Griffin Tellington-Jones Kleger

If there was an official adoption protocol for a canine family member, I would most definitely register our precious dog Griffin! And I expect there are many of you reading this who would join us in the process.

When the Covid lockdown occurred a year ago and it appeared that we would no longer be traveling to Europe to teach for many months at a time, Roland and I decided we could once again have a dog. It was about five years ago we lost our beloved Westy, Rayne, and she is still dearly missed.

So I put a request out to the universe to bring us a dog!

I had several specific requirements:

The dog had to be:

  • a rescue
  • small in size
  • non-shedding
  • have some unusual characteristic

That was it! I didn’t specify if the dog was to be a male or female. And I had absolutely no type or breed in mind. I had complete trust that the right dog would find his or her way to our door.

I called several friends  who rescue dogs on the island.  I received pictures of dogs from our local shelter but it was clear our dog was not among them.  I waited about a month after my initial phone inquiries and one day I got the absolute knowing that today was the day to call Debbie Corvatta of KARES Hawaii.

I met Debbie in Austria several years ago when I worked with two dogs she had flown from Hawaii to the international rescue center, Gut Aiderbickel. She has rescued and rehomed hundreds of lost dogs from all over Hawaii Island.

When I called Debbie she had three small dogs who had been cleared just that day for adoption. There is a law in Hawaii that lost dogs must be held for a month with attempts to find the owner. Small dogs are very much in demand during Covid and they are snapped up daily so it was a minor miracle and I called on that day.

Debbie had three small dogs available that day. She sent me a short video of them playing together: a cute Pomeranian, a very active Chihuahua, and a most interesting looking dog with a mane like a horse.

When I sent the video to my friend Kate Riordan and indicated my interest in Griffin, she exclaimed, “Oh. How unusual!

That was my clue. “That’s our dog”, I thought. He was clearly limping on his right back leg and Debbie had not yet had him checked by her vet, so she could not describe the problem, but that was more reason for us to give him a home.

It is hard to believe, but I has never seen a Chinese Crested hairless dog. He had a mane like a horse and white hair on his lower legs and paws that looked like feathers on a Gypsy Vanner horse. His tail reminded me of a little of a Yak I had met in Nepal. He certainly fit my request to the universe: rescued, small, does not shed, and is most unusual.

I called Debby and signed up to foster him, just to be sure that Roland would accept him into our family.

Roland had McNabb Shepherds as working cattle dogs at his ranch in British Columbia.  When we were first married 20 years ago he had resisted the idea of having a dog in the suburbs. But he succumbed to my plea that I didn’t want a dog; I just wanted a quarter of a dog – meaning a quarter of the size of his favorite working breed. Over 16 years ago, our Westie, Rayne, had won him over to having a small dog we could travel with, and he seemed as eager as I was to find a new canine friend.

I picked up Griffin at the vets after he had just been neutered. When she handed him over to me she told me it appeared that he had a broken his ACL but she thought since he was small that he would recover from this injury. She couldn’t tell if it was new or something he’d had for a while.

On the hour drive home he was in still under the influence of the anesthesia and completely unresponsive. Nevertheless, on that drive home I vowed to keep him no matter what was wrong with his leg, and the next day I change his “foster status” to final adoption.

It was slow going at first. He was very subdued for a week and for the first month he never barked in response to three dogs in houses surrounding us exercising their voices many times a day. Because the weather here in Hawaii is so mild we have no heat or air conditioning in our home and the windows and 10 foot wide doors are wide-open night and day. I was very grateful that he was not reacting to the extreme barking. And even after a year it is rare that he gives two or three barks which means there’s a particular going by our house. How he knows from our second story which dog is going by on the street, remains a fascinates mystery.

About a month after he’s been with us I decided to bring him shopping with me in the car.   The trip was not successful. He was shaking the whole way and was very unhappy I decided it was way too soon.

The first time I left him with Roland when I went shopping, I asked how Griffin behaved after I left. “He howled. Roland responded” “Oh, No!”, I thought, slightly horrified. And then I asked, “How long did he howl?”

“About half a minute, and then he came into my office and climbed onto my lap.” Roland responded with a grin.

Six weeks after the unsuccessful outing, Griffin looked directly at me as I was about to leaving and clearly communicated that he wanted to try again to come with me. It was better this time. He still shook a  little but he looked determined to stick it out.

I’m so glad I trusted his communication.  Now he is totally excited about the car and loves going shopping anywhere with me.

I know we all have special things we love about our dogs. The characteristics that make Griffin so special are his unbounding enthusiasm his ability to be totally quiet and calm when he’s waiting for me, and totally still when he jumps in the bed and snuggled into his favorite place between Roland and I.

When it’s time to go on our walks Griffin rears and twirls and dances and prances. His front feet tap dance rapidly and sometimes he entertains me with a Griffin version of Equine Piaffe when all four feet go up and down in place very fast. When he’s excited he licks his lips and shake his mane, and fans the air with his tail a little like a whirling dervish.  I love the feeling of his nose thrust into the curve of my hand. One of his most charming habits is lying in a sphinx-like position with his ears up looking directly at me to get my attention with a clear message, “Let’s go!”  That look usually manages to motivate me to head out for a walk where he gets to go where he pleases.

An amazing aspect of his character is the way he can switch on and off. When we go in a store he knows to stay right beside me on a loose leash. When I have a shopping cart he always stays on the right side, protected between the wall and the basket.

Many people ask if they may pet him. He is quiet and obliging. And he earns so many commons:”I love your dog” or  “What a Rock star!”

You can see I am completely  armored by this 12 pounds of loving “energy bunny”!

Griffin Linda Tellington-Jones' Chinese Crested

After spending a year in Covid lock-down, my body began to object to the inactivity and I wound up with an auto-immune disease of the thyroid with many other complications.


Suddenly my “energizer-bunny” battery was no longer working and there were days when I could barely put one foot in front of the other to get out the door. That’s when our roles reversed and Griffin took over as care-giver. On days when I could barely move and the last thing I wanted to do was to go for a walk, he would prance and rear and spins around, joyfully teasing me to follow him out the door. When I was slow to respond he lay perfectly still looking directly at me with a focused, determined and steady look – always patient. I always worked!

An amazing aspect of his character is the way he can switch on and off. When we go in a store he knows to stay right beside me on a loose leash. When I have a shopping cart he always stays on the right side, protected between the wall and the basket.

On our walks Griffin earns many comments: ”I love your dog” or “What a Rock star!”
Often people ask if they may pet him and he is almost always obliging with a quiet tail-wag.

Who would ever think set a 12 pound, hairless canine that looks more like a mythical horse than a dog, could bring so much joy and love into my life.

7 Comments

  1. Such a little dog with such a big heart, so very special and close to you Linda, you definitely hold his heart 💖

  2. What a precious bundle of joy! The universe certainly knew what it was doing when it brought you and Griffin together. I’m so happy for both of you… and Roland, too!❤️

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