Living With a Welsh

by Wendy Hawk

Maybe the best way to address what it is to live with a Welsh is first to clarify what it is not. A Welsh will not be the dog that you open up your front door and send to get your newspaper. A Welsh is not the dog that you can let off-leash and know he will stay close by. A Welsh will not lazily pass the day waiting in one spot for your return, nor will he ever be the dog that always, without question, jumps when a command is given.

A Welsh is a thinking person’s dog. For in fact, the Welsh himself is always thinking. This is why he was bred, to outsmart the burrowing animal, to help hunt. He is very clever and even more curious. If he tries to do something and it does not work, unlike other dogs, he will quickly adapt his plan and try a new procedure. A typical three year old toddler comes to mind when I describe my beautiful, lovable Ruby. It is not that she means to cause trouble, it just comes naturally. As an owner, you need to be set with a sense of humor and a firm command on your patience, for as you try to train your Welsh, you will realize that your Welsh is also stubbornly trying to train you. You will also notice that while you may be paying full attention to your efforts to train your Welsh, he is only engaging you with whatever part of his brain is not currently distracted by a small noise or something new in his environment.

At four years old Ruby has finally hit the ultimate perfect dog in our family’s eyes. She is energetic, loving, sympathetic and entertaining. Each day Ruby wakes up eager for a new adventure. She is up, so therefore everyone else must be as well. There is no sympathy for the late riser, and she will lick any part of the body that is not covered by a blanket. One morning I was creative and completely covered myself. This confused her briefly then I felt her crawling under the blankets to find me. I have since learned that on mornings when we know we would like to sleep in, Ruby sleeps in her beloved crate. Ruby’s preference is to sleep on the pillow next to my 11 year old (a privilege she has only earned this year), but her crate is a well-used sanctuary which keeps my house safe when I am gone, and contains her excitable nature when people not used to such an energetic dog come to visit. Truth be told, she spends up to four hours a day in her crate while I am running errands. This crate was an invaluable tool with a Welsh puppy. First it truly helped with housebreaking her, and secondly it kept her and our personal possessions safe when we were not able to keep an eye on her.

Don’t ever underestimate a Welsh’s ability to get into trouble. For instance, this morning I let Ruby and her faithful friend Mason, the 12 year old Golden Retriever, out into the fenced yard. Ten minutes passed and I called the in dogs because I was late and had to get going. Mason came right in, Ruby found an opossum. There would be no yelling for the dog this morning, so I went and grabbed my shoes to see how I would capture my excited dog. Fortunately for me, the opossum had sat himself on a fence and it was easy to trap Ruby. I was not so lucky last week when a turtle wandered into the yard. The poor thing had the sense to stay in the shell while Ruby was bouncing up and down like Disney’s Tigger, and I spent 15 minutes trying to capture her. She was truly proud of her find.

A Welsh will be your best friend. He will make you laugh. He will slow you down. He will appreciate the little things. He will not tolerate tears from a child – they are licked away until replaced by giggles. He is clean. Well, except when he is obsessed with chasing after a chipmunk, digs a hole and has mud wedged between his toes. I learned my lesson after the third experience of hole-digging. Left to his own devices, a Welsh will entertain himself. My Welsh never spends more than 15 minutes alone outside. Ever.

A Welsh loves his family and does not accept that he is a dog. A Welsh can be trained, but it must be done with enthusiasm and patience. The inquisitive nature of the Welsh makes him easily distracted. This distraction could come in the form of a neighbor waving, a car passing by, a bird flying overhead, or a leaf tossing in the breeze. House breaking is a challenge, not because he isn’t smart enough, just because there are more interesting things to consider. Once again, patience is a virtue. I highly recommend watching neighbors walk their dog, watching where it goes, then rushing out with your puppy to the same spot. Praise and patience are the key. If you want an easily and quickly trained dog, you are looking at the wrong breed. Get yourself a retriever. However, for those looking for a companion who seeks adventures, is ready at all times to play, is full of personality, love and loyalty, eyes so warm they truly do express how important you are to him, then you are looking for a Welsh.

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