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Puppy Love

>> Saturday, June 18, 2011

Introducing:  the newest member of our family!

I've been searching off and on for another dog since Lucy died, but mostly rather half-heartedly.  Partly I just wanted Lucy back.  Partly I liked having only one dog in the house in the sense that one dog is easier than two in a house of 6 pets.  But, our poor Simon is not meant to be an only dog.  Shy and neurotic as he is, he's been backsliding.  Suddenly he's afraid of people he used to be fine with.  He's turned into a whiny mess when we put him into his crate, which he used to love.  And he's suddenly become terrified of riding in the car - shaking and whining.  Being about as omega as a dog can get, personality-wise, Simon just plain does better when there's another dog around to tell him what to do.

So, a couple of weeks ago I started looking in earnest.  It's so hard to find the right dog!  Most shelter dogs are hyper, fearful, not great with cats, not great with other dogs, shouldn't be around kids, or have some other issue that would be a major challenge to work with.

It's not that I'm not willing to have challenges with dogs - after all, it took us an entire year to house train Lucy, and Simon's still neurotic as all get-out - but I confess I am not feeling up for quite such major challenge again right now.  I still shudder to think of those first few months when Simon and Lucy were chasing the cats ceaselessly, peeing and pooping everywhere, eating shoes and furniture, ignoring us completely, and spectacularly flunking their first time through basic obedience classes.  Oh yes, God love them, but I think we paid some dues when we adopted that duo, and we're entitled to find a dog who will adjust to our home a little more smoothly this time around.

We did a lot of looking.  We introduced Simon to a lot of dogs, all of whom instantly tried to hump him (aside from the one who wanted to eat him for a snack).  Poor Simon.  He just exudes "hump me" to other dogs.  And for his part, he essentially ignored every other dog we introduced him to.  I admit Simon did want to play with a massive, hyper and unruly American bulldog that we met, but while sweet, that bulldog was definitely going to destroy my entire house.  So we kept looking.

We wanted someone young enough to be able to hike with us.  Someone mellow enough not to totally destroy the house.  And someone who wouldn't eat the cats.

Last week, I spotted her on-line.  Funny how sometimes you can tell, even from a photo.  "April" is a 9 months old who-knows-what, Heintz 57, true shelter special.  The shelter had guessed that she's a shar pei/boxer mix, but at best I'd call that combo only part of the formula.  In certain photos she looks a lot like she's got some pit bull in her, and given how many pits and pit mixes there are out there, I'd say there's a fairly high likelihood of that.  Her fur is a curious mix of brown and black strands, almost but not quite brindle.  Very soft.  She's about 40 lbs right now, and will get a little bigger, but probably not a whole lot.  She does have enough forehead wrinkles to suggest shar pei.  But as for the rest?  Who knows?!

I happen to think mutts are the absolute best, anyway.  I am, however, totally tempted to get one of those genetic test kits that would tell us exactly what she's got in her.  Her foster mom told us about a dog she had who turned out to be Rottweiler and Papillon.  Just try to imagine the mechanics of that!

She's adorable, still a little bit puppy floppy, and incredibly sweet.  Easy-going, gentle, sensitive, and playful.  She's spent almost her whole life in a wonderful foster home, so for a "shelter" dog, she's unbelievably well adjusted.  She's already house trained, listens well, knows some basic commands.  She's been very polite and respectful in greeting the cats. It just about broke her foster mom's heart to give her up.  

And while she and Simon didn't pretend to be instant best friends, they seem amiable enough together.  I do have to note that, for the first time in months, Simon was quiet as a lamb on the car ride home.  No shaking, no whining.  It's like having his new canine friend in the back seat with him just flipped a switch for him.  As for her, though, she gets car sick.  Very car sick.  Poor baby - I hate that feeling, so felt sooo bad for how woozy she was.  Even with a half-hour stop for some time in a park mid-way home, the fact that I hadn't yet changed out the winter floormats turned out to be a good thing.

The duo snoozing, pre-barf:

As for me, she's taken to me thus far.  I have a little shadow who won't leave my side.  And she's given me so many kisses that my nose is getting chapped.

I'm simply over the moon about her.  I had a very, very special bond with our first dog, Clancy, and while I certainly love Simon and loved our Lucy, neither of them bonded with me the way Clancy did.  Simon is really more my husband's dog.  Things just kind of work that way - most of the cats seem to favor one of us over the other, too.  I would love it if she were to be my little side kick.  I guess time will tell.  She's impossible not to love, that's for sure.

Now I'm having a name crisis.  She's been an April for the first 9 months of her life, but she doesn't seem like an April to me.  Add to that the problem that my husband and I have each known one human April, and we disliked each of them rather strongly.  She's not really answering to April, either, probably because everything is so new.  But what else would we call her???

I like Roxie, but it's too close to Rocky
I like Poppy, but it's too close to Pippin

Heavens, I just don't know!  If I take too long picking a new name, she'll probably just remain April.  I guess we shall see!


Louise June 18, 2011 at 6:05 PM  

She's adorable. I'm terrible at names, so I won't even try. But, I bet that the right name will just come to you, if you let it.

Woodswalker June 18, 2011 at 9:36 PM  

Congratulations! She looks like a real sweetheart. I hope you will tell us stories about how the cats get along with her.

biobabbler June 24, 2011 at 12:56 PM  

wow. Completely delightful story. In the 1st shot I def. saw some pit bull, but less so in others. Looks like a TOTAL doll and I'm SO happy for your other doggy and that all get along with the kitties (well enough, so far). The fact that the foster parent had great difficulty releasing her bodes well.

My husband is a big believer in spending time with pets (weeks and weeks) and letting them name themselves. Our very adventurous, big explorer, leaper-into-any-open-cupboard-or-box is now named Scout. Perfect. =) And our chicken who plucks feathers out of her coop-mates fannies is, of course, Fanny.

SO happy for you & your crew. Your intro pics on the left of various pets are SO great. QUITE the talent for pet portraiture. =) Talent!

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