My mini schnauzer- Mr small and mighty!

I rushed out of my morning shift at part time job at the pet shop. My mum was picking me up from work and we were going straight from work. The crate, already brought in preparation was set up in the car. Lined with newspaper and already brought toys. Everything was great.

I was an eighteen year old, just finished my animal care college course, working part time at the pet shop and just about to start a course in dog grooming. But today was one of the best days of my life. After 18 years of trying…and failing, to persuade the day had finally come. We were on our way to pick up a puppy. My very own! At last.

As I was still young, I thought one of the best ways to prove that I really, really wanted this and to really really prove this was possible, I thought I would write a bit of a project. Writing after all my animal related things was something else I loved to do. We all worked different hours, Dad sometimes worked from home, and mum worked the shortest hours. At the moment most of my work was weekends and evenings when they were off and all the extra hours I could get. When I was to start my dog grooming course, that was only part time, I hoped I would find some work experience for the rest of the week to help me progress on the course. But doing that at a local groomers would mean I could go home and attend to the puppy and gradually that time span wouldn’t be so much once puppy was older and able to hold it in a bit more! Or of course we could go down the rescue dog route, the dog would be older and so our hours would fit in well. He or she wouldn’t be on their own all day yet wouldn’t need constant every hour or so being let out.

Then there were my other fur babies. Sparky the rabbit, Fozzie bear and Rowlf (as in the Muppet characters) the guinea pigs and Chip and Dale the gerbils. Well he wouldn’t be able to get to the gerbils, and again I had read dog and magazines books all my life, plus I knew lots of people with multi pet households. A puppy you can train to accept small pets, debatable dependent on breed, and some rescue dogs again will have been bought up with small animals.

My parents were interested! They like to take a long time to make a decision! But of course this is the right thing to do with any animal, let alone a dog. Another crucial reason we had never got a dog was because of what to do when we go on holiday. Well, once we were over 16, my brother and I just did our own thing, him with his friends, me on my different adventures, such as a weeks work experience at a husky sled dog kennels! And my parents went on holiday just the two of them. So that was that obstacle sorted, but it would mean my parents would have to love the choice of dog, as they’d be doing the looking after if ever I was away!

Decisions, decisions. Such a lot of choice, lots of pros and cons to each. I was glued to all my dog breed books. I re read them again and again. I’d read them all my life but each different book was so fascinating. But it wasn’t until my mum got home from work one day that the ball started rolling.

My mum used to work for an animal health company, doing her baking for the staff’s lunches. Any cake you need, see my mum! Her cakes taste the best and ruin any other cake for you, the taste is that good. And she can ice designs! You should see the different animal cakes and Beatles album cover cakes she’s done for me over the years! Anyway, a very animal friendly place she worked for, where the staff’s dogs were regularly welcome. And she came home from work one day, by this time she was nearly as excited as me about the dog, and started telling me about this lovely dog one of the ladies at work had. She was obviously very attracted to this lady’s dog. What breed? It was a schnauzer.

I was on the kennel club website, the schnauzer club website, and pet plan website. I needed a list of breeders, and these were the sites where the breeders would be accredited. NOT puppy farms. Its sickening to think of those puppy farms, where people breed one bitch too many times, and don’t give a stuff about the dogs or the homes the puppies go too. Throwing some more knowledge out there, research your breeder very carefully! And make sure you see the puppies mum, see where their kept, and if the breeder questions you like your on a job interview that’s a good sign! It means they are knowledgeable and love their dogs and care about the home their puppies are going too.

Also, if they’re a really topper most of the uttermost then they won’t need to advertise as I found out. First miniature schnauzer breeder was very local, however all puppies were reserved. Same with breeder number two on the list, however, she gave me a number of someone who was expecting a litter.

This lady lived only about forty minutes away, and I had a good chat with her on the phone. She was indeed very knowledgeable telling me about how mini schnauzers like to bark at things! Of course they don’t shed, so another good point, but need regular grooming. I told her I was hoping to be a dog groomer, she was thrilled and said she was one! Well, not so much any more, but she highly recommended it as a career.

We arranged to meet her and have a bit more of a chat, and of course meet her miniature schnauzers!

They were a lovely couple. They had a nice house, and as we rang the doorbell I’m sure any fellow mini schnauzer readers will be familiar with the ‘schnauzer bark.’ Well imagine lots of that, and that was the answer we got! We all took a seat in their lounge, with lots of lovely dog books and a few dog beds and toys. They asked us why miniature schnauzers? So me and my mum were able to gabble about how we loved the look of them, and we liked the sound of their characters and we thought one would suit us. But Dad wasn’t very familiar with them, so it would be good to talk to the two of them and meet their fur babies.

