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May Robinson [userpic]

Taking a (look at) Tumble

November 30th, 2008 (06:35 pm)

where i am: with Tumble, Dyna & Dempsey
how i am: happy
accompanied by: Here I Go Again, Whitesnake

Now that Dakota has settled in during his stay with us, I can finally take the time to put together an entry about Tumble, his littermate sister, and the youngest member of my pack of critters.

In early July of 2003, just a few weeks after the loss of my beloved heart-dog Ducky to cancer, her daughter Kismet came into heat. She hadn't been due for a few more months and an emotional me took that early heat as a sign that I should breed her. By then we hadn't had a litter in almost 3 years. I'd been trying unsuccessfully during that time to produce a daughter out of a cross between Tucker and Flurry, in hopes of carrying on their similar bloodlines, but that ended with disaster when Flurry came down with pyometria that February which resulted in her being spayed. Kismet coming into heat early like she did became a neon sign, one that was emphatically flashing: "breed me, breed me"!

So, we did breed her to Tucker and, on September 14, 2003, despite being sired by a senior (Tucker was almost 12 by then), we had our biggest litter ever: 7 pups (5 girls and 2 boys).

Kismet with her 2 day old kids (clockwise from bottom left: Cassie, Piper, Cheeky, Tumble, Luna, Dakota & Jack)

Even though the concept of a Tucker / Flurry litter appealed more to me, we'd always intended to breed Kismet and Tucker together. Their looks, size and temperaments complemented each other beautifully but, as we started winding down our breeding career, we just weren't producing many litters and I wasn't going to breed just for the hell of it which is why I'd concentrated on Flurry. You see, on paper, the cross with Flurry was more likely to give me what I'd wanted in the next pup I kept: a pup that would remind of our grand old man Tucker, but in a smaller, female package.

Kismet's bloodline had a different "look" to it, one that tended to "stamp" itself too, so it was pretty safe to assume that none or very few of the pups would end up looking like their father. You know the old saying about "assume" though…

Taken 12 years apart, here are pictures of Tucker and Tumble at almost the same ages…

Though not identical, their resemblance was (and remains) uncanny and it was actually difficult for me to remain objective and not choose her as my keeper based strictly on her clone-like appearance.

Fortunately, based on the needs and best fit suitabilities of the other homes waiting for pups from the litter, Tumble actually "was" the perfect pick for us. Her somewhat independent, adventurous nature was more suited for our household than it would have been to the homes looking for companions for their kids. And there were other factors that were weighed as we tried to match the right pup with each of the families too. 

Tumble (L) & Cassie (R) at about age 6 weeks. Near twins, but the smaller, cuddlier Cassie was placed in a home where she became the companion of Brittney, then 11 years old, and her parents. Luna (L) & Tumble (R) at about 12 weeks. Choosing between these 2 was hardest but, in the end, Luna and her longer legs and larger size, went to an Agility/Flyball/Superdogs (tm) home where she pals around with an older male JRT and a Sheltie.

You might find it odd to read this but, as a breeder I never let my puppy buyers pick their own pups. They had no say in sex, coat, color or markings and were never sent pictures that might lead them to fall in love with a face (the wrong face) that didn't have the temperament to match their needs. Russells, in general, are too much of a handful for unsuspecting/uneducated owners and I'd spent too many years rescuing, fostering and finding new homes for those that had been poorly placed by others the first time around so, when it came to my own litters, I tried to stack the deck in my pups' favor by eliminating the cuteness/face appeal factor. Fortunately, my puppy people were open to this. Those that weren't were simply told to look elsewhere for a puppy.

Okay, back to Tumble… I don't have a lot to say about her as an individual, no anecdotes, tales of woe or great tales of triumph. In reality, she has become the first Russell I've had as simply a "pet" since Kelsey, our first JRT, joined our family in 1990 (and even Kelsey became a great competition dog). Tumble has never been in the show ring, has never competed at a terrier trial, has never been bred and is simply my companion. The intent to do all those things with her had been there when she was born. But, as you've read before, we grew away from the show/competition game and when it came down to deciding whether or not to breed her, it was with a heavy but practical heart that I decided "No"… that I was done and that breeding her to simply hang on to "my" line was more about ego than anything else.

