Calvin is our first dog. We spent a long time researching breeds and an even longer
time trying to figure out when would be a good time to add a dog to our family (it's just
the two of us and Calvin now). Once we finally decided the time was right, we were
fortunate enough to stumble across an internet
list devoted to the love of the vizsla breed. From here, we were able to contact a
wonderful breeder who was having a litter in the time frame we were looking for. As they
say, the rest is history.
Let's Start from the Beginning
Calvin was a ton of work the first week or two, especially since he seemed to want to bite everything in site - including hands, toes, knees, ears, mouths, etc. For the first two weeks, either Karen or I was with him at all times except when he was napping in his crate. It was a very stressful time because as new, inexperienced puppy parents, we were worried about everything. And he was difficult to play with because he was constantly biting. Our breeder indicated that this litter was extremely "mouthy". We were starting to get a bit concerned and then finally, after a little less than two weeks, he seemed to figure out that he's supposed to bite his toys and not his owners. Now he is much more fun to be around.
Housebreaking took about a week and a half and he never had an accident in his
crate. Much to our amazement, he slept through every night (8-9 hours) without
crying including his first night at home. He actually only had about 5 accidents in
the house total - no poop accidents though. (Thankfully). We only leave him in his
crate during the day for a maximum of 3 or 4 hours at a time. Usually he just goes
there to take a nap for an hour or two but on occasion we'll put him in there while we are
doing something to keep him out of the way. These are the times that he lets us know
he doesn't want to be there (puppies can be very noisy).
Calvin seems to be a smart yet stubborn little boy. He learned sit after about 4 tries at 8 weeks of age and down at 9 weeks after about 3 or 4 attempts. He seems to know the difference between the two words because you can mix them up and he will usually do the right action for each command. He has also learned to speak when he wants to go in or out of the house. He will sometimes abuse this little trick though, since we've noticed him bark to go out only to go and play. And of course sometimes it is nearly impossible getting him to come in from the yard when he doesn't feel like it...
At ten weeks, we decided to try to teach him a trick - rollover. Karen would give him the command and make a loop with her finger and I would roll him over. This one took all of about 8 attempts before he figured it out and started doing it on his own. We were really amazed. I wasn't sure he would remember it but sure enough, the next morning I gave him the command and sign and he rolled right over. Of course he sometimes has trouble distinguishing the different commands he knows. One morning Karen asked him to sit before she gave him his food and he rolled over about 7 times.
Quick, Call the Vet!!
We had a couple of scares during the first 3.5 weeks too. Karen noticed this large bump on his left hind leg which he began chewing. We took him into the vet (which ended up doing us very little good and costing us a nice chunk of cash) and finally came to the conclusion it must have been some sort of insect bite. Maybe a spider. And on Labor Day, he started drooling like a St. Bernard, getting his whole chest wet. I panicked and rushed him to the vet only to find out he was just "hypersalivating", most likely as a result of an allergic reaction to something he ate in the yard. After a couple runny poop breaks and another gallon of drool, he was back to his old self.
At around 13 weeks, we decided to teach Calvin another trick. He had mastered
"roll-over" so quickly and easily that we decided it was time to move on. We
attempted two 5-minute sessions of "shake" but he didn't quite seem to know what
it was we were asking him. He would sit there very attentively and calm, but would not
lift his paw without us giving him a little push on his leg. Then, a few days later,
we had his squeaky hamburger toy in front of him. He raised his paw up to it and that was
it. A few minutes of repetition with the command and he had it down. Now all you need to
do is put your hand down to him at chest level while he's sitting and he will offer his
paw for a shake. He appears to be ambidextrous because he will offer either paw with no
Up until he was about 12 weeks old, we were wondering if Calvin had any instinct for retrieving. He would readily chase balls and frisbees in the yard but didn't seem to want to bring them back. He would usually take the object to a shady spot under a tree and sit and chew on it. Recently, however, he has started to enjoy returning with the object. Usually he'll run right to us and then turn in an attempt to get us to chase him. Since we don't want to encourage this game, we usually hold out until he drops the object and then toss it for him to retrieve again. Sometimes he'll even drop it right in front of us in an apparent request to throw it for him again. When we try to trade him the object for treats, he usually runs to get the object but then drops it on the way back because he's so anxious to get to the treat.
