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pkcrossley

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pkcrossley

Hello, friends, turning to you with a brain-teasing problem. After 3.5 years with no cairn I am accepting that it is not working. A few months after my Teddy's death I adopted an extremely cute and very companionable shih-tzu-chihuahua puppy, and I love her very much. But cairnness is needed --especially the stare, and the playfulness. I think Alice would learn a great deal from a cairn-something companion. But not a full-bred cairn.

I believe very strongly in the rescue thing. I have tried the "rescue" org path by which I got my puppy Alice (which was a very good experience), but just had a devastating experience when, after years of looking for just the right dog, I walked in after a tiring drive and a great deal of paperwork to see her being given to somebody else (somebody who I think just wanted a cute puppy and didn't care about the cairnness). These organizations are designed for people who want generally suitable dogs, not cairnness as a priority. I admire the mission-driven (as contrasted to cash-driven) projects that bring the dogs up from the south, but in most cases it is hard to track down listed dogs and can be hard to find out whether they are really part cairn, or just part "terrier," and so on. So, I have to try something else.

This is the problem: Alice is only 8.5 lbs, and cannot protect herself in any kind of rough play (let alone a cairn temper-tantrum). So I am not looking for a pure-bred cairn, since I think they will be too big and possibly too pushy when in the wrong mood. I have been looking for a small cairn cross --something that goes down from cairn size, not up. This is almost impossible --hence my long search for the puppy just lost and the heartbreak associated with it.

There are operations that sell cairn-something puppies as supposed "breeds" but they are clearly puppy mills. A perfect dog would be full-grown, not a puppy, so that I know the ultimate size (though a puppy that is sure to stay under 10 or 11 lbs would be perfectly good too). Young enough to be socialized to a tiny dog sister and two cat brothers. So, something like 10 months to two years. I am hesitant to contact breeders because I don't want to explain to them why a full-bred cairn won't cut it. And rescues cannot understand why this or that lovely dog will not do (and I agree --I want them all! Much guilt and depression because I can't adopt all the dogs). 

So there is my problem! Any wisdom greatly appreciated. Money no object. I don't want a dog to be transported by air, so someplace in the Northeast that I can drive to, or to which an organization would deliver the dog. Sorry to sound like such precious, wimpy adopter but I think you all can understand why cairnness cannot disappear from one's life, once it is there. 

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Kathryn

I have now adopted two dogs thru Cairn Rescue USA (T Bone and Angus) and I found them to be wonderful. Cautious about matches, and very dog-saavy. They would certainly understand why you need a smaller dog to "fit" in your family. I know they occasionally have mixed breed dogs too. Could you try them? Do you want a contact?

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sanford
Posted (edited)

First of all, let me say that I find it ironic that you of all people are asking for info, advice. For years on this site, I've benefited from your wisdom, experience and help in raising Ruffy, and Carrington before him. I consider you to be the expert, so I feel at a disadvantage to address your "brain-teaser", telling you things that you probably well know, but here goes...

• Like you, I lost out on not one, but two prospects before finding Ruffy, seven years ago and I still think about them. This seems to be an ongoing issue with some rescue groups, but this drawback seems to go with the territory with all-volunteer organizations.

• You already recognize that your set of preferences has limited your possibilities. Some flexibility would be helpful, combined with what I'm sure you know by now... No matter how much a dog might seem to meet our list of requirements, there is an unpredictable factor beyond our control. And I must (lovingly) add... In my experience, no dog is perfect.

• Re rescue agencies, cairn mixes, etc. My own not-insubstantial experience has revealed that many, if not most "cairns" from those places are clearly described as mixes, not cairn-something puppies as supposed "breeds". Particularly on Petfinders, where I found Ruffy, (a full-blooded Cairn, in his case), but the point is that he was on Petfinders because his rescue agency, like many, now use that site as a resource to reach the widest audience.

• To remind you what you might already know re alternatives to air transport... Some shelters/rescue organizations outside your area might be able to get the dogs to you by volunteer "chain" transport by car. I participated in one leg of such a transport... picking up a dog from local AC&C and driving him to another volunteer in northern New Jersey, where he continued on his journey, being driven up to his new home on a farm in New Hampshire! (Sounds like a wonderful fable, but its true)! If, as you say, money is no object, could you consider flying to wherever? The dog you are seeking would probably be small enough to fly home with you in the cabin.

• You prefer a full grown dog, but have 2 cats... another possible deal-breaker, where alternatively, a puppy might likely be accepting of cats.

