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Match Made in Heaven

>> Friday, June 24, 2011

Our newest addition has been rechristened "Phoebe".  And she is an absolute delight.

My two dogs are getting along like a house afire.  The house and yard are a racetrack and playground, and they happily pounce and gnaw and wrestle and play.  At first, Simon would start playing by doing his usual frapping around the house - meaning he'd pounce at her then ricochet off the walls and furniture, covering at least 2 floors in frantic happy flapping laps.  After each pounce in her direction, Phoebe would reciprocate with a pounce of her own, then watch bewilderedly while he ripped around, looking at me with a quizzical expression.  Seth and I could only laugh and tell her, "Phoebs, we have no idea what he's doing either!"

But by now she's caught onto his spirited games of tag, and in true Austin household style, she allows Pippin to join in.  My house is a free-for-all.

The other cats are less enthusiastic about her, but all are tolerating her remarkably well.  She's sweet and gentle with them, and they recognize that.  Grouchy old Tucker actually likes her.  I've caught him rubbing up against her.  Rocky's the one who likes Phoebe the least, but he's getting more tolerant.  They're all allowing sniffing (within respectful limits), and no one has stopped speaking to me.  When we acquired Wednesday as a kitten, she was such an enormous pain in the ass that Sneakers stopped speaking to me... for an entire year.  No one can hold a grudge like a cat!

I honestly think the best part, though, may be that Simon is like a different dog.  He's always been terrified of strangers, yet on one of our lengthy lets-wear-out-the-puppy walks this week he walked up to a complete stranger to say hello, and allowed said stranger to pat his head.  I have never ever ever seen him do anything like it.  He's no longer at all anxious in the car (although Phoebe is still barfing any time she's in a moving vehicle for more than 10 minutes).  He's no longer whining in his crate.  His appetite has returned.  He's happily trotting along next to Phoebe on walks with the double leash, and no longer jumping at every sound.  It's like someone flipped a "neuroses off" switch in the dim recesses of his fuzzy little brain.  I so desperately hope it lasts!

Phoebe is a bundle of enthusiastic energy.  She is definitely a puppy, chewing things she's not supposed to and being generally over-zealous about a lot of things.  She tends to get so involved in licking me that she starts to nibble and then gnaw.  Um, ow.  She jumps up on me a lot and by so doing has already shredded one of my favorite summer sweaters with her claws.  She gets so excited when I come home from work that she's wiggling and bouncing so hard she's impossible to put the leash on.  We've certainly got some work to do.

Shake that stuffed giraffe!  Kill it!  (Sorry about the crappiness of the photos - they're all off my Blackberry rather than the camera.  I've been too busy playing with puppy to get out the real camera all week!)

But she's bright and learning fast, and best of all, is trying sooo darn hard to be good.  She's already learned her new name, and is doing amazingly well on a leash and learning "come", "sit", "leave it", and "heel".  She tends to counter surf by putting her paws up on the counter's edge, and has been told "no" and had her feet set back on the floor several times.  Then yesterday, she started to put her paws up to sniff what I was making for dinner, caught herself mid-jump, and her feet never touched the edge of the counter.  Ah, how refreshing it is to teach a dog who's a) bright enough to learn and b) actually wants to please her humans!  I'd forgotten how much fun training a dog can be when that's the case.

Snoozing while stuffed between Mom and the back of the futon:

As is typically the case in our house, she's already collected a bunch of nicknames, including "Phoebles", "Miss Enthusiasm", and "The Little Wrinkle".

I think it is completely safe to say that, insane though it sounds, adding pet #7 was absolutely the perfect decision for us.  And too, Phoebe is going to be a totally completely utterly awesome dog.

Think we should try her first canoe trip this weekend?  Hm.  Given how exuberant she is, I'm thinking doggie and human life vests and swim suits and nothing else in the canoe aside from humans, dogs and paddles might be the way to start.  Maybe she'll teach Simon not to be afraid of water.  The good news is that I have a waterproof disposable camera somewhere...


Louise June 24, 2011 at 7:25 PM  

I just love a happy ending! I'm so glad that Phoebe is fitting in so well. She's such a pretty thing, and to find out that she's such a good girl is absolutely the best.

sarah July 5, 2011 at 8:15 PM  

I just came across this website of photos of basset hounds running, and thought of some of the pictures you've posted of Simon. I'm glad Phoebe's fitting in so well, and especially happy for Simon. My brother and his wife have a bassett - their second - and they just delight me. The bassets. Well, I suppose my family delights me as well. At any rate, here's the website:

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