Every Wednesday, my posts will be focused on why we chose the things we do, have or believe. We'll call them "Why We Chose" Wednesdays. Hope you enjoy this little teaser...why we chose a dog.
These won't be the most popular words I ever write, but I have never in my life wanted a dog. I always found them to be gross, clumsy, not very cuddly, loud, messy and smelly. Now cats, on the other hand, I love. And until very recently, there was never a point in my life where I didn't have a kitty companion. But no no no dogs. Never had one. Never wanted one. Period.
Now Sean, on the other hand, always wanted a dog and never actually had one. I had sort of won him over to the feline side, but he had always still had this desire for a "man's best friend".
About a year after we moved into our first home, we started hearing rumblings around the neighborhood about a wolf or a coyote running around our neighborhood. This news never really struck us as being unreasonable. After all, although we live in the city, we're also right across the road from a beautiful 251-acre wooded park. Surely there must be some real honest-to-goodness wildlife living in them there bushes. At the same time, we started to see signs pop up posted by "Steve" the local "dog warden", looking for a stray black and white dog. And that stray dog suddenly started hanging around our house an awful lot. Turns out the stray dog was in heat, and our neighbor's dog, Dingy, had never been fixed.
Ahhh, love was in bloom, right there in our driveway.
Soon the stray dog was sleeping on our porch at night, but running away from anyone who got within 10 yards of her. We knew she needed to be caught and cleaned up if she stood a chance of survival, so we decided to offer our fenced-in yard to assist in the effort. We contacted the dog warden, opened our gate, set out a can of stinky smelly Alpo, and waited. And wouldn't you know it, not an hour later, this thing strolls up into our yard.
Sean ran out the front door, shut the gate and captured the elusive wolf-coyote creature. The poor thing cowered, shivering, pressing as far into one of the corners of our yard as possible, and Sean got closer than anyone else ever had in the neighborhood. He gently petted her and talked to her and she calmed down just the tiniest bit.
And that's when it happened. My darling husband, whom I love more than my own life, looks up at me with his big brown eyes and says, "babe, I really like her." Great. Did I mention this was two weeks before his birthday, and I had already gotten the man his first iPod for a gift. This dog was NOT going to trump my gift. No no no no no. And I was not letting that nasty, smelly beast into my home. I recall being pretty flippant initially, saying something like, "they're not cheap you know. You know how much money we have. You know we can't afford this extra expense." And he blinks once, twice, looks me straight in the eyes and says, "we have the money, and I really REALLY like her."
And so now we have a dog.
And she lives in our house.
And he named her Brittney, after the dog of some girlfriend he had in high school. I like to tell people we named her that because we found her roaming the streets, not wearing any underwear. It's not very Christian of me, I know, but dang is it funny!
Once we got Britt cleaned up and through hundreds of dollars of vet appointments, she turned out to be a really pretty dog.
But we also realized that taking in a stray dog is a feat not for the faint of heart. Along with all that fur came lots and lots of baggage. She did not do well with crating, after being on the run and free her entire life. She could escape from any crate, sometimes by dismantling the whole thing, and then we'd find her asleep on the couch. When we tried keeping her in by wedging in a 2x4, here's what happen to the 2x4:
Okay people, be nice to us. There are so many details I'm not sharing for the sake of not writing a book. We weren't forcing our dog into a crate as it seems, and we tried and tried and tried to make it a calm, safe place. And we tried training, structure, positive reinforcement, consistency, etc, etc, etc. But this is one seriously strong-willed pup.
To make matters worse, we didn't realize what a dog is capable of when they get bored. In our case, Britt very much liked to rip into any bag brought home from The Home Depot.
So as you can imagine, it didn't take long for us to figure out that we had a fairly high maintenance pupster on our hands, who would require lots of attention and activity. We got a pool after our amazing groomers introduced her to one and she loved it, and all summer long, we tried to take time to splash around in it with her.
We bought countless toys that require her to do something or think in order to get treats out. She also gets the occasional near-empty jar of peanut butter.
I even took her to a dog-friendly event at the local water park for bonding time, but she was extremely overwhelmed by the large pool, gazillions of other dogs, and floating turds (sorry, not elegant, but accurate).
Things were good for the pupster, and with the exception of the more-than-occasional hole dug in our yard, she even seemed to improve a little bit. Britt was becoming a family dog.
And then this one showed up.
We were really impressed with how well Britt took to our munchkin. She's extremely protective and loving, keeps a very close eye on her at all times. She's even been very gracious when iBaby wants to play with Britt's toys.
But things have changed for poor Britt. Gone are the long walks a couple times a day, trips to the dog park, hikes through the woods, wrestling matches on the living room floor. We look at her sometimes, curled up on the living room floor, and wonder if she regrets choosing our family, wished she could have a more active place to run and play. We do occasionally take her to Camp Bow Wow, an amazing doggy day care where she can run and play all day long. After a day, or even a half-day there, she just passes out for a minimum of 24 hours. Everybody wins. (and I'll be writing a whole post about this place in the near future.)
But even though she makes us crazy, and we often feel guilty for how her life has changed, I think Sean and I both realize that Britt has a new job now (and jobs are extremely important to working dogs like our Akita/Doberman/Husky mix). She's iBaby's furry bodyguard. And I think if she could tell us her preference, she'd stay right where she is, drool, toy-sharing and all.