The MinPin (Miniature Pinscher) Years
Last Saturday, I wrote about my life with dogs starting with my childhood friend Dinah. That post ended with the death of Jr. in 1995. If you missed that post, you can read it here. I mentioned at the time that Jr. was not the last of my dogs. Indeed, his death led into a period that I now call “The MinPin (Miniature Pinscher) Years, 1995-2019.
Driving home from San Francisco, I pulled the truck into a rest area just north of Grants Pass, Oregon. As soon as I got out of the cab, a woman approached. She asked if I could tell her what was wrong with her motor home. I wanted to say “Do I look like a mechanic,” but Momma raised me better than that. Lying down, I crawled under her motor home where I noticed a hose hanging loose. For all I know it was supposed to hang there. Still, I figured she should find a real mechanic and have it inspected.
Ribbons in the Windshield
As I stood back up, I noticed a lot of blue and purple ribbons hanging in the windshield. Looking more closely, I noted that she had show ribbons for exhibiting MinPins (Miniature Pinschers). I told her about losing Jr. and about my experience with MinPins. She asked if I wanted another MinPin, and I replied “Someday.” She then told me that she had a Champion MinPin for me, if I wanted him. When I replied that I would not show a dog, she explained. As a Champion, the dog’s show days were over. She needed to find him a good home. In essence, she told me that she had no further use for him.
As we talked, she let me know that she did not have the dog with her. Mind you, she had thirteen other MinPins in the motor home. Just not the Champion. Looking at her calendar, she told me that the dog show circuit had her in Missoula on June 23rd, and she would have the dog with her. I thanked her and told her I would see her in Missoula.
June 23rd was a Friday in 1995. It was also the end of the first week of our Arts Education Summer Program, the Creative Pulse. As a faculty member in that program, I could not leave school early, and by the time I got to the fairgrounds for the dog show, the clock read close to six. I found the motor home, and when I knocked on the door, the woman I had met in Grants Pass opened. Seeing me, she started crying. “I came here without a dog. I can go home without a dog.” Or so I told myself. I assumed she did not really want to give me a dog.
But no, she explained. The Montana circuit that year was Billings–Bozeman–Missoula. In Billings, someone had approached her wanting to buy my dog. The breeder replied that the dog was not for sale. The potential buyer followed the breeder to Bozeman wanting to buy my dog. Again the breeder refused to sell, saying that the dog was promised to someone else. When the buyer showed up in Missoula, roughly half an hour ahead of me, the breeder relented and sold my dog for $400.00. Lord knows I didn’t have that kind of money to buy a dog.
I assured her that I was fine going home without a dog. Again she stopped me. “I promised you a dog and I want you to have a dog.” She then reached into her portable kennel and handed me a stag red MinPin. “I’m going for a walk. See how the two of you get along.” By the time she returned, there was no doubt in my mind. Speedway Speedy was going home with me.
With Speedy firmly entrenched in his new home, I joined the online MinPin (Miniature Pinscher) world. In addition to MinPin discussion groups, I found IMPS, the Internet Miniature Pinscher Service. I’m not sure if it was through IMPS, or through a discussion group, but I learned of a female in Idaho who needed to find a new home. Faline was less than 150 miles away from us, and when I talked to her people, I felt I needed to go get her immediately. The photo above was taken the first time Speedy and Faline met. Two weeks later, Faline arrived in Missoula to stay.
It turned out that Faline was diabetic. No one knew this at the time we adopted her. The disease turned up only after Faline had been with us for a couple of years. Faline was the first, but not the last diabetic MinPin to live with us. She, and her diabetic kin, needed insulin shots twice a day. It became a standing joke that if we were at a gathering, around 6 p.m. we’d say to the assembled group, “Sorry, but we have to go home and shoot the dog.” People look at you strangely when you make that statement.
You can learn to do almost anything. That includes injecting a dog with insulin. You also get to know your vet very well. Faline loved our vet–one who made house calls rather than have a brick and mortar practice. The dog recognized the sound of Connie’s car, and would race to the door to greet her. If I picked her up, she would act as if she was swimming in my arms, trying to get to the vet. Connie said she didn’t understand it. “All I do is poke her and prod her and stick needles in her. Why does she love me so much?”
Faline came to live with us early in 1999. She was two years old at the time. Late that same year, we got a call from a friend who worked with the Bitterroot Humane Society. “We have a MinPin here we need you to adopt,” Lance said. Gary and I drove to Hamilton to meet this dog, but we weren’t sure that we would bring him home. Rocky was a fine dog, but we already had two MinPins at home. Did we really need a third. When we suggested that we could foster him, Lance took us aside. “We called you because if you do not adopt him, we have to offer him to the next family on our list. It will not be a good fit for anyone.” We adopted Rocky. Turns out Rocky was diabetic as well, and now we had two dogs to shoot every morning and evening.
In May, 2001, we took a two-week trip to Puerto Vallarta. It’s one thing to ask friends to dog sit while you go on vacation. It’s another matter entirely when dog sitting involves giving insulin shots twice a day. Gary headed to the Missoula Humane Society offices to ask for advice. When he returned home, he told me about a tiny MinPin he’d visited there. “We won’t have any trouble finding a home for her,” he’d been told. Gary and I visited Minnie at the shelter several times, but we already had three dogs. When we returned from Mexico, Minnie still lived at the shelter. We adopted her as well.
Minnie was an owner turn in. “We have three children. We can’t deal with having a dog as well.” The “owners” said that Minnie was 18 months old. I surmise that the “owners” lied. (I’m putting owners in quotes because, in my opinion, no one owns a dog. Besides, these people weren’t fit to have a dog.) As I noted above, Minnie was tiny. Either she was the runt of her litter, or something happened to stunt her growth. I would guess the latter. This extremely small dog had nipples that extended almost an inch. Furthermore, in the first six months with us, she doubled in size. No 18 month old dog doubles in size.
My take on the whole situation? The people who turned Minnie in got her with the intent to breed her. The first time she came into heat, they did exactly that, but the dog, too young herself, lost all the puppies. The people, angry that she wasn’t going to make them money, took her to the shelter. Just conjecture on my part, but I remain convinced I know Minnie’s early story.
Time to move on
In February, 2006, I left Missoula to take care of Momma during the last year of her life. I left all four MinPin (Miniature Pinscher) dogs with Gary in Missoula. By April, I knew I did not have the skill to take care of Momma and she went into a nursing home. Her house was very lonely with just me there. Through the local paper, I found a family looking to sell MinPIn (Miniature Pinscher) pups and the mother. That is how I met Gypsy, and I’ll talk more about her next week.
Today’s video and guest site are all about MinPins. The recipe is for dog treats when your dog is diabetic. I hope you find those pages full of useful information. Tune in tomorrow to learn about Colusa, California. And if you want to learn more about MinPins, let me suggest an article written by Jen Stark on her website Your Dog Advisor. This is a comprehensive look at 15 things you should know about Miniature Pinschers.