“Let Jeffrey in.” But Jeffrey and his eight other family members joined us! Jeffrey, a very handsome miniature schnauzer dog trotted in doing the excited schnauzer run (again, you’ll be familiar if you own a mini) made a beeline for Dad and jumped on his lap. The other eight, seven of them minis the other a wire haired dachshund, all went to grab toys, or jump about and then settle themselves in various other different places. I got to say hello to lots of cute mini schnauzers! It was love at first sight. Well I’m in love with all dogs, I’m a crazy animal lady, specialising in dogs and horses. But my parents knew then we’d found our ideal dog. They liked the lady and they liked miniature schnauzers. Theses were their pets, they also took us to see their current litter, already reserved and going to homes. All good signs. The living area was very clean, the mother of the litter looked healthy and so did the puppies. Oh the puppies! I wonder if I’d ever seen anything so cute as this litter. Mini schnauzers have to be one of the cutest puppies, not being bias, the tiny bit of rounded fluff around their muzzles where their beard will be, little tuft eyebrows, little floppy ears. We all couldn’t control the awes.

So we had to let them know whether we wanted to reserve one of the puppies in the next litter. We had to be quick! Otherwise they would get snapped up soon.

It was weeks on from the first time we met  and we were on our way back for a second time. This time to reserve a puppy! It was a much smaller litter this time, only two puppies. Still as cute though. They would leave and go to their new homes at eight weeks, at the time we visited they were about five weeks. They were upstairs, Joan told us to be very quiet, and to speak softly. Basically don’t scare them! This we did, and we had a tough decision to make. At least we knew the one we didn’t choose was guaranteed a good home, she was such a good breeder.

Before we had gone to choose, one evening that week we had gotten together over pen and paper to decide on puppy’s name. I liked Monty, Mum liked Rex and Dad liked Jack. I managed to narrow it down to Rex and Jack. Within reason, I didn’t really mind, I just wanted my puppy! So the verdict was down to my brother and we had to phone him. To this day, Mum still thinks Dad sneakily told him to side with him and say Jack. Because he chose Jack. But she didn’t really mind, we all liked the name. And now that he’s part of the family we couldn’t imagine him being called anything else.

Anyway, back to choosing which was to be Jack. Well the breeder said she thought the puppy on the left would be more like his mum, the puppy on the right more like his Dad. So puppy on the left would maybe be easier and less noisy. But what made us make our decision was when puppy on the left put up his head and looked at us. Puppy on the right started sleeping. That ones looking at us so cutely. It had to be that one.

Well, if that one was meant to be the less noisy one, we always think we’d love to meet the other one! Because Jack is not quiet! Anyway, I’m going to far.

So Jack was reserved. Now we had to leave him in his breeder’s brilliant care, until he was eight weeks, and then I got to take him home.

Back to that afternoon. I’d finished work, I was racing out the doors and was very, very excited. Quite possibly the happiest day of my life picking up my best friend. I know you will think I’m just bias but Jack was just the cutest puppy. When I first bought him round to one of my friend’s houses, someone not a particular dog lover, she said to me “I didn’t expect him to be that cute!” And that’s the impression Jack has had on everyone since, dog person or not. Of course that’s if his noise hasn’t put them off first.

I had worked with dogs on my college course, spent work experience in dog related places, but as a first time puppy parent I did just about everything wrong. Any possible rules in place about going on furniture, going upstairs…well I forget if there was any or if such rules were ever laid down because anything like that went out the window. Jack didn’t take long to get the opinion that he was head of the household and the house revolved around him. Jack goes on all the furniture, all the beds but a favourite place of his is on his granddad’s (my dad’s) lap. We wondered from the start whether the breeder’s husband was a massive soft touch with the dogs, because Jack absolutely adored Dad as soon as he came to live with us. But then Dad is a soft touch too!

I know you will just think I am bias but Jack was by far the cutest dog in his puppy classes. And also the noisiest. And the naughtiest. When we got Jack it was November and being England the weather was increasingly shitty, regularly shitty, and mostly shitty. Miniature schnauzers as a rule are generally good dogs for the house-proud. Jack has never liked the rain and to this day will put the brakes on, have to be dragged out and then walk around the puddles. As a puppy, I can still remember going in and out and in and out with Jack but the little mister would not do his business. And all we got from our training classes was “If he messes in the house, its your fault!” This is completely right…but it was still hard work. Next time I vote we get a summer puppy!

In our one to one training session that came with the puppy classes package I continued to be told how I was doing everything wrong. And alas, she was right. I read the books I did my research, I was still rubbish. Jack is a great dog for someone with a mummy like me. He had a pretty good recall (before he hit eleven months) and she bought out one of her dogs and luckily for me behaved himself. We knew we had to up his house training though, when he did number one and two in the same week of puppy class. That beat all of the rest of the puppies. Its a good thing Jack was the best looking!

