Friday, January 7, 2011

Yes, I DO Torture My Dogs

One of them, anyway.
I was taking down the Christmas decorations the other day, it being the first day I felt slightly better from my cold, and the wreath went so well with his black fur. I couldn't resist! Yes, this is the dog that blew his knee out a few months back, but pity doesn't play much in this household!
 He is not the sharpest tool in the shed, but he knows when he's being made fun of. (He also is not a smart man, but knows what love is.) Below, he refused to look at me for the second shot. Seriously, I kept calling his name, and his ear would flick towards me, but he would not look at the camera! In the background, our Shepherd is concerned that she will be called upon for similar humiliations. After all, when he gets a bath, she gets one right after, so what else could she expect?
Because I am utterly insane, it looks like there will be a new addition to our family towards the end of March or early April. No, I'm not pregnant-that passed me by and I'm kind of relieved it did. Nope. We're going to get a puppy.
Our girl, staying warm in a patch of weak winter sun.


Both my current kids are rescues. My shepherd was about a year and a half or so when we got her from German Shepherd Rescue in Orange County. Some jackass had tied her up in the backyard and then moved away, leaving her without food for around ten days, give or take. She was still lactating, full grown and only thirty-eight pounds when we got her. Now, she's around nine years old and weighs in at a healthy 70 pounds.

Mini-rant: Please, people, would you do your research on your dogs before you adopt? DO NOT have a couch-potato lifestyle and expect a high-energy dog to match your energy level. You'll make the dog and yourself miserable, and you'll probably get rid of the dog. Of course, you could say the dog was crazy, but what's crazy is expecting a dog to act against its breeding. If you can get Animal Planet, there's a series called "Dogs 101" that will give you all the info you need to make an intelligent decision about what dog is right for your life. You can also go herehere and here for more info on dog behavior and how to pick a dog.

Our shepherd is smart, funny, and full of personality, she is convinced that our Lab mix is her dog toy. Since we're still rehabbing him (no, we did not go for the $3800 surgery for his knee, because he's eleven and a spaz who will only tear up the surgery, anyway), he can't play with her without undoing his healing. So, she needs a pal. We had planned to get another shepherd, anyway, because they're so smart, and this way, we get her help in raising our new little guy, and we figure our Lab (a.k.a. The Dog) will be less threatened (and less likely to hurt himself) by an eight-week old male coming into his territory than a full-grown dog he'll feel the need to fight with to assert his dominance.

I want to point out that this idea was originally my husband's. He's mentioned getting another dog several times since The Dog or El Doggo (not his real name, either) was injured, but I refused because I was so busy. Mr. ShellHawk works some very long hours, so the responsibility for training and assimilating a new pack member would fall to me, and I just couldn't add one more thing.

Who am I kidding? I still can't, but I will. I can't let our girl's talents go to waste, and she will be a big help in teaching the new dog how to behave. Since she was a mommy, and also is very social with other dogs, I'm sure she'll enjoy her new role.

I went back and forth with the rescue vs. breeder thing. We got lucky in some ways with both our rescues. Neither one of them came with food-aggression issues, they're both great with kids, and they're both very patient, sweet dogs. (Note the earlier picture of the wreathed and lit black dog... I still have all my fingers!) But there were some issues with El Doggo because it seems that no one did a damn thing with him before we got him at around age five or six.

He's stubborn, clingy, and pushy, and (for instance) even after having worked consistently with him for the last six years, he barks furiously at the door when the doorbell rings (like we have never corrected him for it, ever) and will not stop when corrected for more than a few seconds. Oh, and do you think that after consistently letting him know that it is not o.k. to charge the back corner of the property to get at the untrained Rottweilers, he would stop? Hell no. Did I mention the back hair coming up every time he meets another adult dog, and the fact that before his injury, we couldn't let him loose at the dog park because he's both an asshole and an idiot? Don't get me started on the barking, either.

I know that Cesar says that the behavior can be corrected when the human knows what to do, and I really agree with this. Clearly, I'm missing something.

There! I admitted I'm not perfect. Please don't tell anyone, o.k.? Thanks.

 Admittedly, he is much better than he was when we first got him, but he's still a hell of a lot of work. We figure he'll settle down three weeks before he dies, if we aren't forced to put him down because of catastrophic injury due to his low I.Q. (He's one of the few dogs in the world who may stupid/stubborn himself to death.) It's just who he is, and we still love him. No dog in the world sits prettier or snuggles cuter in the morning, after all! Shepherd has her own little quirks, but we're better able to handle them because she's smart and not stubborn.
So when the new dog idea came up, I began to think longingly of a dog that didn't come with a load of behavioral issues. With rescues, you roll the dice and hopefully come up with a great dog, like we did with our girl. But I wanted to be more sure this time. I want a dog that can hang out with guests at a party and not try to climb into their laps and breathe in their faces. I want to have a dog that I can leave the garage door open while I'm working and have him calmly in my shop with me while I work. I want to be able to leave the house for a few hours without coming home to the execution of every paper product I own. I'm also looking forward to taking the new pup camping, like I do with the rest of the pack.

I'm willing to work with a dog to make that happen. I'm not one of those people who thinks that the dog should just magically know what it's supposed to do. Though I have a couple of Cesar's books already, I downloaded a couple of his newer ones to get prepped for the upcoming changes. (Because I really needed more to read, LOL!)

I started some research into local breeders and came up with Sprague's German Shepherds, and was very impressed with the training they do with their pups from birth through eight weeks, as well as the research they had clearly done for early dog development. They also have hip and elbow guarantees, which was also a concern of mine. I took a look at their dogs, and fell for Hutch, a very handsome stud. I talked things over with Mr. ShellHawk once more, and then gave Sandy a call and e-mailed her my application form.

Long story less long (holy goodnight, is this post long!), Sandy and I talked for a bit and I found out there are two potential litters to pick from (she's waiting to make sure the girls are pregnant before she makes promises), both due around February 14th. Her prices are very reasonable (though I'm sacrificing a projector I was going to buy for my haunt this year :o() , and there are a few very minor details to iron out, but I think the new Hell Hound will join the pack in April! Maybe he'll look a bit like his daddy.
Hutch at 14 weeks
I can't wait to find out!

3 comments:

  1. Ha! I knew I wasn't the only one. Great post BTW, dog responsibility is a big issue. K and I learned so much from Cesar. Looking back, I realized being a single working parent with my dog was not enough for her. Since K and I have been living together, the pack has become so much stronger. Congratulations on your new addition!

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  2. I know all to well about having a black lab! Everything you described fits mine to the tee, barking at the door bell, hairs standing up on the back of the neck, etc. I was laughing the whole time!

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  3. congrats and best wishes for the new little addition! I have 2 rescue dogs myself who drive me absolutely insane...I unfortunately, didn't understand that the damage that was done to them by humans would have lifelong repercussions--they will just never be normal dogs. still, they have come a long way and are a million times better off than they were. (that is because I spent $$$ on trainers and dog shrinks!) they still will not leave my side and the one barks at the drop of a hat--they also have to contend with being just 2 among many (4 cats, 2 horses, snake, lizard, turtle, and the resident squirrels who also expect to be fed each day) yes, I am indeed insane.

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