Other People's Cairns, Page 1 

Weird Dooker Maddie Jack, from Nevada! Mort, from Surrey, England
Aggie Mac Duff Buddy, from Louisville Ky Mr. 'Rabbit' Lincoln from Melbourne, AU Introducing Grunt, our first Military Cairn Miss Ruby
A photo of your little bundle of joy can go here, which would also provide a link
to your own personal tale of woe, I mean joyful learning experience.

#1  is from Michelle, who learned about not letting a Cairn off lead the hard way:

While enjoying every word of your story, and about peeing my pants laughing, I can relate to every word.
Our dog Buddy also loves balls, pulls on his leash and will do a "basic" command  of sit (ONLY if I have a treat ready). 

I've tried taking him outside without his leash and using a treat to keep him close and it worked the first couple of times. 
The last time I found myself running the neighborhood in my husbands thermal underwear
(which I had been lounging around the house in) on a bitter cold night.

I had taken him out for a quick "pee" and put on my winter coat which is hip length. 

I had three successes earlier in the day using treats and no leash so I wasn't worried. 

WRONG!  To my humiliation, he took off. 

Our local police were driving down the street,  they were kind enough to stop and let me cross.
I had to follow him, there was no time to put on jeans.

I had given him a bath an hour before and hadn't put his collar back on with his name tag so I couldn't let embarrassment hold me back.

My husband joined me in the chase. 

After calling him and chasing him in 6 inches of snow through all the neighbors yards, we finally cornered him.
When we got home my husband said I can't believe you were running around the neighborhood in my thermals. 

I said what's the big deal??  He said "nothing if you had them on right".

I didn't realize it but they were on backwards and the gap for male parts was wide open,  leaving my butt in full view. 

OMG!  And to think the police stopped and let me run past!
Would I do it all again?? 
He has chewed up three throw rugs, chewed the cord off my curling iron, torn apart two pairs of shoes, and eaten more paper and toilet
paper than we probably actually use.

Oh yes, let's not forget "potty training". 

He's peed on my new carpeting at least 100 times before he finally got the outside thing down pat.
But yes, through all the learning experiences that we've shared I couldn't love him more. 

When I walk in I am greeted by Buddy and his step sister Sophie (a 2 yr. old Westie). 

The excitement on their faces, the kisses they give me, the fun and love that we share,  I wouldn't change a thing.  

Comment:  Michelle,  that was one of the most amusing renditions I've read..  Thanks for sharing.

 #2 is from  Monica, who is deciding exactly how much spice she really wishes to add to her life:
Dan….just wanted to tell you that we are considering a Cairn and I read your narrative. 

After I finished wiping the tears from my eyes and laughing hysterically for 20 minutes, I decided that I NEED that kind of
craziness….plus, if owning a Cairn allows me to drink more wine…I’m in!  Thanks for the best laugh I’ve had in WEEKS!  Monica. 

PS.  After having labs (who love everyone too but are literally pieces of furniture) and a Maltese (who hated everyone except me
as his mother and whose mission in life was to single-handedly urinate on every dust ruffle and curtain bottom in the house)  a
Cairn sounds like a piece of cake….did you ever try holding an open pizza box out for the dog and have it run away?

Worked like a charm for the Maltese, he never ran out the door when a delivery man came, EVER AGAIN!!! 

LOL…have a good one. M.

Comment:  Monica, beware of ancient Chinese saying (or curse,) "May you live in interesting times."

#3 is from Caitlynn,  who has the worst of both worlds - a Cairn with intelligence (a bit of Jack Russel in the mix)
I just read the page on your terrier Rufus. It made me laugh, partly because I could relate!

We have a dog who's partly Cairn, part Jack Russel, and he was a nightmare as well as a puppy.

He nearly got eaten by a Great Dane the first time we took him for a walk.

He chewed up every toy we ever bought to try and entertain him, and he was the only reason our neighbors knew who we were.

We moved three times since we got him  while he was still a baby.

Every time we got to know our new neighbors by him ducking under the fence and disappearing, and them returning him an hour later.

Once we got a phone call from the police station where he was playing football with their Alsatians.

Another time he came to school and punctured the football there - Frankie definitely has the ball obsession!