The one thing he's really good at retrieving is the newspaper. He very quickly figured out that when let out the front door in the morning, he will find a great toy at the end of the driveway to bring back into the house. Since he gets treats when he brings them back, he is always very willing to drop it right on the floor when he gets back inside. The Sunday paper is a bit of a haul for a 16 pound puppy but he always manages to bring it (usually dragging it by the bag) into the house. No more cold feet going out to get the paper in the Winter for Blayne!
I guess it's about time for another update. Calvin is now almost 6 months old and progressing just wonderfully. We waited until he was almost 5 months old before starting to heel train him. Before that, we would take him for walks on a leash and he would invariably be at the end, pulling at the leash most of the time. We really were not looking forward to formal heel training since we thought he would end up getting choked a million times. Little did we know.
The first time Karen took Calvin out for a walk with a slip collar (a nylon rope collar that works like a choke chain) was like magic. It took about 3 pops on the leash and he instantly figured out that he was supposed to walk by her side. Every time we put the slip collar on him, he almost imediately realizes it's time to walk nicely by our side. And this even works while we are in stores and other places with distractions. The only problem we have is that he walks so close to your leg that sometimes he gets stepped on.
We have been taking Calvin for more hikes lately and he is usually off-lead most of the time. If there is an approaching dog, we usually call him back to us and hook up his lead unless we are fairly confident the other dog is friendly. In most cases, he is content with a few friendly "hello" sniffs and will then go about his way when we call him to keep going. Calvin seems to thoroughly enjoy being off-lead in open space, giving him the chance to romp around and run wherever his nose takes him.
We are planning a major road trip over Christmas with Calvin. We will be driving from Colorado to Maryland and visiting Calvin's breeder in Indiana on the way. He will get to visit his mother Annie and littermate Rooster for a short play-session. While we're in Maryland, Calvin will get the chance to play with a 100+ pound German Shepherd and an 85 pound Weimeraner.
My, how time flies. I had intended to update this site more frequently, but as soon as the weather warmed up outside, we found ourselves even busier than before. It's hard to spend time at the computer when you have a crazy little red dog wanting to go outside and play.
Anyway, Calvin is doing quite well. He is now about 13 months old, and up to about 45 pounds and about 23" tall. He is still a finicky eater and runs off everything he eats, so he is still very lean. The vet seems to feel he is extremely healthy, so we are not too concerned that he isn't a big eater.
We started an agility class with Calvin in June. Unfortunately, we didn't care for the instructors, and Calvin didn't seem to care much for agility. So after 4 weeks (of the 8 week class), we decided to quit. We saw no point in engaging in an activity that neither Calvin nor we were enjoying. Calvin would learn the obstacles very quickly, but would then become bored and want to go do something else, like investigate the sheep in the adjoining field. We have found that he would much rather spend a Monday evening running all over a mountain while we hike. He gets much more exercise, and we don't have to stand around watching some 12 pound foo-foo ankle-muncher dog trying to jump through a hoop. So for now, that's the end of agility, though we may possibly work on it again some time in the future. Calvin has his own jump and tunnel in our yard, and maybe I'll build some of the other obstacles at a later date.
Another activity that Calvin enjoys is biking. No he doesn't bike, but he likes it when we do. He has gotten very good at running next to our bikes on a regular lead. When possible, we take him somewhere where we can bike with him off lead, which is more enjoyable for him and us. Of course I still managed to endo (the act of being launched forward over your handle bars as your rear tire comes up and over on top of you) while watching Calvin instead of paying attention to the rocky trail I was riding down. I received a small scrape on top of my already scarred forearm and a large bruised ego. Calvin didn't notice.
Earlier this summer we started allowing Calvin (about 1 year old now) free run of the house. At first, we would leave him out of his crate for 3 or 4 hours, either in the morning until I came home from lunch, or in the afternoon, after lunch. He seemed to handle it quite well so we kept allowing him more freedom, until now, when he is able to stay out of his crate all the time, even when we are gone at work all day long. He seems to spend most of his time sleeping while we are gone, as I have caught him napping on occasion when I surprise him by coming home at lunchtime once in a while. Leaving him out of the crate has only led to a minor mishap so far. He managed to rip open the back of our couch and tear out all of the stuffing. Of course this couch is an old piece of junk that we kept specifically to get through the first years of puppyhood, so we weren't too upset. And the couch was fraying, with strings hangin out - how could anyone expect a curious vizsla to resist such temptation? We covered the areas he destroyed with blankets and he hasn't touched the couch, or any other furniture, since.
