Monday, January 20, 2014

No judgie.

Well...we got a dog.

I mean, why not add even MORE to my plate?  I'm not quite crazy enough.  We need to add a new dimension so that you guys can start calling me Zelda, after Zelda Fitzgerald (F.Scott Fitzgerald's wife).  I just read a book about their marriage, and it was fascinating.  Zelda was craaaaaaay.  And Scott was a mean, selfish SOB.  Which is why I think she went cray.

So Ben has been begging me for five years to get a dog.  But after our dismal failure with Titan (a beautiful Weimeraner who, after four months of me working my buttocks flesh off to train him, still was peeing and pooping all over and tearing up our furniture, and who I took to the animal shelter, and who was adopted right THEN AND THERE by a family, thank goodness), I was really worried that I just couldn't go the distance with a dog.  I've always loved dogs.  I begged my dad for years to get a dog (we finally got one when I was 8, and she was my best friend).  We always had dogs in our family.  We had two dogs when we first got married (one died of thyroid disease and the other one started trying to bite and attack an infant Dylan, so we had to take her to the pound).  But once we started having kids, I was always pregnant or potty training someone and just...really stressed out.  I thought that maybe, mayyyyybe, we could revisit the idea after I got Gage potty-trained.

And Gage is STILL not potty-trained.  He regressed a little when we moved.  And he just...doesn't care.  And I try to take him when I remember.  Eventually we'll get there.  But it's been six months.  It hasn't been a fast process with this one.

Anywho, as Ben's and my anniversary approached, he started dropping enormous hints that he wanted a dog as his gift.  I was like, "I don't knowwwwwwwwwwww....." 

Then he went during lunch time to the dog shelter and looked at and walked a few dogs.  He called me and said, "Hey, let's take the kids to the dog shelter after work tonight and have them interact with these dogs and see what they think."

So I sighed and thought, "Maybe a shelter dog will be potty-trained already..." and took los ninos over to the shelter. 

Dylan spent the whole time next to the cage of a cat and begging for the cat instead of a dog.  Ben would bring the dogs he liked to us in the visiting room and we would kind of interact with them.  The visiting room is funny, because it's the room where the cats are caged.  But I also think it's smart, because we wanted to see the possible aggression these dogs had.  A couple that Ben had liked freaked out when they saw the cats and strained really badly at the leash. So we were like, "Nope.  Buh-bye to you."  There was a very beautiful and calm American Bulldog named Major, but he was spoken for by the person who found him.  What happens is that they give the owner a week to come to the shelter to find their lost dogs.  If the owner doesn't come in that time, the dog is given to the first person on the waiting list.  And Major had this lady waiting for him. 

So then Ben brought in Pepper, a Pit Bull who is about a year old.  She noticed the cats, but was like, "Hm.  Cats.  What's up, guys?"  And she was really friendly with our kids and extremely gentle with them.  She never strained at the leash, and she already knew "sit," "down," etc.  Ben was completely in love with her, and I was like, "Please be potty trained.  Please be potty trained.  Please be potty trained."

The fact that she was a Pit Bull didn't worry us one iota.  We had lots of friends in Salt Lake with Pit Bulls, and we had nothing but good experiences with them.  If Pits are raised right, they're the best dogs in the world.  You have to do a few things different with them - never leave them in the backyard by themselves, for instance.  They are extremely social and get very upset if left alone in a yard.  They will find a way to escape.  Pits are escape artists.  Also, never play tug-of-war with them.  You can do that with other dogs, but not pits.  If they win (and they are so strong that they could actually win), they'll get the idea that they're the alpha, not you.  Also, they're so social that they need a ton of interaction time with their owners.  You've got to treat them like one of your kids.  Like a real part of your family.

We knew all this and knew that, given the right upbringing, an adopted Pit would be perfect for our family.  We had to wait a week for her owner to come get her, and in the meantime, Ben did all of this reading on Pit Bulls.  He read a lot of stuff by that Caesar guy, the "dog whisperer" dude on TV.  He is the expert on Pits, apparently.  Ben would share tidbits of info with me as he read.  He was sooooo excited.  And we visited her a few more times.

Because people have a bad preconceived notion about pits, we didn't really want to tell anyone until after we got her and had her a few days.  But then my sister saw Ben at Wal-Mart with all this dog stuff, so the cat was out of the bag!  Haha!  For the most part, my family was cautiously supportive.  My sister Lex was enthusiastically supportive.  She is also "Pro Pit," as she calls it, and she couldn't wait for us to have this adventure.  She said that it was my "doggie destiny" to champion the cause of Pit Bulls.  Haha!  I asked her what her doggie destiny is.  She said it's to advocate for her dog, Maggie.  Maggie is adorable, but a little anxious sometimes.  I laughed.  I like Maggie.

Anyways, the week passed and nobody claimed her, so Ben brought her home.  I was sprinkling ice melt on the driveway when he arrived, and I wanted to rush to her and greet her, but Ben was like, "No.  Don't talk to her.  Don't look at her." 

I awkwardly looked at the sky and said, "What?  What am I supposed to do?  This is so weird!"  

"Caesar says that you have to wait for her to come to you.  This is your territory, and you are her alpha, so she, being lower in the pack, needs to approach you."

"Um, okay," I said, hands in my pockets and looking at the sky, "So I guess I'll just...wait here??"

Soon she came to me and licked me, and then I was allowed to look at her.  Haha!  Ben is so funny. 

