Sometime in the next month or so, Younger Son and his lovely wife will become the proud parents of a twelve-week-old Alaskan Malamute puppy.
I can’t wait. It’s been far too long since DB and I had a Malamute to love! We’re hoping our house will be that puppy’s second home when YS and LW are away, as it was with their first Malamute, the one and only Gannon (known among us as The Big Fella), who died last spring.
The four of us recently travelled to the Georgian Bay area to visit Howling Pines, the kennel where the new Malamute puppy is being raised with his five brothers and one sister, to meet the breeder and have a peek at the dogs.
Since Nicole, the breeder, is keeping the one female puppy from this litter of seven because she’s a rare “blue,” we know that our next pack member will be a boy.
When the time is right, she’ll choose the puppy she believes is the best personality fit for YS and LW (who, when they applied to buy a dog, were asked to complete a questionnaire expressly for this purpose).
Nicole, who also works as a veterinary technician, owns a number of beautiful Alaskan Malamute females that she breeds once every couple of years, either with the handsome male in her pack, or with the finest mates she can find among her continent-wide coterie of trusted breeders.
I’ll talk more about the kennel and Malamutes in my next post, but today I want to introduce you to an unexpected member of the breeder’s canine family, an enormous, friendly, coal-black Italian Mastiff adolescent–a Cane Corso, they’re called–by the name of Capone.
(Sadly, we didn’t get our own pics of this loveable big boy because it there was just too much going on, but I’ve found a few representative photos that should do the job. This one below looks exactly like Capone at his stage of growth.)
Capone came to live with them at Howling Pines because when Nicole is working out back in the huge kennel area on this large, forested property, she can’t hear people coming up the long driveway to the house to visit. Alaskan Malamutes aren’t much given to barking, so they aren’t a reliable help. Capone’s job is to act as the welcoming committee.
In my brief experience, he does it exceedingly well.
The little fellow below is an Italian Cane Corso Mastiff puppy. I dare you to take one look at those soulful eyes and tell me you wouldn’t take this baby home with you in a flash. It seems to be a fact of life: all puppies are adorable. Period.
As for me, I had never met a Cane Corso before I made Capone’s acquaintance. In fact, I had no idea there was such a breed in the world. Capone, for all he’s still young—barely into doggie adolescence, I believe—is going to be one big fella! Here’s a pic of a fully-grown Cane Corso female with her owner:
The moment Capone laid eyes on the four of us standing just inside his front door, it was clear that within a nanosecond, his brain had broadcast to his body the following message: Visitors! Pats! Hugs! Lots and lots of pats and hugs!
In a flash, from the other side of the 30-odd-foot living room, over hassocks and slippery rugs, legs careening about in all directions, he galloped toward us as only an adolescent dog who is still all legs and feet can, hurtling into our small group of four surprised humans.
We braced ourselves for the collision, but when a dog the size and breadth of Capone, whose black body literally shimmers with bunches of large, healthy muscle under that shiny coat, gallops over to meet you and leans into you to be patted and hugged, all I can say is, you’d better be standing against something solid.
One of the features of the grown Cane Corso is a dewlap on the neck, as well as a set of long, sagging lips that I can easily imagine drooling gallons of saliva onto the furniture and my lap. Drool isn’t one of my favourite things, to be honest. All in all, their faces tend to look as though they’ve melted a bit around the edges.
On the other hand, canine facial beauty aside, I found Capone to be one of the friendliest and most engaging dogs I’ve come across in quite some time. What a happy personality he has; just looking at him being himself is enough to make a person’s day. His entire body wriggles when his tail wags, and that day it was wagging like a metronome gone wild.
His delight at being introduced to new friends was evident, yet he didn’t once try to jump on us the way many young dogs will do. He just twisted around the four pairs of legs that were trying their best to stay upright (think of bowling pins at the moment of impact) and wagged his entire body as fast as he could as he practically burst with joy at the pats and hugs he was getting.
I later read that properly raised and socialized Corsos make great companions and protectors for children of all ages. Given a firm yet loving hand in the training, that warm and friendly attitude that I saw that day spills over to embrace the dog’s entire family.
Having read that, I couldn’t resist posting this charming shot from the Mad River Cane Corso website, taken of a little girl named Montana with her friend and protector, Gladimor. Just look at the size of that dog’s face next to his little friend’s:
From what I could see, Capone fit the descriptions perfectly. In fact, he appeared to be one of the lovingest pupsI had ever met.
When I mentioned this to Nicole, she ruefully agreed that he’s a lover, all right. Furthermore, she said, he’s definitely no longer a puppy. With a roll of her eyes at her errant boy, she informed us that a few months prior to our visit, Capone managed (purely accidentally) to slip away one fine day from under the watchful eyes of the humans at the kennel to enjoy a brief tryst with one of the female malamutes—the very female, it turned out, that they were about to send out to be bred with a worthy malamute stud.
That plan certainly got nipped in the bud, because Capone proved that even though he’s young, he’s definitely got the licks to be a sire. His timing was perfect.
The resulting Mastiff-Malamute puppies (dubbed “Caponis”) were given away to good homes once they were weaned and trained and ready to leave their mother–twelve long, busy weeks of hard work, that, because Nicole ensures that all the puppies coming from her kennels, purebred or “almost,” are at their very best before they leave their first home and go out into the world.
I’m just guessing here, but after that serious misdemeanour, I’m thinking Capone’s tryst days may be over. Nicole’s business, after all, is raising Malamutes, not Caponis.
The day we visited, only two of that litter remained to be picked up, a delightful black female with Malamute features and a mastiff body, and a larger and equally good-natured brindle male who didn’t show any visible signs of the Malamute side of his heritage. Like their sire, they were easy and friendly with people and appeared to like nothing better than to be patted and made much of.
Charmers, all. Good genes and good early training, I’d call it. Where dog breeders are concerned, I think our son and his wife have hit the jackpot.
P.S. Next time I’ll talk about the rest of our visit to peek at our puppy-to-be, with pictures.