What I can say about her is that she's an absolute sweetheart. She gets along with all the dogs and it's just a riot to watch all 13 pounds of Tumble play with Cooper, our 70+ pound pointer. I'm determined she's helped keep our seniors young. Her father adored her and they snuggled together frequently and played together in his friskier days.

Snuggling with her father as a pup and last Christmas, about 6 weeks before we had to let him go ::sniff::

Her 14 year old brother Dempsey still runs with her, sometimes too much for his own good but, in the end, I think their games of chase are helping to keep him vibrant and alive. Flurry plays with her too and, ironically, every once in a while I get the feeling that she thinks she's Tumble's mother. Tumble's also great with her mother Kismet and grandfather Boomer though, unfortunately they don't spend as much time together as I'd like, simply due to the shifts we run around here. She's a playmate to Dyna and they're such good buddies, they actually will curl up together and groom each other, something I've only ever witnessed in my house with mothers and their young pups. She's more cuddly that I expected and she's given me unexpected gifts as she's grown up and I've gotten to know her. Though her father's clone in appearance (which has given me peace in the months since we said good-bye to him), her personality also reminds of Ducky. When she snuggles, she gives into it completely, just as Ducky did. And she has Ducky's smile…where she literally pulls her lips back to expose her front teeth when she's content, exactly the way her grandmother did. It looks ridiculous, almost like a grimace, but there's no question that it's actually a smile and that always makes me grin in kind.
Sometimes I feel a little guilty that Tumble's importance to me largely has to do with who she reminds me of instead of who she herself is. But, I guess since the whole reason behind crossing her parents together was to wind up with a living reminder of those that came before her, what does make her so special is how well she has managed to live up to those whose paw-prints she's filling. I'm definitely lucky to have gotten exactly what I wanted. Here are a couple of shots of the pretty little lady, on her own:

Taken about 4 years apart, Tumble's not showing any age as of yet... maybe that's why we still refer to her as "the puppy" whenever we talk about her ;)


Posted by: Late Night Drops of Random (moondropz)
Posted at: December 1st, 2008 01:40 am (UTC)

I enjoy these posts so much! Thank you for sharing Tumble with us! I am just getting started with a small spam on Sadie! And on choosing the right family for each pup? Sound idea. Too many are for the cute factor and not what the pup or family needs. I wanted Ivy-but knew I couldn't give her what she needed. It just wasn't fair. In the end-I got Sadie and bless her-she is the best companion I could have ever asked for. ;)

Posted by: May Robinson (may7fic)
Posted at: December 1st, 2008 02:13 am (UTC)
JDM Bisou

And on choosing the right family for each pup? Sound idea.

Basically it came down to using the same screening methods I used doing rescue work and refining them in terms of making puppy placements and, generally, it has worked extremely well over the years.

I'm so glad all is working so well with you and Sadie and can't wait to see the spam *G*

Posted by: Late Night Drops of Random (moondropz)
Posted at: December 1st, 2008 02:45 am (UTC)
Alec smiling

I totally agree though. It just makes so much more sense. You know this breed and what it takes to have them in your home. I educated myself for 3 years before taking Sadie on-I knew what I was getting into-and we are just having the best time! It hurts both the animal and the family if the adoption/placement doesn't work out or they go into it for the wrong reasons. Nobody wins then. The spam is jut up!

Posted by: May Robinson (may7fic)
Posted at: December 1st, 2008 02:48 am (UTC)
Terriers - Kismet Grin

The spam is just up!

Saw it! And I think I was first to reply \o/

The pix are adorable :D

Posted by: Late Night Drops of Random (moondropz)
Posted at: December 1st, 2008 02:53 am (UTC)
Bicep of Doom!

So I see! And yes-you were the first! Yay! ;P I loved the one with my sister and her back legs were sticking right up like whoa there-personal space Auntie Cathy! LOL....

Posted by: phetch (phetch)
Posted at: December 1st, 2008 02:54 am (UTC)

I love your pup-spams. Tumble sounds like a sweetie. Tucker and Tumble do bear quite the resemblance.

