Saturday, May 24, 2008

Dog Life


Three weeks into owning our first dog...and today, finally, I have time to write a little about it! I don't want to piss off anyone by making comparisons to child-raising, but I can see why people with kids never seem to have any extra time...even this mutt is taking up most of my free time!

But it's been great, too.

We adopted Mina from Ginger Luke's dog rescue, here in Seattle. I had been wanting a dog for...well, for my whole life. When I was a little kid, I would draw endless pictures of dogs. I have watched the Westminster dog show every year for decades. I know far too much about the different breeds (mostly from the charming commentary during Westminster). I watch Cesar Milan.

Anyway, late in April we finally got the gate put in that finished our fence; we had a fully fenced yard and I started searching Petfinder and Craigslist for adoptable dogs. After reading hundreds of ads, I finally sent emails directly to the local rescue organizations I knew of, including Ginger Luke. Shortly, I got an email from a gal telling me that she was fostering a dog that met my requirements: friendly with cats, not too big, not too small, and old enough to be housetrained. We went to visit Mina on the first weekend in May, and I fell in love at once.

We brought her home, introduced her to the house and cats...and began a perilous adventure. I had NO idea how much time and mental energy this was going to involve! Yes, I was prepared for the twice-daily walks. I knew we'd have to be good pack leaders and be cautious to make sure the cats didn't feel too displaced. But I didn't realize that I would spend much of every day thinking about the dog, worrying about the dog, discussing the dog with my husband and other people...

That first week was rough. I came home from work every day at lunch to make sure she was ok. The second week we had her, we had vacation and so spent most of the days taking turns making sure she didn't do anything "bad" - no chasing cats, no chewing things that must not be chewed, etc. She was pretty good, but getting up at 6 am or earlier, and having trouble sleeping at night for worrying started to make me a little crazy. I fell apart a couple of times, crying; was this the right thing? Why did she bark at the neighbors every time she saw them? Why did she pull on the leash all during her walk? Why wouldn't she stop staring at the cats? Did she want to eat them? Did she poop already today? Does it matter?

The third week went better. Her first day alone all day...and she lived! And didn't potty in the house! And she lived through the second and third days...finally, it's the end of the week and we're happy to have a nice, long Memorial day weekend. We're not constantly wondering where the dog is, what she's doing, and where the cats are and whether their little feelings are hurt. Things are starting to sort themselves out. We still get up at 6 am on work days, but there's something pleasant about walking through the quiet neighborhood streets that early. And I've started to lose weight from walking 3 to 4 miles a day!

We've also been taking her to obedience classes, which are working out pretty well. She's not the most comfortable around other dogs; she tends to growl if they get too close. But we have to socialize her so she feels more at ease with dogs and people. We took her to Greenlake one day on our vacation, and she went in the lake a little, for what I'm sure was the first time ever!

It's been interesting, and I'm sure it will continue to be so. I'll let you know. :)