- Pets and Animals
My Miniature Schnauzer
Meet Holly Bear!
In 2000 our long time friend, Tippy, passed away. For a while we didn't think we would want another dog. We'd had her longer than our youngest daughter! For 13 years she warmly greeted us and loved us, but this black spaniel/labrador mix couldn't live forever.About three months after she passed, we decided it was time to start thinking about another dog. Steve and I had both had a canine friend in our lives since we were small. We researched breeds and decided on a miniature schnauzer. We move a lot and don't get to pick the size of our house or our yard, so we figured a small dog that didn't shed would be best. She was only four weeks old when we got her. She still needed milk and hadn't quite been weaned. She looked like a little bear and since she was a Christmas present from our oldest daughter, we called her Holly Bear.
Why a Miniature Schnauzer?
Steve is a pastor. In our denomination, that means moving relatively often, especially early in the career. It also means we never know how big or small our house or yard will be. Since we obviously always live in a house owned by someone else (in this case, a church) we looked for a breed that didn't shed and could be easily trained, especially house broken. Because the yard size as well as house size are always a mystery, we opted for a smaller breed. I grew up on a farm where large dogs roamed free over 40 acres. It breaks my heart to see a larger breed not be able to run and roam. Smaller breeds can run in a very small space, even if it's just in the house.
After a few months of computer research we decided to look for a Miniature Schnauzer. The only two "cons" we could find for them were that they are prone to bladder stones and they can be yappy, and Miss Bear falls into both categories. She's had surgery twice for stones, and it's obvious that she barks to compensate for her size, because as long as there's no need to feel as though we need protected, she's perfectly quiet, but if she feels threatened (or excited), she does tend to bark a bit more than we like.
However, the "pluses" of the breed strongly outweigh minuses. Throughout my life, I've been familiar with several breeds including collies, shepherds and beagles. Steve brought a Dachshund into our marriage and we'd had a couple of mutts as well as the spaniel/lab mix that I mentioned in the introduction. Of all those previous training experiences, this was by far the best. Holly house trained like it was natural for her. She learned yard boundaries quickly. In fact every time we move she is quick to understand where the limit to her roaming is and seldom if ever leaves the yard. She was excellent with our grandchildren when they were small. (and still is) Steve taught her to play tug of war with her rope toys when she was little, and she plays ROUGH! However, when Josh was 15-24 months old and picked up the toy, she somehow always knew he was too little to play that rough with. Instinctively, she understood that she couldn't tug him quite as hard as Steve. It was adorable. She still dotes over those two kids and loves it when they come to visit.
I highly recommend a miniature schnauzer to anyone looking for a smaller breed dog that is relatively low maintenance. In fact, my father-in-law who always said he'd never own a dog now has a mini-schnauzer because he loved ours so much. I house broke his dog too, another easy job!
Where to get Miniature Schnauzers?
We found Holly at a local breeder. It was a small place owned by a young couple just trying to make some extra money. They made sure she had all of her shots before we picked her up. She probably could have been a show dog, but we opted not to crop her ears. Many schnauzers will have their ears done before you get them from the breeder, so if you like the floppy earred look rather than the standard schnauzer look, as is seen in the picture there on the right, be sure to let the breeder know early. On a side note, this floppy earred version of the Miniature Schnauzer automatically disqualifies him for show.My father-in-law's miniature schnauzer was found on a farm in South Central Ohio. We just did a search online and found a few breeders. We had to contact a few before we found one who put us in touch with this farmer. We were looking for a less expense dog (much like Holly). We had no intention of ever showing the dog or breeding her, so it seemed silly to us to spend the extra money for the papers or the show characteristics. However, if you find a breeder who raises Miniature Schnauzers for show, they can probably put you in touch with someone who doesn't advertise but just loves the breed. We found several nice folks who helped us out.
Funny stories about Holly Bear
Every dog we've ever had seems to attach herself to one person more than the rest of the family. Troubles, our dachshund, belonged to Steve, and Tippy, our black spaniel/lab mix always laid under my feet at my desk. Up until she moved out, our youngest, Julia was Holly's "person." I know, we like to say, "This is my dog," however, it generally ends up that the dog picks one member of the family and that is her "person." Perhaps it's because Julia is the youngest or because the only other daughter left at home didn't really want anything to do with her when she came on the scene because she wasn't really over losing Tippy yet. Whatever the reason, Holly quickly attached herself to Julia.
At the house we lived in when Holly was two, she laid on Julia's bed looking out the window every day while Jul was at school. The funniest thing was that when Julia got a new bed (or a hand-me-down bed from her grandmother), Julia put the sheets on it and within 15 minutes Holly, who NEVER had an accident in the house, had peed on it! Everyone but Julia thought it was pretty funny. No one thought too much about it until two years later. We moved to a new house and purchased a new comforter/sheet set to go with the new bedroom. Before Julia could even finish straightening up the comforter, Holly had peed in the middle of it. She never went anywhere in the house and never peed on anyone else's bed. Again, washing the sheets and a bit of deodorizing cleaner and the bed was fine. We decided that she must have been marking her territory to protect Julia.
Another great thing about Holly is that she has never chewed up anything other than rawhides. Other dogs we've had chewed everything in site. We always had to make sure that things got put up to keep them safe, but with Holly, unless it's food related, we've never worried about her chewing a thing, not even as a puppy, with one exception. Julia had to have a retainer of sorts in high school. She had a case for it, but one day she just left it on her night stand. That night when she went in to get it, it was completely destroyed. The dentist told us, a bit after the fact, that because of the saliva on it, dogs would be naturally attracted to it. Wouldn't that have been a handy piece of information to have known two weeks earlier?!
Holly also loves to fetch! You just throw it and she'll try to catch it! When you're shoveling snow, it's hilarious to watch her try to catch the snow when you throw it over to the side. One time when Steve was pulling up a brick sidewalk to install a new one, we had to put her in the house. He would pull the bricks up and then toss them in a wheel barrel. Unfortunately, this dog who loves to play fetch would run after the bricks and try to catch them. Although we laughed, we didn't allow her to stay outside long enough to see that it might not be such a fun game.
She is a miniature, so her legs are very short. When we get more than 4 inches of snow in our midwest/northeastern town along the Ohio River, Steve has to shovel out a path and a nice circle so the poor pup has someplace to do her business. It's extremely funny watching her try to leap through the yard to find a place to go, but it just seems a little cruel to keep watching her for our amusement and not giving her an easy way to relieve herself.
Because she's so yappy, it's easy to trick her into barking. Sometimes you can do it without even trying. Just knocking on the end table can make her think there's someone at the door and there are key words that cause her to bark, such as "come in" (for instance if you're telling someone to "come in here for a minute") or "whose there". It doesn't matter if someone's at the door or not, we can be talking to someone on the phone and if she hears those key words, she'll be barking.
Like most dogs, she also learned quickly words like treat, bed, water, food, out and more. It's funny to see how quickly she responds to certain words that she hears. If we can't get her to come in on a nice day, all you have to do is say, "Do you want a treat?" and there she is in the house! We truly enjoy having her around! She keeps us very entertained.
Photos of Holly Bear - Stop back and I'll add a few moreClick thumbnail to view full-size
Holly loves these ropes! She used to play tug-of-war non-stop! Everytime company was here, she'd bring her rope and expect someone to play with her. She's getting older now, so her favorite thing to do is sleep!This toy actually has some minty flavor, so it might be good for the dog breath. Holly's toys are just ropes.