Cypher is the oldest member of our furry family. At 9 years and one month old we decided to take the plunge and clip him off for summer. He’s always had a huge very masculine type of coat with the long mane, chest coat and long hair everywhere else. He has not been in the show ring for a very long time and he doesn’t compete in agility anymore except on rare occasions. Cypher loves his Frisbee, family and food – possibly in that order. His epitaph, when he goes, will simply have the words “play, play, play” on it.
Cy as a baby next to his Matriarch – Raven.
Cypher came to us via plane just before Christmas in 2006. Eight weeks old and put in a little crate where he made the total 8 hour car and plane journey to Perth from Sydney. He comes from a breeder in NSW known as Nahrof Kennels and has some very well known dogs in his pedigree. He was chosen for his attitude and his looks. Cypher has always been nothing if not handsome. He came off the plane full of confidence, outgoing in every way. Played tug ferociously from the get go and was extremely bonded to us and me especially from a very young age. I remember taking him to training for the first time at 3 months of old, down to our club and he was already off lead. As long as I had his favourite toy he never even considered visiting other dogs. I had waited nearly 18 months for the right boy puppy to come along. My other dog, Raven, was now 6 years old and she was an experienced agility dog, a show champion with Obedience titles. It was time for a puppy as her father, Bear, had passed over 18 months ago.
Cy’s first bath. Ridiculous levels of cuteness really.
Cypher is just so keen and such a happy chappy to be around. He tried so hard to get everything right when we started training and with the most enthusiasm possible. I remember him at 6 months being a demo dog for Stacy Peardot at her seminar here in Perth as she used him to show how to use the tug drive to encourage tight turns. He was used as a demo dog for Daisy Peel to show how she’d start of teaching running contacts. He always did and continues to do everything with nothing less that one hundred per cent of his exuberance and attitude. He’s won classes at the Border Collie National in 2009 and qualified for finals at the ANK Agility Nationals. He rose from Novice to finished Masters title within 6 months. He was keen and fast in agility and just loved doing anything with me.
Cypher has one characteristic that has made life difficult in some situations though. He doesn’t trust other dogs not in his pack. And his distrust is expressed vocally. Like everything he expresses. Cypher is a very vocal boy and from the very first day we got him he was this way. He’s not a barker – only when people are at the door but he is a growler. He growls when he’s happy, when he’s excited, when he’s getting a belly rub, a butt massage, when he’s playing tug, when he’s playing with his pack, when he’s doing agility and when he’s doing any tricks. He just growls. He growls when people pat him, he growls when vets examine him and he growls if dogs he doesn’t know come too close. He’s been attacked once and the large cause of it was his very poor communication skills. He even growls when he sees a very pretty female dog who smells nice he stands there wagging his tail and growling. He is, as I like to refer ignoring all pretenses of PC-ness, a canine communication retard. We’ve had 9 years and one month of this type of communication. As a puppy I had no idea what to do with it. Rewarding for when he was quiet or reprimanding for when he was growling, nothing worked. In the end I accepted two things 1. I wasn’t a good enough trainer to fix this and 2. This is just him, his personality, the way he is. This is his one quirk that has, admittedly over the years, brought much mirth but also some regret as it meant I couldn’t relax and let him just run with any other dogs down the park. On balance it’s a pretty small negative when weighed against all the positives that exist for him.
So last night Tim and I made the decision to take some clippers to him and shear him off for Summer. We’ve never done it before and he’s always had such a big coat. He lay there loving the attention as it certainly took the two of us a good hour to get through it all. When he jumped up and shook himself he looked so puppyish it made us laugh out loud. One of the girls had to come up to him and check him out, she thought he looked a little strange I imagine. I’m sure he’ll be much cooler for it and will definitely dry a lot quicker after swimming.
Cy prior to the Great Clipping of November 2013
So here’s to Cypher and his endless enthusiasm, his trust of me and his happy feet always ready to go where ever I am and do whatever I ask.