Good Dog.

I know I share a lot of challenges about Doug.  Some I share so that others know that the struggle is real here too. Some are just funny.  Mostly, it’s just reality, right? Kids are way harder dogs, but raising dogs is something new every day too.  Both journeys are everything that love is about though.

Doug was handful from day one. He was every bit as spastic as Melvin was, but having Melvin didn’t automatically train me for Doug. Doug was energetic, Doug was not down with any helpful commands, but the worst part was, he mouthed my feet, 24/7.

Doug is now none of those things. Yes, he is energetic, and there are spastic moments, but that is also, just Doug. He and I have come a long way and there has been a lot of joint compromise.

There is now, mostly good. I mean, can’t we all claim that?  I’m mostly good too!

  • Doug greets the day with an exuberance that most will never be able to replicate. He springs from bed into a zoomie manuerver that takes him down the steps and out the door in about 3 seconds flat! He reminds me every morning that we are chasing joy.
  • Doug loves to eat. He loves food more than zoomies. But he has never once barked to be fed, and on days when we had to withhold food, he never showed me any punishment.
  • I taught him leave it. It is how I got him to stop destroying my feet. He knows leave it no matter what the situation is.  I have complete confidence in Doug and that command.
  • He never marked in the house. He had a few accidents at the start but who cares about that.
  • He is GREAT in the car. He loves car rides but just in general, he is calm and happy no matter how long the journey.
  • He does not beg.  He will stare at you with the intensity of a fiery hot sun. And he will drool.  But he will not try to take food or invade your eating space.
  • If i put him in the mudroom, or when he had to be crated after surgery, he never fought back on that. He goes in and waits to be let out.
  • He will stop anything and everything he is doing if I raise the volume on my voice and calmly say, absolutely not.
  • He sleeps 10+ hours a night. I’m not even joking about this.
  • He is not all that verbal. He’s more interested visually in what’s outside the window than he is to bark about it. He barks if he hears a noise that startles me and he barks like crazy at Bob #2.
  • He loves people.  Like he wiggles and wags and smiles and froths and very few people are nervous to meet him.  The ones who are mostly just worry his exuberance might result in them falling over.
  • He knows all the drills. When the doorbell rings, he has to go into the office. When I say bed, he goes upstairs and gets into his bed. When I say dinner, he breaks down all barriers to get to his bowl. He then sits and waits until it’s placed in front of him.
  • He knows go upstairs, go downstairs, get on your mat, go into your room (mudroom), go into office.
  • He knows sit, down, touch. He refuses to learn stay. Stay doesn’t translate to nuclear energy.
  • He never learned come but he did learn treat and now I use that to get him to where I need him to be.
  • He has moments when he has crossed over to hyper. When his face gets tight and his eyes get a little crazy. I say nap, and he goes to chill out for a little while.

He’s crazy. I am pretty sure he will always be a certain level of nuts.  That is who he is. But he’s also become a really, really, great dog.

I see so much of Melvin and Jake in him.  I know that what I see in him in those moments, is me. I am the common denominator.

I understand Doug and Doug understands me too.

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Doug is still in search of a sibling.

We are looking to add a dog to the household!  Doug loves meeting new dogs which makes it all very fun and easy, except for the part where I give a lot  of thought (probably too much for my own good!) to how each dog will fit.

As for my part in the search, the last dog I looked for was Doug and I met so many dogs and had so many breakdowns that each dog was not Jake. My last search was in the bubble of the deepest grief. That time when the house was so empty and my heart was broken and every dog I met made me even more sad (good times!).  Until I saw Doug’s face. The dog search before that, was wrought with so much stress because Jake hated every dog that was not Melvin. The dog search before that, was Jake.

