Thursday, September 02, 2010

From dog disliker to doggie mama

My dog-related memories are not good. There was Sally, my uncle's Irish Setter who tried to lick my face. Yuck. There was the vicious stray dog that we tied to a tree in our yard while we waited (I think) for his owners to come. There was the German Shepherd who lived between me and the bus stop in high school and who terrorized me every single school day, morning and afternoon.

I never understood the relationships people had with their pets.  It's just a dog, I'd think, when people were acting all goopy about them. 

But the seminarian and our boy wanted a dog.  The elder had always had dogs; the younger just wanted one.  Badly.  When we moved from Oregon to Pennsylvania three years ago we said we would get a dog.  He prayed for several months while we looked around. Our girl was not so enthusiastic; she wanted a hamster or guinea pig and was a little afraid of dogs. Finally we found him, via Petfinder.  He was a cute little thing; a little wild, they said, but sweet. Here is the picture we fell in love with:


When we went to see him, we got distracted at first by some little hound puppies that had just come in.  But the boy was resolute: "where is Max?  I want to see Max."  He was wild, indeed, and very jumpy, but the seminarian played around with him and decided he was a fine dog for us.  The rest of us were a little nervous - so was he - but we leashed him up and put him in the crate to take him home.

When we got there, he walked around the house hesitantly.  We knew he had had some training, but we weren't expecting him to place a paw tentatively on the couch and look at us as if asking for permission.  We said "no" and he put his foot down.  It took him a while to learn which furniture he was allowed on.  We don't know when he figured out he could get on any furniture he wanted when we were not home.  We discovered drool and dirt on the couch one day, and another time caught him in the act when he was too complacent and we startled him.  We started putting books down on the couch and chairs when we went out.  He has his own place:

This is the boy's old crib blanket, now draped over an ottoman for his snoozing pleasure.
He won't get on the ottoman if the blanket is not there.

He hated the crate and never has learned to go in it willingly.  After a couple of nights of putting him in, we decided to stop torturing him and let him free at night and when we are not home. We've never had a problem, except when he is restless and comes looking for companionship at 3 am. But that doesn't happen very often.

Another lounging area.

He is a pretty good dog, though he is not particularly concerned with pleasing us.  If he has to decide between barking at a squirrel and coming in the house, the squirrel will win.  I always laugh at advice to offer him treats to come when called.  We offer great treats! But the squirrels are more fun.  If we really need him to come in, we call out "Do you want to go for a walk?" and he will come flying to the back door.  Of course then we do have to take the walk. Sometimes it's very short.  He seems to know when we're leaving for church on Sunday because he refuses to come in.  Maybe it's the smell of bacon in the house. 

Cute boys.
Having a dog has been really good for the kids.  Our girl was afraid of dogs before he came to us.  Now she loves all dogs and has lost her fear.

He is most happy when we are all home.  When one of the kids is away at night he is a little unsettled; he walks around looking for the missing one.  He greets us joyfully when we return.  But he is a good watchdog; he's got a big dog bark and won't hesitate to use it if someone he doesn't know comes around.  That would include the Christmas tree and a helium balloon bouquet. 

 Surveying his domain.

I guess there is a lot I could say about this dog.  It's funny to think of all those years I disliked dogs and never wanted one.  Now I can't imagine not having a dog around. 

Tell me about your dog!


Sheryl said...

They do worm their way into your heart, don't they? :-)

wayside wanderer said...

What a cutie! Your doggie has a very sweet face. My dog is a bit smaller than yours. He worships me which I rather like. :) He does bark a lot at passing things and visitors, but he is my faithful companion. He is sleeping on the back of my husbands chair as I type this and he is not supposed to be up there. But he looks so comfy I don't want to tell him to get down. He is spoiled. We are so crazy about our dog that he has his own facebook ... and he even updates regularly. :)

Audra said...

What a sweet dog! We have a rescue dog as well. She's about 9 years old now. She's about 50 pounds and is nowhere near as well behaved as yours! She is, however, fantastic with our two under two! She has a multitude of issues and lives in our shower or under our bed most of the day. She fears sunlight if it glints off of a passing car. She fears our camera because of the flash. She is our sweet fur-baby though!

Amy said...

I never thought I'd be in love with a dog, either, but then came Hilde. She is a miniature dachshund that I'm crazy about. My kids call her my tumor, because she's in my lap any time I sit down! She was a rescue dog, but she doesn't seem grateful--she thinks she owns us.