Here is the story of how and why we brought Bijoux into our lives....
Lucifer de la Chaumiere du Lac (Only-You of Woodland Cottage+ Idole de La Chaumiere du Lac), and
Follow Me du Domaine de Luniray became proud parents of four Coton de Tulear pups at the home of Annie Dumontier, near Montreal, Canada, on May 15, 1997. Bijoux de la Brume Oceane was the first of her litter to leave the nest. Her siblings soon followed to forever homes in Canada and Florida. After many conversations and emails back and forth, Annie, her husband, and two children were kind enough to bring her to our home in Pittstown, New York, a 4+ hour drive from Quebec, Canada. Annie and her children had grown so attached to Bijoux, they cried when they finally left her with us.
I am certain that if Annie and her family had not believed that we would give this puppy a good home they would have not released her into our care.
Prior to agreeing to purchase a puppy from Annie for Bijoux, my husband and I had never seen an adult Coton. The previous year, while at an arts and craft show at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds, we saw a young Coton puppy being carried in a totebag, and inquired of the owner as to its breed, - because it looked like a baby Westie with floppy ears. I thought I heard the lady say "Cotton de Tools", but it was not the name of a breed I had ever heard of before.
The following year we decided that Wendell, our three year old West Highland White Terrier, needed a companion. I wanted to get a small, cuddly, lapdog that I could carry around with me. Little did I know what the future would bring.
We started our research, first considering such breeds as Bichons, Maltese, or other small breeds. Then one day, after reading the ads in Dog World or Dog Fancy magazine, I found ads from breeders of Coton de Tulear dogs, and saw photographs of Coton puppies. Suddenly, I realized the "cotton de tools " was a Coton de Tulear. We located several breeders from the ads and research on the internet and called many of them, speaking at length to some, and briefly to others. Some were helpful, but others were stand-offish and didnít want to offer much assistance. Most said that their puppies were spoken for from several months to more than a year in advance. One breeder even wanted a deposit sent to him before we could even come and visit to see the parents, let alone the puppies. Many were what every prospective owner wants their breeder to be - open to questions, helpful, ready to give answers to questions from new and prospective puppy owners, To those we are grateful and thank them for their help.
Finally, we decided to put a deposit on a puppy from La Brume Oceane. Annieís Lucifer had just recently had her first litter. As a new breeder, she did not yet have a waiting list. She sent us a photograph of what looked to my husband like four white and champagne mice. Our only requirement was that the puppy be a female - because we had been told that bringing a puppy of the opposite sex to the dog already established in the household would make the puppy more acceptable to Wendell. When we sent Annie a deposit and our choice of the "white mice", we still had never seen an adult Coton de Tulear. Annie continued to send more pictures of our prospective baby as she was growing up.
While we were waiting for Bijoux to mature enough to leave her mother, we learned of the upcoming American Rare Breed Association show in New Jersey. We decided that it would be prudent to find out what we were getting ourselves into with this relatively new and unknown breed. After a 5 hour drive from our home in upstate New York, we made it to the show.
There werenít too many Cotons at that show, but we did get to meet some of the breeders that we would get to know later on from the Coton World. We met Carolyn Brooke and her husband, Warren. They were there with all of their dogs. We were impressed that Carolyn would not leave a litter of young pups at home, so they brought the whole litter in their station wagon, and had them on display in the back, like a tailgate picnic.
We also met Sara France St. Pierre at this show. Sara France knew our breeder, Annie Dumontier, and had even seen Bijoux. How exciting we thought! She told us what a beautiful little puppy she was. By coincidence, Sara France had one of her little puppies with her , a young female that looked very much like Bijoux. Sara France was delivering this little one to Elena Puig, who had flown in from Puerto Rico to pick up her baby, Tresor! What a way to meet and make new friends!!! Here is Sara France and Elena holding Tresor.
Then we had the long drive back up north and had to wait for our puppy to be old enough to join us. Finally, she did...
Wendell and Bijoux were introduced on our driveway - neutral territory - with Annie still holding Bijoux. We had rubbed Wendell down with a towel to get his smell on it and then rubbed Bijoux with the same towel. This was supposed to make her smell like something very familiar to him.
From the start they got along famously - played tug of war with toys and each other; he would drag her around by an ear and she would let him know when she had enough! If we disciplined Bijoux (you know, that training process) Wendell would bark or grrrr at us. He was very protective of her.
