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Meet Simon

ROBERT DOVER explains how he got his SCHNOODLE against his will.

I had two Jack Russells, a father and daughter named Half Halt and Pirouette. Both of them lived to be 19 years old. When the first one died, I was heartbroken. When Pirouette died, I was completely crushed, and I said, “That’s it! I’m not having another dog,” and for the next four and a half years, there wasn’t even a thought of having a dog. Then slowly I started looking at the internet and talking to my family and [husband] Robert. I said, “You know, I really don’t want a dog. If I did—but I don’t—I would consider—but I’m not—the possibility of a PBGV, a petit basset griffon Vendeen,” because they looked goofy, and one had won the Westminster Dog Show that year. I thought, “Oh it’s such a cool-looking dog, it’s completely disheveled looking.” I liked that, and I liked that it doesn’t shed, too.Then Robert went up to New Jersey to give a clinic. While he was there, without my having any idea, he looked at PBGVs at two breeders. Later, he told me that the dogs were so untrainable that you had to sign your life away to have one—you had to promise that the dog would never be off a leash, and no matter what, you couldn’t give it back. He said that he would rather shoot himself in the foot than have one of those dogs. Then, he found a breeder that my assistant trainer had a dog from—it was a Schnoodle, a poodle and schnauzer cross.

So, he went to that breeder who had about 20 puppies from different litters. He sent their pictures to our friends—like 15 different people—and they all picked the same dog as the one that he should get me.On my birthday, Robert had gone off ostensibly to get my present. Three hours later when he didn’t come home, I got it in my head that he was getting me a dog. So I called him and I said, “Robert, you went and got me a damn dog, didn’t you?

I’m not having a dog, I’m not ready for a dog, I don’t want a dog. Take it back! I’m not having a dog.” He said, “I’m already in the garage. Just come out to the garage.” So I walked out to the garage, and he got out of the car and said, “Close your eyes.” And I said, “I don’t care what it looks like, you’re taking that dog back! I’m not having a dog.” He said, “Now, put out your hands in front of you.” And I said again, “Listen, it could be the cutest thing in the world, but I’m not having—I don’t want a dog!” And I had my hands out and I felt it going into my hands, and I said, “I’m sorry, but I’m not ready for a (opens eyes)—OKAY, I’LL TAKE IT!”

I was so nervous. Within three hours of giving him milk and everything, he completely owned the house—and us. He was so cute and didn’t shed, so I thought, “Well, let’s put him on the bed for just a minute.” And then, of course, Robert’s falling off one side of the bed and I’m off the other, and Simon’s sprawled out in the middle on the pillows, pretty much owning the whole bed.He goes where we go, but honestly, I don’t bring him to the barn that much because he doesn’t know that horses can be dangerous, or that cars can be dangerous, because I walk him on a leash. So, I always worry a little about him while I’m teaching and riding. But I will tell you this: he loves to run with the other dogs. He’s crazed, running around, and then I have to pick burrs out of his hair for the next six hours.

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