Since my dad remarried and we've had a Shetland Sheepdog move in, his blatant disinterest in obedience shows up ever more as
we repeatedly yell 'Sit' at him to no avail, and Pepper sits good as gold and does everything he's asked.

Personally I'd never have another breed

Comment:  Caitlynn, my sympathies.

I went to a friend's house last summer.  They had a Jack Russel and we were having a barbecue.  We were in the kitchen having a
couple beers and looked out to see the Jack Russel pulling a plastic chair over to the barbecue. We watched in amazement as he
actually got the chair up close enough to grab a steak.  He hopped up on the chair and couldn't quite get past the heat.  I was
astonished.  I do not need a dog that smart.  A Cairn / Jack Russel cross is a proposition I would not have have cajones to

#4 is from Terri,  who decided to give a dog a break and opted for adoption.
I found your web page about your Cairn today and it was sooooo much like my own! I just got my dog from a rescue on Sunday
this week and was ready to send him back on Monday this week, lol!

I was also yelling "the damn thing's going back! I can't take this!" Gosh, I was almost in tears over failing at this dog! I thought he
totally hated me! Two more days passed and now it is Thursday, he has done an almost U turn in his actions and I am feeling better about him and know that I wont return him after all, lol!  I don't know what breed he is but according to pictures and personality I am almost positive we have some Cairn here!

 His prior owners about butchered his hair so it is a mess and too short for me to fix so I'm letting it grow a bit before trying to shape it up, he's just so ugly he is cute! He is in grieving right now as his friend dog was killed in traffic while he managed to get rescued, this while they were homeless and it was just this past week.

I imagine this has caused him to act even more distracted.  Anyway, thank you for the web page! And the reason I am writing also is to ask you this, what does your dog eat? Have you had any similar problems with the food and potty part? Please take a look at my web page and you will understand more of what I am talking about! Thanks for your time! Terri

Comment:  Terri, best wishes to you and your adoptee.  Adopting an adult is a challenge , but it has its own rewards.  As to the potty part, think crate training.

#4 is from James,  who got Barney from a Cairn Rescue Organization
Hi Dan,
I enjoyed your Cairn web page and videos very much.  Everything you said about Rufus could apply to our Cairn rescue Barney.

He has a preference for soccer balls.  

I have no idea how such a small dog is able to hold such a large ball in his mouth and walk around with it.  Yet he does.

In spite of all the "problems" of Cairns - I would never trade Barney or change breeds.

Some things in life are just worth the troub
All the best,


Comment:  James
, - so appropriate: " Some things in life are just worth the trouble."  Still would like to see a photo though........


#5 is from Mike,  who sent me this rather odd clip:

I don't know who the credit actually goes to for this one.....  

May 2007 - Kathy  Identified the source of the strange cairn clip.:

The "odd clip" of which you speak of in letter #5 of page 2 of your site is of Ann Priddy and her Cairn Polly doing Canine Freestyle Dancing.  Ann is a self representing artist who has loved Cairns for

If you want to see the most amazing Canine Freestyle demonstration watch Carolyn Scott and Rookie here:

No matter how many times I watch that, I still get an ear to ear smile.  Rookie is currently 13 and going strong. 
Could a Cairn do that?  Absolutely.  But would a Cairn do that?  Absolutely not. 

There isn't enough motivation in the world to get them to move like that <hahahahahahaha>.

Kathie - Long Island, NY

#6 is from Kathy -   "Cairns don't think, they plot and scheme."  
Hi Dan,

Cairns are a challenge to be sure.  But so worth it.  I always tell people that if you live with a Cairn and don't laugh every single
day  it is not the Cairn's fault.

As far as the intelligence is concerned, they are WAY above a 37.  It is just that they are little snots and will rarely perform
what we ask just because we asked. <sigh>.  So they seem not quite as intelligent. 

But inside those little minds they don't just think, they plot and scheme <VBG>.

If you have a rescued Cairn, or are interested in rescue, join CairnRescueMentoring at Yahoo Groups (CRM).
Beware though, because this is a VERY active list with sometimes as many as 1000 messages a week.

Most recommend getting a separate GMail account for CRM because it is replete with pictures, etc.  and can fill up a normal mail
box really quickly.  But the people and support offered on CRM is incomparable. 