Because she was so little and petite when she arrived at our home, escorted by Annie DuMontier and her family, we didnít want to leave her alone, thinking she would be scared to be by herself or with her step brother, Wendell D. Dogg, who was a 3 Ĺ year old West Highland White Terrier (at that time), so both of them came with us wherever we went. Besides going to work with my husband, Marvin and me, every day, both dogs would go to various social events when they could. At work both dogs would greet our clients, and ask to be held or scratched. Although Bijoux spent much of the time sleeping in her mesh travel crate,
she did come out to play and pee. After housebreaking Wendell at the office (and putting in new carpet) we now were going through the same things with Bijoux and would probably have needed new carpet again at some point. Her social life was quite busy during those early months. She went to a graduation party and slept through most of it in her crate - we had to wake her to show her off; she went to a fancy dinner party that was held under a tent during the summer - and was passed around from "cooing" lady to "cooing" lady, as they all wanted to pet her and cuddle her and get their kisses from her. She also attended her first wedding reception, shared my cantaloupe and ice cream, and entertained the children that were there as well.
One of her favorite activities was to torment Wendell - something she still does with great skill! But, I must take a moment to compliment Wendell - he has never growled at her for taking his toys, or mistreated her. We did have to be careful that they didnít play too rough when she was younger - before she put on a few pounds. He shared all his toys with her (of course, he really didnít have too much choice, as she was quickly showing all of us who was going to be dominant!). She had taken it upon herself to destroy some of the stuffed toys that both of them shared - she likes to shake them and "kill" them - I had to sew up a teddy bear that was Wendellís first toy when we brought him home 10 years ago, and put the stuffing and squeaker back inside it so she could destroy it again. There have been times when we have found them both playing with the same toy at the same time - a soft knotted rag - that is a tug toy I made for Wendell - or one of the twisted rope tug toys - they would each be on an end and play tug of war with it. We love to see them doing this!
Here they are "destroying" a toy that belonged to my youngest son. They didnít get the toy until after he married and left home.
She learned to go up stairs before learning to go down the same stairs - but once she did, there was no stopping her - she loves to be outdoors and run around in the open fields, rolling around on the grass to scratch her back!
We now had two Vari-Kennels to take to work in the car every day - both dogs came to work with us every day. All of the office personnel loved to play with them and people from our office building, seeing the dogs through our glass door, would come in to play with them. The office personnel would bring their children in to visit with the two dogs as well. Of course, with house training or rather office training, we did have to change out the carpet after a while. Bijoux teethed on office furniture and destroyed telephone cords right under where my husband was working.
As Bijoux grew, so had her bark - We were told that Cotons are a breed that is not supposed to be very noisy and do not bark a lot. Well, donít believe that for a minute!! Bijoux is a barker - we think it is something she learned from Wendell - he acts like a watchdog and barks whenever he thinks something is amiss or someone is at the door - so, naturally, she has to join in but most of the time we suspect she really doesnít know why she is barking.
She is really quite amusing to watch - she will stand on her hind legs, barking, straining on her leash, tail wagging furiously to visit with other people. We think is canít make up her mind whether she wants to defend us or play with the other humans or canines she meets on our walks. When she is in full coat with her eyes covered by her long bangs, I am always asked how she can see where she is going - because she has such long hair on her face and cannot see as much as other dogs, she has to sniff and taste everything she can on our walks around the neighborhood - hence one of her nick-names "garbage mouth". I think one of the first commands she has learned is "Bijoux, NO CHEW - DROP IT", a phrase we are saying to her all the time as I donít believe bits and pieces of stones, dirt, concrete, etc are good for her digestive system. She also loves to eat anything we choose to give her - bagels, green beans, carrots, rice cakes, popcorn, etc. as long as it is something we eat and not what looks or smells like dog biscuits or food.
Many times, either after a bath and grooming session, or when they have been out for a walk and then come in, get released from their leashes, they have quite a bit of energy - so they chase each other around the house - first in one direction, then in the other. Sometimes she will catch him, sometimes he catches her. They both roll around on the floor or carpet - wrestling and chewing each otherís body parts.
She will "hump" him and vice versa. I think she is still trying to establish dominance. They both have been spayed so we donít have to worry about puppies. When out walking she always likes being in front and ahead of the rest of us. Occasionally she lags behind and when she realizes it, she will run and butt her head into his hind end, attempt to bite one of his rear legs, while he, for the most part, just ignores her and continues on his way.
She has taught herself an interesting trick - how she did this we are not sure but it is cute nonetheless. After she has finished doing her business and is walking back home she will take her paw and press her leash down on the ground with her paw, then she will pick it up in her mouth, holding it until it becomes taught and we say "Bijoux" at which time she quickly releases it from her mouth and gallops along with the leash as it retracts bringing her closer to us. It has become a signal that we now recognize to let us know she isnít going to do any more potty business.