I was the last winner of the dog search. img_2531

This go around is so fun! I am loving watching Doug meet potential new siblings. Sometimes he overwhelms them with his exuberance, sometimes they underwhelm him with not wanting to play with him. There are a few things I feel very strongly about this go around:

  • I obviously would like the two dogs to like each other. Basic like, they don’t have to love each other but hey, that would be great too!
  • Doug is still very young and has a lot of training left in his journey to breed ambassador. That means that unlike Max, who schooled Melvin, or Melvin who schooled Jake, this next dog is going to need to be part of Doug’s schooling. Doug can bring the funk, but this next dog is going to have to bring some of their own soulfulness.
  • I don’t want another Doug. That sounds harsh, but it’s really just honesty. I love Doug, I love that he is who he is. But when it comes to the next dog, I don’t want a dog a of equal energy. Not because I want to do less walks, Doug still needs walks so that is not going away. I just don’t want two dogs in the house, bouncing off each other. I want a dog that will play with Doug but also one who can school Doug on the other aspects of being a dog that don’t require constant zooming.
  • I think the age range that would work best for Doug and for me is 5-8 years old.
  • The ultimate goal is to have three dogs, the third of which is a super senior (10 or older)!

We have not found the dog yet but we have met some great dogs on our journey.

Is my new brother or sister in here? img_2507

We met Angel (here), who was lovely! She is a little older than Doug and she’s deaf. She made the most awesome noises. I was a little worried how Doug would respond to her Chewbaca talk but he did fine.  Doug and her got along pretty well, but they never stopped chasing each other. Inside, outside, inside, outside, chase me, no you chase me, ok I’ll chase you, hey jump off the back of the couch with me. No, please don’t. Just when I thought Doug could not get more energetic, enter Angel! Now before you worry that I don’t want Doug to play, I DO! I so want him to have a playmate and a life-partner-in-crime.  But I can sense when we meet a dog that plays into Doug’s need for anarchy and when we meet ones who have a better balance between mayhem and peace.

We met Wendy (here), who is the sweetest Pittie and who if  I had met her before Doug I would have swooped her up and called it a day. Wendy is adorable and lovely. Wendy is also very young, like Doug, and is coming into her exuberance (which she should!). Wendy and Doug would make for a tornado and while it would be so fun for them, mamma wants a more stable weather pattern. I know, I know, I’m a party pooper. I do trust my instinct to know when it’s right though.

I have prescreened about ten dogs for Doug. A few have gotten adopted because I am unable to walk into an adoption event and walk out with a dog. I NEED TIME! I NEED TO MAKE LISTS! I NEED MY LISTS TO GIVE BIRTH TO NEW LISTS. I am who I am! A few were not a good fit (the dog does not like other dogs in their space or they are dog selective). I have found when a dog is selective, Doug rarely makes the cut, even though he tries too so hard.

We are meeting  a dog this weekend that I actually met after Jake’s death, before I got Doug. She was one that was perfect, but at the time, was just not Jake. I go back and visit her often and this weekend, Doug is going with me.  We’ll keep you posted!

She lies, I’m always calm and wonderful and I never misbehave or chew feet or pillows, like this pillow which I destroyed yesterday but I only did it because I know she secretly wanted me to. img_2477

 

Doug has been here for four months.

It’s funny, I’ve written before how sometimes a dog comes and they just fit and sometimes a dog comes and it’s stressful and worrisome and you are not sure you made the right decision.

When Melvin came, I was dealing with Max who was at the end of his life and Melvin was, a wild, untamed creature full of energy and exuberance. I had moments where I wondered what the hell I had done, not just to Max, but to myself. Max died and Melvin and I eventually found a groove. Clearly, ours was a love story written in the stars.  He taught me that love takes work. My post about that struggle is HERE.

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When Jake came, it was not so crazy. We did the two-week shut-down approach and then did Jake on tie-down for a few weeks. Also, by that point in life, I had complete faith in Melvin. There were challenges for sure (Jake, I’m talking about you buddy), but I never doubted that the two of them would work out.

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Doug is a lot like Melvin.  So much so that sometimes I think Melvin is inside him (A Dog’s Purpose is my favorite book).  Doug has now been here for four months. It seems more like four years (even though his is only one, math bores me).  He came along during a blurry time in my life and sometimes memory and timelines play tricks on me and I think that maybe he’s been here for longer, maybe he was here with Jakey. It’s a good kind of strange.

