Friday, July 29, 2011

Trial Period Ends Soon

I’m a worrier.  And a commitment-phobe.  So maybe its strange that I wanted to go and bring a puppy home.  But it’s because I take commitments so seriously that I worry about them and am so tentative about entering into commitment in the first place.  (D doesn't know how lucky he is!)  Our doggie trial period is almost over.  I’m still on the fence as to whether to keep the dog or not. 

If Jack the Puppy weren’t a puppy it’d be a simple matter of whether he was capable of getting along with kitties.  None of the anxious eagle-eye preoccupation of house-training or me tut-tutting at pet interactions.  D and I never intended to get a puppy, we intended to eventually rescue an older dog (I mean like a one year old).  But who chose a puppy?  I did.  Because he is handsome and quiet and level of temperament and a snuggler.  But what are we getting ourselves into as far as training? 

He seems smart.  I bet every dog-mommy says that.  But he comes when we call him, at four months old after having him for less than a week.  (So there.)  The first couple of days he was able to perform on command when I told him to “Go get Mr. Fox!!”  But ever since he slept with Mr. Fox in his cage, he pretends not to know who Mr. Fox is.  Hm. 

  The first dog I really remember well (not our first dog though) is Lucky.  Lucky was and is to this day, a standard to which I hold other dogs.  He was sweet, good, obedient and just so adorable.  I do not recall not one problem we had with him.  He shed a lot, but that’s, you know, innate.  He was a furball.  He didn’t chew overmuch, only on his own toys, never stole our shoes, never ruined any furniture or rugs.  He almost never went potty in the house.  I can’t even remember him doing it, though I’m sure he must’ve.  He would ask you to go out.  He would ask you to come in.  We left him the run of the house when we were gone and were never given cause to regret it.  He love-love-loved to see you.  Lucky was a Shetland Sheepdog, a breed that even my grumpy brother still loves.  Perhaps this standard may be unfair to other dogs. 

not Lucky, this is the petfinder Sheltie (here)

Tasha is my parents’ dog for the last umpteen years. I didn’t live with this dog long before I left for college, but when I was there she really irritated me.   She’s old and tired now, and she comes when she’s called so I like her a lot more.  But she was the white devil.  She is allegedly a husky, but looks more like a goberian to me. (One of the goberians at Dog Breed Info,  Miya, is an example of the hybrid, and is a dead ringer for Tasha).  Tasha would not obey unless you screamed at her, and even then not much.  She didn’t come when you called her.  She would pull and heave against the leash as if you were a sled and somebody had just said “mush.”  She routinely jumped the fence to wander the neighborhood like a hussy.  When my mother would lie on the couch sometimes the dog would jump up and stand on top of her, just because she could.  She tore up whatever pleased or displeased her, nothing was sacred.  She ate the cookies I made for my mother that were in a box tied with string after pulling them off of the kitchen counter, where my parents never put food.  She peed on everything in a shower of disdain for the laughable concept of human dominance.  This is too low to set a doggie standard.  (sorry dad)

Shelties are apparently #6 on the list of Brightest Dogs, in the book The Intelligence of Dogs by Stanley Coren.  (according to Wikipedia

Labs are #7.  Jack is half lab.  Apparently in this group, “Brightest Dogs,” like shelties and labs, dogs require fewer than 5 repetitions to understand commands and will understand it the first time you give it to them 95% of the time.  Awesome.  Jack, go do some laundry! 

But Jack is a mix of lab and Aussie Shepherd. 

Australian Shepherds are #42.  heh heh.  Of “Average Working /Obedience Intelligence.” Requires 25 -40 Repetitions to understand commands.  Will understand a command the first time you say it 50% of the time.  Aussie shepherds are only three spots away from huskies, #45.   eek. 

The other day there seemed to be more evidence that he was trying to herd one of the cats.  He ended up knocking Max paws over whiskers, but i don't think it was rough on purpose.  I think he and Max will figure out their relationship in time.  Sometimes Max meows at Jack and Jack will shy away. 

OMG both on floor at the same time

Can we balance work and social lives without neglecting this dog?  It's doable.  How can we ever get unpacked and situated when I’ve constantly got to keep at least one eye on Jack (because he isn’t pooing on a schedule and now I don’t know when he has to poo.  Originally he poo’d about five minutes after he ate.  Now he’s not.  So today I didn’t wait for him to poo outside, I just left him outside for a few minutes while I made coffee etc.  Maybe he poo’d fifteen minutes after he ate, and I was getting ready for work and didn’t see it.  If a poo falls in the forest and I’m not around to see it, does it make a difference?  Specifically, in his urge to poo in the house?)? 

I really like spending time with him.  I’m working with him on some commands, and it’s a long-term process.  I love it when he obeys (that’s what she said).  We take walks in the evening now, he and D and I, in this great little sliver of time with no electronic devices or other distractions.  Just us in the new neighborhood.  I really enjoy this time, be it full of conversation or just quietly companionable.  And the other day he butted his head against me and crawled in my lab and snuggled like a kitty.      

I think one week is such a short amount of time to see how pets interact.  It took Yuuki longer than that when we re-found Max.  And now the cats haven't chased each other around at all, because they’re wary of the dog and not free to be themselves.  Time is almost up and the answer is not apparent to me.  sigh.

Wikipedia also says, “Aussies also do best with plenty of human companionship: they are often called "Velcro Dogs" for their strong desire to always be near their owners and for their tendency to form intense, devoted bonds with select people.”  That seems like a pretty good description.  I also want to see if he yawns after I yawn.  Lucky used to.  :)

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