years old. She is the most outgoing of the three when it comes to unfamiliar people. However, she is also the most reserved with unfamiliar dogs. She’s my hall monitor. She keeps order and makes sure everyone obeys the rules. Every house needs one. Pumi number two is Petey. He’s 2 ½ and the first to initiate play within the pack and likes interacting with unfamil- iar dogs. But, is the most reserved with people he doesn’t know. My youngest, Nagi, is not yet two years old. She pretty much follows what the rest of the pack does. If they approach someone or something, she does the same. If they bark, she does too. She is the most vocal and makes the oddest noises, a combination of a growl, a howl, and a bark. It’s easy to over-face her, but she is young and still learning about her world. Nagi takes a good deal of time to size things up. In most cases, she settles nicely and adjusts well to her environment, once she realizes it’s ok. She is very determined if it’s something she wants. My Pumi are the absolute best hik- ing companions. They always stay close and quickly alert me if there is something they think I should be made aware of. Most times it’s a person in the distance or something on the horizon that doesn’t look quite right. They are very aware of their surroundings. I have no doubt that if a real threat were out there, they would protect me. Pumi are amazingly quick to learn and love to work. All of the focus, ath- leticism, and intensity that make them such a good herding dog also make them excel at performance sports. I have learned to be very thoughtful and careful with my training. If my dogs aren’t giving me what I think they should, I take a step back. I’ve likely rewarded something different than I thought or was unclear about my expectations. When I train, I get further faster by using positive reinforcement and shaping behaviors. I reward for a good effort, even if it’s not exactly what I’m looking for. I jackpot for things that are truly spectacular. If they are not
engaged the way I want or decide not to do what I ask, I take a time out and regroup. Then, I bring them out later to try again. It is thrilling to see my dogs thrive and excel in activities we have trained, whether it be offering behaviors and training tricks, teaching them to stack and gait for the breed ring, or run- ning in the agility ring. Just by watch- ing them, you can tell how much they love what they are doing. And I love that we are doing it together. This is my biggest reward. When I stepped to the start line for the first time with Zu, not many peo- ple knew what a Pumi was let alone seen one run in agility. Since then, we have been doing our best to show just how good a Pumi can be. Five years later, we still turn heads when we run. Now, when I step to the start line with my young dog, Petey, I know people are watching. I would like to think because of us, and the other awesome agility Pumis out there, interest in the breed is grow- ing. A feel a small victory every time I hear of someone who gets their very first Pumi with the idea of going into the agility ring. I smile and hope that maybe Zu and I may have had a small part in making that decision. But at the end of the day, it’s all about the dog you live with. When our work day comes to a close, we pack our three Pumis in the van and head for home. All are sleeping in a heap until we make the turn up the gravel road to our house. In an instant, all three heads pop up and the singing begins. First in yowls and yodels, then as we get closer to the house, the more comparatively softer sounds break way for the loud barking…almost in har- mony. These guys will never be able to sneak up on anyone. After one-on-one play time in the backyard and dinner, it’s time to cuddle in front of the television. One Pumi is at my feet, one is on my lap, and the third is lying on top of the one on my lap. There is never enough of me to go around.
We will go to bed tonight and I will be completely surrounded by my three Pumis in a bed that will always be too small. One under the covers. One at the foot of the bed. And the third one curled up next to me. This must be what heaven is like. Tomorrow we will get up and it will all start over again. And tomorrow will just as exciting as today. My Pumis will see to that! About the Author Tammy and Zu-Zu were the AKC Agil- ity Invitational Champions for the 16-inch jump height class in 2013 and 2014. Petey and Tammy were finalists at the 2015 AKC Agility Invitational, having the top cumulative score of the 16 inch class going into the final round of competition. Petey won all four preliminary rounds, with Zu-Zu finishing in second place behind Petey in two rounds. Zu-Zu was a 2012 Chal- lenger’s Round competitor and a 2013 Finalist at the AKC National Agility Championship. Tammy and her Pumis live in Shelton, Washington and share their home with Birdie, a 14 year old English Cocker Spaniel.
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