signs, staging homes, showing properties, writing contracts, negotiating, etc. for 7/12 on average. And, mind you, I am no spring chicken.....
Then it happened. I was struck with a burning desire to have a dog. OMG. I LOVE animals and, as a kid, I would bring home every stray and hide it in the basement. My Mom would notice poop on the edges of my skirts, and that very mean dog pound man would come take my dog away. Even if the dog wouldn't, I bit him and kicked him.
I knew I did not have the lifestyle for a dog. I dismissed it. It came back. I dismissed it. It came back. I got very busy. It went away. YAY! Business slowed down. It came back. There is just no way I could have a dog. This continued. I fought it. I fought it for 1-1/2 years! During that time, I found a website that would let me insert my criteria for a dog, and it would tell me which breeds fit that criteria. FINALLY! I can prove to myself that there is no such dog, and this will be OVER! HA! Wrong again. I told it I wanted a dog that was intelligent, small, not yappy, had no major health problems, had a long lifespan, and didn't shed. I entered a stuffed dog!
Four (4!) breeds came back. Now the quest to eliminate these 4. The first was a Cairn Terrier. Even I knew ALL Terriers bark. So far, so good. One down, 3 to go. The second was an English Toy Spaniel. Never heard of it. Well, this dog has a small head, long body on long legs and looked unappealing. YAY! Another down, 2 to go. The 3rd was a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. CRAP! These guys are waaaay too cute. It can stay on the list until I find out something about it that will wipe it off the list. The 4th was a Havanese. Never heard of this breed either. OMG! OMG! OMG! they are ADORABLE!!!!! The colors! CRAP! Now I have 2 breeds to find a reason for not having a dog. I started with the Cavalier, and quickly discovered they have horrific heart problems. YAY! Another down, and only ONE to go!
The more I researched the Havanese, the more deeply I fell in love. Only one health issue, but it wouldn't cause them pain or death (cataracts). Don't shed, aren't yappy, super smart, self-whelp (rarely require C-sections), and a long lifespan. DARN! Well, I will just have to meet some and see their personalities. More research to find a reason to not get one. Couldn't find one. No breeders in my state. Hard to find. Breeders have waiting lists. Life went on, business went on and, in this research, I discovered that certain colors were coveted by breeders and would be difficult to obtain.
Then one Sunday in early October, 2001, I needed to take an exterior photo of a house (so I didn't need an appointment) in a small town South of my home. It was an hour drive and a beautiful warm Fall day. I took the old highway that followed beside the river and was lined with huge trees. As I got to the edge of this little town, I noticed a hand-written sign on bright green poster board that said, "Dog Show" and had an arrow pointing to a field across the highway. It hit me! If there are any Havanese here, I can get rid of this last breed today!!!! WOO HOO!
I pulled into the parking lot and had to walk across this field to get to the show ring. Now... What you need to know is that as they start calling breeds into the ring, they start with males and the youngest to oldest. As I got to the ring, the steward loudly yelled, "Havanese, puppy dog, 6 to 9 months." What are the odds?????? I took one look at a bunch of darling and beautiful little happy dogs and, as I looked to the sky, I gritted my teeth and out loud said, "YOU KNOW I SHOULD NOT HAVE A DOG!!!!!" Needless to say, I got some strange looks.
I really liked one dog in particular and loved how beautiful he was going around the ring. He won! The lady showing him came out of the ring with the blue ribbon (her hand shaking) saying, "I won. OMG. I've never shown a dog before, and we won! Oh, no. I have to go back in. What will I do with this ribbon?" I reached for the ribbon and said, "I'll hold it, you go back and get another one, and then I want to talk to you." She did, and we talked. She gave me her breeder's name and email address.
What you need to know now is that you cannot evaluate for show qualities until a puppy is 8 weeks old. I didn't get that far in my research..... I figured I could ask for a coveted color, which would buy some time, and I could get rid of this! I emailed this breeder and said I might like a Havanese some day, but I wanted a sable (hard to come by color), female, show puppy. I got an email back saying, "I had a litter 2 days ago, and there is 1 sable female show puppy. Here's her picture." The picture was of this puppy with 3 littermates on her head, so all I saw was her back.
It finally (after 1-1/2 years) dawned on me that this was not my plan, and I was not going to win this battle. (Sometimes it takes a while for the nickel to drop for me.) I bought her. I had 8 weeks to rake up 18 sq. ft. of 3" deep rock, put in edging, haul sod, lay sod, have fences built, and keep working..... (Don't forget, I'm no Spring chicken. I have grandchildren! And their mother was 28 before having children...) My neighbor took this huge mountain of rock out of my yard with a front loader and put it in his yard.
The time came, and I flew to another state to get my adorable baby. I stayed in a motel with her sleeping in her airline carrier next to my pillow. We got back, disembarked leaving my digital camera on the plane. Went right back, but it was gone already. (They were quite new then, and very expensive.) I got home with my baby girl and took her outside to see this beautiful sod that we would use to practice showing. I set her down on the grass, and she lifted a front leg, screached, and never ever touched that grass again!
I had to stop working so much...to feed, play, let outside, go to show classes, learn how to groom, etc. It felt sooooooo good to get away from work. I met great dog people at classes, and we arranged to share travel expenses to go to shows as there were only 3 shows a year in that state at that time. We went to a lot of shows in Colorado, and the people in Colorado were so nice! Ohhhhhhh, it felt so good to be so far away from my work.
The area where I lived and worked was historically a buyer's market, and sellers paid all closing costs, etc., just to get their house sold. In 1994, it was a seller's market, and in 2005, it was again. I was 60 years old. I had to decide if I should sell my house and retire early or wait another 11 or 12 years for another seller's market..... Had no idea where I wanted to go, but I put a sign out in front (no listing - just a sign). I decided that if it was meant to be (as this dog was), it will be. My neighbor called asking if I would help a friend of his who was moving back to the area find a house. Of course. I showed this client everything in the price range specified and approved for. Didn't like any of them. Said she wanted to see my house. I said, I don't even know where I'm going. It could be months. She said she had months. She walked in the front door and said, "I'll take it." I said, "Noooooooo, not until I show you everything that is wrong with it." I did, and she gave me an earnest money deposit 8 times more money than was common in that area, and signed a contract for almost 3 times what I paid for it 15 years earlier, and giving me as much time as I needed to move. Six months later, I was settled on 2.5 acres in Colorado with no neighbors, gorgeous views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, wildlife everywhere. It took me a few years to unwind, and I really think these wonderful little creatures saved my life by making me stop working so much.
The "Owned by a Havanese" part came in when I tried to find a house. I finally bought land and a doublewide, sight unseen, from a paper floor plan that fit what the dogs needed! I never saw it until I moved into it. It's actually the best floor plan I've ever lived in, so the dogs and I are all happy.
They are a very motivating little dog......You've been duly warned!