Everyday Adventures in Havachon Heaven

The Good, Crazy, & Adorable Life of One Havachon Puppy

She’s ALL Girl….

I say this because Daisy LOVES shoes, and as we all know, that’s a real girl thing! She’s more fascinated by shoes than anything else and knows a new pair when she sees it, even before getting within sniffing range.

Daisy and her faves...

Of course, Daisy loves being close to us, but I think she loves being close to our shoes even more…DD left a pair of boots near the door and Daisy has arranged them so she can snuggle up between them – it’s the only thing that keeps her off our feet!

Her favorite thing is burying her face inside warm slippers and then curling up on them. Pink fuzzy slippers are her absolute favorites – how girly is that!!?? LOL 😀

Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but pink fuzzy slippers are this girly-dog’s best friend!

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Vet Visit

We took Daisy to the vet last week and found out that she’s now 5 lbs 7 oz! He said she’s finally free of parasites and he was thrilled at how happy and active she is.

He gave her a nice buzz cut right between the eyes – where we were afraid to clip her – so now her eyes look even bigger than before!

Weird thing though – she got her final distemper shot and instead of being sleepy afterward like he said she’d be, she went into overdrive and acted crazy. She became very nippy and aggressive and ran around like a maniac that night. She did finally go to sleep.

The next morning she continued that behavior AND relieved herself all over the carpet rather than on the wee-wee pad like normal. This is nothing like the puppy we know. She finally pooped out and slept the rest of the day. Very weird. Anyone ever heard of that happening??

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Bathtime Challenges

No, Daisy doesn’t mind baths themselves so much….anymore. And I get such a laugh every time out of how this furry puppy turns into a stick figure when she’s wet! I also love holding her afterward, all snuggled up in a towel and oh so warm and toasty. She gets very relaxed and a couple of times, she almost fell asleep in those few minutes. It’s my favorite part of bath time and one of those truly tender life moments.

What she really hates is being blow-dried afterward. I hold her on my lap and DD blow dries her on a low, warm setting. She’s okay with that, but we can only dry her head, back, and one side because she’s so tightly curled up like a furry curly-fry (not a tasty image, I know…).

The one funny thing she does is when we aim the dryer at her head, she snaps at the moving air as if trying to catch it! That part is cute.

After we dry as much as we can that way, we stand her on the counter (while I hold her) with a towel under her to dry her legs and underside, but she tries to run away and starts whining and yapping and it’s impossible to manage. Now that it’s so hot out, we can take her outside for a little while and she dries pretty fast, but what do we do during the cooler seasons?

Does anyone have any suggestions or advice?

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Quirky Puppy!

Okay, figure this weird little quirk ~~

Whenever we take out a box of aluminum foil or plastic wrap, Daisy comes flying into the kitchen yapping her head off even before we starting pulling the sheet out. When we do, her yapping goes into overdrive!

We can’t figure out what it is about these things that sets her off, but she stands there yapping and posturing in a combination challenging/playful way. As soon as we put the box away, she stops and leaves. And she doesn’t do it when we take out wax paper, only foil wrap and plastic wrap! We’ve let her sniff the boxes and she’s clearly not afraid of them, she just has that strange reaction every single time.

Silly puppy……


Havachon Personality Traits

We couldn’t find any information about Havachons anywhere, so we looked up info on Havanese and Bichon personality traits, figuring Daisy would probably be a mixture of both. And she certainly is, and then some. Since there isn’t any good Havachon info online, we thought we’d post some so you aren’t facing the same blank wall we were.

If you’re thinking of getting a Havachon, here are the traits we’ve noticed in Daisy:

1. SMART. Maybe too smart. Loves to outsmart humans and figure things out.

2. Stubborn. Unless and until a Havachon recognizes you as her leader, she’ll do things her way over and over again until she has YOU trained.

3. Willful. It’s her way or the highway, baby. She’ll pursue areas that are off-limits until she finds a way to go there, then she’ll flash you a “see-it’s-mine-now” look.  That is, until you teach her who’s Alpha.

4. Loving. Oh, so loving! Havachons become little puddles of mush in your arms, with their soft doe-eyes, frantically wagging tails, and kisses galore!

5. Shy. In certain circumstances, like taking them somewhere new, they can be a bit leery and want to take things slowly at first. But once they trust you, they’ll look to you for guidance and listen when you tell them everything’s okay.

6. Playful! Very playful! They tend to play pretty hard, which is surprising for such a tiny dog. They play like they’re 50 pounds bigger than they are. And their sharp teeth go through everything, from Kongs to Nylabones. Our Shepherd-Husky-Collie mix didn’t shred toys like these little guys do!

7. Cuddly. They just LOVE being held, cuddled, and sleeping in your lap.

8. Happy. Definitely happy!

9. Friendly. We were told that Havachons were shy about meeting new people, but we haven’t seen any examples of that. Daisy is always very happy and excited to meet new people and new dogs.