CRM is an offshoot of Col. Potter Cairn Rescue Network (CPCRN)

It is populated with people who know the Cairn in all of its glory as well as in all of its problems.  Since Cairns are unlike most
other dogs, normal training stuff often just does not work with them.  CRM people know how to train and tame a Cairn.

Even housebreaking these little terrors has become easy once  you know how to deal with them according to the personality.

Since CPCRN has now rescued, rehabilitated and re-homed over 2000 dogs, we have a pretty good idea of just how to deal with
most any problem, from behavior to health issues. 

One thing I will mention is to NEVER feed a Cairn a food with corn in it.  Cairns are notoriously allergic to corn and it can cause
some nasty skin problems. 

And even if your Cairn does well on a corn based food now, the allergy can develop quite quickly and wreak havoc with his skin,
his personality and his behavior and/or so many other things.  There are so many wonderful foods out there that have no corn in
them at all  (try to go for whole grains, not just grain fractions), that switching to a food without corn is usually not a problem.

People might also be interested in looking up,  Toto:The Other Side of the Story :

It pretty much describes our little snots to a tee.

I have attached a picture of my current Cairn, Spanky (aka CH Garele n Serenade Otay Spanky) as well as 2 of my late
Cairn, The D.  The D also had her very own web page 

I hope you enjoy seeing my sweeties and maybe others can get some help from the Yahoo lists I mentioned.  And if anyone is
interested in adopting a rescued Cairn, CPCRN usually has almost 100 Cairns, at any give time,  in foster care, all over North
America. (Yes Canada too). 

We have puppies, young dogs, adults and seniors in all colors and temperaments.  We have a team of MatchMakers who will help
an approved applicant find just the right Cairn from them. 

(Kind of like e-harmony for dogs).


Kathy, thanks for taking the time and providing  these useful links and information.  Great Pictures!  

I must however respectfully disagree with the IQ statement.  I think 37 or maybe 35 is just about right.

Simple IQ Test:

Take dog's favorite ball and bounce back an forth in your hands, getting the dog's attention.  Use slight of hand, hide the ball behind your back and show the dog empty hands.

What does the dog do?

Jack Russels and Poodles  - you can't fool them for very long.  A minute, maybe.

Catahoulas stare for a short time and then you can see their brains thinking, "Now wait a minute, something is not right here..... got to be here somewhere...." and they find the ball.

Cairns  look puzzled for a bit and then come to the conclusion that they must have imagined the whole thing and the ball was never
there in the first place.

#7 is from Spring -  "It gets better every day..."
June 2007 - " Love Cairns!  "

What an adorable story about Rufus!
And I thought my cairn, Maddie (the Mad Hatter), was alone in her  idiosyncrasies!

I found your link on Wikipedia (under Cairns)... a REALLY funny and  well-written look into the Cairn World.

Thought you might like to see my Maddie, now 5 months old (with her  "sister," Alice in Wonderland, the Westie).

It gets better every day...


Comment:  'It gets better every day' -  Just wait until the terrible twos.. Then I imagine it will be 'Oh God, not another day!'.
Now that is an awfully familiar looking pup. She's a cutie.
graphics.  How you make those photos appear raised with shadows has me stumped. Very nice! 

#8 is from Yvonne,  All the way from Surrey, England - who plans an infestation.
My husband and I could not stop laughing when we read your tails of woe whilst looking at our own Carin who was sitting next to us wondering what all the fuss was about!

In the short time we have had him (he's 12 months old now) he has had 2 pees on the bed, ate enough toilet roll to cover the planet twice over, ran out on to a main road because he didn't want to come back to my husband, ( a very nice man managed to grab him while trying to juggle with a washing machine he was delivering), knocked over a zillion joggers and anyone one on a bike when taken for a walk along the river near where we live (yes...he is off the lead and does come back 90% of the time!).

He doesn't fetch toys when you throw them for him, he'll chase it and stand there waiting for you to come and pick it up (the looks I get from other dog owners!).

But in saying all that, Mort is a bright and loving dog and we wouldn't change him for the world. Our aim to breed him, so we can infest the whole of England with Carin Terriers!

PS with have also brought a Norfolk Terrier which according what we have read up on, are just like Carin's but more stubborn!

Wish us luck!

