Brave Little Toaster

I shouldn't be surprised by how fast Murphy is growing and learning, but I am somehow. And he grows imperceptibly every day, so I don't really see it from morning to morning, but the cumulative effect is ridiculous, which I notice when I pick him up, or I look in his face and see how much adult fur is coming in there.

What's really stunning about this puppy, though, is how game he is for any challenge I set him or he sets for himself. If he sees one of the big dogs do something, he'll try to follow them and do it himself, with sometimes impressive and sometimes hilarious results.

I've never met a puppy who was so unflappable and brave, so I've decided to call him The Brave Little Toaster because he's small, he'll try anything, and he's a million degrees when you try to snuggle with him on your chest.

I chalk a lot of this up to his pedigree of unflappable, even-keeled dogs, but even more so, I chalk it up to the mega-socialization this puppy has gotten. It's incredibly important to socialize puppies, as I've written about in detail before, but one of the advantages of a puppy bred by a responsible person is that they can create positive socialization experiences for a litter even before they're big enough to walk!

Jill at PoeticGold Farm, who is an old friend, very infrequently breeds a litter of show puppies, and she ensured that Murphy's litter got all kinds of appropriate early socialization. They interacted with her adult dogs, had brief trips outside when they were old enough to walk, and once they were out of the whelping box, spent most of their day in a pen full of toys and equipment designed to get them used to the kinds of things adult dogs can find intimidating or scary.

From very early on, they were playing with things like this Avidog adventure box, batting around the clanging paint cans and the dangling chains like they were no big deal. They had a wobble board, an agility tunnel, and lots of big and small toys to get used to.

The result? We've got a puppy who at 12 weeks old is brave enough to follow the other dogs into the pond, to try to jump over a log, and who, even in almost complete failure, looks pleased as punch that he finally got over anyway.

So we're working really hard to maximize the 8-16 week socialization period ourselves, but we're building on some amazing work that Jill put in before we even met him.

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