March 22nd, 2013 -- Puppy Fever & Mr. Perfect
Often boredom will act as the catalyst that sends an addict back to their vice: breaking diets, getting former smokers to grab a cigarette, sending alcoholics off the wagon, or driving the insecure back into the arms an ex-lover.
For me, it was puppies. Boredom lead me to puppies.
While sitting in the doctor’s office with ample time to spare I downloaded some sort of pet finder application on my phone. This was the gateway that took me from casually cooing at cute pictures of dogs to full-fledged “I WANT A PUPPY!!!!!!!!!!”
Looking to bring some sort of logic into the equation, I consulted my boyfriend. He did his best to give me reasons we shouldn’t get another dog, most of which revolved around the fact that we finally had our current dog Peanut in such a great place behavior-wise. We had her on a perfectly set schedule, she had finally grown out of many of her annoying puppy habits, she was obeying us better than ever before and generally, she was the perfect dog. Why would we want to throw a curve-ball in this near perfect scenario?
The counter argument of course was: PUPPIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And that it would probably be good for Peanut to have a friend to play with. She loves to go skating with me and gets plenty of exercise, but nothing wears out a dog out quite like the company of another dog.
I stumbled across a Facebook posting from the Sacramento County Animal Shelter featuring five cattle dog puppies. That same day I went to visit the puppies and to no surprise, three of them had already been adopted. As you can see in the photo above, I was convinced the little one with the stripe on his head wanted to go home with me, but I couldn’t (in good conscience) adopt a dog without consulting my boyfriend. It was then I pulled a total dick move and tried to appeal to the dog lover in him by sending photos of the pups to his phone via text message. His response was: “Let’s go back to the shelter when I don’t have to work on Saturday and we’ll see if they are still there.” It was Thursday, but not all hope was lost.
As expected, we were there when the doors opened at the shelter on Saturday morning, and the last of the pups had been adopted the morning before. “Yay” for the puppies, “boo” for us. We ran around the shelter to see if there were any other pooches we thought would make a good companion for Peanut, but most of the dogs at the shelter were also female Pit-bull mixes, which can make for a difficult pairing. I was devastated, so on our way back to the car my boyfriend suggested we stop by the SPCA nearby.
We were running into the same issue at the SPCA as we had at the shelter: the majority of the available pups were female. Even so, being the suckers we are, Scott and I absolutely fell in love with a baby girl we immediately named “Honey”.
Honey was almost as shy as she was adorable. She seemed good natured, but very nervous- especially around men. Anytime my boyfriend would stand, she would cower down, and once she even peed a little. It was heartbreaking. Of course I immediately convinced myself that we needed to save her, teach her that not all men are evil abusers and that Peanut would be the perfect influence to teach her how to love, trust and become the perfect dog part 2.
We spoke with the Adoption Councilor about the difficulty of having two female dogs in the same house. She warned us about the dangers of “bitches” going into “bitch mode” and eventually fighting to become Alpha, but encouraged us to bring Peanut to the shelter to see how the dogs interacted. When we introduced Peanut and Honey neither of them were bitchy, which was encouraging. However, Honey was terrified of Peanut and tried to hide from her. Meanwhile, Peanut was completely uninterested in the new puppy and sniffed the area looking for treats.
Shortly after introducing the two we spoke with an Animal Behavioral Specialist who expressed concern and encouraged us to introduce Peanut to some male dogs that might make a more suitable companion. Scotty and I gave each other the side-eye, as this wasn’t anything we had previously discussed, but we were open to it. We met several dogs that day. Many were too obnoxious, disrespectful or LOUD (Holy shit, were they loud!) but then he walked into the play area…
His name was Hank. Note: I have always wanted a dog named Hank! He appeared to be half American Bulldog and half Cow. His energy level was high, but he was in control of that energy and he was super playful. He and Peanut became instant friends and immediately started playing together. Like most men, Hank followed his instinct and eventually tried to hump the female. Peanut snapped at him (you go girl!) and he immediately backed off. What a gentleman! He went into a submissive pose and the two continued to play. Both had GIGANTIC smiles on their faces. It was love at first sight.
So imagine our surprise when we realized how quickly we had gone from considering a cattle dog puppy to decidedly bringing home a 65 pound Holstein. We didn’t get the dog we wanted, we got the dog we needed – which was even better than we could have hoped for. As you can see in the photo, Hank was a SPCA staff favorite who demanded belly rubs before he left the shelter to come live with us.
Transitioning Hank into our home hasn’t been a total breeze but anything worth doing requires a bit of work. What has been most important is all of our family members (including the dogs) have been doing their best to be accommodating. Peanut quickly asserted herself as the Alpha which Hank accepted and they’ve since become inseparable. When I shared the news with Rob he texted me the following (paraphrased) message:
Congratulations! The only thing better than owning a dog is having two dogs. You’ll find it’s not double the work, but it is double the reward.
Truer words have never been spoken.