Friday, May 1, 2015

Life With Dog // The First Few Days & Reasons for Getting a Dog

Alert Border Collie

We have to remember that she won't always be like this.

I won't always have long, red scratches up and down and across both my forearms from her trying to take a nibble out of me.

At some point, she'll figure out that mouthing us is not okay and we'll trade those sharp toothy nomnoms for happy swipes of her wide, rough tongue.

Someday, she'll learn that jumping on people and things isn't done around here and it isn't a good way to get our attention.

Eventually we will work out a bathroom schedule that is consistent and works for all of us.

In the future, she'll grow into adulthood and hopefully keep that cheerful, friendly, exuberant puppiness, but with a maturity and well-behaved calmness she kind of lacks right now.


Sooo, we got a new dog. And she's in that awkward puppy-toddler phase, where she's no longer one of those "aww, look at that little ball of fluff" puppies {she's fifty pounds and hasn't reached full size yet O.o}, but she still has that curious, "WHAT'S THIS IS IT EDIBLE HOW ABOUT THIS IS IT TIME TO PLAY HOW ABOUT NOW" mindset.

Whoever her previous owners were, they turned her into the shelter because, and I quote, "they were getting poison ivy and they thought the dog might be the cause." Really. Why couldn't you just, I don't know, WASH YOUR DOG. And cut back your weeds. I don't understand people who get dogs as puppies because "they're so cuuuute," but have no idea how to handle training a puppy, especially with breeds of dog that are KNOWN for being super intelligent and strong-willed. Maybe you should get a rescue/shelter dog first and learn about dog care and save a life that way before you decide to add to the problem by indirectly encouraging people to not spay/neuter their pets {you took one of their puppies and probably paid them for it, so why not let their dog get pregnant again?} and eventually directly increasing the number of animals in the shelters that are being put down daily.

The small privately-run rescue group we got her from picked her up from the animal shelter the day before she was to be euthanized. She had only been there two and a half days. That's how quick the turnaround is because the shelters are just too full to accommodate all the animals that are coming in the doors. I realize I'm sounding super harsh in what was originally supposed to be a light-hearted post about "hey look we got a new dog," but this drives me crazy. Because of human incompetence and their view of pets as possessions, not family, and therefore disposable when they've gotten to be too much effort or have grown up to be an inconvenience, these dogs are dying. They're being killed, not because they are super aggressive or because they've hurt someone or because they're reaching the end of a terminal illness, but because people are so freaking self-absorbed and careless and never seem to remember that their actions have consequences.

When you get a dog, you should be willing to make that commitment to take care of them their entire lives, however long it may be. You want a puppy? You just signed up for fifteenish years of waking up early in the mornings to let that dog out to pee, planning your vacations with dog in mind, and footing the large amounts of money that go towards vet care, dog food, pet accessories, and unexpected happenings. Don't just get a dog because it's cute. Get it because it'll be one of the greatest decisions in your life if you can get past the adjustment period, because that canine will love you unconditionally, because they're the most loyal friends you've ever had, and because you're willing to lose part of your heart to this four-legged critter.

We weren't even sure if we could handle this pup when we first read about her because all our previous dogs have been older when we got them-- for example, Zoe was six. This new one, she's seven months. And she's already bigger than any of our previous dogs as well, coming in at fifty pounds almost exactly and with humongous paws that let us know she's not done growing yet. However, there's so much potential there for her to grow up to be amazing and we just have to figure out how to get her to that point. 

She's definitely smart, but she doesn't have that intense focus/OCD that Zoe had. Part of that probably has something to do with her puppiness, but additionally, she's also not purebred Border Collie, so that might be taking the edge off the normal BC concentration. They think she's part lab, although Mom suspects a hint of pitbull somewhere back a generation or two. She's picking up several new commands already, which bodes well for the future.

She's stubborn as all heck. She'd never been in a car longer than five-ten minutes before we picked her up in Loomis {a two hour drive WITHOUT traffic} Wednesday. We stopped after an hour and forty minutes in the car at Pet Food Express to give her a bath {which was another experience in and of itself} and when we tried to get her back in the car... HA. We stood out there for a good forty-fifty minutes trying to coax her in. PFE employees came out to try to help. We finally decided to put her kennel on the parking lot asphalt, put some treats inside, let her go in on her own, close the door, and just pick the whole thing up, with her in it, and put it in the vehicle. It was a whole process. She wasn't delighted. Neither were we. O.o

She has no inclination to catch tennis balls or play fetch with toys. She'll sort of run after a toy if you throw it, but it's definitely a saunter/trot and not a full out sprint like Zoe would, and as soon as she gets back to you, she lies down to chew on it instead of giving it to you to throw again. We're not sure how we're going to burn off all that puppy energy so that she's not bored out of her mind around here. Work in progress. I might actually have to take up running, like I've been kidding about. D:

