It’s always hard after a dog dies. The house gets less chaotic, more quiet. But rushing out to fill that hole isn’t the best thing to do – grieving must happen, because that animal wasn’t “just a dog”, but a part of the family.
Sounds a bit “woo-woo”, but you really do know when it’s time to start looking. And Lola is who we brought home from the Darke County animal shelter, right before the coldest days of the winter.
She’s not housebroken, so we walk her outside every hour or so during the day (and a few times overnight).
She has separation anxiety, which has led to much cleaning of the carpets after she “stress poos” on them.
She wants to gnaw on our arms, in addition to her proper chew toys.
She barks at that dog in the bathroom mirror, lays across our feet, plays keep-away with the tennis ball, loves belly rubs, and smiles when we love on her.
She’s not a replacement, she’s an addition. Welcome to the family, Lola.
Lucy loves to be outside, preferably in an area that has no fences around it to impede her progress. With a road, river, neighbors, and coyotes, this was a problem – she would bolt through the door and be on her merry way, with us slogging after her. She would eventually come back, but it wasn’t a good situation.
After a visit to Skyview K9, we learned a few things to help calm her down, and added those to our own things that were working. And since it’s warming up out, and we are outside working, it was the best time to start the experiment.
One morning, I let her out, went about the morning chores, started doing some other work. She was tearing around the fields, and I noticed she would stop and look for me, or even come up to where I was working – just checking to see if I was still there.
We’ve been doing this almost every time we are outside and it’s been going great. She’s getting to run around, we don’t have to chase her down – winning on all sides. I keep a pocket full of little dog biscuits (yes, homemade!) as an occasional reward, as well.
She’s still hyper, but we’ve noticed a definite increase in calmness – she knows she’ll be able to go outside and run around.
Dogs can learn. Even hyper, baggage-laden ones like Lucy.
Minnie and Malachi had their first real “together time” this afternoon. It was interesting to watch Minnie “training” Malachi on how to act like a Pyr. As you can see, there’s lots of rolling around, paws waving, mouths open, but the only uncertain moment (for me) was when Malachi grabbed Minnie’s ear a little too hard, and Minnie put him on his back in about 2 seconds. She stood over him and growled – he yipped and went into the submissive pose. And it was over. I guess I’m still the pack leader – Minnie looked at me to make sure she wasn’t in trouble for her response.
As unexpected as Lucy’s arrival was, I’m glad she came – it was a good indication of how Minnie would respond to new dogs on the farm. With both Lucy and Malachi, her reaction went through stages, starting with “are you kidding me?” and moving to “ok, let’s wrestle!”
Plus, Minnie had a good teacher when she was a pup – my mom’s Golden Retriever, Buddy. He had no problem with flipping her on her back when she grabbed his ear too hard. Once she grew bigger than he was, it was a different story, but the training stuck. Now Minnie has her apprentice to train in the ways of the force.
Two happy pups – we brought home quite a few bags of “meaty bones” from Copey’s butcher for the dogs to enjoy. Minnie took hers and promptly went to the far end of the enclosure – away from me and the goats – to enjoy hers. Lucy looked at me like she wasn’t sure if it was really for her, then dug in.
This is how Lucy spends her long winter evenings – pulling the stuffing out of the old mattress cover that is her bed. Stuffing which covers the living room floor until I pick it all up, at which point she starts pulling out more stuffing.
I really had no idea there was that much stuffing inside a mattress cover. Huzzah for learning!
To me, it’s always nerve-wracking to introduce a new animal, especially a dog. Those of you with dogs know they can be very, um, protective of who and what they see as their pack. This was something I was nervous about when Lucy came – how would Minnie take to her? Would Lucy be a threat to Minnie’s goats (and Minnie’s humans)?
So we had Lucy contained in a large, fenced in yard area that shares a corner post with the area containing the goats and Minnie. They could see each other, sniff each other through the fence, and generally get to know each other before actually being able to touch.
As it became clear that Lucy was now our (my?) dog, I would leash-walk her to the gate into Minnie’s area so they could see each other closer. We would also put Lucy in the fenced-in garden, which shares a fence with Minnie’s area. The slow introduction seemed to be working – Minnie would run up and down the fence, with Lucy in hot pursuit, and Lucy would bark when Minnie “hid” behind the garage where Lucy couldn’t see her (Pyrs have a crazy sense of humor!).
A few days ago we brought Minnie into Lucy’s area, and they chased each other around for a while, but Minnie was more into sniffing this new area than playing with Lucy. So today I took the leap and took Lucy into Minnie’s area. Oh boy, the goats were not happy about this! But after head butting Lucy a few times, she stayed clear of them and they left her alone. Then it was all about running – Lucy running the fence line and Minnie right on her heels!
Maybe some people say “put them together right away and let them sort it out,” but I’d rather avoid a giant dog fight if at all possible. Besides, what’s the rush? Each animal is different and you have to consider all the personalities you’re putting together.
Now Lucy has met and interacted with all the critters at Innisfree. We’re working on longer “out” times and staying away from the road, but she has imprinted on me as “momma”, and doesn’t really stray too far.
Being the big, fuzzy bear that she is, we are getting to Minnie’s favorite part of the year. With the heavy winter coat she grows, cooler days are just the thing for the puppy in her to come out. To be fair, she’s not even 18 months old yet, so there’s still a lot of puppy there (of course, the puppy weighs over 100 pounds!) who loves to play.
After our post-feeding wrestling/play time, it was time to wiggle! She can be a very serious dog when she’s working, but play time is hardcore play time.
Lucy is getting back to her “normal” self after her snip and chip appointment. She was happy to see me when I picked her up, then gave me that “what just happened to me?!” look.
She was pretty out of it for a couple days and the poor thing thought she was in trouble because we brought her inside (she’s been outside in a fenced-in area since we found her). It was just going to be too cold for her to stay out there with as thin as she is (she went from 50 to 52 pounds in about 2 weeks, but we can still see her ribs). A few pain pills, a lot of loving on her, and rest has greatly improved her outlook on life.
The inside life definitely agrees with her – she must keep tabs on her humans regularly, which is best accomplished by pacing around the house, then coming up and licking us. Plus she is much calmer inside. The cats are not sure about this (Trillian has taken to hiding in the cabinet under the bathroom sink), but so far, no major fights.