Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Lodge and Resort
Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Lodge and Resort

Winnie is resting after making mischief and mayhem.

The Grandpoodle

This is Winnie Blue. Winnie is my daughter’s dog and therefore my grandpoodle. She is a typical poodle—mischievous, bossy, smart, and a great communicator of her needs whether she wants you to throw a particular toy or to take her out—NOW!

Like most poodles, Winnie has an independent nature. And also like most poodles, I have no doubt there is sharp thinking going on behind her eyes; I’m forever hoping not to be left a few leaps behind. What is a little different about Winnie’s poodleness is that training her was a cinch because she wants to please us—whereas poodles more often aim to please themselves.

I once took the family German shepherd to a trainer because she refused to learn to return. He said, “If you wanted a dog this stubborn, you should have gotten a poodle.” It seemed politic not tell him I had one of those, too. And yes, that poodle was stubborn, though she was small, which somewhat diluted the problem.

Winnie is a cuddle bug and a bit of a delicate flower. During the coldest days of this Vermont winter, she would start down the sidewalk but at some point drop and curl, lifting her paws in the air in surrender. Our theory is that the cold was uncomfortable, but the salt on the sidewalks and roads stung her paw pads.

Because Winnie weighs over 30 lbs., carrying her home was not a workable solution. The search was on for how to keep her walking long enough to do her business. The shot above shows how we solved her problem: silicone booties and a warm coat. She prances in those red boots. In my experience, red shoes have that effect on a person, and Winnie is no exception.

If you ever told me—rugged Vermont individualist I consider myself to be—that I would walk a dog with both of us dressed in coat and boots (my boots have multicolored polka dots), I would have taken offense. Which just proves you should be careful about what you ridicule lest you end up ridiculing yourself!

Before poodles became known for being prissy dogs who wear diamond-studded collars, they were German, and then French, bird dogs. Being water dogs they have webbed feet, making them efficient swimmers. You would think German winters wouldn’t be any rougher than those in Vermont, but then, there probably wasn’t a lot of salt underfoot in the Black Forest.

A trainer in Georgia is returning poodles to the hunting world. They are still great bird dogs. His training methods prove my point that poodles are different from most dogs, with unique temperaments that mean they can’t be trained using the same techniques that work for other breeds. To learn more about Rich Louter and his dogs, here’s a great article about his work CLICK HERE.