Surrey England

Comment:  Yvonne,
Please let us know who the infestation goes.  Inquiring minds wish to know........
Mort Mort Mort and Loken

Minor Update:  According to Yvonne, the infestation is not going all that well in England.   Seems Mort's  "It's all about me" attitude is not too popular with the ladies.  The little guy on the right is Loken, a Norfolk terrier.

#9 is from Katie from my neck of the woods, Northern Nevada!
I just finished reading your post - I could not stop laughing!  My husband and I just welcomed a Cairn to our family in May.
His name is Jack and is as obnoxious as your Rufus.  He comes when he wants, sits when he wants, walks with the lead in his mouth. 

Your comment about a ferret made me laugh, because my brother-in-law calls him a jumping ferret. 

His favorite person anyone who comes in the house as he jumps a foot off the ground with excitement.  He accidentally got out the front door and took off down the street with me chasing and yelling his name when he saw a group of kids (his second favorite thing) in a front yard. Right when I got to the front porch the father walked out of the front door and Jack ran right under his feet and into the neighbor's front room. 

Thankfully, the father thought it was hilarious, turned and yelled "we have a visitor."  Embarrassed, I asked if I could have me puppy back. 

You are right we do not see many Cairns in Northern Nevada - it took me two years to find my puppy.  I attached a picture of Jack when we first  
brought him home (8 weeks). 

I would have attached a new picture, but he chewed the adapter cord... Jack is 4 months old now and we call him our little monster. 
Have a good one,  Katie 

Eight Weeks @ 8 weeks @ 8 weeks

Comment:  Katie, I wish I could tell you things will get better, but they won't.  Not for a couple years anyway.  Just wait  until he decides he wants to be a lap dog (our current phase).  By the way, is that a  ball in the photo?  Cute little guy.  

2009 Follow-Up

Jack, Two Years Later Jack, Two Years Later

........You actually have pictures of my Cairn "Jack" when he was a puppy on your website.  He is almost two and starting to calm down a bit - thank goodness!  I feel like owning a Cairn has made me part of some unofficial club where everyone asks themselves "Why on Earth did I want to make this dog part of my family?!" I attached two updated pictures of my little  monster.  He can be so lovable, yet ornery as heck.  Is your Cairn as ornery as mine? PS I am amazed your Cairn will take a bath.

Wow! Jack turned out to be one beautiful dog. Gorgeous coat. No, Rufus doesn't like baths but he gets them regularly and even more regularly when he chooses to be particularly obnoxious. Great photo ops after bath time.

I would not use the word ornery to describe Rufus. 'Totally Obnoxious' seems to more fit the bill, thus my Latin term for the breed - Canis Obnixious. Rufus (Ruf) is about 5 years old now and the obnoxious part has toned down.

Still as untrustworthy as ever in the escape artist department but he is nicer to be around.

#10 is from Dawn - Double Trouble!
Loved your article on Wikipedia - the joy of being owned by a cairn.  I have two - double trouble!
Thanks for sharing your tale of woe.

A Young Aggie Aggie at Nine Years of Age Willie
Comment:  The first  picture is of Aggie at I would guess three or four years old. The second is Aggie at  nine years of  age.  
The third photo is of  Willie.  Looks like he is really getting up there in years.  

My wife with  glass of Merlot in hand stands over my shoulder glowering  and says, "You mean they really do get that old?"

-Just Kidding

#11 is from Kate - Memories
Mac Duff Hi Dan,

Was reminiscing with my dad tonight about our purebred cairn terrier, Mac Duff, and ended up finding my way to your web page. Excellent stuff, and something all of us cairn owners can identify with! I am looking to get a dog within the next year or so, and perhaps it's just the pull to the familiar, but I am actually finding myself wanting to get another one. I would have no excuse this time around--I'd know exactly what I was getting into. Our dog died about three years ago now. He was nearing sixteen, so they can indeed live quite awhile.

I was seven when we got our dog and he was the cutest little guy, so of course I fell in love right away. Pretty much the only reason we ended up with a cairn is because my mom read that they didn't shed. And he didn't. But that really wasn't quite enough information to go on! We tried to keep him in one room with a plywood board for awhile, and he would peek up over the top with his head and paws and looked like he was tending bar, so we nicknamed him Bartender Joe..