As hard as it is to not fall for the face, I do think your placement is for the best. Ours didn't do that with the phetchpup's litter, but luckily for me it was my fourth dog and Cocker, so I knew what to look for in my pick, and we did okay. Her sister (the only other black one and the most dominant one) wasn't chosen well and got returned, and the lady actually asked me if I wanted her as well, but I knew two puppies at once would be too much for me. I hope she went somewhere good.

Posted by: May Robinson (may7fic)
Posted at: December 1st, 2008 03:04 am (UTC)
JDM Bisou

I think there are a very few breeds that are sooo easy, screening doesn't have to be too intense but those are in the minority. A fellow JRT breeder I knew (who sadly died fairly young) used to breed Shih Tzu's also and spent much less time on interviews/screening with the Shih Tzu litters since they were comparatively soooo much more easy to home than the Russells.

Prior experience with a particular breed is almost always a plus when finding homes for pups so I'm not at all surprised that phetchpup's breeder contacted you after her sister was returned. Good, knowledgeable homes like yours aren't always easy to find ;).

Posted by: Invisible Friend (el1ie)
Posted at: December 1st, 2008 08:31 am (UTC)



Sorry, not coherent enough to say anything else now...

Posted by: May Robinson (may7fic)
Posted at: December 1st, 2008 10:47 am (UTC)
Terriers - Luna

LOL, yeah, coherency does have a way of going out the window when faced with all that adorable-ness :)

Posted by: leelust (leelust)
Posted at: December 1st, 2008 04:40 pm (UTC)

Oh, my... i have nothin' to say i was just enjoying your story :) That last pic! Cutie!!!

Posted by: May Robinson (may7fic)
Posted at: December 1st, 2008 06:49 pm (UTC)
Terriers - Kismet Grin

She is a cutie. Thank-you!

Posted by: leelust (leelust)
Posted at: December 2nd, 2008 10:50 am (UTC)

Yep :) I like to read about your dogs - such lovely stories.

Posted by: May Robinson (may7fic)
Posted at: December 3rd, 2008 02:51 am (UTC)
Terriers - Tuck Cody Window

I'm so glad you enjoy reading about the gang. That's it now for my terriers but I still have Cooper, our big dog, to write about - probably over the Christmas holidays when I have some time off. Unless my muse comes back to life and a SPN story springs to life instead (I hope!)

Posted by: leelust (leelust)
Posted at: December 3rd, 2008 10:07 am (UTC)

Oh, don't rush it - there's time for everything.
Yeah, i like stories like these - i may forgot dogs' names (have no memory of names, dates and numbers) but i remember the love that fill the stories :)
And now it's hard to decide whether i want to hear about Big Dog first or i want your muse to come back :) You're tempting.

Posted by: May Robinson (may7fic)
Posted at: December 4th, 2008 12:53 am (UTC)
Dean Grins

LOL, well, whichever way the coin falls, it's good to know someone's looking forward to it *g*

Posted by: leelust (leelust)
Posted at: December 4th, 2008 02:44 pm (UTC)

Did you doubt it? Don't. :)

Posted by: May Robinson (may7fic)
Posted at: December 5th, 2008 04:48 am (UTC)
Dean Grins

Awww, thanks! ♥

Posted by: jennk528 (jennk528)
Posted at: December 2nd, 2008 02:27 am (UTC)

I'm more of a cat girl, but my goodness - those are some adorable dogs you've got! Such cuties! Those little faces do make you want to just give them all a big smooshy hug...

(I have covered the cat's eyes so she doesn't know I'm saying things like that about a dog...)

Thanks for sharing!

Posted by: May Robinson (may7fic)
Posted at: December 3rd, 2008 03:17 am (UTC)
GIF JDM Laughing (outtake)

Aw, shucks. They really are adorable when they aren't driving me crazy, aren't they *g*

Just so your cat doesn't feel neglected though, let me share this... 3 short videos that made me roar and pay homage to the wonderful world of cat ownership or, uh, rather, the ownership of people... by cats.




Hopefully these will be new to you though they have been around a while :)