She's semi-dog-aggressive {which means she growls/barks/lunges at other dogs while on leash}. This might be a problem for multiple reasons. One, it's not nice. No pet owner likes walking past dog-aggressive dogs while taking a stroll outside {to clarify, she loves people. It's just other dogs she's not too fond of}. Seriously. We give owners of dog-aggressive dogs an internal raised eyebrow and there's major judging of both dog and owner taking place every time. Two, Mom wants her AKC Good Canine Citizen-certified, which entails being able to be around other dogs without being threatening. She probably wouldn't pass right now. Three, she's going to be a BIG dog. If she pulls or goes after another dog once she's full-grown, it'll take a ton of effort to keep control of her and her leash. The parentals will be pushing seventy by the time this dog reaches fifteen and they can't handle a sixty-seventy pound dog pulling them over. So we've got to work on that as well. Mom said she might have to bring this pup back to the rescue if she can't get her to calm down with the dog aggression. The chances of us, the dog, or someone else getting hurt would be too risky.

She's amazingly laid-back though. I mean, how many dogs do you know that'll let strangers give them a bath without major complaint? She grins at everyone she meets and wants to give them all a big hug {coughcoughshestartsjumpingcoughcough}. She follows direction pretty well and just seems like a very happy dog in general. Tummy rubs from everybody!

She moves like a oversized puppy. She walks like a drunk, all wobbly and wavy, and falls over like one, too. She can sleep anywhere, in any position, at any time. Watching her succumb to slumber is like watching a narcoleptic toddler. It's pretty funny. 

She's very, very inexperienced in relation to city/indoor life. Like I said up there, she'd only ever been in a car for five to ten minutes before we got her, but she also is fascinated by all moving vehicles {living in the country, she hadn't been near a lot of roads}, she can hear a motorcycle from several streets over and listens to their roar until they're gone, she tried to bite the giant, humming white box the first time it started making clonking noises {the fridge's ice machine turned on}, and she freaked out like no other when Mom turned on the microwave {there was splayed/braced legs and panicked head turning and biting at the air and barking involved}. Our cuckoo clock also causes her to raise her head and perk her ears every time it cuckoos. I think she's sort of figured out that the fridge isn't a threat {nor is its exterior tasty}, the microwave won't hurt her {she still goes over and stares at it though, but the barking/panicking is gone}, and the loud, tiny bird in the box isn't real {and therefore isn't worth stalking}. We're putting off vacuum cleaners and blow dryers for another day. :P


Random things I've noticed so far about MY transition with this dog:

+ I don't monologue the way I did with Zoe, where I would "translate" her doggy thoughts and have full conversations with/as her. I'm pretty sure this has to do with the fact that I don't actually KNOW this new dog very well yet and therefore don't feel the sort of connection and familiarity that would allow me to narrate what she'd say if she could talk. Right now I talking TO her, not AS her.

+ She smells different. As in, even after I wash my hands after petting her, there will always be just a hint of dog scent left behind and she smells differently on my hands than Zoe did. It's weird and unfamiliar and will take a while to get used to.

+ I'm as emotional right now as I was letting go of the Zo. Like I said, new dogs take time to transition and adjust to, and I haven't hit that stride yet. Every difference makes me tear up, every stressful episode makes my throat tight, and I'm constantly sniffling {although that last thing is 95% seasonal allergy related, so...}. Having a dog in the house again feels normal and good, but also a bit strange. I'm glad this new pup is here and I'm excited to see how this turns out, but having a different dog around makes me miss Zoe like mad. More so than during these last couple weeks where it just felt quiet. Sers. The tears. They keep happening. Like right now. Oh goodness.

+ Mom is doing okay with it all. Not only was she the one who initially wanted this new dog, but she's also in her element in terms of training and teaching the dog things. Daddy's not entirely 100% enthused, but he always takes a little longer to adjust. And he tends to compare Zoe with this new one a lot, which is semi-unfair since you're judging a seven month old puppy who hasn't learned the rules yet to a fourteen year old family dog whose quirks you understand and know since she'd been with you eight years already.

Like I said, this'll take time. I'm looking forward to her settling down and getting used to our status quo, and us figuring out what makes her tick. I think we're all sort of shell-shocked right now {her with the overload of new experiences and sensory things, us with the getting used to having a dog in the house again, especially such an excitable one}, so we'll see how things are when we all calm down a bit.

Just wanted to keep you all updated with the latest happenings and write these thoughts down while they're fresh. First impressions are hard to come by, you know? But yes. Yay, new dog! Maybe I'll even start up her own Instagram account, who knows. I can be one of THOSE people. Heh. :P

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