I don’t “need” another dog, especially another wild and crazy Border Collie. As author Jon Katz, www.bedlamfarm.com said, “I have two Border Collies. Only a crazy person has three.” Consider me crazy because now I not only have three but with the same colors and markings. To add to the insanity the new puppy is a female in a house with two male dogs, and me with an aging mind. “Good boy..eh, girl..whatever you are.”
For reasons that will be apparent in an upcoming blog I’m not showing in the obedience ring right now. Therefore the timing is right to add a third dog. The weather isn’t too ungodly hot at night. We are still two months away until cold weather again makes a brief appearance. No way was I going to housetrain a puppy in the bitter cold dressed only in a hodgepodge of flimsy nightwear.
It’s been ten days since I picked up nine week old, black and white Tommie Girl from the breeder and introduced the pup into her lifelong home. But these first two weeks are like hell week in a sorority dorm. No one’s getting sleep, phone calls are interrupted by, “Puppy’s gotta pee. Bye.” There’s an exercise pen in the kitchen, the wash machine is running every day and the yard is littered with tiny poo piles that are undetectable in the grass at night. House training reminds me why I like older dogs. They nudge, paw or whine to be let out as opposed to the puppy who gives a two second sniff and squat indicator. Oh, crap. I missed it again.
A puppy represents a new life, my hope to be a better dog trainer and owner, as well as new dreams for our future together. I look at her fuzzy, sweet face on the cool floor as she takes her thirty minute Border Collie power nap, her legs already twitching with dreams, although her life has just begun.
Tommie’s training started from day one. She’s been introduced to lots of play time and games, sit, drop, stand, spin and twist, leave it (specifically the kitty litter), walk back, let’s go, and here. When she escaped from her leash and was intent on chasing the old dog, I gave a “Here” command to Levi but the puppy turned and came back to me. Wow. As she goes through her independent teenage stage, starting around ten months, I’ll have this moment to remember; that at a young age she once knew to come back to me. We already have a Kodak moment.
It is always tense for me when introducing a new dog into an established pack. Levi is not impressed and curls his lip at the puppy, who heeds the message well. With Levi’s fading eyesight it is necessary for me to ensure both Levi and the puppy are safe. Surprisingly, Catcher, a distant relative of Tommie, found his inner puppy when Tommie arrived. He became Mr. Mom, teasing the puppy with a toy, letting the pup lick his lips through the x-pen and generally being a brood bitch (pardon the expression).
My neighbor said he thinks at some point Tommie will be Levi’s seeing-eye guide dog, helping Levi navigate the two acre property. I don’t doubt that. I sure wouldn’t put that job on crazy Catcher, whose job is to chase squirrels. In time the pack will work itself out, with me as the Alpha Bitch (pardon the expression). I don’t mean that in a bad way, it’s just that I pay the bills and serve up the Fromm kibble so I get to go out the door first.
There is a third party in this household-the cat. Essie never goes anywhere in a hurry, unless there’s a bad thunderstorm and she’s looking for a sofa to hide underneath. The day of Tommie’s arrival she sauntered into the kitchen and gave a cool appraisal of the new addition. It is fun to guess in human terms what her look said. Well, the caption over her head did not say, “Oh goody!” More like, “Oh, crap. Another one.” She has her own way of training the puppy so with minimal interference but close supervision I have let Essie work out their relationship. Fortunately Essie’s lack of normal feline mobility (due to her love of kibble and Friskies Buffet) does not draw the puppy to chase her. Holding her ground, Essie gave the “Look of Death” to the puppy. As the puppy slowly inched closer Essie’s pupils got larger and she ever so slightly tensed. The young dog understands the dynamics of the cat’s body language but is not convinced that there is still not an opportunity for some fun with this strange creature.
Over the last week Essie has had to hiss and spit only once. She occasionally meets the pup at the door after we go on our hundredth potty run and the two sniff. Essie will not back down to a Border Collie, not for the two older dogs and definitely not for this young one. How strange that I would rescue a cat who integrated so well with these dogs. Or should I say, so far?
That’s all I can write for now. My brain is running on two cylinders due to lack of sleep and not enough coffee, plus it’s hard to write and watch the puppy for the two second sniff and squat indicator, necessitating a mad dash outside. My body is also in major pain. If I raise another puppy I’m going to convert the outside deck steps into a ramp so I don’t have to do a stair stepper routine four to five times an hour every day until the puppy grows into her large feet. She sure is sweet though. This is SO worth the pain.