Saturday, January 19, 2013

You Don't Always Get the Dog You Want -

You Get the Dog You Need

The title of this post is a quote from Cesar Milan. I heard it while watching 'Leader of the Pack' today and it brought tears to my eyes and a thought to my heart... I have been given 4 dogs at stages in my life. 

My first dog, Harlee was a typical puppy, she was bitey, man, how many times I worried that she would grow up to be a vicious thing and since I was new to dogs, I was pleasantly surprised when she grew to be a phenomenal dog, so smart, so loving and sweet. She loves riding in the car, seems to know how to tell time and is so in tune with what we say... "too hot" and she knows she can't go. She knows "W" means "going to Walmart" so she always has her ears perked for the magic "byebye"... She was really the perfect introduction for me to dogs.

Mickey came next, a bit more challenging. His puppy years were different from Harlee's. He wasn't as bitey, he slept through the night and knew what "nite-nite" meant - going voluntarily into his kennel to snuggle with his blankey and toy - from an early age. I still fondly recall the everyday event of him chewing on his soft plastic bone as he fell asleep "SQUEEK.SQUEAK.SQUEEK.SQUEAK" slowly downgrading in tempo and volume until "squee......squeee.....squ..." as he fell asleep mid chew. He was antsy in the daytime, crazy, running, chewing... for almost 5 years and BAM! Adult dog. Mellow except for mealtimes (his and ours) and bedtime, then he was and is quite demanding. He's always been the caretaker, laying on top of you when you don't feel well, giving you the notice when it's time for food or sleep and diligently following kids and people who he felt required nursing.

Sheldon followed Mickey, and lets just say, Mickey's years of antsy, crazy, running and chewing didn't quite prepare us for Sheldon, they were by far SURPASSED by Sheldon's skill and ability. Sheldon gutted a sofa, tried to chew through walls and could get out of his kennel... to do it all over again. The amount of electronics he's chewed through is just crazy! I've been repeatedly told by so many that he would have been gone if he was at their house (mercy). Luckily for Sheldon he's at my mercy, and I have learned to have quite a bit. In my most stressed moments, all I had to do was think of two things, how much we love one another and how little hope he has as a 'destructive' Pit-bull mix. He's more than paid me back in humor and affection, the things we don't have any longer, I don't even remember. How's that for important? I would remember and mourn the loss of Sheldon always.

This brings me to our latest challenge. Gibbs. Just as lovely and loving and hilarious as Sheldon, Mickey and Harlee combined... and more trouble than all of them combined as well. He's only destroyed a few things, a sofa cushion, a comforter, a whole host of pillows... but the worst offense has been his desire to destroy Harlee! Things started out so well, they all got along pretty well, the eldest ignored him for the most part, except for when he settled in for a snooze. All of a sudden he changed-puberty? Harlee's health issues? Whatever it is, he goes after her if he sees her. We can't part with either of them, they both own my heart, so until we can figure out how to safely integrate them, Gibbs spends lots of time separate from the other dogs. Sheldon is his only ally and even he's not always willing to hang with the big boy. To some people, Gibbs appears to have a pit-bull look to him, people confuse American Bulldog with Pit-bull and this could be a strike against him, especially with the label 'dog aggressive'. He wouldn't fare any better out there if we were to relinquish him, although I have no desire to do so. He's my big-face boy and I love him so.

Every day on Facebook I see dogs who are in danger in shelters and rescues... the dogs in my home, life and heart are dogs that came to my care and that's for life... for better AND for worse... I wish people would GET that before they decide to entertain the thought of getting a dog! The shelters are overflowing EVERYWHERE! 

Rehabilitate the dog and train the owner - Cesar Milan

My home's craziness leads me to wonder, if things got progressively more challenging at this rate (less than 10 years) what on earth will my future hold? I'm sure of one thing, regardless of the damage, the love is worth it all.

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