• In your situation, I wouldn't hesitate to contact breeders re your needs. Granted, I've been in contact with some that I had discouraging, negative vibes from, but others were understanding and a pleasure to deal with, and in their world they have many contacts and are in touch with many folks with different types of dogs and who have different types of needs. Possibly a long shot, but, it's a "numbers game" and you never know which number will come up as the one foryou.

Earlier, I said there is no perfect dog, but from everything you've written about and dealt with over the years, I consider you to be the perfect owner that I would want to be, and I look forward to reading about the very lucky pooch waiting for you at the end of your search!

Edited by sanford

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Sam I Am
Posted (edited)

PK I am wondering if a re think of a pure bred Cairn fitting in might just work out fine. If you look at the US Cairn standard males are 14pounds...really not much bigger than your girl. Although a pup might not be your first choice, they adjust so fast to cats and other dogs . If you find a breeder whose dogs are show standard,  you have a good chance of getting a smaller type Cairn. Plus if you get a male puppy chances are your little girl will rule the roost anyway...few male dogs boss around the girls! And personally I have never met a Chihuahua or a Shih-Tuzla that doesn’t stand their ground. Little but mighty both breeds. Also look at Teddy with all his health issues who lived with Redmon, he did fine.  

 

 

Edited by Sam I Am

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pkcrossley
Posted (edited)

Thank you Kathryn, Sanford and Sam for your advice, and Sanford for your very kind words. I scan Cairn Rescue USA (and all the other rescues, including Colonel Potter which has gone from a very large operation to a very small one) constantly, and I know they are powerful resources. Their cairn crosses tend to go bigger, not smaller. And yes, I  have a lot of requirements --Alice is my dog and this has to fit around her. I do think that all things considered a puppy would be more desirable, but requiring a puppy only makes things harder, or so it appears to me. I have from time to time had some correspondence with breeders (when I was still considering a full-blooded cairn --and if somebody had a tiny one and mild-mannered one, I would still consider it today). Sanford, you put your finger on it --the ones I have dealt with up to present seem unwilling to give the proverbial time of day. I'm sure there must be friendlier ones out there. I could solve the whole thing pretty quickly with one of these puppy mill crazy-name crosses with yorkies, maltese, chihuahuas or havanese. I just don't want to patronize them. Puppy mills have been driven out of the formal breeds and are now dominating these strange "designer" breeds. I believe in mixes and crosses --it is basic science that they have to be healthier than pure breds. But puppy mills are not the way. 

I'm surprised that after so long I just can't give up on cairnness in the house. But I have to admit it is so. 

I have flown with a lhasa apso and a cairn in the cabin a time or two, and it is horrifying --not least because they sell you the ticket, you make the plan, then they give you a hard time about actually taking the seat and under-seat space you paid for (and not for any reason related to the dog --just ignorance of policy). If you manage to fly out, you don't know whether they will let you fly home. The ground staff decide these things, ticket or not. And you are right that my comment was about dogs in the cargo hold. So funny about your experiences  with driving dogs through the underground network --I did that too, for a very, very lovely cairn whom I still think about, and for another that was a bit on the nasty side. Rescue groups are trucking dogs to the Northeast constantly (Alice came in a magical converted schoolbus), and I have no trouble driving as far as Ohio, Michigan or the bottom of Virginia for the right reason. So ground transportation should not really be an obstacle. Although I do see some very attractive cairn crosses in California --but I don't want them getting on a plane! 

I guess I have hope that things will work out. But I have been looking for a very long time, years, and the puppy I walked in to see being carried away was the only prospect I came up with in all that time (I don't mean the only suitable dog in existence, just the only one I got close enough to actually see). I realize that I am not really going to get anywhere with rescue groups, who don't understand where I'm coming from --nor should they, really. I have to try it another way, just not sure what.

I am thinking about Sam's advice --returning to the original thought of a real cairn puppy.  It is really possible that one raised by Alice would never be inclined to treat her like a ragdoll. But Redmon on occasion weighed in at near 20 lbs --well over twice her weight. And of course when it comes to bullying and tantrums it is hard to outdo a cairn --their jaws and teeth are the size of those of GSDs. Alice's teeth are about the size of sesame seeds. So I would need one running truly very small. In looking at breeder's sites I see that they like to tell you all about their dams and sires, but not their heights or weights. They aren't things that serious people are looking for, evidently. 

Thanks for your interest and understanding!

Alice_harness_1_light.jpg

Edited by pkcrossley

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bradl

Personalities vary and I (personally) would not be shy of a well mannered older dog of steady (and importantly, *known*) temperament.