Doug has come farther in four months than I think any dog I have had has. The whole dogs age seven years for every one of our years, is never so apparent than during the first year and the last years.  I’ve come far in four months too. Doug is my first young dog and I was his who-the-hell-are-you-forever. When he first came, his feet biting had me very worried. I could tell he was sweet and exuberant but that impulse control was never needed when he ran stray. The mouthing was really scary to me and I worried a lot about it.  Not just that it hurt me physically but I was worried that he would mouth someone and they would claim biting or have reason to perpetuate myths about Pit Bulls based solely on Doug. Would he be a breed ambassador someday? I hoped so. Was that day in the foreseeable future? No.

Hour one with Doug. The tag hanging from his neck says Melvin on it because I had to have a tag with my phone number on it to take him home.  Little did I know how much he’d be like his brother. img_0118

To be clear, he never bit. He has very good bite inhibition.  But his canine teeth are SUPER sharp and you don’t need to draw blood for mouthing to hurt. I read up a lot on mouthing. Ways to train against it, how long it could last.  I tried everything. The first month, it seemed as if the more comfortable he got, the more he mouthed. I’m a positive person, but I was not seeing the light on this one.

Please put your foot in my mouth. img_0384

I was already crying over Jake at that point but I spent many a night crying about Doug and his need to put all things into his mouth. There were days I looked forward to putting him in his crate at night because I needed a break (you will always get honesty here). I don’t know when it started getting better, I only know that it took A LOT of work. It took more patience than I thought I had. It started with praising him and treating him if he went one-second without mouthing. We then made it to one minute. Impulse control is hard, we had plenty of setbacks.  Somehow we went from him mouthing most of the time to him mouthing a few times a day.  He almost never mouths me anymore and if he does I know it’s because he is over-tired so he goes in for a nap and exits much more well-behaved. Because he gets SO excited over every visitor or person we meet on walks, well that is still a work in progress but he’s doing much, much, much better.

He still has a lot of energy but I’m more used to it now. I know when he needs to burn some off with an extra long walk and I know days when he is calmer that we can cut back on a walk here and there. He usually offers me every bit of compromise that I offer to him. I think that the recent start of snuggling has a lot do with him trusting me more and more. I was broken when Doug came to live here. As I mend, he finds more calm in me.

Max will always be the dog that made me a dog person. Melvin will always be my heart. Jake is my heartbeat (because he and Melvin are an eternal team). Doug is, hopefully, going to be the dog that I own the longest. He is the dog that I will go through every phase of his life with. He is the dog that I will bring more dogs home to. He is the dog that will see me through the next decade or more of my life.

Doug is my future.

My boy, having a moment with his brothers. #lovelivesonimg_1979

 

Migraines and Doug.

When it comes to having a migraine with Doug in the house, I’m sorry to say it, but he’s the worst.  I love him. But I can love him even when he is THE WORST.

Let me explain to you why this is so.

When I have a migraine coming on, you can sense it.  People will tell me they can see it in my eyes and coloring (I turn gray).  Strangers will ask if I’m OK. Melvin and Jake always knew. Helen Keller could have probably sensed it based on the fact that every living creature I encounter KNOWS.  Except Doug.

There comes a point in the migraine when I can no longer remain upright. This is followed shortly by a time when I cannot stop getting sick.  So I get up, get sick, try to lay down. Repeat, repeat, repeat for 36 hours.

Doug views this as an invite to torture me. When I lay down, he jumps up and tries to balance his whole body on my head.  This is not a joke. He will try and put all four paws on my head to stand and balance there. Obviously this impossible so he will then sit on my head. With his butthole touching my hair (why?) and his other parts touching my face (gag) so this a definite NO, THANK YOU. But if I move, he will start all over.

So I stay still. It’s brutal. I can hear my soul crying at this point.

