I have raised puppies before, but it's been a while and I had forgotten about the mania. I've taken the program offered by the Shelby County Obedience Club, (the dog passed; I failed), but it looks like I'm fixin' to take a refresher course. Melody and I have watched a lot of The Dog Whisperer, so we're constantly saying, "Chhhh" to the dog, until it sounds like a Biblical plague of crickets invading our home. A stern "No!" seems to be more affective. Consequently, it seems like someone is always screaming at the dog, and I have a fragile disposition, as you know. Nancy responds to her name, but she thinks her surname is "goddammit." We're not even certain if the pup speaks English. And since she's still a baby, she doesn't realize how strong she is or the power of her canine jaws- but I do. After five months of living with Nancy, I have arms that look like a junkie's and the hands of a cage fighter. She has eaten a pair of my favorite socks and a couple of T-Shirts, and I have to keep my house shoes off of the floor. Anything that doesn't squeak or rattle is still fair game. She'll chew on your shoe with your foot still in it. She has a tendency to leap on me and nip at my extremities, so when I first get out of the shower, I have to make certain that she's not in the room. Nancy has learned to eat ice cubes and will attempt to climb up on the coffee table and pick them out of your glass if you are at all inattentive. I know that these bad behaviors can be corrected by proper training and obedience classes, but we've noticed that since she's been leaping on our friends, we have fewer guests that just pop in. So we're rethinking the whole obedience thing.
The problem is the damn dog is so freaking adorable, I can't bring myself to discipline her. Melody has no problem taking her by the collar and putting her outdoors, but I don't want to hurt the dog's feelings. I tried the old rolled-up newspaper a couple of times, but she only thought I was playing and came at me more fiercely. After she's exhausted herself, however, she loves belly rubs and neck scratches and will curl up at my feet like a loyal companion. Cesar Millan might suggest that the problem is me. I have detected small signs of her beginning to mellow lately and after a few lessons, I am sure that Nancy is going to be a wonderful pet. She is whip-smart and spunky. I'd say she was "mischevious," but there is no such word, so please stop saying it. The word is, "mischievous,"- three syllables, not four, and she is certainly the scamp. Since there are two older dogs here, there should be territorial issues, but like other females I could name, Nancy rules the roost. She also has floppy ears that feel like velvet and the longest tail that wags in sections when you appear. Her cheerful greeting at the doorway is uplifting every time and if I'm only away for fifteen minutes, she's so happy when I return, you would think I'd been gone forever. What I'm getting at here is that shelter dogs are often smarter and more clever than pure breeds. I have had both and I know that the dangers of over-breeding include reduced mental capacity and a tendency for illnesses in certain breeds. This pup has the strongest set of mixed genes that natural selection has to offer. We don't know where they came from, but they're strong alright.
|The Giant Pup|
I'm sure that like many other people, I wish that I could save them all. I see the pictures of the stray and abandoned dogs online and I wish I had the means to start a refuge, like the elephant sanctuary in Hohenwald, where all dogs run free and happy. Only, that's not the way it works. I don't need to remind you of the fate of unadopted shelter dogs, only that they are as deserving of love and a decent life as any pet acquired through a breeder. Since we domesticated these animals, they are entirely dependent on caring people for their well-being. Your dog is waiting for you, but that means responsibility as well. You just can't teach kindness. You either have it or you don't. But these adoptable dogs out at the Animal Shelter could melt anyone's heart. They speak to you with their eyes and their expressions, and any fool could see their need for simple affection. I defy you to visit the shelter and not be moved. Even an apartment dweller knows where the dog parks are, and a shelter dog knows when its been rescued. It's obvious by the many photos of "happy endings" posted by the shelter staff when a dog has been adopted. Check it out, the dogs are smiling. Any love offered a shelter dog will be returned tenfold, as we are now happily experiencing with our new pet. It will be even more joyous when Nancy removes her teeth from my arm. She needs some training, and soon, because this puppyhood is a bitch.