Dog Stories: Twig

When our foundation female Nestle had her last litter in 2003, I intended to keep one black female to go forward with, and I did. But this pretty yellow puppy also insisted that I keep her.  She was a very strking puppy, and was named Twig after the beautiful model Twiggy- but she also earned her name via a need to be always hauling sticks around as a wee youngster.

Twig’s first lessons were in tracking. We knew from a young age that she had a keen sniffer and spent her first fall season learning to track, which she picked up with great enthusiasm. Even though she was still a puppy, she was STRONG and tracking with her meant running along at full speed or risk being dragged! Though I hadn’t yet met Tim, I somehow landed on the tracking cue “Where’s Timmy?” as my Lassie-style tracking cue.  This strength and speed  with which she tracked eased easily to her next sport- skijoring, which along with her sister Vezina, she had a lot of fun with – they were a lot of wipeouts as I attempted to keep my skis going in the same direction as these speedy girls. 

Next, Twig learned to play agility. We took lessons from the Saskatchewan Agility Association club in Saskatoon and got special help from one of the club members, who kindly let us practice on her equipment.  When Twig first started running courses, she didn’t even need a handler- she would just sniff where the last dog had gone an re-trace their course by scent! It was both amazing but also not very handy, if the previous dog had gone off course! With a little practice, she did learn to better differentiate her sports. By the time she reached 18 months (legal agility competition age), Twig was doing very well in her training and entered her first trial- just a single jumpers run, and she did a great job! But Twig’s agility career suffered an interruption at that point as we moved to Fort Nelson, BC for employment and no longer had access to agility equipment, trials or trainers to work with.

About 4  years later though, we moved yet again, this time south to Quesnel where agility was live and well and Twig was able to resume competing, earning six Q’s in her first ‘comeback’ trial. Over the next couple of years, Twig attended a few trials in Quesnel and Prince George with a few interruptions for puppies, ending up with both her Starters and Advanced Agility Dog of Canada titles.  With her past skijoring experience, Twig also helped to get future lead dog Ruger started in dog sledding and she ran with our main team for several years. 

Twig produced three beautiful litters – these were the first to bear the Eromit kennel name. Her first two litters were sired by 2xNMH GMH OTCH Prairiestorm Hawk. We kept two females from her first litter (Kimber and Beretta) who proved to be extremely precocious hunting dogs and also were trained for agility and dog sledding. From the second breeding, we co-owned Maggie and Olympia who also contributed to our breeding program. The third litter was sired by Chester and produced our Jackie! Puppies from Twigs litters have done all kinds of amazing things – Koya the regional agility champion, Sable – a Canadian Dock Dogs Champion and multi-time Worlds competitor- and many hunt tests, dock diving, working certificates, agility and nosework title earners.

Between puppies and agility competition, Twig was also busy hunting grouse in the falls and spent her winters dog sledding. An injury resulting from a high-speed collision with another dog at around nine years of age put an early end to agility for Twig but luckily she recovered enough to continue enjoying her other sports.  Though we did not end up pursuing competition tracking, Twig’s early training often payed off as she was able to find items or tools that had been misplaced around the farm.  It’s no surprise that several of her descendants inherited her strong sniffer and searching ability, and have gone on to be search and rescue dogs.  Twig LOVED swimming and diving and it’s a shame that we didn’t really become involved with dock diving until after her injury, though she certainly enjoyed her swimming time in the pool! 

As she advanced in years, Twig became known as “Granny” and spent much of her time socializing with Eromit puppies, helping to role model good behaviors and gently teach them boundaries. It would be impossible to guess how many miles she logged with a litter of puppies hot on her tail- but it would be a lot.  Twig’s role as Granny was not limited to baby puppies- she was also the matriarch of the adult dogs and sometimes played the role of ‘fun police’.  With her insatiable desire to retrieve and top dog status, it wasn’t until very late in life that other dogs would be able to beat her to a tossed toy or dare try to take one from her mouth! 

When a dog is aged or gone, it is often easy to summarize their life in terms of ribbons or titles earned. Twig’s life was so much more than that. She was truly a good dog, and in all her fourteen plus  years, I can think of only a few naughty things that she did. The first, as a youngster, was when she and her sister consumed an entire five gallon pail of colored milkbones in the middle of the night, and then crapped rainbows all over the kitchen. A couple of years later, she chewed up a remote control. In the last few years, she became most devious and would chew out the pockets of coats and pants in order to get to any tiny cookie crumb that might have been left behind. My entire wardrobe of pocket-less outfits ensures that Twig’s memory will be near every time I get dressed. 

Twig slept on our bed for most of her life and her preferred spot was under the covers- she liked to bury right in to get the best spot and would push either us over with her feet if she felt we were crowding her.  In the last few years, when getting on and off the bed started to become a hazard, she preferred to sleep on the couch, typically curled up next to Verona or Marvin the cat. 

For those that only met Twig in her later years, I am sure it is hard to imagine  her as a young, vibrant and powerful dog- but those that met her in her prime will not soon forget that image.  Twig passed away in her sleep, in my arms, at age 14.5. We miss this sweet and gentle girl so very much and are so grateful to have our home filled with her daughters and grand daughters. 

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