Havanese are amusing little clowns and make delightful companions for many people. Their beguiling personality brims with a mixture of clever and comic.
Displays of elaborate games or selfmade mischief can be frustrating and annoying to some people, but, to those of us who found in the Havanese a perfect match, the tendency to fun is winsome and entertaining. For us, these silly antics are a constant source of delight.
The feature that many people first notice about Havanese is the animated face with its dancing eyes and mischievous expression. This bright eyed look is almost always accompanied by an endearing head tip, where the head is cocked to one side. Most Havanese do this naturally and start this habit as young puppies. This appealing trait is readily noticeable in almost all breed photos. Many will also cock their head from one side to the other as they listen as though paying attention and understanding every word.
Another thing that Havanese are renowned for is their love of being up high. This is common among cats but unusual in dogs. The favourite resting spot of most Havanese is a high place, like the tops of chairs or the sofa. As young puppies even, they may climb to the back of the sofa where they rest their little head on your shoulder and fall asleep with their paws on your arm. Many of us have permanent indentations in the top of the cushions which are suspiciously the size and shape of a Havanese. Of course, these spots are even more special if the chair happens to be occupied by a favourite person, in the case of multiple Havanese, you can find yourself with one Havanese perched on each shoulder , and perhaps another draped across the neck, like a giant pair of earmuffs. I can only imagine what passers by must think of us if they see this spectacle in the window. We can't only attribute this quirk to comfort as Havanese seem to like to be on top of anything including the kitchen table which is another favourite place for a snooze, especially if sunlight is streaming in the kitchen window.
Havanese may be busy active little dogs indoors but are generally relatively quiet. But every now and then, particularly in the evenings mayhem erupts as they enjoy short rounds of energetic rowdy madcap play. Just all of a sudden, one will take a flying leap off the back of the couch and continue in circles through the dining room, living room and family room tearing around the house like a banshee. In most Havanese households we call this amusing game Runlikehell as that is exactly what they do. This is always so much fun to watch and never fails to provoke a smile. They run with such glee and unabashed delight; some will make a low grr-ing noise which is not in any way an actual growl, but rather a throaty sort of noise of happiness. They blitz around, banking off chairs and couches, barely touching the furniture, dashing madly about the house for several minutes and then collapse in happy exhaustion; the game over as suddenly as it began.
Havanese just absolutely love paper. One breeder likes to tell puppy owners that since Havanese are so intelligent they love to read books, magazines and newspapers. Mind you they also like toilet paper, Kleenex, cards, cartons, etc. Some especially enterprising Havanese will even go through people's jacket or sweater pockets looking for paper. After visitors leave, treasures such as gas receipts, grocery lists and credit card vouchers can be found scattered through the house. You would be amazed with how many little pieces a receipt can be shredded into. Havanese have an innate ability to shred everything into such small pieces that they are large enough to see the mess yet so small that the vacuum cleaner leaves them behind or helps shred them further.
Havanese learn easily, sometimes too easily. It takes less than a week for them to know what "Treat" means. Two weeks for them to recognize the spelling of it. This gets us into trouble as these little charmers have us wrapped around their paw in no time at all. Their cleverness comes out in surprisingly creative ways. One Havanese in particular is most creative when it comes to denying any culpability in her actions. Looking totally innocent is only a start. On numerous occasions, when suspicions were raised about mischief, this clever girl will lay her head down and pretend to be sleeping. Her tail may gently wag but her head stays down with those long black lashes steadfastly closed as though to convince she's been in dreamland for ages and could not have possibly been up to mischief even if the evidence is under her paw. I myself have a pair of con artists and I must confess I was pretty slow to figure it out. Before going out for a walk, I send them to the dog run to take care of business. If they have to go... they will, but if not, they still indulge me and pretend. My male will make sure I am watching and then very deliberately lift a leg while my female quickly squats. For the longest time I thought they were such good puppies till winter came and I realized there was no yellow snow to mark the spot when they were done. I was being conned! I admired their cleverness as I groaned at my gullibility.
Havanese make up their own games, some with elaborate rules only known to them. A silly game which can leave you in stitches, is "ITS ALIVE." Small light items, like bully sticks or small toys are usually selected to come alive. Suddenly, they are pounced upon repeatedly by a whirling dervish, tossed wildly into the air in many different directions, and just generally made to jump all over the room (obviously needing to be chased). The elaborate fake-out moves, the jumps and spins, the intensity with which this game is played never ceases to amaze. It is a real demonstration of dexterity and so much fun to watch!
We talk about how Havanese are not yappy little dogs however they certainly can be very vocal. Not in the way of yapping or barking but rather because they have a large repertoire of vocalizations, with nuances of warbles, grumbles, groans and chortles that only immediate family can decifer. Others have a unique low grumble when they are totally content which is similar to a purr. Another very odd quirk is howling. Not all Havanese do this but some do occasionally where they throw back their head and howl with an odd musical lilt.
Suzanne McKay (first published summer 2007 in Our Havanese)