Archive | Pets RSS feed for this section

Doodle Oodle Oodle

18 May

As I mentioned, Benjamin had a hard time after all of the Trouble with Rex and his subsequent return to the animal shelter.  The Daddy and I decided that perhaps a puppy (a girl puppy) was a better idea, one that we could train from the start, with the goal of avoiding any Rexist repeats.

So we started deliberating over what kind of puppy to get. I took a cursory look around in the paper and online, but didn’t see anything that struck me. Bulldog? Too snorty. King Charles Spaniel? Cute, but too fussy. Boston terriers? Too Boston terrier-y. Golden retrievers? I love them, but they all seemed to be ONE MILLION DOLLARS.

Then my dad sent me an email that said something along the lines of, “I have a friend who has a Labradoodle, and it seems to be a good dog and it doesn’t shed much.”

This whiz-banged my memory back to an article I’d read a few years ago on the trend towards the designer dog breeds called “doodles,” meaning one breed mixed with a Poodle. Breeders are frequently mixing Labrador Retrievers with Poodles (Labradoodles) or Golden Retrievers with Poodles (Goldendoodles).  There are several benefits to these mixes, including dogs that don’t shed much, are low allergen producers, and have temperaments appropriate for family life or human assistance (therapy dogs or guide dogs). I seem to remember that the original Labradoodle was bred to be a guide dog for a woman whose husband was terribly allergic to dogs.

A quick Google search yielded a breeder with Labradoodle puppies ready for homes in a town 2 hours away. Better yet, she had a girl puppy. Even better still, the pups had already been exposed to the abuses charms of 2-year-old children, as she herself had a 2-year-old boy who loved to play with the puppies.

After some more research, we decided the Labradoodle was for us and scheduled to pick up the girl puppy that Saturday. We didn’t tell the kids; we simply told them we were going on a surprise adventure. Benjamin was confused when, after exhaustive questioning, I confirmed that the adventure wouldn’t include a museum, science center, or dinosaurs. I’m sure in his mind, he was thinking, “What other kind of freakin’ adventure is there?”

So now…drum roll…I’m pleased to present….Maya!

I'M REALLY REALLY CUTE, SEE?

After the brief honeymoon period in which it seemed like she was the most perfect puppy ever, we entered a more typical and sobering phase of nipping, chewing, jumping, and general naughtiness. For example, when a frightened 2-year-old runs away screaming from a nippy puppy, the puppy doesn’t think, “Uh-oh…I shouldn’t continue on this path. The child is scared.” 

Nope. Here’s what the puppy thinks:

“Yay! The small pink human-shaped thing wants to play with me! First, I’ll jump on top of her play-growling, and she’ll enjoy that so much that she’ll fall on me and smack me with her oddly shaped paws, and then we’ll nibble on each other for a while! It’ll be so great! And then I’ll tug on her hair and she’ll chew my ears! And everyone will be proud of me and I’ll get treats treats treats treats TREATS!!!!”

Despite the obvious communication difficulties, it’s clear that she’s sweet and very trainable, or perhaps we are, and I predict that she’s going to be a really great dog.

And if you made it all the way to the end of this post, here’s a video that made me laugh of a Labradoodle named Figaro who sings (attempts to drown out?) his owner’s horn playing.  Whoever made this video shot it at a weird angle, but I DO  appreciate seeing that his carpet is obviously free of dog hair, probably thanks to his non-shedding Doodle.
 

Aftermath

5 May

“Mama, I miss Rex.”

“I know you do. I’m really sorry we couldn’t keep him.”

“But he was such a good dog!”

“He will eventually be a good dog.  But until he turned into a good dog, he was going to be too rough for our family, and we couldn’t get him to listen. Weren’t you a little scared when he knocked you down?”

“Well…I was very brave.”

“Yes, you were very, very brave. But not scared?”

“I was a little scared.”

“Yeah, I thought so.”

“But Mama, he listened to me and Daddy. And not you and Ellie. Because Daddy and me are boys, and you and Ellie are girls, and dogs don’t listen to you. Because you’re girls.”

Two thoughts:

1) I’m so glad I know the reason now! There are so many times that I think I am speaking out loud – I can hear myself talking, I can put my hand out in front of my mouth and feel air moving – but no adjacent ears are receiving the sound waves. It’s because I’m a girl.

2) My kid is turning into quite the little sexist. This + his recent pronouncement that BOYS ONLY will be invited to his 5th birthday party + his insistence that he not be subjected to “girl things” = a distinct potential for developing into a club-swinging, knuckle-dragging brute. Or he’s just a normal 5-year-old boy going through the gender identification process.