10. Ham. LOVES to have her picture taken. She’ll actually freeze in place when she sees the camera pointed at her and wait until she hears the “click” before she continues whatever she was doing.

11. Curious. They’ll check every nook and cranny a hundred times just to see what there is to see. Very thorough.

This is definitely a wonderful new mix that I’d recommend to anyone who has the energy to get through the puppy period!


Jan Fennell is a Training GENIUS!

One thing we learned very quickly about our little Havachon – she’s as challenging as she is cute. After all, she’s descended from two breeds known to be smart, and she picked up every last one of those genes. If you ask me, she’s a little TOO smart – outsmarting us at every turn seems to be her forte. Sometimes you can practically see those wheels turning in her head as she assesses a situation and decides on her response!

Jan Fennell’s training is based on a simple theory – become the Alpha leader in your home. Makes sense, right? Jan studied dogs in the wild to see what traits Alphas exhibited that kept the rest of the pack in line, then translated those lessons into human-to-dog relationship training. Completely non-violent, no hitting, pushing, or yelling involved. Sounded excellent and worth a try.

Our little puppy thought she was queen of the land. Although she could be sweet, shy, and loving, she could also be demanding, hyper, and nippy. We were already frazzled to the core after only having her three weeks – among other things, she absolutely refused to use the wee-wee training pads; when we’d lead her to the pad every 20 minutes (all the experts said this should have her trained within a week for the most part), she’d sniff around, walk off the pad, and look us straight in the eye as she peed and pooped all over the carpet. Very deliberate. And that stubbornness overflowed into other behaviors as well. We thought she might be untrainable, but Jan says that no dog is untrainable and she’s worked with seriously scary dogs!

The next weekend we took a pile of dog training books and CDs out of the library and went hard-core studying them all so we could implement some form of training and get our little monster under control. Among all of the experts, we found Jan Fennell’s techniques the best and most logical, and we also liked the fact that the result would be a respectful dog, not one who is always in a state of submission like Cesar Milan touts. I’m sure his outcome is great for many people, but it wasn’t for us. We also found Paul Owens’s CD good for teaching things like stay, sit, down, heel, etc. to be a wonderful visual accompaniment using a fun technique, so we narrowed our methods down to those two. First, though, before any command training, we needed to for Daisy to accept us as Alpha leaders and to trust us implicitly.

I can’t even begin to tell you what a difference Jan’s techniques made in our pooch. We used her book, The Dog Listener, like a daily Bible of Dog Training, referring to it every time we needed assistance with some new type of rebellious behavior Daisy tried. Immediately, we could see that the difference in our behavior toward her was having an impact. We did make some minor adjustments in consideration of the fact that we were dealing with a young pup and not a grown dog, but those were very minor adjustments.

The most important aspect of her book, I think, is that it taught us the workings of the dog mind so that we could understand better why Daisy was acting the way she was and also how she was interpreting our responses to her actions. VERY big differences in how the dog mind processes things from the way the human mind works! This helped us deal with any new challenges she threw our way. With serious adherence to Jan’s techniques, we now have a wonderfully respectful, loving puppy who responds to our commands and behaves very well. And Paul Owens’s techniques have her sitting, staying, and lying down by hand signals alone – that worked immediately as well.

Of course, Daisy is a 4-month old puppy, so she’s still testing here and there and tries to get around us sometimes, but because Jan’s method laid the groundwork of establishing a hierarchy, she realizes very quickly from our response to her misbehaviors that her little rebellious attempts aren’t going to work. And we learned that consistency is key in maintaining the right balance in our human-to-dog relationship. 🙂

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The Vet that Nearly Killed Our Puppy

We learned fast – and the hard way – that choosing the right vet is probably the most important thing we could do for our new puppy. We figured that a recommendation by good friends was the safest way to go….but not so. This guy seemed nice, his office was big, clean, and trendy, and best of all, he had a built-in kennel so we could leave Daisy there when we travel.

BUT – his lackadaisical attitude and inattention to her symptoms almost killed her. We noticed the day after we got her (at 2-1/2 months old and just 2-1/2 pounds) that she had a little cough, so we scheduled a vet visit for the next day. He gave her a general exam, then gave her a routine parvo/distemper shot. He also took the usual stool sampling, which was analyzed in his office. We pointed out her cough and he said, “She’s in perfect health. Don’t worry about it.”

Over the next few days, Daisy’s cough got much worse – MAJORLY worse – to the point that she developed heavy, phlegmy-sounding coughs that went on for a while, followed by horrible-sounding labored breathing. It got worse at night and we were up every night with it, and it worsened by the day. We looked her symptoms up online and there were a few possibilities, some of which were pretty scary: collapsing trachea syndrome (somewhat common in toy breeds), kennel cough, for which we were told she’d been vaccinated, allergies, and respiratory infection.

