Barely a week into puppy ownership, and I am fast realising that Monty is a magnet for attention wherever we go.
Male or female, young or old, it seems no-one is immune to his impossibly cute charms.
‘So what breed is he?’ is usually one of the first questions on people’s lips.
And my reply is inevitably swiftly followed by ‘Coton de what?’
It seems that news of the Coton de Tulear breed, first imported into the UK 20 years ago, still has a long way to travel.
Cotons weren’t even listed among numerous other breeds of dog on the ‘healthy weight’ chart at our local vets.
And when the girls tried to get in early and buy a 2018 calendar featuring Coton de Tulear puppies at a leading pet store, it seemed to be pretty much the only breed missing. But more of that another time.
‘Is it French?’ is a question I have subsequently been asked more than once.
In fact, the Coton de Tulear takes his name not only from his soft, white coat (coton is indeed a French word, meaning cotton) but also from the port of Tulear on the island of Madagascar, where the breed originated.
Related to the Bichon Frise, Havanese and Maltese, the Coton nevertheless has his own breed characteristics.
And Monty is already proving himself to be true to type.
Intelligent? Check. He already answers to his name, knows slippers are NOT for chewing, especially when we’re wearing them, and at nearly nine weeks old is well on the way to being toilet trained (apart from the occasional mishap…).
Eager to please? Check. See above.
Sociable? We’ve been following the Puppy Socialisation Plan devised by The Kennel Club and the Dogs Trust and introducing him to as many new faces as possible this week, and no-one has fazed him yet, from people wearing hats (Mr B) to active and noisy children (a staple in our house) and men with beards (a quick visit to granddad’s).
The perfect companion? Well, he’s accompanied me everywhere from the school gates to my favourite coffee shop, without complaint.
When I talk to him (which is much nicer these days than talking to myself), he cocks his head and watches me so intently, I’m sure he’s only a whisker away from talking back.
And yes, he does even follow me into the bathroom…
He’s always up for a run around the garden and he’s picked up the ground rules of a game of fetch (well, almost).
But when I’m working, he’s happy to sleep at my feet (with one eye open, of course) and he’s always, always up for a quick cuddle on the sofa.
So let’s hear it for Monty and for Coton de Tulears everywhere.
It’s time to spread the word…