I’d talk to him about it, but unfortunately he CAN’T HEAR ME. *sigh*

The Trouble With Rex

3 May

Several months ago, we lost our 13-year-old Border Collie to cancer. It’s never easy to lose a furry member of the family, and this time we had to try to explain death to Benjamin. When Simon the cat died a few years back, Benjamin was only 2, and we didn’t think he could possibly understand. So our explanation for the cat’s sudden absence was, “He went to visit friends!” But now he’s 4, so we did our best to discuss her death in a way he could grasp. And once he wrapped his little brain around the fact that the dog had died and wasn’t coming back, he said, “That’s what happened to Simon, too, ISN’T IT?!”

Busted.

As the grieving process moved on, we started to feel like we were ready to have a dog in our family again. We took several exploratory trips to the Humane Society to see what was what, and what’s what is that all the dogs at our local shelter were Pit Bulls.

I know there are all kinds of Pit Bull cheerleaders out there who say they are wonderful family dogs with sunshiny temperaments, their reputation is unfair, prejudice is cruel, etc. But with two little kids, I just can’t take the chance that I adopt the one dog that is going to rip Ellie’s arm off for a midafternoon snack.  What my brain has come up with on the subject is this: I’ve had hunting dogs and a herding dog. None of these dogs were expected to hunt or herd, but they did it anyway. They naturally did the things they were bred to do, and Pit Bulls are bred to fight and kill. I’m sure I’m wrong, but I’d rather be wrong than risk being right.

Anyway, hopeful people that we are, we made one final trip to the Humane Society on Sunday. And WAH-LAH, there he was…a gorgeous yellow lab mix named Rex. Everyone who walked by his cage stopped to make some sort of enthusiastic exclamation.

“Oh, what a beautiful dog!”
“Now, that’s a dog.”
“Son, this is what you call a real American dog.” (Notably, this was uttered by a man with a thick Irish accent.)

We asked to play with Rex and they let us take him outside. Then we played with him inside. I liked the way he behaved with the kids. Then we tested his ability to tolerate a cat, which went well after a brief hissy-spitty-growly introductory period. Everyone on staff at the shelter said some version of, “Oh, that’s such a great dog!”

He was gorgeous, fun, widely loved and adored…how could we go wrong?

We decided to take him home and make him part of our lives after a brief family meeting in the reception area over popcorn and M&Ms. After an exhaustive adoption process, during which my brain melted into a quivering mass of gelatinous glop, we gleefully left the shelter with our new family member.

He did a great job in the car on the way home. I’ll give him that.

At the house, we kept him on a leash for the first hour or so. We walked him around the neighborhood. We introduced him to the yard. We walked him around the house on the leash. He met the cat, and they both did very well. “Fantastic!” I thought. “This is going to be great!”

Then I let him off the leash in the family room, which I blocked off from the kitchen with a baby gate. “Better not to overwhelm him,” I thought.

I assumed that the first thing he’d do was eat, but instead, he chose a different path, a bad path, a path that would change everything. Instead of eating the bowl of food I offered, he looked away, watched Ellie intently for a moment,  then chased her down and was…well, he was…inappropriate, if you know what I mean. Inappropriate in a very rude, mannerless, boy-dog kind of way.

Ellie was horrified and startled, and thankfully I was right there to snatch her up and away from the…inappropriateness.

Next he targeted Benjamin in the yard, knocking him over in the process. Then it was me. THEN it was The Daddy, which was followed immediately by a display of lunging and menacing barking at the lawn guy and later, our neighbor.

The Daddy said, “I don’t think this is working out.”

I said, “I WANT A GIRL DOG.”

So, three hours after his joyful homecoming, Rex went back to the shelter. The staff was very kind about it, agreeing that we couldn’t have that kind of behavior with little kids around.

We felt really bad. Benjamin felt really bad. We felt really bad for Benjamin, who had been so excited to have a dog again, especially one named after his favorite dinosaur.

Ellie didn’t care at all, perhaps because she was the first of Rex’s victims. At dinner, she asked, “Where’s Wex?” The Daddy replied, “Rex had to go home.” She looked at him, smiled sweetly, and said “Okay, Daddy!” And she’s right, it is okay, because handsome Rex will eventually find a home, and we will eventually find the right dog to complete our nutty little family. The right GIRL DOG, that is.

NAUGHTY

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 29 other followers

%d bloggers like this: