Monday, July 7, 2014

Becoming a dog parent

Do you have an apple? Apples ROCK, more than bacon, clearly.
Although I've pet sitted (petsat?) for my friend's pooches upon occasion, it has been many moons since I had a dog. My children don't even remember any dogs that we've had, it has been so long since the pitter patter of furry feet.

That said, I figured the pet sitting prepared me for bringing a canine into our home and hearts. I figured that rigorous research into breeds, training methods, available dogs would mean we'd transition smoothly from being a no dog household to a dog one. Once we met our Ralph, it seemed like a no brainer--he was already house trained, he knew 'sit' and 'stay' and he was big enough, I didn't figure the kids could break him.

Basically, I treated getting a dog like researching for a book. If I read enough, watched enough videos, borrowed other people's pets, I could become the best dog mommy in the world. I'd be one of those pet parents who has the most obedient pet and random folks would compliment my fur baby.

Me and our new furry pal
I did the same thing before I became a human mommy, thinking I could read and be prepared for a baby. Ha!

I should have learned from that experience that there are just some things that aren't the same as what you read. However, I was hopeful.

To give my dog credit, he's awesome. He is really obedient. He's loyal--he follows me everywhere like a doggy shadow.

He, however, is nothing like the books said he'd be.

He's a lab retriever. The books tell me this means he's a runner. He'll also love water.
Happy Dog

Apparently, no one told Ralph what breed he is. He doesn't like water, it kind of freaks him out. He also doesn't have any desire to run away...he'll run WITH us, but I don't move very fast and he prefers to hang out wherever I am.

The books said that leave it would be a hard thing to teach him. Nope, he gets that. Down? (Like 'lay down, dog') I'm speaking another language. He doesn't get it. He looks at me all hopeful, willing to sit, stay, gimme high five, whatever...but has no clue what I'm asking with 'down.'  So he then just goes through what he does know (sit, stay, high five, up) until he gets frustrated with me and flops...and then can't figure out why I'm so darn happy he's down.

He started out pretty social. He didn't mind other dogs, other people, whatever. Now? Barks at everything. The first few weeks, he didn't make a sound. Now? Woofwoofwoofwoofwoofwoofwoofwoofwoofwoofwoofwoofwoofwoofwoofwoofwoofwoofwoof.

I'm pretty sure he's telling me a story of some kind. Something along the lines of, "Hey, human! I love you so much! Could you look over there? That guy? Do you see him? In the red swim trunks. I think he's a zombie. He's gonna eat our brains. Human? Do you see him? Why aren't you looking at the guy? He's right there, even with those plastic things on your face, you can surely see him. Human?"

But I just stare at the dog and wonder where the woofwoof off button is. He has one, I know it because he came with it firmly OFF.

Basically, I'm reading more books. If they don't help...

It's weird, but it doesn't matter altogether that much. Sure, he might not be the most obedient dog on the planet, but he tries. Sure, he's a neurotic ball of fur, full of separation anxiety and water fears and a whole mess of other things (thinking of getting him a thunderjacket, actually...because dood, he's a spaz)...

But he's our spaz.

The one thing that the books and movies and videos didn't mention was that by saving him (rescuing, that's the word the pound uses) from the shelter, he rescued us.

Because you really don't realize you have a dog shaped hole in your heart until you fill it with just the right dog.

We found him. He's got a very long name, nearly as long as his list of To-Do training tasks, but he's our guy and we love him.

Do you have a furry friend who rescued you, too?

escued us.


  1. Great post!!!! I have a lab/pointer mix who adopted me and a small chocolate lab who adopted my son. We had a guinea pig we met at a garage sale... he made little piggie sounds when we walked out of the garage so we simply had to take him with us. He passed of old age. I love my rescue dog, Maggie. She's very neurotic but still awesome! Every writer needs a fur baby.

  2. Great post! He looks like my boy Greyson who is also neurotic, terrified of the world, and my heart dog. Keep learning and helping him along! :-)

  3. He looks like such a sweetie! We have one full bred black lab with championship bloodlines that go on forever and cost a small fortune. Missy was supposed to the ideal lab. Nope, she turned out to be short, chunky and lazy, lol. Her favorite pastime is hanging out beneath my feet when I cook. But she is the absolute sweetest dog. Wouldn't trade her for the world. We also have Jezebel, a boxer mix that just showed up in our yard one day. We tracked down her family through the local animal shelter and they didn't seem all that concerned that we had her, so we kept her. She is the best dog! I can't imagine why they didn't want her back, but their loss was our gain. Our latest addition is Bossco. He's a beagle and basset mix with maybe a splash of dachshund thrown in for good measure. We found him through a local rescue and are over the moon in love with the new guy. It didn't matter whether we paid a small fortune, kept a stray that showed or picked up a "mutt" at the rescue. They are all loved equally and we'd be lost without them.