We made an emergency vet appointment – which they told us would cost DOUBLE – and took her in for a recheck. He listened to her chest and even with his stethoscope, he pronounced her “in perfect health” once again.

“But what about all this awful coughing?”

“Well her lungs are clear, but I’ll give you a general antibiotic and if she gets better after taking it, we’ll know it was something we couldn’t detect.”

WHAAAAA??? I wouldn’t give my dog a random antibiotic without a diagnosis any more than I’d do that to my child! And what did he mean that he “couldn’t detect” a problem – this poor puppy could hardly breath without having a coughing fit!

“Could it be Collapsing Trachea Syndrome? I read that it can be controlled in young puppies with medications and possibly surgery.”

“Don’t look stuff up online, it’s full of misinformation.”

“Yes, but I do research for a living and I know the difference between Joe Schmo’s site and a reputable organization’s site. This information was from the AHS and serious veterinary sites.”

“If she’s got collapsing trachea, there’s nothing that can be done about it. She’ll live.”

That was it – I looked in the Yellow Pages and found one local vet who stood out from the rest. He had AVA awards and certifications, among other impressive things. I don’t usually go by that – I’ve been to plenty of doctors myself who were head of this and head of that, and they truly sucked – but I had to try for the best, since I felt this could be our last chance. I called and they squeezed us right in, and I’m happy to say that this vet saved our puppy’s life. We told him what happened with the other vet, and he got so upset about it. He said, “I don’t even have to use my stethoscope to hear that she has a moderate respiratory infection that’s bordering on severe.” OMG! He gave her a thorough exam, which confirmed his initial diagnosis.

To make things worse, he said that although Bad Vet didn’t cause the infection, he irritated and escalated it by giving her a vaccination while she was exhibiting symptoms of illness. Isn’t hearing lung congestion and knowing not to vaccinate a potentially sick pet the basics of Vet Training 101???

He also asked for a stool sample because he didn’t trust the other vet’s findings; he does an in-house analysis AND sends a sample out to a lab for analysis because the labs have advanced equipment that can find things vets’ equipment can’t, and it’s also good as a double-check system. I’d read this online as well, on a couple vet’s sites as well as the American Humane Society site. On the other hand, Bad Vet only did in-house testing. Results? The new vet discovered two nasty parasites for which he had to make two special medications in order to kill them. Bad Vet spotted NEITHER.

You’d think that Bad Vet would have a failing practice, but you’d be wrong. He’s part of a group practice that I discovered is a chain (like the McDonald’s of vet practices) – another thing the AHS and vet sites warned against. Why are they flooded with patients? Because they’re CHEAP – half the cost of private practice vets.

Moral of the story – when it comes to veterinarians, you get what you pay for.

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The Lure of the Forbidden Zone….

Stuck in the Forbidden Zone

Daisy has always loved being in small, confined places, so she found the small gap between the sofa and love seat in our family room very tempting. I wouldn’t have minded her squeezing in there and staking a claim to the area under the end table, except for the fact that the lamp wire is back there, and I knew she’d go for it.

I put a footstool in that corner with one of legs blocking the gap and a tall pillow on top of that to keep her from climbing over the footstool. That worked for 2 months, but one day at 4 months old, her engineering skills kicked in and unbeknownst to us, she figured out that she can push the offending leg out of the way and squeeze back there.

We keep her limited to the kitchen and family room so I was completely befuddled one morning when I suddenly couldn’t find her. I called her and called her and finally I heard this tiny little whimper – she had moved the footstool leg and squeezed herself through that little gap, but couldn’t manage to squeeze back out! She looked so pathetic that I had to take a picture of her. It’s a little blurry because I was laughing so hard!

To stop her from doing this again, I jammed a large old sheet underneath the footstool, but she then discovered that she could climb up onto the footstool and use the pillow as a ramp onto the sofa, where she’s not allowed even though we’ve covered the seats with sheets so she doesn’t claw them to pieces. One morning we found her sitting proudly on the sofa with a combined look of “I made it into the forbidden zone!” along with “I know I’m in trouble now”. It’s really hard to discipline puppies when they keep making us laugh! She stayed there just long enough to show us she could do it, then walked back down the pillow-ramp. This weekend we built an immovable wedge to fill the gap, which is frustrating her to no end. She keeps walking up to it and yapping at it, then grumbles as she walks away. Gotta love those puppy antics!

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“What’s a Havachon?”

That’s the first thing people ask when we say we have a Havachon puppy. Havachons are a relatively new mix of Havanese and Bichon, and they generally grow to all of 10-12 pounds. She’s our first small dog and as we’ve come to find out, with small dogs come BIG responsibilities!

There’s precious little information anywhere about Havachons because they’re such a new mix, so we’re inching our way along with training and personality traits. LOTS of fun and plenty of challenges too, but she’s so darned cute, it’s worth it!

Funny stories, crazy moments, nutty personality traits, and training techniques that work and don’t work with this little bundle of fur – that’s what you’ll find here.  🙂

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