Why I Love our Min-Pin
His Real Name Is...
In German this means "Dwarf Pinscher." I'm convinced that "pinscher" means nibbler. These dogs were developed in Germany from the larger German-Pinscher. The Min-Pin were originally bred as "barn dogs" to hunt mice, rats, and other small vermin. Though most kennel clubs classify them as "toy dogs" they aren't; they are working dogs.
Even though the Min-Pin looks a lot like the Doberman-Pinscher they actually predate that breed. In fact the man who bred the Doberman, Karl Frederich Louis Dobermann, stated that he wanted his dog to resemble the Zwergpinscher, only fifteen (15) times larger. No one is really sure how the Min-Pin was bred to be so small. What is certain is that they are not a terrier. Some believe that they are cross between Italian Greyhound and Dachshund. This may just be German humor. In fact there is supporting evidence that the Min-Pin has German Pinscher in them; perhaps crossed with the Dachshund and Greyhound. Whatever they are it's a much older breed than many realize.
When I first met him I wasn't terribly impressed. I was over to visit my fiancé and there was a blanket on her couch. I didn't notice the lump in the blanket. As I sat down near it I heard a growl; a warning that he was there. It was quite a shock to hear the blanket growl, but once I moved he stopped.
Little did I know that "Barkey*" loves to hide under blankets, sheets, towels, and clean clothes. He especially loves stuff right out of the dryer. I read somewhere that Min Pin's are the "Houdini of dogs."
The next time I visited I volunteered to take him for a walk. Beside chasing and barking at every dog that came along he decided to "do his thing" under a bunch of bushes. Good deal; this is why we were out in the first place.
First he circled the chosen spot about ten times very quickly. I'd never seen a dog do this quite this way. Once he decided to "go" he walked along, hunched over, as he went. "Boy, this is one strange dog" I think. This particular spot had no grass growing under it or mulch scattered underneath. There was just dried dirt.
Once he got done "doing his business" he promptly turned his backside to me and started shuffling all four feet on the ground vigorously. This is a dog's way of saying "Hey, I'm a tough guy." He sprayed me from the waist down with loose dirt.
I was wondering what I might have gotten myself into.
* Name changed to protect the guilty
He's Really Smart
My impression of Barkey changed quite a bit when I taught him to sit in half a day. He had associated the word with the action after only three tries. He's really good at it too. He's also quite enthusiastic. You can literally hear a "thump" when his bum hits the floor. In fact he does pretty much everything fast.
This is a great thing for a dog to know. It makes it that much easier to leash him, take the leash off, and he knows he has to sit in order to get a treat.
Every so often he gets so excited about food we are about to give him that his little ears turn into tuning forks. Vibrating away out of shear excitement at the idea of "treat." It's really funny to watch.
Every time we get something to eat, from a snack to a full blown meal, he somehow hears the sounds associated with food and comes running. In fact, this is the only time either of us are in danger of injury from claws. He has been known to leave claw marks in flesh in his nearly rabid desire to get to the source of the food.
Sometimes I think he has a sixth sense when it comes to eating.
He Really is Quite Bright
He's very good about coming when called. Very good until, that is, he decides not to come.
He'll sit there, ears straight up, and stare at me no matter how many times I call him. If he came every time I called him it would be downright boring. But because he comes most of the time, but not all of the time, I've come to appreciate his quirks. It truly is amusing to see him sitting there stock-still staring at me with his ears straight up. He knows I'm calling him; what the heck is he doing?
So I get up to go get him and he bounds off at a fast gallop. "Ah, he want's to play."
By the way, when he "gallops" he looks and sounds just like a small horse.
Steph and I got him a stuffed toy. It's pink and fuzzy. It's also just a bit smaller than he is, but not by much. It is absolutely a riot to watch him try to keep this toy away from me while holding his head high to keep from tripping over it at the same time. Eventually I'll catch up with him and "keep away" becomes "tug of war."
I always let him win.
Another favorite game of his we call "blanket monster."
It's very simple. I find a sheet or blanket, put my hand under it and start wiggling it around. He instantly leaps on my hand and tries to pin it down so it won't move anymore. If I move my hand toward him he'll jump back to keep up with it. If I move my hand back away from him he'll leap forward to pin it down.
If I stop moving my hand he'll start nibbling on whatever part he has under his paws. When I move my hand just a bit after it was "dead" he'll renew his efforts to pin it. Sometimes, when I'm especially vigorous with my hand he'll sit on it to pin it down.
As we are playing this game he is barking, howling, and growling at the "blanket monster."
We love this game. Of course this behavior makes perfect sense for a "barn dog."
Paper Towel Tubes and Grabbit and Electric Razor
Some Things Set Him Off
One of them, an empty paper towel tube, will drive him nuts if I purse my lips and blow into one end of it. I guess it sounds like a growl to him. When I do that he'll bark, yank it out of my hand, and then step on it. As if to say "there, now shut up!" Once he's pinned it he is quite happy to walk away from it.
I also have a grabbit for reaching things high up. It beats dragging out a stepladder for most things. Just for fun I got it down one day and showed it to him. He didn't seem to care, until that is, I grabbed him with it. Now all I have to do is bring it down and he goes ballistic.
We also have a small travel sized electric razor. The first time I used it near him he started barking and growling at it. He constantly keeps me laughing.
Favorite Passtimes On a Walk
When I walk him he has two favorite things to do. Chase cats and rile up other dogs.
