I first met Tommy, my 5-year-old Tibetan terrier, at the Waco Humane Society in July 2011.
Since I had arrived in Waco earlier than expected for my appointment, and since I had nothing else better to do, I decided to go to the animal shelter “just to look” and touch the dogs there, without any intention of really adopting any animals. After having fun with the pups and caressing a few of the other dogs, I was brought to the “terrier mix, 5+ years old.” I could feel every bone in his body, and he was covered with fleas and ticks. He was a mess. His coat was matted and full of burs. I could feel every bone in his body. When I talked to him or touched him, he was courteous, but he essentially ignored me the whole time. When I inquired about him to the staff, they informed me that he had been found roaming the streets and that no information about his history was available.
I wasn’t really searching for a puppy, but there was something about him that made me want to go back and see him for the following two days, despite the fact that Waco was about an hour’s drive away from where I lived. It’s possible that I chose him because I loved shaggy dogs, or it may have been because no one else wanted to adopt him and I felt bad for him. Despite the fact that he was still hesitant, he really enjoyed being escorted to the visiting area and having the opportunity to play with a tennis ball. As I stood there and watched him chase the ball and run about, I couldn’t help but wonder, “What in the world is an appropriate name for him?” and “despite the fact that he’s just five, I should still have roughly ten years with him…” He was too old, he was a mutt, and I wanted a purebred rather than a “border collie/lhasa apso” mix (I’d never seen a TT before, so that was my guess as to what he was), and he was probably one big vet bill waiting to empty out my checking account. My head told me not to adopt him. He was too old; he was a mutt; and I wanted a purebred In spite of what I believed to be my better judgment, though, my gut urged me to give this unfortunate little man a chance, and so I ended up bringing him home with me.
On the first day, it took me over two hours to get all of the ticks off of him, comb out the mats I could remove and cut out the ones I couldn’t, and remove the mats. I was somewhat aback by the fact that he waited calmly through the entire event without making any attempts to bite or mouth me. I brought him to my own personal veterinarian for an examination, and I was relieved when the veterinarian told me that he was a healthy young puppy that was only around 1 and a half years old, “if even that.” Even more astonishing was the fact that he was completely housetrained, had excellent manners, and behaved as if he had been a house dog in his “prior life.” I was concerned that he could be loud since I was living in an apartment at the time, but to my relief, he was quite peaceful and did not bark once when we were inside the home. I was expecting the terrible behavior that is often associated with a rescue dog, but it never materialized. He never chewed on my filthy tennis shoes, went into the trash, or attempted to take food from the coffee table. He turned out to be fantastic with the children in the neighborhood, and to this day, he has never come across a child that he doesn’t get along with (I think because he sees them as big-treat dispensers). Nevertheless, he persisted in being courteous and reticent, spending most of the time sitting and gazing out the window. About two weeks after he was adopted, he began to finally come out of his shell, doing things like approaching me to be patted or bringing me a toy so that we could play together. The more time that passed, the more he opened up to me, and I saw that he was truly a wonderful young man who had a terrific sense of humor, enjoyed playing, and was always eager to learn something new.
I also discovered that Tommy enjoyed traveling to new places and riding in the vehicle, so a few months after I got him, I brought him to a local dog show so that he could get some much-needed exposure to different environments. A guy who had just past us remarked on how attractive the Tibetan terrier was. I said, “no, he’s a mixed breed.” I brought Tommy over to observe the TT class after hearing from a few other individuals that they thought Tommy was a good-looking TT. I felt he did had the appearance of a TT, despite the fact that he did not have the magnificent display coat and was still a little bit underweight. After the class, Lois Demers and Joy Kelly, both of whom are experienced TT breeders and handlers, approached me and inquired about the kennel from which I had obtained Tommy.
When I informed them that I had adopted him from the pound, they were really taken aback. After giving Tommy a careful examination, Lois informed me that I did, in fact, had a genuine TT in my possession. In addition to that, she was kind enough to agree to serve as a reference for me when I submitted Tommy’s papers to the AKC in order to receive his ILP registration. It would seem that TTs are difficult to locate at animal shelters, since the AKC secretary contacted Lois to verify that I had, in fact, discovered one in a quite modest facility in Central Texas.
I saw that Tommy had wonderful manners, but he had absolutely no obedience training, so I decided to enroll him and myself in an obedience course at the Petsmart in our neighborhood. To tell you the truth, I didn’t have very high hopes for a TT, but Tommy surprised me by becoming the most intelligent dog in the group. Because he performed so well and had such a nice time in the class, I decided to enroll both of us in two further classes: one in advanced obedience and one in tricks. After Tommy earned his Canine Good Citizen title, the trainer at the class advised that I also attempt to get him a Companion Dog title. After competing in four shows and achieving an average score of 186, he is now recognized as an AKC Tommy CD, CGC, and we are working on earning his CDX title at the moment. Tommy is a natural-born ham, and he enjoys learning new things and showing off. Hearing people laugh at his antics makes it easier for me to fail at events when I see other people laughing at his shenanigans. We are going to continue working for his CDX as long as he is having fun with it.
We were asked to participate in an obedience and trick demonstration at Petsmart a couple of months ago to promote their classes. The demonstration, which was very successful, went very well; Tommy’s “moonwalk” and “play dead” routines were the big hits. Because he is such a crowd pleaser, we were asked to participate. During the summer last year, we also participated in an introduction to agility class. Tommy blew the other dogs away by passing through the tunnels and across the boardwalk without showing any sign of anxiety as if he had been doing it for years. Tommy was even referred to as an “agility gem” by the teacher, who pulled me aside one evening and told me about it. After he earns his CDX, we will go more into that topic, particularly given the fact that he seems to like agility more than obedience. That serves as an additional incentive for me to establish a regular workout program since I am the one who is preventing him from achieving his goals because I am unable to keep up with him.
It’s a nice life!!
After some time had passed, I realized that Tommy does, in fact, have some behavioral concerns, such as chasing cats and suffering from separation anxiety. In addition to that, he has a strong aversion to squirrels. However, despite the fact that Tommy is not flawless, he has persuaded me that TTs are about as near to perfect as it is possible for a dog to get, and I am looking forward to acquiring a TT puppy this summer. In addition to participating in obedience and a little bit of agility, I’d want to give the puppy a go at being shown in conformation, and I’m looking forward to going to the TT Nationals the following year. Who knows, maybe one day Westminster will be your home…
Nearly four years have passed since I first acquired Tommy. The formerly timid and frail “mutt” that I took into my house has blossomed into a friendly and extroverted creature that seems to take great pleasure in living. In addition to this, he is attached to me, and the two of us together create a fantastic team, both inside and outside of the ring. I shudder to consider what could have happened to him if we hadn’t crossed paths; it’s possible that someone else would have taken him in, but there’s also a chance that nobody would have. They claim that three-toed cats bring good luck, and I feel that finding each other was an incredible stroke of luck on our part!