Sunday, November 23, 2014

I'm Not Sold Yet

Bella's "Adopt Me" Photo - Look at that sad face!
"We should get Cheety a companion." 

That's been a running theme for about 2 years now.  Well, we pulled the trigger.  Sort of.  We're 4 days in to a two week trial adoption of a 5 year old, brindled, mixed breed Lab named Bella.  The first question everyone has been asking is, what do you know about her background? 

Well, we know she's a very sweet, timid girl who was raised by her former family from puppy-hood until a few weeks ago.  I try not to judge, but I can't imagine any scenario where I would give up my Cheety boy. 

She's a casualty of divorce, and according to the folks at the shelter, Bella didn't get the attention she needed at her former home, was left alone often, and crated for long periods of time.  So maybe this turn of events is a blessing in disguise for sweet Bella.

Apparently neither the husband nor the wife could take care of her after the divorce, so they gave her up.  Off to the shelter she went.  Poor thing.  She's probably been wondering when her family is coming to get her.  Enter Cheety and his people.  We had a meet and greet at the shelter with Cheety and Bella, and they had a ball.  He's the master of doggie romping, so I knew he would have fun. 

After the initial meet and greet, we went and picked Bella up for another round of get to know you with Cheety.  We took them both on a nice long walk together, let them frolic and run in the backyard, and basically just spent the afternoon hanging out.  It was nothing but playing, running, & doggie nonsense pretty much the whole time.  They were such nerds together.

There's one primary decision maker here, and that's the Cheetster.  He has to be the one to sign off on the whole deal.  And he did.  With a resounding first.  He was all about cavorting and fun before she became a constant in his house.  Now - we'll just say he's less enthusiastic.

We're in that  transitional period where the dogs are establishing themselves and their roles in the household.  I have no problem with Cheety asserting himself as the top dog.  In fact, that's what I prefer.  I'd much rather see him declare his territory and establish himself than the alternative.  It wouldn't work at all if he was intimidated in any way by a new dog.  So, I don't mind that he's asserting himself. 

But the whole goal here is for Cheety to have a friend and companion - not to just tolerate sharing his living space with another pooch.  And I'm not sure at this point whether that's what we have here.  Potential friends for life or just eh I guess I have to deal with you.  It needs to be a good match, and I don't know if it is yet.  That's why this two week trial is such a good idea.

Again, I know we're still in the early stages at only 4 days in, but Cheety seems to have mixed feelings about Bella's presence.  He's fickle.  He goes from yay let's play to get the eff away from me throughout the day.  She sort of goes with the flow as the house interloper.  There's been some growling on his part in his attempts to let her know her place. Which is fine and normal dog behavior in this type of situation.  (But very unlike his usual demeanor, I have to add) 

There's no aggression on the part of either dog, but we've had one little scuffle that escalated to where I had to get involved and take away a toy they were playing with together.  It's important this is the right step for both Bella AND Cheety.  And just existing in each others company without any kind of bond isn't a good match.  I know, I know - it takes time for a bond to grow.  But I think it needs to start from a place of genuine enjoyment of one anothers company and not just tolerating each other.

That's my primary issue.  The secondary issue is - well, Bella's kind of a handful.  I don't think she had enough appropriate interaction throughout her life because she doesn't have some basic manners that a 5 year old dog really should have. 

Things like not putting her front paws on the kitchen counters and table.  And not jumping up on people when she's excited.  I can't tell you how many times I've given the "off" command over the last few days!  It gets old quick.  She also goes off the deep end if she thinks there's a chance she might be going outside on a leash.  If she could just take a note from the Pugbull on how to chill.  She's a ball of energy, and gets really excited at times.  And her behavior in the car?  Ugh.  Terrible.  She needs consistency, exercise, and stability. 

She's also still understandably unsure of what's going on in her world.  She tends to whine a lot, and is on the restless side.  She's already attached to the hubby and whines significantly whenever he leaves.  Her life has been a series of upheavals over the last few weeks, and I'm sure she doesn't know what to make of all the changes, so it's completely understandable.  I'm hoping she'll relax as she adjusts to her new surroundings.

All that being said, she is such a sweet girl.  She wants to please, and looks to us for guidance.  She snuggles up, is playful and doofy, likes to take it easy on the couch next to us, and just wants to be with her people.  She has the potential to be a great dog, (the best-est girl, perhaps?) but it's going to take some time and effort to get her there.

All dogs on the couch!  And here's the he hubby's No Shave November mustache in all its horrendous glory.  It
looks much less like a dead squirrel than it did at the beginning of the month.  But I can't wait for him to shave it!

What I need to remind myself of is that the best-est boy (AKA Cheety) wasn't the best-est boy when we first got him.  He became that with the help of a consistent routine, a comfortable, calm environment, regular exercise, and positive reinforcement for good behavior.  The transitional period after we first brought Cheety home wasn't exactly smooth, and there were several hundreds of dollars worth of items of ours destroyed during Cheety's bumpy evolution from scrappy shelter dog into best-est boy.

The Pugbull was a chewer.  He destroyed at least three pairs of very expensive sunglasses, several pairs of flip flops, slippers, two coffee tables, a futon, and I want to say between two to four different area rugs.  And I seem to remember somebody stealing an entire tray of brownies off of the kitchen counter, eating every last one, and miraculously living another day to tell the tale.  And that's just a glimpse.  I know Bella won't be that level of nonsense at 5 years old versus Cheety's 1 year old antics, but she does have lots of energy and needs some work.

Another consideration is what the reality of a two dog household looks like.  Obviously something we contemplated before moving forward with Bella, but all things dog times two is a little different in reality!  Especially with a big girl like Bella.  Dog hiking adventures equal two dog baths when we get home - and I thought one dog bath amounted to a messy bathroom!  Good Lord.  Talk about an operation.  But Bella was so well behaved during the bath.  She hopped right in the tub and was perfectly happy with getting washed.  Unlike Prince Pugbull.

Our first dog adventure with Bella

So there we have it.  Cheety might have a sister.  We have Bella for two weeks...or the rest of her life.  It's a significant decision & we'll use this trial period to figure out whether it's the best thing for everyone.  Maybe in the future we'll joke that we almost sent her back...or maybe Bella is meant for someone else.  I'm not sold yet on the two dog household, but we'll see how it goes for the next week and a half.  We've been spoiled with our relaxed, dainty (who knew?) Pugbull these last few years.  If Cheety does adapt and seems to be on board with Bella, it'll be time to say goodbye to a calm and mellow household - It's a big commitment and not a decision to be made lightly!  Sorry for the excessively long post - I've got a lot on my mind with this potential addition and had to hash it out.  Writing helps me do that!

Ta-ta for now.

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