Flirt is a Toy Poodle, and my constant companion. She is a happy little dog, but never happier than when she is near me. If we have been apart, even for a short time, she throws herself, sobbing, into my arms, as if she feared we would never meet again.
If I am on one side of the door, and she on the other, she wants nothing more than to be reunited.
Ever since I was a tiny child, I have loved dogs, dreamed of dogs, planned what sort of dogs I would like to share my life with. I have a list of breeds that I desire to own someday much longer than I will ever be able to have, even if I live to be 100. But a Toy Poodle was never on that list.
One winter evening six years ago my good friend Debi, who lives in Georgia, and I were happily messaging each other on our computers. She mentioned that she had a new litter of toy poodle puppies. I asked about the litter and she told me she had a black female, a phantom male and a cream female. I had a sudden and overwhelming feeling that I wanted to own that cream female. "Mail me the cream female?" I quipped. She said no, but that she would be happy to meet me with her at the upcoming Atlanta Pet Fair in March. The puppy would be 12 weeks old then. I asked my patient husband, "Can I have a toy poodle puppy?" He looked at me quizzically, "You don't want a toy poodle." I said, "I think I do." Then I waffled for a few weeks, polling friends and co-workers, "Do I want a toy poodle?" I had just about talked myself out of adding her to the family when Debi sent me this picture and said, "Her paw is smaller than my thumbnail." For some reason that thought captivated me.
That weekend, surrounded by dog crazy groomers, the hapless puppy was passed from person to person, held and kissed and adored. She took it all in stride. At night she curled up next to my neck and slept peacefully, and in the morning let strangers coo at her. Her temperament was certainly sound and pleasant, I thought, even if she wasn't all that attractive. The day I flew home I had her in a tiny carry bag, and she was perfectly contented there. At some point I took her out, walking through the huge airport, and tucked her under my left forearm. Her back was pressed against my stomach, her rear legs dangling. Bright eyed and inquisitive, she watched the masses of people passing by. She was perfectly relaxed, delighted to be held, observing the new world she was experiencing. She never made a peep on the plane, and when we had a layover in New Jersey, she promptly took care of business on the puppy pad I placed on the ladies room floor. She was a pleasant little travel companion, I thought, as I tucked her back into her bag and headed for the flight to Maine.
I brought her to work at the grooming shop every day. She was so tiny we had to watch where our feet were so as to not flatten her. She had a pile of toys, a cozy bed, and spent her days playing, being petted, and napping happily. Customers loved her, and she loved them. She soon became our "shop dog," a friendly ambassador, welcoming everyone with joy.
Because I am a groomer, I got a little creative with her as she grew...
People reacted strongly to these decorative grooms. Most loved them, some were horrified. Flirt didn't care, as long as they were paying attention to her.
She had three litters of puppies, and is a wonderful mama.
Like many small dogs, she has no concept of her size. She races around the farm like a big dog, barks at strangers with a vengeance, tells the other dogs who is boss, and is quite fearless around the 150 pound goats and 900 pound horse.
But really, she is very small.