For example I would not suggest some (probably any) of our past bitches but I would trust Dundee with virtually any dog (based on observation with a wide variety of dogs and personalities and situatuions at obedience class).  I'm not retiring Dundee so he's off the table so to speak, but just a way of saying that if you can connect with someone who's judgement you trust and who can assess their dogs' temperaments in a clear-eyed way, there may be options with an older dog (or even junior dog) who's past most of the more volatile puppy and adolescent stages. 

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Idaho Cairns

We've done two Cairn rescues of adult dogs and the experience with both was positive.  In either case we didn't have much to go on--in the first case it was a meet and greet at the local humane society pet fair (I'll never understand why ANY OWNER would have put this particular dog up for adoption--she was magnificent from day one.) and in the other from a Scottie rescue organization of all things.
Some things sometime have to be taken on faith if not enough information is available. Just remember how flexible Cairns can be--they tend to rock in pretty well.
As far as air cargo goes, we have had four Cairns shipped via air cargo (three pups and one adult) with absolutely no negative consequences--they all arrived full of spit and vinegar--nothing more than a good shake out was observed.

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pkcrossley
Posted (edited)

Thanks, Brad. Good advice. For myself I am looking for a younger as contrasted to older dog, because I am getting to the age where my options for raising puppies and keeping them their whole lives are fewer; this is not necessarily my last chance to get in with a younger dog, but it might be. I guess, as you say, it all depends on the dog. I just haven't had opportunities yet to meet any! I'm also terrible at that --the more inappropriate the dog the more I am likely to want to take it, just because maybe nobody will want it. Good way to end up building one house for Alice and one for Unknown Cairn. 

Idaho, I am amazed and delighted that you were able to find a cairn at an adoption fair. As you say, it would be a wonder that anybody would surrender a good cairn to such circumstances. I've gone to fairs and will go to some more. My problem is that I am likely to leave with 29 dogs, and still not have a cairn. I promise that if the solution turns up on the west coast I will consider air transport --maybe a private charter flight where the dog can lean back and enjoy a nice movie. 

Edited by pkcrossley

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oscar's mom

I know you mentioned looking at rescue recently, but have you tried the Westie one in Rye NH?  They often get Cairns and may have some insight on size.  I have been looking into them, when i'm ready for my next Cairn.  

You can also call shelters and request them to call you if they receive a Cairn.  There is a rescue in Springfield, that I believe accepts requests like that.  

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pkcrossley

Thanks OM! I didn't know about the place in Rye. I just went to their site and no dogs available but I will keep looking.

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Hillscreek

Very hard to find a small cairn. The cairns I remember from long ago were really small dogs 14lbs or less. The standard may say 14/16lbs but few cairns are that size anymore. Of course in a cairn smallness doesn't necessarily mean less fierce! But i think I might take a chance with a pup if I were as cairn knowledgeble as you pk

I found Angus by looking on line where nowadays breeders of all sorts list their dogs. They are by no means all puppy mills. I emailed, called etc many many people. I found it fairly easy to find what I didn't want. Eventually I met the right person with the right (for me) pup. I would never have met her otherwise and she only lived fours hours drive from my home.

Tend to agree a pup might be good if you have two cats. They will sort him/her out pretty soon which might be harder with an older dog.

Re flying a dog. When we were breeding retrievers long ago we sold all over the country and sent the pups by air. We never lost one. When we still showed the dogs flew in the hold with handlers in the cabin. Today thousands of dogs fly all over the country (and the world). Actually I think I'd rather not have them in the cabin with me.

Also pk I don't know about where you live but round here (in puppy mill country) pup shops can still be found in some malls. My neighbor bought a cairn pup from one. He used to have them a while back he told me and though he didn't need another dog he could not bear to see her there. She was very small but turned out well.

Look everywhere - you never know where a new cairn friend maybe waiting.

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_whits_

Hi! I haven't been here in a very long time for a number of reasons (no need to worry about sweet tenacious Addie. She is currently two weeks out from a TPLO surgery on her right leg for a torn cruciate and doing well but absolutely REVOLTING against the activity restrictions.) but I do lurk occasionally. You have been so incredibly helpful to me with my first Cairn that I had to stop in and offer what advice I have. 

