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Bo’s Story

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Although we thought we were ready to have Boo Radley move in, it turns out we were woefully unprepared.  We had already had one Vizsla, the love of our lives, Simon, whose untimely death on February 10, 2008 from an aggressive and untreatable cancer left us with an unacceptable sorrow.  So we were experienced at this Vizsla thing… right?

Almost immediately after Simon’s passing we networked our way through the Vizsla rescue like a couple of dotcommers through a venture capitalist cocktail party.  We boasted of how well we understood the Vizsla sensitivity and affection, how attached they were to their owners, and how we would gently discipline through positive reinforcement.  This is how it had worked with Simon after all and we figured that surely the next Vizsla would be just as sensitive and malleable.

I was at work when the phone rang and it was Stephanie Fischer of Long Island Vizsla rescue.  The networking had paid off.  There was a one year old male, Dudley, on Long Island whose well-intentioned owners simply could no longer handle.  It seemed like a classic Vizsla story – the pup was cute, but over time they realized that he was high strung, needed an incredible amount of exercise, and spending too much time in the crate led to a situation of him being destructive when finally let out of it.  We drove to Long Island on March 16th, met Dudley, and took him home.

We changed his name to Boo Radley the next day, after a favorite literary character.  We were thinking it sounded much the same as Dudley and he would not notice.  We were half right; he did not notice.  He did not notice because he never knew his name.  He also did not know how to sit, stay, down, off, and, frankly, he was not all that housebroken.

That first evening, as soon as he bolted into our house, he jumped up on the sideboard and trashed the makeshift memorial of cards and flowers which had sprung up around the ashes of our dearly departed Simon.  Radley knocked over the sympathy cards, and grabbed Simon’s collar and ran around the house with it in his mouth.  Blasphemy!

Exhausted from our first day with Radley, we ordered a pizza for dinner, which Radley leapt to eat off our plates right in front of us.  Since then, he has also consumed other fine meals, including grilled wild salmon (medium rare) with sticky rice, my $12 a pound butter mail-ordered from Missouri, several limes (I mulled over offering him some Rum and Tonic to go with it) and also some completely unmentionable items from the bathroom garbage (no one said he was a gourmand).

By Day Two we had taught Radley to sit, if “sit” means put your butt down for a nanosecond and then leap at the human’s head to get your treat.  By Day Three he had peed on my brother’s leg, after which I reprimanded my brother for having a leg.  My brother thereafter referred to him as “Badley.”

We enrolled in obedience class after the first days unfolded and we realized that B-Rad was a tornado.  The first few weeks were all about survival.  Our house looked like a war zone littered with dog training books.  We did six weeks of obedience training and some private sessions with the tutor.  We have worked with him around the house to a great extent, and the truth is that he has improved greatly from that first night when we went to sleep wondering when those people were going to come and pick up their dog, oh wait, no, it’s ours now.

Rad-man gets lots of exercise now.  He runs 3 miles with me a few days a week, runs off leash at the dog park, and we go on lots of walks.  It takes a lot to get him tired but it’s satisfying when we finally do.

B-Rad is still a handful.  Basically, not a day goes by where there’s not a “Badley” event to talk about.  It’s most often the consumption of anything from a sock to pantyhose, but occasionally it’s more exciting.  He once escaped from the dog park and was found on his way to the next town by the chef at a local restaurant.  Two nights ago he got out of our fenced backyard.  He ran from our house like he was a prisoner of war and our house was Abu Graib.  Moving faster than our eyes could follow, we had no idea in which direction he even went.  Turns out he bolted to the neighboring Country Club down the street from our property and ran around the tennis courts (without his whites) and clearly had a blast. While our search party of cocktail-bearing suburbanites and kids on skateboards trolled the streets looking for him, some kind tennis players drove him home.  Disappointed at not being able to come up with the $200,000 membership fee, I told him membership was unlikely anyway because of his Hungarian descent.

But, truth be told, he has wormed his way into our hearts.  He let us know right away he was going to be different than Simon, and we love him for his unique traits.  I love seeing him when I get home from work; he is never dull company; he always makes his presence known; and he has a very big personality.  He makes us laugh.  He knows how to make an entrance.  He actually lies down while we eat our dinner now.  And he is wonderful with children.  And I am sure you are wondering if he’s housebroken by now.  Housebroken?  You want your housebroken?  Yeah, he can do that.

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