I’ve always wanted a dog, but it wasn’t going to happen living in my parent’s house. As a kid, when you’re told “No!”, you want it even more! Then, followed up with, “When you move out, you can get a dog.” Duly noted.
I moved out when I was in college. I moved out of my dorm into an off campus apartment, eventually. I was younger then, and didn’t quite think things through to the extent I do now, so when September 11th happened and it seemed like the world could end any second, at least your interaction with the world, it made sense to do something I’ve always wanted to. People cope with loss and grieve in different ways. I grew up in New York City. Several people on my block never came home. Reality is too much to process sometimes. I circled the first newspaper ad that fit my criteria. Puppy! Who doesn’t want a puppy? Chihuahua/Terrier mix, great for a small apartment. $150? Affordable. Boy, was I dumb.
Two weeks later, that puppy was mine. I made every mistake in the book for choosing a pet, and paid for it. That seven week old puppy is now ten and happily (and plump) living with my parents. She has bonded with my father and that has worked out well. The effort I invested in her truly was blood (she bit me MANY times), sweat (laying awake at night wondering what to do, knowing that a shelter would immediately put her down for aggression), and tears (frustration of dog ownership, lifestyle change, significant cost). I tried everything short of a pet psychic. We are both better off from all that effort.
In June, Craig said he wanted a dog. [I was on work travel in the beginning of a 6-week stint.]
“I want a dog. We should get a dog.”
Oh boy. I told him to think about it some more. I must admit, I was a bit skeptical. I mean, having your own dog is completely different from the family dog. When he’s everybody’s dog, he’s really nobody’s dog. Yes, let’s revisit this one later. I forgot that when Craig asks for something, it’s usually well thought out by the time the request comes out.
So, in August, we found a black and tan dapple on http://www.drna.org, which is the Dachshund Rescue of North America. It had to be a rescue because we don’t have time and patience for a puppy and there are so many unwanted dogs out there who make great family pets. Chance was undergoing heart worm treatment, and was brought to Norfolk, VA from Lake City, FL. He was three years old and not neutered, implying that he spent a lot of time outside. I sent an email to his foster family, and we patiently waited until he was ready for adoption which turned out to be mid October. Upon return from Europe, we took a drive down to meet him. His foster mom held on to him for us until after the wedding, and almost immediately after, we took a day trip to Norfolk to pick him up.
Chance is a very sweet dog, but of course, comes with baggage as is common with some rescues. He takes a while to trust, and is very submissive to the point where if you raise your voice, he gets very frightened and immediately does a submissive pee. One time, he was doing this suspicious-dog thing where he was actively sniffing around while walking in circles then got into question mark posture. This means poop! I yelled, “HEY! OUTSIDE Chance!! Let’s go!!!” Not only did I scare the crap back in him (!), but he froze, and immediately let out a little pee. He also will do a little pee squirt when he is very excited which is normal for small dogs. Thank goodness that some of the house has hardwood floors.
He does know some commands but is not obedient because it is difficult to reinforce the command when he doesn’t comply. He turns his head to the side to avoid eye contact, then will inevitably roll over and play possum. We have to wait for him to build confidence, which means waiting for him to trust us. That has been slow going, but fine since he sleeps 20 hours a day, and is very docile.
He’s good with kids, people and other animals. Usually if another dog comes over, he won’t initiate play and will just stay put ignoring the other dog. He doesn’t know what to do with toys, and is not food motivated (yet), has separation anxiety, and is skeptical of the crate.
We enjoy him though, especially Craig who now has a couch potato buddy. I think Chance likes Craig better since he pets him and walks him more. Craig can hold Chance in the crook of his arm with the dog belly up, just like a baby, and he will just stay put. This is so bizarre, and I think he’s very unusual for a dog given that he’s a tolerant all around mush.