Wow, I almost forgot - Calvin has become quite the little swimmer. In the Spring, he started going into water, but only up to his chest. It didn't bother him at all as long as he could keep his feet on the ground. Then of course came the occasion where he jumped into water that was a bit deeper than expected. His first real attempt at swimming was pretty humorous, as he splashed around, trying to climb more or less straight up out of the water. But he kept his head up and made it back to shore. After that incident, we started getting him to fetch his ball, a little bit further from the shore each time. After one or two tries, he got the hang of it and learned that he could swim much better if he kept his front paws in the water. Now, he loves to swim. If we get to a lake, he'll run right in. And if there are ducks or geese in the lake, you can't stop him. He will paddle all over a lake trying to catch them, even though he never does. If he gets close and his prey decides to take flight, Calvin will try to swim really fast to catch up, splashing all over the place. Poor guy. But swimming does an excellent job of tiring him out, something we certainly enjoy.
It has been very interesting watching Calvin mature over the past year. He showed a significant change around 9-10 months, where the "puppy pestering" stage seemed to diminish significantly. He will still come up and bug you when he's bored, but he no longer needs constant entertainment. A big improvement from the first 6 or 7 months. So far, Calvin has adapted very nicely into our lifestyle, and is really turning into a great dog. His temperment is wonderful, a testament to our breeder and Calvin's parents.
It's been a long time since I've added content to this particular page, so I figured I could come up with a few new things to mention. Let's see, we moved into a new house in October (it's new for us, but it's actually not brand new). Calvin adjusted immediately, and didn't seem to have any problems figuring anything out. The biggest changes for him were probably the fact that he now has stairs in the house (we lived in a ranch level house up until now) and his yard is more interesting. Oh yeah, and he now has dogs that live next door to his yard.
Calvin the Squirrel Hunter
Calvin seems to really enjoy his new yard. We completed the 6-foot fence the first week we moved in so he is completely secure while outside. There are quite a few large trees, including several 30 foot evergreens, so the local wildlife is frequently present. We were concerned that Calvin wouldn't have squirrels to chase, but that hasn't turned out to be the case. In fact, the squirrels sometimes come all the way up onto the deck in search of birdseed that has fallen from the feeder. Calvin will run out the door after them and chase them until they make the 8 foot leap straight to the ground to escape. And sometimes on the weekends, Calvin will spend hours stalking the squirrels up in the trees, trying to convince them to come down to the ground. (no success with that one yet).
In December, we picked up our new DogMobile, a 1999 Dodge Ram Quad Cab. The quad cab (four doors for easier access to the back seat) works perfectly for us, as it allows Calvin direct access to his back seat. We ordered it with the sliding rear window so Calvin could stick his head out the back when the weather is warm. We also got the interior in a tan color, which almost completely hides the hairs that Calvin sheds in the car. Compared to the grey interior in our car, this is a huge improvement. Calvin can jump straight up into the cab or into the bed, although he never rides in the bed.
Calvin has kept quite active outdoors all winter, partially due to the fact that it's been so mild. When we want to tire him out quickly, I'll throw the bike in the back of the truck and take him out to the reservoir for a quick ride. I can put 5 miles on the bike while Calvin runs about 10, and then he's much calmer for the rest of the day. When we have a chance on the weekends (between various home improvement projects), we try to get out for a decent hike or bike ride.
You might also be interested in some of the info on my Puppy Training Basics Page
I won't go into the history of the vizsla breed or any of those things since I have links to sites which cover that in great detail. If you have any questions about Calvin or comments about this site, feel free to email me. We have a number of things planned for this site which I won't disclose yet (in case I bail on any of them) so you'll have to keep checking back to see what's been added.
Until then, Calvin says "Rooooo-roooooo".
Back to Calvin's Home Page