Addie was a Cairn Rescue USA adoption. When I first started looking for a Cairn, they did not have any that were anywhere near me or in the age range I was looking for (2 years or younger), but their website said you could fill out an application to be matched with Cairns as they came into the rescue. I submitted an application (it was very lengthy, asking many questions about the type of dog I wanted) and little did I know they were fostering 9 puppies in Nebraska that they never ended up putting on the website. I don't know why, but I suspect it was so they wouldn't draw attention away from the more senior dogs, and also because I think a lot of the puppies were already matched to previous rescue homes. 

This is all to say that I think it is worth putting in an application with CRUSA and Col. Potter, and write what you told us. My experience with CRUSA says they are discerning in which dogs they match to which homes and will think highly of an experienced Cairn owner with a very clear idea of the type of dog that they want (from my experience they tend to frown on people who say "I saw Dog X on your site and want that one and that one only" because they realize it's about more than a website listing). They might have an unadvertised dog in their rescue (like Addie) or there might be a rescue that comes in after you apply that fits you. 

My other advice is to bookmark shelter websites and visit them on a semi-regular basis. I could not walk into shelter because I would walk out with the least adoptable dog for fear it would never find a home otherwise. But I can browse the websites. And I almost got a puppy Cairn/Yorkie cross from a shelter before Addie (it turns out he had a waiting list before I even called). But occasionally Cairn crosses do come into shelters. Isn't that how Elsie ended up with Lori?

Also, when I was looking, I contacted the local Cairn club in my area and they put me in touch with a breeder who had a 1 year-old Cairn who didn't make it as a show dog. I didn't end up going that route because the dog was far out of my price range, but contacting the Cairn club in the area turned out to be less intimidating than contacting a breeder. They could perhaps point you to show dog drop-outs or breeders more amenable to cold calls. 

My other route when searching was to go to a dog show to try to meet Cairn breeders (and get to know more about the breed since I'd had terriers but not a Cairn). That was a total bust for me as I couldn't get a single Cairn breeder or handler to even speak to me, so I know how intimidating the breeder route can be. 

Finally, I completely understand your wariness of dogs on planes. It might have been safer in years gone by, but with the way airlines are run I personally would never put a dog on a plane that wasn't under the seat in front of me. Cargo holds are not safe for dogs and I suspect there are more disastrous outcomes than we are aware of (although I know there are thousands of dogs that survive them). I just know it's something I wouldn't personally subject a dog to. 

I hope you find the Cairn you're looking for as you of all people deserve one. 

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pkcrossley

Such great advice, whits, I will follow it all. And so glad to get an update on Addie. 

Hillscreek, I was raised in Ohio and Pennsylvania. I understand what you are saying about the puppy mills. Actually my first cairn, Redmon, was a puppy in the window (from a mill in Indiana). I had no knowledge of cairns and was not looking for another dog, but I saw him every time I went to the shop and he kept getting bigger and more awkward looking while smaller and cuter dogs were going home. At four months he was just laying on the grate staring into space. I asked what would happen to him and they just shrugged and said, oh, they would keep sending him down the line (they meant, to shops in less and less affluent areas) and marking down the price till he went. Somehow I thought that bad as this sounded it probably had a lot of fiction in it. I took him (at a king's ransom). That shop no longer sells live animals, in fact no shops in this area do. My strong feeling is that a dog in a pet shop is a dog in trouble. I don't see any difference (except a few hundred dollars), from the perspective of dog welfare, between getting a dog from rescue and getting a dog that is already in a shop. The problem is not the shops but the puppy mills supplying them. Here, pressure on the shops from locals led to them giving up the practice. If I find captives for sale somewhere I will have a look. Good way to get four extra dogs, none of whom are cairns. 

I know exactly what you mean about the increase in the size of non-show cairns. Strangely, the same thing happens in many horse breeds. I wonder if it is happening to all domestic animals. Not sure if they are growing skywards or sideways (the dogs, not the horses).  I always think of cairns as small dogs but most of them I see are pushing small-medium range. Very discouraging for me in this particular search. 

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Sam I Am
Posted (edited)

PK I wonder if the worry about a dog growing bigger should even be a worry? How often does one see a very large dog with a very small animal, be it a cat or a smaller dog with all things being just fine. That’s why I wonder if a youngster would not be your best bet?  They will find their own pack fit without usually any kind of serious damage being done to either animal. 

E1297FA1-6761-478B-B252-3CB522C13A88.jpeg

Edited by Sam I Am

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sanford

Re the weight/size of the dog you are seeking: Just to let you know, in my walks around the city, I come across cairns from time to time and Ruffy, at 20 lbs. has always been the largest. Most are in the 15 lb. range, and some are considerably smaller... down to 12 or so lbs. (I attribute this to the fact that small, apartment-size dogs are more in demand in the city). Bottom line: small cairns do exist!