He soon became famous for as I like to call it disturbing the peace of the park. At first as we worked out the different cliche groups of dog walkers in the park, managed to work our way in with a lovely group of local people and their dogs, Jack was not the noisiest to my amazement. I think that title went to black Cocker spaniel Rosie, but that was just because she wanted to play. Jack soon discovered his voice, and I had to be careful who I let him off around as other small dogs and especially puppies became targets for this small and mighty little dog! I can remember little Jack trying it on once with Buster, a Doberman rottener mix. Face to face Jack did his silly little bark, Buster took one look at him then did the most cutest sweetest but very full on play bow and play dance! The little mini schnauzers tail went down, the ears went down and Jack came running back to my side.

Jack also showed his cheeky side once. One of the other groups of that graced the park every day where of the older generation. There was the lady my group nicknamed ‘the dog expert.’ Basically she said she knew everything about dogs but I heard some pretty bad tales of how she treated her dogs or other peoples dogs she looked after! And in the park her dogs had no freedom. Sometimes my Mum would come to the park with me and Jack and she said in hushed tones “What is the point of the people in that group in the park, they haven’t moved!” Anyway, on one occasion a beautiful, very elderly golden retriever was lying down on the grass, back to us. I still can’t believe Jack did this, he crept up, pad pad, pad, slowly, slowly, then he was right up behind the Goldie. BARK BARK BARK! The poor dog jumped up and moved away. I was an embarrassed mummy I can say! Luckily everyone thought it was funny. Sometimes they are just like people and in Jack’s case like a naughty child or a grumpy old man!

We have taken a dip in most mummy dog activities. A great form of exercise as well as our lovely walks, better than bloody aerobics or whatever the latest faddy exercise class is. We weren’t to be put off by Jack’s noisy behaviour in puppy classes. And he was very good at agility! It was a shame I didn’t keep up with classes, we never got good enough to attend a group class, maybe then we wouldn’t be quite so good! But its another good party trick, I ended up buying weave poles, a tunnel and some jumps for the garden for Jack’s birthday, so we could practise at home. And if ever there is a dog show and there is many near us for charity, there is normally a have a go at agility course and we always have a go! And Jack is normally very good! Except the time when he didn’t understand what to do on one section and decided to have a sniff…and then a wee! Instead! Its on camera, complete with vibration while this was happening as my mum who was filming was laughing so much! And except the time when he also got distracted and had a good bark at something that was much more interesting. And except the time when he must have got bored or thought my mum and dad had treats as he stopped listening and went running off towards them! Again on film. Apart from all those times he’s normally very good, he runs through the tunnel and looks very cute going over the jumps. He very much expects treats for every bit of talent he performs. I don’t think we’re ready for the crufts arena just yet! He would have something to say if I went too far without rewarding him.

When Jack was seven, I decided to use my birthday money towards some activity class for us. I wanted to spend some quality time with him doing something fun and a bit different. After an internet search I found a trainer and noted heel work to music classes. That was just what I was looking for, no I didn’t want to go on Britain s got talent, I just wanted to have some fun. We ended up enrolling in a kind of combination class as heel work to music didn’t have enough demand at that point. Which was OK. The downside was it was a class full of one of Jack’s least favourite playmates-puppies! It was much the same as puppy classes in that to stop Jack making noise he was fed and fed and fed! And then he would look at me and make a grumbling noise and tap me sit and tap me and grumble and grumble. And the man standing next to me with his border collie thought it was hilarious. “That sounds like a stomach rumbling!”

I was a very proud mummy when Jack won one round of doggy musical bumps. He was the fastest ‘down’ when the music stopped!

The lady that ran the classes held a great Christmas party for all the dogs. She cheekily put the funniest, naughtiest and craziest dogs on one team. Which was mine and Jack’s team. And we lost abysmally but definitely had the most fun. The other members of my team, golden retriever Bella and Labrador Ben had us all in stitches. Especially the temptation alley game where toys, treats, sausages, you name it are all placed out and your dog is supposed to come to you when called resisting all temptation. Jack took me extremely by surprise I very much didn’t think he was going to resist those sausages, I was amazed when he came straight to my recall! To be honest he lost out a bit as it meant he didn’t get any sausages! Unlike all the other dogs, who apart from one, a border collie (of course) ate up all the treats and didn’t manage to resist the temptations. Bella and Ben pretty much made the room like a bomb had hit it and thought the idea of the game was to accept every passing canape on their way back to their mums! All that was needed was some comedy Benny hill music.

