Joining the Pack

I had three dogs, and then I had two and now I have three again. I suppose because I am crazy. It’s a lot of dogs. When I had three before, the little lost doggie was a bad dog and though we loved him, we loved him in the way you love your crazy relatives: because you have to. There were good things about him of course, nothing is only ever just one thing, but he was trouble in many many ways and so I had some guilt about it maybe being my fault that he was how he was; we didn’t give him enough attention as a baby and then we got the extra dog and well anyway, I felt bad. The new dog is not a replacement for the old dog, you can’t do that, but he needed a home and love and stability. Things had been tough for him so I in some karmic way felt like I could give something back to the universe of canine energy and said I would take him. My husband says, “you got yourself one weird ass dog.”

He has issues which makes sense, he has been bounced around from home to home for three years, I think someone somewhere must have been rough with him and maybe there was a kid involved because if you are between 3 and 8 he really just has nothing nice to say to you. It’s been a few months now and I feel like the weirdness is dissipating. I see what look like hints of normal dog, but it is early yet. We are older now ourselves and have learned a few things over the years so we are in a better position to help him, but if I’m being totally honest I will say he is a bit odd, that might not change.

His name is Sugar Bear – it sounded sweet enough so we kept it to go with our other thematic dessert dogs. We call him Suggie, or Sug, or if you are my husband “Sug Dog” ala gangsta rap. It does not suit him at all but it’s fun. He is weighing in at twenty pounds, mostly fur and has a strange sort of little waddle that he does when he wants to be near you for petting. He is something like a feral pillow, fluffing off to hide in a corner and occasionally feeling safe enough to unexpectedly hop into your lap to nervously snuggle. We solved the tinkling problem by crating him at night and he does LOVE his box. We thought at the beginning that maybe he wasn’t very bright but he knows what “box time” means and he is positively gleeful when we open that door just before bed. He’s also learned what “cookie time” means but it’s not always enough to get him to come out of the corner where he is hiding. He comes more than he used to so that is progress.

The girl dogs treat him like a strange cousin. Tolerant and friendly but not like they can take him for granted the way they do each other. The cats, well, the cats seem to have the situation under control. It didn’t take him long to figure who not to bother, ever. I think it is good to bring a rescue dog into a house with other, stable animals. It helps them adjust and feel safe. They learn the routines by being part of a pack and you can quickly create the sense of order that dogs often need. At any rate it works with someone who weighs twenty pounds and is easily controlled. The girls have taught him how to get excited when we say “walk” though that is not a word he seems to independently know, and though for the first three months he looked at the two of them like they were crazy as they happily munched grass he’s come around on that too. On his walk the other day, each dog going solo, he too felt the need to stop at every fresh clump of spring greens and nibble. He was confident and eager, later that night he was snuggly and sat sort of calmly waiting for his dinner. They’re bringing him around, we all are, it just takes time and patience.

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