THE INCREDIBLE PULI
The Puli is not a dog. It's a Puli. If you wish to think of your Puli as a dog, well, that will be your first mistake. Be warned; you won't be allowed many such mistakes before your Puli feels totally justified in taking on the running of your life for you, with any pretense of allowing you some free will totally abandoned.
Pulik brought the Magyar tribesmen with them into Hungary about 1,100 years ago. Whether they started out with the Magyars, or joined them along the way, in the Magyars' long migration from the Russian steppes at the foot of the Ural Mountains, is unclear. However the last 1,100 years of the breed's history have unfolded in the beautiful Carpathian Basin surrounded by the alpine peaks of Hungary - old Hungary, including southern Slovakia, Northern Romania (Transylvania) and northern "Former Yugoslavia". Along with tending the flocks of sheep for these nomadic horse-herdsmen, along the banks of the Mother river - the Duna (Danube) and in alpine fastnesses, the Pulik directed the Magyar Chieftains in nation building, and worked as resistance fighters in all the ensuing invasions of this area by those coveting the fertile and protected land the Pulik had chosen. Puli ( pronounced Poo-lee) is the singular and Pulik (Poo-lick) the plural of their name, and they would appreciate it if you started on the right foot in this regard.
After settling the Magyars (Hungarians) the Pulik concentrated on civilizing them and educating them. The fruits borne by this effort include the works of such luminaries as Franz Liszt, Bela Bartok, and ZsaZsa Gabor. Scientists including Edward Teller of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (Star Wars), Drs. Leo Szilard and Eugene Wigner of the Manhattan Project, and Dr. Rubik of Rubik Cube fame have enriched all our lives and those of people the world over..
When the Puli arrived on the soil of the United States, he immediately went to the USDA Beltsville, MD. facility, where it was anticipated, he would be able to improve the abilities of sheep dogs in this country. Where "dogs" such as other herding breeds, scored in the range of 12 to 14 on the tests given by researchers there, Pulik scored, on the average, between 75 and 85. Not a dog, as I mentioned.
The Puli is also the most talented and agile of athletes, the most inquisitive non-primate known, and playful to an advanced age. It should be obvious that this intelligence , athleticism, and playfulness also suggest a capacity for causing mischief that is truly awesome over the 12-14 year usual life span of the breed. The great pity is that so few families can be found with the intelligence and capacity for delight which will guarantee the Puli a harmonious homelife. It is essential that people presenting themselves for adoption by a Puli be fully aware of the forceful, vocal, and opinionated nature of the Puli who is to become their lord and master.
The proper care of a Puli is essential to his - and your - well being. If you buy your puppy a fresh natural marrow bone ( not a "knuckle bone") he will find it preferable to furniture, shoes, and your favorite book. He prefers fresh water at all times, in a waterer which doesn't make his whiskers wet. A companion is nice, either a human in need of direction, or another Puli. He requires both a large bed and a soft sofa for napping, a window from which to conduct his neighborhood business, a secure (reinforced) screen door through which to terrorize - dogs, cats, UPS men - a CD player for his collection of ethnic music, a VCR to replay the Westminister Kennel Club show tape, and all those other examples of his superiority, and a good boom box for NPR in between times. For his outdoor laps, he likes a securely fenced yard to keep the riffraff out and discourage kibitzers. On rainy days he will bring his exercise equipment indoors and use the living room for laps.
The Puli's coat is his glory, and he walks in beauty ( ask him!) in his magnificent corded coat, appearing to float above the common soil as he moves. However, he has on occasion a great fondness for common soil, and sometimes he will descend to its level and roll and rub it into his cords, perhaps donning camouflage for his next Important Mission. The Puli's cords have been compared to dread locks (which they are not) and to Bo Derik's braids (imagine - only a "10"). The thing they like best about wearing their coat is the sensation they cause in their audience - Audiences are Very Dear to the Puli Soul.
The non-shedding, hypo-allergenic corded coat must be properly cared for, like any long hair, and the Puli finds it offensive if his caretakers do not bathe, and most importantly dry him. If not fully dried, the coat will have an odor, which the Puli will find offensive.
Other than this, all your Puli asks is the total devotion of his family, regular gourmet meals, and the constant adulation of acquaintances. It helps if the neighbors are induced to consent to his responsibility for the neighborhood, as they won't be able to avoid his care. Young children and senior citizens will receive his special attention. On occasion, however, he may have reservations as to his young charges' friends. In return for your care your Puli will give to you himself, and that is something so far beyond description that you must experience it for yourself.
Pulik can be induced to take their humans to obedience class, but they are generally skeptical of the ability of a human to learn, and frequently become dreadfully bored by the amount of repetition it requires to teach a human even the simplest of tasks. While an Obedient Human is desirable, it sometimes is an impractical objective and requires much more effort than it is worth. There are examples on record of Humans who, after up to 10 years of instruction have been unable to learn to pick up their socks and underwear!
Obedience is boring, but Sheep Herding and Agility, as well as regular dog shows are great fun. Be prepared to have some of the other herding people show shock at the Puli's techniques. Be ready to explain to them that unlike their dogs (such as Border Collies) who work with lower numbers of sheep, the Puli is given responsibility for upwards of 400 sheep. Border Collie guys like to have a dog herd under their complete control. The Puli knows that his shepherd is probably asleep under a bush somewhere, leaving his own safety and that of the flock in more capable paws. It is therefore necessary for the Puli to come on like a black tornado, jumping and barking at the sheep to move this large sluggish mass of mutton, wool and lanolin. Regular AKC herding events require the Puli to do things which are unnatural to him, but he finds it a lot of fun anyway.
If your Puli prefers the Agility arena, your puli will always be the demonstration dog, since the normal stroll down the street for a Puli is incredibly agile when viewed next to the abilities of dogs. Conformation shows are also a natural for him, since, as we have noted above he loves an Audience!
The appearance of the Puli can be very deceptive. The first issue is whether he's coming or going, whether you're caressing the head or the tail. The average Puli is 16 to 17 inches tall and weighs (due to coat variations ) anywhere from 25 to 37 pounds. He often appears to be a much larger creature than he is. He is a very convenient sized, sturdy, durable, and portable animal. One should be careful when engaged in identifying whether the front or rear of the Puli is facing you. All animals find a direct stare very aggressive, and when you bend down and stare into the face of a Puli, "trying to see its eyes" , you may very well be telegraphing aggressive intent! One should also be careful when operating loud or dangerous machinery in his presence, since he may not feel you are competent to handle such things as a chain saw, or a lawn mower, and he may try to forcibly remove you from the area of the hazard.
Pulik favor curling up with a good book, and they are inclined to take your recommendation, and choose the one you have loaded up with your scent most recently. It is recommended that every Puli have the opportunity to do some college course work, though few ever opt to complete degree requirements, choosing rather to browse the available offerings. When polled, they show a definite preference for National Public Radio and the Wall Street Journal as information sources. We provide our puppies with them immediately after birth so they may advance at their own pace.
If you are prepared to enter into the most rewarding and delightful relationship you're likely to enjoy in this life, and your ego is sufficient to live with this flamboyant, fascinating, and delightful being, you are right for a Puli.