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Happy 1st Birthday to Shelby!

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...So, today is our little Welsh Corgi puppy Shelby's first birthday. She's been with us for an eventful and eye-opening 9 months.

Last time we raised a puppy was 17 years ago. And that was actually TWO puppies, the late great Mickey and Callie (who both left us in 2012, each reaching more than16 years of age). How we did this with TWO puppies at the same time back then, I have no idea! It helped that we were much younger, with much more energy, and that the puppies tired each other out. Poor Shelby relies on us to be her playmates, and we can't play with her as much as she'd like.

It's so much fun to watch puppies figure out who they are. Shelby has an "artistic" temperament. She can be loud and impatient, but she's also clever at cooking up games and routines to entertain herself -- and us.

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Our favorite so far: Shelby is our first dog to do interpretive dances with her toys. She'll grab a toy in her mouth, do at least 4 fast spins in the center of the living room, then pause dramatically before flopping onto her back. Then she looks over at us to make sure her audience was watching. We always applaud: "Good Spinny-Dance!"

We've thought about trying to teach her to do Spinny-Dance on cue. But it's such a spontaneous expression of puppy joy, we'll leave it up to her to do it when she feels inspired. We do still hope to get it on video, and we hope she does it forever.

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Shelby is sociable and gregarious: she adores the neighborhood kids, has more doggy buddies than we can count, and happy-dances every time she sees one of her human or canine pals on our walks. She's learned to appreciate tidbits of such healthy goodies as apples, bananas and carrots when we eat them -- along with being polite enough to wait her turn and not demand a second serving.

She's been a pretty good demo doggy at my puppy classes, although she gets loud and cranky if she's not the center of my attention, so she doesn't come to class all the time (yet).

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From the first weeks we had her, she's loved to climb on top of things (including her crate, above). And with her powerful haunches, she flies high and far with the greatest of ease. I would not be surprised to see her standing on the kitchen table one day. I wouldn't be happy about it, but I wouldn't be surprised.

Much of these past 9 months has been spent teaching Shelby her good-puppy manners, supervising her to keep her out of trouble, and continuing an endless quest for toys she can't destroy in ten minutes. We have quite a graveyard of toys fatally shredded by the Jaws of Destruction!

She hates loud noises, including the vacuum cleaner and all manner of kitchen appliances. But on the bright side, she hasn't chewed up any furniture or unraveled the carpeting (yet). So far, Shelby has been 98 percent joy and 2 percent exasperation -- not bad for a "teenage" puppy.

Happy birthday, Shelly-belly-jelly-bean!


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