Anyways, Ben showed her around and played fetch with her for about half an hour.  I had an appointment and several really important errands to run, so I told Ben to put her in the kennel when he left, and I took my two smallest ninos and left.

When I came home two hours later, this is what I saw:
On all the windows in our front room.  Somehow, Pepper (a.k.a. Houdini) had broken out of her kennel. 

I have to admit, I freaked out.  Even though those blinds had never worked.  They wouldn't open or shut.  But I was like, "Ican'tdothisagainwithanotherdogthatdestroysourhousewhathavewedone????"  So I called Ben and left a yelly message.

Then Pepper wouldn't calm down once I let her out to go potty.  She had a ball in her mouth and she was barking with this ball in her mouth and growling.  But her tail was wagging a ton.  I was like, "What in the heck?"  A Pit Bull's growl and bark are extremely intimidating.  "Pepper," I said, "This is NOT how you acted at the dog pound."

But as the day wore on, I started to figure things out.  Though the blinds were destroyed, nothing else in the house was touched.  The Christmas tree (YES, our Christmas tree is still up.  No judgie.) was untouched.  The kids' toys.  Popcorn in a bowl on the easily-accessible table.  The garbage can.  The sofas.  The pillows.  And when I examined the blinds, they weren't chewed up.  They had splintered from her weight.

She had been trying to escape.

Ben brought her to this strange house, locked her up, and everyone was gone for two hours.  She thought she had been abandoned again.  She was trying to get out.

And the growling and barking thing - she was trying to tell us that she wanted to play.  I think her last owner mistakenly would be all, "Grrr, do you want to play?  Grrrr..." and would get her riled up like that to play.  Which is not what you do with a pit.

So we won't play with her until she drops the ball or the rope or whatever.  She's rapidly learned what "drop it" means.  Sometimes we'll get a little growl every now and then, but not as bad as it was.

And she still has been extremely gentle with the kids.  Gage will lay on top of her, grab the ball out of her mouth, etc., and she very meekly will give the ball up.  She doesn't jump up on them and gouge their faces like Titan did.  She is really a good dog.  And fullllly potty-trained.  Yessssss.

She is a car dog.  I've never had a dog who enjoyed riding in the car, but Pepper is definitely a car dog. She doesn't like being left at home.  Sometimes we have to leave her at home, and we've learned to shut the door of the large closet where her kennel is, in case she pulls another Houdini.  She hasn't yet learned to open door knobs, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time.  She will jump right in the car and settle in the seat like one of the kids, happily looking out the window, or from time to time, falling asleep on a kid's lap.

She requires a lot of exercise.  I've been jogging with her every day, and Ben has been walking her every evening.  And then for another 15 hours or so of the day, she wants to play fetch.  I kid you not.  I've been playing it with her while I've been typing this and doing my morning stuff.  So... for about three hours straight now.  When she needs to go potty, she goes to the door and whines.  But usually we take her out every two hours, so she doesn't usually have to ask.

She greatly wishes we'd let her hang out on the couch or the bed, but we won't, and she's accepted that, learning to love her big cushion, rugs, and any blankets the kids may have left around. 

She wags her tail HARD.  It's like a whip.  The kids go running when she is wagging that tail, because is smarts when you get hit with that thing. :)

Ben has been like a man falling in love for the first time.  He grins like a fool and sighs contentedly all the time.  He LOVES her.  And she loves him.  She whines for a good half an hour after he's left for work. :)  And I'm pretty sure she likes me, too.  She follows me all around the house, all day.  She always makes sure she's in the same room where I am.

We had to get her fixed last week, and I felt so badly for her that I paid $20 extra for them to give her the GOOD pain pills.  I've gotten my womanhood taken out, too, and it is NOT fun.  However, her surgery seems not to have affected her energy level whatsoever.  I'm a little jealous of that.  Luckily, she hasn't been biting at or picking at her stitches, so we haven't had to put her in the cone of shame.

All in all, I think this one is going to stick.  Emotionally, I feel better than I've felt in years, thanks to a good psychiatrist and good meds.  I feel like I can take this on. And it's easier to take on a potty-trained dog than a puppy.  I'm thinking that, for the rest of my life, when dogs die of old age, new ones will all be adopted from the shelter.  For REALS, yo.  It makes a huge difference to have them potty-trained already.

She is a total sweetheart, and on the whole, she's made a good addition to our family.  Right now, Gage is playing fetch with her here in our basement while I type.  It's awesome.


Kathleen said...

I'm glad she is a good dog. I was worried when I saw the picture on Facebook. Pitbulls make me very nervous. I've heard lots of stories from my mom's operating room nurse days. Lots. I'm super glad she is potty trained!

Brooke Stephens said...

I had a pitbull growing up and he was brown...we called him Mouse...I loved him so much! But then he contracted parvo and back then the only cure was uthinization...but I still love him. I am so glad that you found a dog that you love. It makes all the difference! I love taking our Plothound/pit mix bye-bye-in-the-car! All you have to do is say Tuff, do you wanna go for a ride? and she is at the door! ahhH! Good Times!

Mindy H. said...

She is beautiful! And very lucky that she has such kind pro-pit folks like you who will love her and train her up right. I can't wait to hear more of your doggie adventures!

Ken Stephens said...

That's so awesome that it's working out for you. When Brooke told me about this post I was like "Uh oh!" Sounds like it's working out. Shelter dogs are the best. I'd rather adopt than get a brand new puppy. Less work it seems.

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