There have been whispers about this sort of thing among my folks all year, and my father in particular: the talk of getting a new puppy. In late October/early November it officially became a thing, and a new member of the family would be welcomed into our home just before Christmas. The 21st of December was that day. I meant to get this out sooner but the stomach flu took me down for the whole week of Christmas, and I’m only just now returning to normal.
Meet Koby Jock Ben Nevis, or just Koby. He’s between eight and nine weeks old, weighs… I dunno… next to nothing, and is a Shetland Sheepdog just like Nessie and the late Wee Jock. The only white on him is his front legs and the rest of his hair is more of a blonde color than the usual brown. He has a gammy back-right leg which does something between a twist and drag as he walks or runs around. It’s unclear whether or not this is something he will grow out of as he gets older or if he will have it the rest of his life; it doesn’t seem to bother him, however, as he constantly runs and jumps around when he plays.
And ohhh boy, is he ever playful.
Koby is undeniably an adventurous go-getter, and it wouldn’t surprise me if his exterior was nothing more than a facade of fuzz covering an entity of pure energy. As a puppy, Jock was playful and got into places or things he shouldn’t, oh yes, but he always had a degree of reservation, especially when he got older (even though he did become a bit of a smart-aleck later in life). Nessie? Nessie, while needy (and greedy), has always been timid, passive, dainty, and sweet. She’s like our little lady. Koby is rowdy and stubborn. If you were to let him, he’d go where he’d wish and play, chew, or take whatever he’d wish. I have no doubt a big part of this is just him being an eight week old puppy, so we’ll see what stays with him as he grows, but he is definitely stubborn and adventurous. He wakes up before the crack of dawn, and the rest of the day is a cycle of wearing him out for his next nap–also making sure he doesn’t pee everywhere because GOL-LY that bladder. It’s entirely possible I am misremembering this because it was twelve years ago, but I don’t remember Jock being this hyper as a puppy.
When we brought him home, Nessie’s reactions could be summed up to something akin to: “Whoa! What is that thing? I want to check it out! Oh, it’s a puppy. Okay, I’m done now.”
Nessie seems to be okay around the puppy, but she can only take him in small doses, trying to avoid him the rest of the time, and baring her teeth and growling when she can’t–a whole new side of her we’ve never seen before. Oh, if only she realized how Jock felt the same way about her when we brought her home. She’ll get used to him
Koby is also a bit of a whiner. If he thinks nothing interesting is happening withing a couple of minutes, he whines. If he thinks you’re not paying attention to him, he whines. If he’s hungry, he whines, but typically only after he’s had his morning pee, for which he will whine. If you’re lucky, he may whine when he needs to go potty other times (though we have him “on a schedule” anyway).
There was one instance a day or so after we brought him home when we were trying to get him to calm down and eat his food, so we put him and the bowl in the crate. He didn’t want to be in his crate. He started whining and pouting. Then he started (what sounded like) howling. Then a had what sounded like a kind of tantrum and tossed his little food bowl over in the crate. I’d be lying if I said it was neither funny nor cute.
Koby is a handful to be sure, but he is undoubtedly one of the most adorable puppies I’ve ever seen. AND he’s a cuddler; he’ll happily snuggle and fall asleep in your arms, or even over your shoulder like a human baby. You can’t not love him.
Picking a name proved to be a challenge, and we deliberated on it in the couple of months before he was ready to be picked up. We decided it was best to wait until we actually saw him, but even on the day he came home we deliberated for another day. With Jock and Nessie, it was easy for some reason–the names just came naturally. In the end though, Koby was it.
He’s named after Coby, Jock’s father, who was a world champion in tournaments, in memory of Jock. It is also in thanks to the wonderful breeder who brought us such joy with the dogs she gave us, and in honor of her legacy as a breeder of world champion Shelties. I say, “in honor of her legacy” because Koby is the last puppy she will probably ever sell as she is bring her career as a breeder to a close. The whole thing is bittersweet. Finally, because we have to be fancy with our pet names, like we did for Jock (Wee Jock Albion’s Heir) and Nessie (Princess Inverness), Koby’s surname is Ben Nevis which is a mountain in Scotland–and the tallest in the British Isles. The name is almost a monument in and of itself.
The name was originally going to be spelled “Coby” but Dad wanted to change the “C” to a “K” and add “Jock” to the name as both a more direct reference and so he could refer to the puppy as “KJ” (his own father’s initials were “KJ”). The name is now approaching the complexity of a Hobbit movie.
The story behind our breeder’s last litter is a sad one. There were only three puppies: one was born with a cleft palate and wasn’t going to survive, so it had to be put down after five days. The one who would be Koby she planned to keep for herself because he was apparently a perfect build for a tournament dog, and she was going to give us the third. The problem, however, was that particular puppy had a neurological disorder where it wouldn’t stop running around in circles. She didn’t think anyone would buy that dog, but the doctor she took it to found someone who was able and willing to give it the care and therapy it needed. In the end, she insisted on selling the last puppy–the one she planned to keep–to us. Bittersweet indeed.
To be perfectly honest, I was not crazy about the notion of another dog. I didn’t feel like owning two pets again. I just wanted us to take care of the one we had left, Nessie, and be there for her since Jock passed away last year. Now mind you, this isn’t some story about me fearing Jock would be replaced in my heart by another dog, only to come to the realization that a new puppy would never replace him or make me forget about him. I’ve always understood that, but I think I would be lying if I said wasn’t entirely ready to let go. More than anything though, I think I was ready to retire as a pet owner and concentrate on Nessie. But Nessie was lonely, and it was beginning to show. Plus, everyone else in the house felt differently than I did about another dog. And that’s fine. I’m willing to give it another go, and welcome and love a new member of the family. I think we all agree that Koby will probably be our last though. But here’s to a new family member and new beginnings.