A Dog's Tale

For some reason it always seems like I see a lot of people getting new dogs in the spring. Why? I don't know. Maybe it's the allure of having a pal to go out with on those long summer days or maybe you need a good pal to help you get out and loose some of that winter fat that's still hanging around from Thanks Giving. Whatever the reason I thought I'd share with you our ups and downs of dog owner ship. 

First meet our dogs, Lexi and Indiana.

They are spoiled ROTTEN. This particular picture is from a 4wheeling trip we took. They go with us just about everywhere.

We'll start with Indiana since we got him first. 

Indi, as we call him, is our pretty boy. We had adopted his father, Jr., while we were in a trip in Vegas but we couldn't bring him back on the plane with us because of the temperature difference between Nevada and Alaska so we left him with a friend. Well, one day Jr. decided to jump bail over their 8 foot fence and never came back. However, he left a little (very unexpected) present with our friends female lab and a few months later there was Indiana. We have had him since he was 8 weeks old.  He and my oldest daughter are almost exactly a month apart. They have grown up together and they are the best of buds. 

He was a dream to potty train. He was the gentlest and smartest puppy there ever was. 

When we got Indi we had another dog. A 13 year old white german sheppard named Aspen. She had been my husbands dog since he was a little boy. A few months later she past away of breast cancer and here we had this rambunctious little puppy that was in desperate need of a four legged buddy. At first we tried giving him the attention he needed by taking him to classes and on hikes. We loved on him and played with him and even set up play dates with his sister, Mandy, who my parents own. They are buddies too. 

Yup, Indiana has black siblings. Both of his parents were black labs and all of the rest of his litter too. And, yup again, they fell asleep like that on their own.

Anyhow... none of that was cutting it so we started fostering through a rescue. We fostered big dogs, medium dogs, well behaved dogs and dogs that were about as close to wild as it gets.
I guess I should start by saying that when you foster a dog you are also responsible for taking said dog to the adoption clinics where you meet the other volunteers. This was how the rescue people met Indi, and everyone loved him. We decided that we only wanted foster male dogs (I had heard that female dogs have more acidic urine that can ruin your grass) but other than that we were open to whatever, so you can imagine my surprise when they called and asked if we could watch a female. The conversation when something like this,
"We have this dog that we would like for you to foster."
"Alright, how do I need to pick him up?" (When you foster sometimes you pick them up from another foster parent, the pound, or from the vet.)
"Well, this dog is at another volunteer's home and they can bring her to you."
"Her? You do know that I only foster male dogs right?"
"Yes, well you see you are the only person we know that could handle her."
At this point I was totally lost. I have no special dog whisperer skills or anything of the like. 
"What do you mean?"
"Well this dog is currently being fostered with 3 other dogs and that's not enough for her. We know you have Indiana so..."
It was all coming to light now. What they should have said earlier was, "Indiana is the only dog we know that can handle her." It had nothing to do with me. It was all Indiana and his energy that only a lab puppy can produce, which apparently was more than equal to that of 3 other middle aged dogs. But being the sucker for poor abandoned animals that I am I said yes.
Enter Lexi.

This is what she looked like when we first got her. The rescue thought she might be some sort of terrier mix since her fur was so coarse. Her paper work said she weighed 45 pounds. She had several burn marks, probably from a lighter and she has a scar almost all the way across the back of her neck from where they had to cut out her collar. 

As if all that wasn't enough we soon discovered some interesting personality traits.

She had a thing for rocks. Now, by thing I don't mean a minor quirk. I mean she would go insane over certain rocks. Like they were going to hurt her or something. She would attack them and throw them around. She would bark and growl at them.

She would dig if she got bored, mostly to hide toys.

She was food aggressive. She thought you were going to take it away from her every time you fed her. We had to feed her in a crate by herself. 

She had no idea what a leash was. Pulling was second nature to her. 

She had another thing against wheels. Didn't matter what size, from roller blades to truck tires, she did not like them.

She definitely had enough energy to keep up with Indiana.

She was the only dog we ever fostered that didn't get adopted her first clinic. She was even refused for a home and most people that read her profile wouldn't even come to see her. 

She was the WORST table thief.

One weekend I was supposed to bring her in to the clinic the next day and then we were leaving to go camping. I was playing with her in the yard and when I looked at her I saw her eyes and knew she just needed love. That was it. we adopted her. 

My advise: This is definitely NOT why you should adopt a dog, and if you do you have a long road ahead of you.

We took her on our camping trip. Even though she had never peed in our house she peed in the cabin and at my parents house on our way out.

A few weeks after owning her she decided that she could leap our 7 foot wood fence like it was nothing and she ran away every chance she got. 

She howled for hours when we left the house, to the point that my neighbors 3 houses down threatened to call the pound. 

It has been a LONG journey with Lexi and almost 2 years later we have most of her kinks worked out but there's still a long way to go.

Today, Indiana and Lexi still love playing together.

Lexi weighs in at about 75 pounds, which is about her ideal weight.
Her fur is soft and smooth.
The scars have grown over.
Most of the bad habits are gone.
She loves snuggling with you in bed and my 2 year old feeds her lunch every day. 
Thanks to a Halti she's a great walking partner. 
She is a great vacuum cleaner. Her favorite spot is under the highchair.
When you cry she will lick away your tears and snuggle you until you just have to laugh.

Indiana is a big boy weighing in at about 90 pounds and if he slowed down for a second and stopped burning through everything he ate he'd weigh about 100. 
He has lost some of his finer training as we had to take time to train Lexi but he's still a great dog.
My 2 year old and him are still best of buds. He protects her and lets her poke, prod, and climb all over him. When Lexi is flying all over the yard at a million miles an hour he will guard my toddler and take a full on blow  from Lexi before letting her get hurt. 
He is attracted to water like no other and swims like a fish. 

Now that all sounds like a happy ending but, as with all pets and responsibilities, there is always more.
Do you really want to know why you haven seen my whole back yard? Because after 6 months of snow falling on top of dog poop before we can get it scooped it's not pretty. So far I have filled 2 full size garbage cans and a 40 gallon tote full of dog crap, dead grass, and leaves. After 2 weeks I am about 80 % done. They go through about a 40lb bag of dog food in 3 weeks, which cost money. Training is never over, and I still have about 2-3 years before either of them really start to settle down. They need frequent walks and lots of out door time. They need toys and mental stimulation. They will track in dirt, mud, and who knows what else, they do not care that you have white carpet. Dog urine does ruin grass and if you want it to stay green you will have to water down where they pee, water your whole lawn regularly, repair it every so often or train them to go in a specific spot. THEY ARE NOT DISPOSABLE and they will live several years. If you do not get them fixed, YOU are responsible for your dogs breeding habits. Sometimes they get lucky like Indiana with a wonderful home but more likely they will end up like Lexi. I am not proud of the way we got Indiana but it happened. Puppies are NOT for making money. 

Simply put dogs are work. I don't want to deter anyone from getting a new pet, but I would sure appreciate it if you all thought it through first so dogs like Lexi never have to show up at a foster home 30 pounds under weight, covered in scars, and un-adoptable.

1 comment:

  1. What a great story! Lexi and Indiana are lucky to have you guys, but you guys are lucky to have them! We have 2 dogs and 2 cats, all rescued, and they are our babies. They are my princesses and they rule our house. However, we could not be happy without them, so I understand you very well. Thank God for people like you!