He will then try lay on me.  But not like a normal dog would.  I will be laying on my side in the fetal position and he tries to lay on top of my body ON HIS BACK.  He literally tries to balance on his back on the side of my body, which is also IMPOSSIBLE so he falls off and tries 100 times more.

Migraine day is Doug’s version of Disney.

At this point, I get sick again. When I come back, it starts all over.

I do not want to put him in his crate just because I don’t feel well because that feels all sorts of wrong for him (it would really be great for me personally but moms sacrifice all the time so…).

I will then go to my bed and put up a gate to keep him from me and my bed.

Well you would think from his reaction that I was a delicious steak dinner and he hadn’t eaten in months.  He sits at the gate and cries and barks then runs to the steps and runs back to see if reality has changed. This behavior gets stuck on a viscous loop.

The only thing more painful than all of this is when he comes into the bathroom while I’m getting sick.  In Doug’s mind, the only reason someone gets on the floor is for his enjoyment. The fact that I’m crying and pleading for him to stop only revs up his exuberance more.

I had a migraine this week.  I have bruises all over my body from Doug trying to bond with me during it.

Unconditional love hurts sometimes. What can you do.  (this is not an actual question).

Here is Doug looking adorable so that you all will think I’m the crazy one and embellishing this to work in my favor.

How abouts you lay back down here and let me walk all over your face again?img_1453

Looking handsome on a walk with our dog walker (life saver), Denise. img_2847-1img_2841-1

 

Doug and Melvin. Melvin and Doug.

Doug is Doug.  Although my first sight of him screamed Melvin and Jake’s love child, when I met him and decided to adopt him, he was his own dog.  During that first half hour, he didn’t do anything that would lead me to believe that A Dog’s Purpose (best book ever) could be true.

Since living with him for a month, he is still…Doug. There are however, so many things about him that are exactly like Melvin.  Not just things like, he devours his food as fast as Melvin used to, but specific things like:

  • Excitement about the Car: When I met Doug and took him out to my SUV to get in and take him home, he was afraid of the car. I had to pick him up and lift him in. I really thought we were going to have to work on the car since he was afraid to get in and out. The next day, as we exited the garage for a walk and were walking past the SUV, he started to spin with excitement and went right to the back door of the SUV – EXACTLY LIKE MELVIN DID 4,000 TIMES BEFORE WHEN PASSING MY CAR. It’s actually a spin/hop move and Doug has the same form that Melvin had.
  • His exuberance and how he is unable to manage his own joy: EXACTLY LIKE MELVIN. When we are walking to the mudroom to go outside, one door goes the back yard and one goes to the garage (for walks). Doug bounces off of each door, just like Melvin used to, spinning in between bounce (just like Melvin used to) to indicate he does not care which door we use, it’s all going to be great! This exuberance was/is also in their going up and down steps style. Go up a few steps, wiggle with glee, turn to make sure I am coming, repeat, repeat, repeat.  Go down the steps by leaning into my legs and only taking steps when I do but I can’t really take steps because you are pushing me up against the banister and the space you are giving me is smaller than my actual foot and you are hopping due to pending joy implosion.
  • Sitting on my lap: While Melvin never tried to be my backpack, he regularly would crawl onto my lap and put his paws on my shoulders and hug me like a human would. Doug. Does. This. Too! This happens a lot in the purple chair, which I refer to as Melvin’s throne.
  • Bathroom breaks: Doug goes to the bathroom with me (I know a lot of dogs do this) but like Melvin, he knows when I’m going to the bathroom before I indicate where I’m going and runs in ahead of me and sits down before I ever make it in.  Melvin did the very same thing.
  • Nervousness about fall weather: Both Melvin and Doug were/are spooked by blowing leaves and the need to eat the leaves that scarily blow by them. The same exact reaction when one blows by (to freeze and look from leaf to me) then the same action (to pounce the leaf and eat it).
  • To fit their large bodies on a small pillow: exactly the same need and approach.

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No photo of hug-Doug (yet).