“So did you guys go to classes,” said one of the ‘helpers’ who was helping set up all the different games to our team. Hilarious but a bit unfair as Jack and Max the collie had done it right!

“I think our teams definitely gonna win this one,” I said before the temptation began! I just like to be funny and most of the time it doesn’t work but that got some laughs. We lost so diabolically but our team had the most fun!

So to sum up what can I say about owning a miniature schnauzer? Not bias at all, they are the best! Yes OK, they make a lot of noise, oh man, does Jack like the sound of his own voice. But seriously I can’t think of any more downsides. One thing is they are so good for the house-proud! Which I don’t care about but my parents sure do! Not only does Jack not shed or drool, he hates the rain, he hates water, he is generally a pretty clean dog, its like he is human! I think when one of the many spaniels we meet makes a beeline for any form of water, stream, puddle whatever he looks at them as if to say what on earth are you doing?

This mini schnauzer also doesn’t retrieve. He very much looks at you as if to say you threw it, you go and get it! He loves his toy, in fact unlike most dogs his toys last very long, you know a toy is complete rubbish if Jack destroys it straight away! He likes to play tug and he likes toys being thrown he will run and catch them and shake them and sometimes roll on the floor with them making growling noises which is very funny! He will have a good session shaking or whatever with his toy and then as quickly as it started he will suddenly stop, drop toy and look at you as if to say ‘NEXT!’ He likes to stand right in the middle of the room of an evening while we are all sat on sofas or the armchair, and he will just look at you and whine. So you have to get up to throw a toy then get up to get it when he is bored of that one, and so it goes on. Of course, if you are feeling lazy after a hard day, you can just put the toy box down next to you and just throw and throw until the toy box is empty. Yes there are A LOT of toys in that box and yes sometimes that does happen. To be fair though, he does tire earlier than a lot of dogs. Some breeds are endless bundles of energy and bounce off the walls constantly. Little Jack does nap a lot! My ex commented on how well he slept at night, considering he napped so much during the day. Of course we always make sure to give him lots of exercise.

Mini schnauzers are very adaptable. Jack gets three walks a day except in summer when it is too hot to take him out, and then I get up extra early to give him his run before the heat begins and he goes out again in the evening. I very much enjoy meeting up with friends at a dog friendly pub for a walk and a drink. So we try and make sure he gets lots of exercise and stimulation, but if he has less than his three walks for whatever reason, he is very adaptable. It doesn’t matter that he is not a retriever!

Oh man, do mini schnauzers have character. So many different facial expressions, but he often has an “I am not amused” expression. His little tail is always up, except when he’s very tired or when he’s being groomed. (sorry Jack!) I never thought my parents would accept a dog on their furniture, but that all changed, um.. let’s face it not long after I first carried Jack through our front door! You can’t not laugh when every evening at some point someone’s seat will get stolen! Mostly my Dads. He does love his Granddad’s chair. Our motto every evening is, you get on your feet, you lose your seat!

I’m sure many puppy parents can relate to when Jack first mastered the stairs. He started suddenly running up those stairs and feeling so pleased with himself. Getting down was harder! I could mean, when he pulled his look where I am face at the top of the stairs, if I wanted to going downstairs and watch that expression turn to mummy help I can’t get down! Aw my poor baby. Of course that innocence disappeared when he learnt to climb down! It was so cute, he used to go down really slowly, two paws at a time. Now of course, as soon as he hears any form of activity in the kitchen from upstairs on my bed and he races down, you can hear the thump, thump, thump as he then jet propels to your side, and fully expects you to share whatever it is you are preparing in the exciting food room! My mum thinks he is a mind reader because he seems to only appear when she is cooking dinner that involves cheese or meat for her and Dad.

Oh, just get a mini schnauzer they are the best! Yes they think the house revolves around them and they rule the roost (and they are right), yes they are not retrievers, and they are smart to the point that they learn they can be stubborn, yes they think they are actually rottweilers with beards and that they have to protect you and the house from anyone that dares come near, be they annoying sales people or the neighbours. But you will smile and laugh every day, there is so much character and expression in that little face with his little brows and big beard! They are up for anything unless its raining, they really are a big dog in a small package. They will do anything for food. And they are the best cure when you are upset, I am surprised Jack hasn’t shrunk the amount of times he has been there for me, my shoulder to cry on. At one certain difficult time, he was up on my lap for snuggles at every opportunity. He took to the heel work to music and agility so well, he is just great fun, very funny and my world. So that’s how many job roles for one little dog? Guard dog, dustbin or bottomless pit, best friend, seat stealer, lap warmer, snuggle buddy, thunder buddy, model (yes, he has his own Instagram!), son, grandson, nephew, mummy’s baby, OK we’re getting silly now, but oh I could ramble forever about how much I love him!


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