Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Puppy Love

So there's this new entity in my house who has worms and shits on the floor. Shat. It was just once and I cleaned it up post-haste, remembering the time AJ was potty training and had a failure which jump-started his two-year-old's sense of shame, so he tried to clean the mess himself and ended up dragging his soiled bottom and clothing all over the upstairs hallway. And I thought, I've done this before, no big deal.

Reggie, the mutt, the maybe part-terrier, maybe part-pit bull, maybe part-doberman, all-thunderous energy, has been with us for a week and we've had to devise an intricate system of levers and pulleys to prevent more accidents (there have been two of the liquid variety), unsupervised interactions with the kitty--who is up in all kinds of arms over this feisty interloper and is taking it out on each of us in unique ways--and various other attacks on our home furnishings and possessions, up to and including AJ's stuffed animals, one of which was subjected to a brief, but no less hilarious and disturbing, quasi-pornographic act.

He treats our couch as if it merely something to hurdle. He has attempted to eat a dozen snails. He keenly disrupts any and all plans to go outside when we are home. He broke the screen door within 12 hours. He eats with the ferocity of a pack of hyenas and with more speed. He's tried to bury his chew bone in the middle of the living room. He is 23 lbs. of whirling, jumping, tugging, galloping fury.

Of course, we love him to death.

I do not speak for the poor kitty, however. The Princess. Her run of Speaker Manor has come to an ignominious end. She's furious with us. Was a time when Emet's morning alarm would be her call to jump up on our bed and lay next to her for one, two slaps at the snooze button. Now, she won't even enter the room. She reserves her hiss mostly for Reggie, but we've all been subject to a swiped fore paw or bared teeth. He is most unwelcome and perhaps her biggest issue is that her forays into the backyard have been curtailed, while we try to get the two of them to co-exist without the chasing. Ironic. The dog always wants in and the cat always wants out.

When we got Reggie last week, he seemed bewildered. We'd prepared for his arrival with all manner of research and purchases of essentials and doggie toys, yet he was disinterested, as if he didn't know how to play. We knew virtually nothing of his background. He came from one of Emet's students. Her family had just moved and they couldn't keep the dog, who they had only had for a brief time after another family member gave him up. So you could say Reggie's five months of life have been unsettled.

He's a little meek with men. Ducks his head in submission; a sign, perhaps, of abuse, but he's shown no outward symptoms of fear or severe mistreatment. We're crate training him and it's going great. Sleeps in the crate in our room with less and less resistance, though Emet says he snores and I have to take her word for it, 'cause how would I hear over the sound of my own Warthoggery. He's caught on to the fact that going bathroom outside will result in a treat and makes a beeline for the back door as soon as he's un-crated in the morning (and then makes a similar beeline to the pantry after emission, since that's where the treats are).

It's been a long time since I've had a dog in the house and that was a house that barely needed to be protected from the behavior of a dog. Sixteen years. I suppose I'm getting used to him just as much as he's getting used to us. I'm up 45 minutes earlier in the morning for a walk and it's quickly become something I look forward to, a quiet, relaxing start to the day, with the added benefit of getting the blood pumping. He's remembered how to fetch a ball and play tug-of-war with...oh...anything and I can get him sprinting around the backyard at frightening speed as he somehow avoids running into the fences or flower boxes. My typical evening of sprawling on the couch watching sports is no longer an option since his energy needs a watchful eye. "He's your dog," Emet says, while sipping wine.

He is, but I want him to be AJ's dog, too. Right now, Reggie favors the adults, who feed and walk him and who are there all the time, as opposed to the half-time kid with the short attention span and fiery desire for the dog to sleep in his bed. AJ's talked about having a dog for so long that the reality might be a little too overwhelming for him, too different from the idea he had in his head about ownership. Goodness knows he's not too happy about having to wash his hands all the time now after playing with Reggie.

So we're integrating this lovable beast into the family. We walk the neighborhood, give him deworming medicine, bounce the ball, higher the better, pretend he's too strong and we can't get the sock out of his mouth. He foils a handful of attempts to get him in the yard when it's time for work, sits there at the back door with those ears, huge and alert, saying "don't go."

And we don't want to.