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Mostly, I’m reminded of Melvin through Doug because both of them are tied (currently) for most unruly dog I have ever had. Of course Melvin grew out of that phase but not before owning it like a boss. Something tells me Doug will be more challenging, but you never know! I think Doug’s mystery 12% DNA is Melvin, with the perfect sprinkle of Jakey.

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P.S. This photo of Jake by the door is one of my favorites because it captures a vulnerability about him that most photos do not.

One month and training.

Doug has been here for just over a month.  Every week, he surprises me in new ways of how he is settling in.  I don’t even think he fully knows he is staying just yet. I am guessing he hopes so, but there are still so many things that are new to him and our routine is ever evolving to accommodate new issues so we are still in the ‘settling in phase’.  I cannot stress enough, when you rescue a dog, the first few months are not the dance. The first few months are you two finding the rhythm you will dance to, then the dancing begins. Along the way, the tune will change, many, many times. It’s called life.

Every morning when I wake up I say: time to mold me and Doug more. We are both works in progress.

Hey lady, wanna breakdance?img_0611

Doug and I currently take two training classes each week.  One is a group class outside of the house and one is private training inside the house. The outside of the class training is mostly to keep him social and work on him focusing on me. The private lesson class is the really important one, as it focuses solely on what Doug needs (and what I want).

Doug getting in a suitcase – prior to this was jumping through a hula-hoop, to which he said, no thank you. img_0642

Doug’s current challenges are:

  • Impulse Control. He is almost always in a heightened state of excitement (or he can get there very quickly). This is where mouthing comes in. The moment he escalates, he needs something in his mouth. His first impulse is feet and his second impulse is hands. He does not bite, but it still hurts likes hell and it’s not cool. He does this when people come over or when we meet them out and about. MUST PUT HUMANS IN MY MOUTH. Toys are not as awesome as hands or feet for a redirect, but treats earned, are starting to help.
  • He considers me the ultimate playmate and the living room is apparently the epicenter of joy.  When I sit on the couch, he leaps onto my back and uses his mouth to climb up my hair. If I lay down, he runs up and down my body. If I stand up, he tries to jump up on me.  If I take ten steps into the kitchen, he leaves me alone. WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY can’t I sit on my own couch Doug, why?!
  •  He knows his harness = a walk.  The moment it comes out, he is unable to stay still or to remain within a ten foot radius. Also, he thinks step one is eating the harness. It can take up to five minutes to get his harness on. My neighbors don’t understand how I’m already sweating when we exit the garage when the walk has not even started yet. Also, the first ten minutes of our walk are him trying to eat the leash and me trying to play it cool.  Oh hey, yeah it’s totally fine, that he is hanging from the leash as I walk. All the cool kids are doing it.
  • His other big challenge is that he does not know that any of the above is an issue!

So we train. As we should and as we will, likely for the next several years. And Doug is doing great.

  • I still have feet AND hands.  His mouthing of me has gone from 100% of the time to about 10%. YAY! The problem is, he does not translate that to other feet or hands. He only knows not to mouth me, others are still totally edible. We will get there.
  • We are also slowly making progress in the couch area.  He still escalates the moment I walk in, but that is exactly the time we do some training and try to refocus his need to use me as human rock wall or treadmill. I still don’t watch too much TV sitting down but its great for circulation and my apple watch loves that I’m constantly upright! Try to see the positives, even when your dog wants to be your backpack.
  • The harness, well the harness is just something that will take time.  Melvin was the same way with the leash.  I’d rather have a dog overjoyed to go on walks than one I have coerce!
  • He has done INCREDIBLE with every single dog we have met, even the ones that did not do so great themselves.  He is very social and wants to meet all the dogs and all the people.

One month!  One month ago I was afraid Doug would eat my limbs. I still have bruises healing from that time with him. Doug and Tracey takes time. Doug will never be more or less perfect than I am.  We are a team now. I think he’s starting to trust that.

Let me out so I can mouth meet some humans!img_0484