Wendell sleeps pretty much wherever he wants to at night - either on the living room couches or in his crate or sometimes at the foot of our bed (at least until the television goes off for the night), then he will go to the other rooms to sleep. If we have company he insists on sleeping with them in the guest bed. Bijoux, on the other hand, started out sleeping in her crate, next to our bed, until, one day when we were in a motel room and wanted to keep her from barking we put her in bed with us - from then on we were doomed to have a "head warmer" sharing our pillow with us. She has been sleeping with us on and off ever since, either on our pillows, or between our pillows. It is quite an experience to open your eyes during the middle of the night and find yourself looking at the center part of a dogs belly with her four legs around your head! I only wish I could take a picture of Marvin and Bijoux like this but Iím sure one of them would wake up. There have been times when we turn over and have come face to face, or should I say nose to nose, with her little black nose!
She has learned to sit when we put her leash on her for walks and sometimes will even sit upon command at other times. We really havenít worked with her to train her for obedience but are hopeful she will learn from Wendell the few commands he knows. There are certain words that she does know - "walk", "car", "out", "dogs", "dinner", "biscuit", and ,of course, her name. When it is dinner time, she will mew just like a cat, whine and climb up our legs to tell us it is time to eat - something she looks forward to and does with a vengeance. She used to wait for Wendell to start eating from his dish after it
was set on his placemat before she started to eat but now she eats as soon as her dish is put on her placemat.
Several years have past - about 4 years ago we closed our office and starting working out of our home - so the dogs no longer had their office friends come to visit and play but they did have the run of the house and 6 acres to play in as well as a fenced in area, that we called the "kennel" so they could be outside on their own when they wanted to and we couldnít watch them.
Ever hear of dogs becoming "snowbirds"? Well, Wendell and Bijoux became snowbirds and traveled with us by car when we went to Florida for the winters. Wendell had been used to doing this because we did it for a year or so prior to adopting Bijoux but she had to learn what it was all about. Not only did these two have to learn what doors to go out at our home in NY, but also which was the way to the outside at our home in Florida. Smart little ones that they are, they remembered - they even remembered where the Florida doggie door is located after 5 months of being away.
Now they have become full time Florida residents - Bijoux stays in a longer puppy cut and Wendell gets his hair cut shorter too.
They have a great mobile groomer who visits them every 4-5 weeks although they would prefer she doesnít come at all - bath time is not one of their favorite activities.
When we have to leave them to travel they stay at a pet resort where they are free to roam the house and Bijoux can sleep on the couch if she wants to or she can get away from the other dogs by going into her own private room that she will share with Wendell. "Precious Pets" can be seen at http://www.luxurydogresort.com. I wonder what they would think of snow if they ever saw it again... Wendell still tries to catch any bird or airplane he sees flying around overhead and Bijoux wonders what the fuss is all about.
Having a second dog, has changed our lives considerably... some of it for the better, some not. For instance, when we do travel with them, it is more difficult to find hotels/motels that accommodate pets. There are places that we would like to visit but donít because we donít want to leave the dogs in the car. We now travel with an electric cooler chest to keep their food cold and fresh. But having her sleep on the top of my head when she was younger is something I now miss. She will sit with me and actually "mews" to let me know it is time to go to the couch and sit together while watching tv or reading - after some cuddling together she will leave my lap and curl up next to my feet.
On the plus side, however, we have met Cotons and people from all walks of life; all sorts of interesting places; both on line and in person; from all over the world. We have been fortunate to be able
to have Coton parties; to bring together people to meet each other that have only met on-line; to bring together puppy owner and puppy buyer; and to have fun with all the different Cotons - the pets, the show dogs, the black and whites, the tri-colors, the all whites, the champagne and whites - in a setting and atmosphere of fun rather than competition. There have been good parties, parties that brought sadness afterwards, and great parties. These will also be missed (although we keep talking about having one here in Florida someday). Bijoux is wearing her silver lame skirt from the September 2003 party.
So, from seeing a little head pop out of a totebag we now have dog beds all over the house; we have our companion for Wendell; a head warmer for me, and something my husband can give fluffy rubs to and even cuddle with from time to time. We expect to have both dogs around for quite some time yet - Wendell will be 10 in October and Bijoux will be 8 next May.
Until next time,
Nedda & Marvin Honig
Wendell de Dogg
Bijoux de la Brume Oceanť