If he sees a cat he immediately tries to catch up with it to bark at it; possibly even to bite it. Naturally, we have a harness not a collar, because we learned long ago that he is so enthusiastic about catching up to cats or dogs, that the harness is much easier on him than a collar. To date, he has not succeeded in catching a cat, but he always tries anyway. I'm not sure what he'd do if he caught one, unlikely as it is, but I really don't want to know.
If he's around other dogs he'll stir them up and then calmly walk away.
It's almost as if he's thinking "my work here is done." You can always tell when we are coming down the block; just listen for a chorus of barking dogs.
Every so often when we are playing he'll stop, spin around, and be facing me again in a fraction of a second. He's so fast I can't quite make out the "footwork" he uses to accomplish this. He'll do a complete 360° in the time it takes to blink.
I'm not even sure why he does this, but it is very funny to watch. If he's feeling really spunky he'll do a number of these spins. He should be on "Dancing with the Stars."
He also makes it very hard to pick him up. He'll spin, leap away, and just generally make it really hard to catch him. Once in our arms though he's quite still and seems to enjoy being there.
Drops in His Ears
Of course we try to take really good care of him. One of the important places for good doggy health are his ears. From time to time we need to put drops in there to prevent mites.
It takes two of us to accomplish this. One to hold him down and the other to administer the drops. If you were passing by during this process you'd think we were murdering him slowly with sharp objects. He'll cry, howl, bark, and whine. Even though he weighs about nine pounds the two of us very nearly can't pull this off.
Oddly, if I put my finger in either of his ears and he'll lean onto it in order to "scratch" the inside.
I've never known a dog that could make so many sounds. If he's happy and cuddled up to either of us he coos like a bird. If he wants to play it's a sharp, short, high-pitched bark. If he want's a handout while we are eating it's a "silent" bark; more a rush of air than anything else. He sighs, yowls, cries, and whines at all the appropriate times.
He has an amazing range. I've recorded some of his vocalizations, but there's no way to put just audio on here. Oh well.
OK. I know that sounds gross, but let me explain.
For whatever reason he can't quite reach back there, so he never actually gets to that nether region. Still it's amusing as heck to watch him try.
I've actually seen him do a back-flip trying to reach his bum. Very funny.
"Off" and Doggy Bed Leap
He also knows "off" and "go to bed."
Off is if we want him off of the couch, chair, or bed. He's pretty good about it, but not quite as good as "sit." He never really wants to leave one of those comfortable areas if we are on it. But he also knows he can't eat on the couch, bed, or chair. So these days he usually knows that "off" might be followed by "sit" which means a treat.
I told you he was smart.
If my wife and I want to be "close" and not share our space with him one of us will tell him "go to bed." We have his doggy bed in a white laundry basket. It's rim is about as high off of the floor as he is tall. So to get in there he has to leap over the rim.
He looks just like a deer jumping over a fence. Really funny to watch.
Every week, we clean his bedding. it's interesting what we find in there. Single socks, toys, maybe even a dirty washcloth. All we have to do is drop something and in short order it will disappear.
He doesn't take those things in there to chew them up. He steals them just so he'll have them close by. I think he likes stuff around him that smells like us. We also keep a clean towel in there so he can get under it; he really loves to go "subterranean." It's endearing to look over at his bed, see a lumpy towel, with just the tip of his snout sticking out of it.
Licking and Cuddling
He's not a face licker. He'd much rather be licking his paws or fabrics. I have no idea why he like to lick cloth, but he does it a lot. it's kind of sad in a way that he won't lick faces since he can't reach his butt (see above), but there you are.
He loves to cuddle though and can often be found curled up next to either Steph or myself, of course under a throw, blanket, or sheet. He's warm too.
"I've Gotta Go!" & "I'm Outta Water"
Every so often Barkey will really need to "go" beyond his normal "business" hours. When he's "really gotta go" he'll do something I've never seen another dog do.
He'll go into the bathroom, sit on the bath mat, and stare. At first I had no idea what he was trying to communicate, but it didn't take long to figure it out. I'm still working out how he associated "bathroom" with "go out." Maybe because that's where we "go?"
Even more rarely his water bowl will be empty and we won't notice right away. When that happens he'll go into the bathroom and jump into the tub. Of course he'll stare at us from the bathtub. Naturally, I'm also trying to figure out how he associated "bathtub" with "empty water bowl."
These are the only two times he'll go into the bathroom at all.
Did I mention that he's smart?
Taking a Bath
He hates taking a bath, especially if it involves soap, water, or either of those things going into his ears.
Once done though he loves being wrapped up in a towel and being dried off. He likes being blow-dried too.
About three times a week one of us give will give him a good brushing. He's got a beautiful black shiny coat and a good brushing keeps it that way.
We'll show him the brush, he'll sniff it, and then immediately lay down, back to us, so he can get the maximum benefit of those bristles. He never seems to tire of a good brushing and likes it on his back, head, haunches, and neck.
Not all that often, but often enough, he'll be sitting in my lap (as he is now) as I write these hubs. I'll look down as I'm thinking about what to say next and see his paws outstretched with his head nestled in between them. With his eyes closed I can hear him cooing too. It's comforting to know he likes laying in my lap.
Love is a Warm Dog
To say I've fallen in love with him is an understatement. No matter what my mood I know all I have to do is spend a little time with him and I'm smiling again.
He's always happy to see us even if we've been "gone" no more than five minutes.
He's a clown and loves to entertain us.