The only thing he ever learned to do reliably was play fetch with a tennis ball. The dog LIVED for playing fetch. Every year he got a new pack of tennis balls for Christmas. If you weren't interested in playing, he would just park himself and bark his head off and push the ball to you with his nose until you complied. I believe the Westminster announcer who once described the breed as "hating to be ignored" got it exactly right.
 He especially loved to show off his fetch skills for any new visitors to the house. They generally found him unbelievably annoying within about ten minutes. He was scared of the vacuum cleaner and would run up and hide under a bed for a few hours when we got it out. I will admit to vacuuming the rugs from time to time just to get some peace.

Duff, like all cairns, was an excellent escape artist. The second you opened any door, he would bolt if he had the opportunity. He led us on many a grand chase through the neighborhood, and there was no point in it, ever, except for the thrill he got out of it. We would attempt to lure him in with cheese or lunch meat or various other treats and sometimes--sometimes--it worked. Neighbors would even get involved and try to help. I mean, literally, five to six people chasing one little dog all over the neighborhood. It was incredibly embarrassing. Usually what would happen is that after twenty to thirty minutes of this fun activity, he would wear himself out, and finally let you pick him up and take him in.

He calmed down to varying degrees over the years, finally becoming a nice little relatively calm companion at about age nine. I'm not exaggerating here, unfortunately.

I thought I would tell two "good" stories about him just to be fair. They're obnoxious as all hell much of the time, but then...there's the rest of it. Perhaps those times stick out precisely because they're so rare. Anyway, when I was about nine or so, I had the dog out on a walk, and was by myself, a fair distance from the house. Duff managed to shrug his collar off and he started to sprint away, ready, no doubt, for one of his marathon runs all over the whole neighborhood. I panicked immediately because there was no one to help me get him back, and I thought I was going to maybe lose him, permanently. I cried out, "Mac Duff!" and I really believe, somehow, that dog got the message that this time, he couldn't have his fun. He actually stopped right away and let me pick him up. I carried him home in my arms! I was so happy he actually didn't run off and was okay. The other time I had come down with a bad respiratory infection and was feeling pretty awful. Imagine my surprise when I heard the familiar jingling tags at my bedroom door. Duff jumped in bed with me and stayed there with me for several hours. There were meals and action and other people downstairs to play fetch with, and he stayed with the sickie. Like I said, these two memories probably stick out because they happened so infrequently.

Only one pic of the guy on my computer, featuring his best friend, the ball. Enjoy Rufus while you have him--when he's gone, you'll find the odd tennis ball, and think of him.

Best, Kate

Comment:  Very nice letter Kate, and well written.  Duff certainly strikes a familiar pose doesn't he?  
Personally,  I kind of think you may decide to go another round one day.  
Something about all those little daily routines  you work out over the years.........and the void they leave behind.

#12 is from Jacki - Cairn or Wine
Well you've done it.  I've had Buddy for 8 months with no idea what breed he was (mixed for sure) and the groomer said Cairn.  So I did some research and came to your site.  Looks like I've been Rufus'ed.  I love the ball trick IQ test, he just stares at me like I am the crazy one and why aren't we peeing on something.  And his idea of fetch is so amusing, I get real excited to throw it, he runs to it and then looks at me crazily as I run to fetch the ball.

What a life!

Here is a picture and please tell me if he is not a Cairn, I'll have loads of wine to return.
Buddy Buddy
Comment:  Well Jacki,  I had defer the Cairn identity question to my wife.
She says , "That's easy - a Cairn or lots of wine?  What part of the question don't I understand?"

#13 is from Bree hailing from Melbourne, AU - A Cat Lover?
I thought I would send you over some pictures of my Cairn Terrier Mr “Rabbit” Lincoln.

His official name is Mr Lincoln but due to his rather large ears he now answers to Rabbit.
He is not obsessed with balls (surprise, surprise) but he LOVES cats.  He thinks they are the best thing in the whole world.

His fur is actually silver and gold.

Every time I take him for a walk, people wish to pat him or say that he is such a cute dog.  The charm of the Cairn!

Nice website, you made me laugh at how similar they are.

Kind regards,  Bree

I wouldn't have believed it either.......... Mr. Liincoln Interesting Coat
Comment:  I wouldn't have believed this if I hadn't seen it myself.  That is an amusing picture.