Another up-date related to the frustrations of your situation: Because my previous adoption of Carrington from Col. Potter was so successful I ended up as a volunteer for them for several years, and then, when I lost Carrington at 17, I had Col. Potter do a new search for me because they had come through so well before. But now it turned out that my timing could not have been worse... Several of their current volunteers  dropped out of sight in the midst of working with me... The search dragged on, and on, and on, with no communication, etc. It was a seemingly endless failure in slow motion, which is why I turned to Petfinders in frustration, which I considered a long shot... and hit the Jackpot with Ruffy, who's photo was put on Petfinder's site by a shelter upstate that very day! By the way, the shelter told me that small, dogs, 20 lbs and under are at a premium in rural or farming areas and they get adopted fairly quickly. Sadly, that fact might be working against you, but as I said above, small cairns do exist!

Knowing you as I do, from your many wise posts here on CairnTalk, I have a good idea that you will persit - and succeed. I just wanted to share some experience and feedback that I picked up along my rocky path to adopting. 

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pkcrossley

Well, I filled out the CRUSA application, prospectively. Great advice, and who knows what will happen. 

I agree that the size is not critical in itself. But my experience with my and other people's cairns has been that even the best cairn can have a bad day and go off. It only takes once, so I think it improves the odds of it all working out if the dog is small. Also, Alice has a much better response to small dogs than to big ones, though that might only be relevant for 24 hours or so. 

I checked out breeders and there are more within easy reach of me than I thought. But I can't really start any communications yet. I feel so strongly about the rescue thing that I can't imagine getting a dog that is sure to be okay as contrasted to one that is in the rescue network somewhere. 

Many thanks for all the good advice and encouragement. I was just so knocked down by the experience of having them hand this dog I had been filing paperwork and on communicating with them about, and driven crazy fast across the White Mountains to see, just handing her to this young couple right in front of me. I still think they just wanted a cute puppy, and not a cairn. I know they had done no paperwork because they sat right down with the puppy in their lap and wrote out everything I had written out the night before. I had been looking for two years and she was the only possibility I actually identified and got within arm's reach of. And I still know she would have been perfect. Really wrenching experience, and kind of inexplicable. I shall push on. 

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Dempsy's Mom

Good luck PK!  I have sat and watched for cairns in South Dakota and they are few and far between.  When there is one that I am interested in they are gone in a snap especially since I live in the  middle of nowhere.  You will be great!  I have no  worries that you will find a perfect fit.  

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pkcrossley

Thanks, Lori, and same to you! Please don't give up. People will help and I think there must be a lot of cairns willing to apply for the job. Keeping my fingers crossed for you and Elsie. 

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hheldorfer

Good grief, I only saw this post today!  I *must* begin checking the site more regularly!

I agree wholeheartedly with you regarding Cairn mixes.  Our boy Ziggy was listed on Pet Finder as a Cairn mix.  He is actually a Shih Tzu/Silky mix, so you wonder who writes those descriptions.  Anyway, we love him to death and he turned out to be a perfectly good buddy for Buffy.  

As for Buffy, she was probably a puppy mill dog who had been surrendered at the shelter.  She was a bit over 20 pounds in her prime and I wouldn't have trusted her with a smaller dog who didn't have the chutzpah to stand up to her.  She could be quite the bully when it served her purposes.  So I understand why you don't want a Cairn of unknown temperament who may also become considerably larger than Alice.

 We hit the jackpot when we adopted our current Cairn, Nattie, after Buffy's death.  Granted, she was a retired breeder and already 9 years old but she came from good stock.  She is the sweetest Cairn in the world and  - probably due to her being raised as part of a pack in a kennel - she has allowed Ziggy to be the alpha from day one.  (This has been the biggest thrill of Ziggy's life, by the way.)  She's not as big as Buffy (although she's becoming a tad portly now) and she's a gentle soul (if you're not a squirrel or other critter).  Just last night I was walking her and we ran into the Yorkinator (Bella, a puppy mill rescue with attitude).  Bella snarled and lunged and barked at Nattie . . . and Nattie did nothing.  I think Nattie was trying to figure out how she had wronged Bella.  So even a purebred Cairn could work out IF he/she has the right personality.

That's my two cents worth.  I hope you can find a friend for Alice, PK.  It would be the luckiest dog in the world.

 

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pkcrossley

Thanks, Helene, that's all very encouraging. As you can see above, there has some skeptical comment on females!

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