Our dog loves cats too -  loves barking at them.  
Annoying cat bark:  "Yap", pause two seconds, "Yap Yap", pause  10 seconds and repeat for several hours.

The coat color in the third picture is quite interesting.  This was a picture at a different age?   Ours looked briefly sort of like that at about 8 months when the outer coat started growing out and bristling through the under coat.   

Nice photos and thanks for taking the time!     

#14 is from James - the Journey is just Beginning.....
I stumbled onto your page and story about Rufus trying to find training aides to assist me in Training my Cairn "Grunt"
(named that cause he low-crawls under things more than some of my soldiers do).

We've had him for a little over 2 months now, and we still cannot potty train him. He understands the concept, buuuuuut if he goes to the door, and you don't see him in 60 seconds or less, he pees right there and walks off.

My wife cannot stand him anymore, and I just find it so amusing.
He is only 15 weeks old and still has that I got to explore everything puppy phase, but after reading your story, I worry that he'll never get out of that stage.

The Obedience problems (nipping, barking, not coming when called) I can deal with, but this potty training needs to happen soon.
I have a feeling my wife is going to punt him through the window.

I will have to disagree with the loyalty thing though, he has loyalty to my wife...but only at night.
I am the disciplinary in the house, so when the dog poops or pee's in the house, I'm the one who shows him what he did wrong, swats him and takes him out and "attempts" to show him the right thing to do.

Well at night, we bring him into bed with us (he is royally spoiled I know), but he won't get near me. Instead, he will climb onto my wife's pillow and sleep on that, using the top of her head as a solid object to prop up against.

If she even attempts to move or roll over, Grunt paws at her face til she stops moving and goes back to sleep.

Thank you for the stories about Rufus, I think that is the funniest thing I've read in a long time.

Hope things get easier for you.
Grunt Grunt Grunt

Comment:  Well James,  I would say hang in there - things will get better....but they won't.  At least not for a while anyway.
Crate training can work wonders for messing in the house problem.  We don't even bother locking the crate door anymore.
If Rufus has to go in the middle of the night, he will come up to the door and softly growl until you get up and let him out.

Of course the problem then is getting him back in.  Charges out the door and leaps off the deck like a man on a mission , and then
conveniently doesn't hear you when he's called back inside.

The never ending thrill of it all........

#15 is from David - Magic Squirrels!
Hi, Dan!  I got a real kick out of reading your stories, exploring your website, and hearing about other people's experiences with their Cairn Terriers.
I retired in 2005 and my wife is still working.  Our daughter is grown and has left home now, and my wife decided that we "needed" another dog.  Over the years (30+) we have had a German Shepherd and a yellow Lab, as well as several cats.
We got Ruby last October when she was 8 weeks old.  She is now almost a year-and-a-half and does all the stuff you and the others talk about.  I took her to training classes at a local vet's office, only to be told -- "good luck with that".  Still -- I thought she did rather well, and I was truly proud of her when she "graduated".
We live in the suburbs and have a large fenced back yard, as well as a kennel inside the yard.  Ruby won't be confined to the kennel without constant yapping, however.  For small dogs they certainly have big mouths!  She loves to chase squirrels.  It took her an entire year to figure out, however, that they weren't "disappearing".  Yes -- an entire year, just to learn to "look up!!".  Now she follows them all over the yard, from tree to tree, fussing all the way.  She has yet to catch one, however, nor a chipmunk either.  My wife thinks we should enter her in one of those obstacle competitions, and she would probably do quite well.
I try to walk her often, and we play "fetch" with the ball every day in the back yard.  My biggest fear is that she will escape out the front door, or the garage door opening unexpectedly when I am taking her out through there. She has escaped twice in the past year, and we live near very busy roads and she has no knowledge or fear of traffic.  Fortunately both times she went towards the rear of our subdivision, as that is the direction we go on walks.  Both times she went right into people's open garages -- total strangers -- and new "best friends!!"
I work hard to keep a nice home with a green yard.  I hope someday Ruby, like Dorothy, will discover there's really no better place to be.

Ruby Ruby Ruby

Comment:  Magic Squirrels - that is quite funny.  Around the house we have magic balls  - and after four years they are still magical.

Ruby is a fine looking dog - I wonder what possibly could have inspired her name.  

Thanks for the nice letter and photos.