Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Penny Post

Well, we found her.  Our second dog.  Shaggy's bliss should now be complete.

In all honesty, I can't describe her as the "perfect" second dog.  Because first, she's a puppy.  And puppies are a pain.  Second, she has a nose for mischief.  Which, you may well think, should make her fit in perfectly around here in our house full of miscreants.  But her level of mischief has exceeded that of the kids.  By a long shot.  I will maintain the hope that her level of mischief is directly related to her puppyhood and will mostly disappear as she gets older.

As it is, we are having vivid flashbacks to our first dog, Smokey who chewed all sorts of inappropriate things (the most notable one being the kitchen linoleum) and made mischief of one sort and another.  Until she grew up a bit, and then she settled into being a great dog.  Until she got old and sick.  But that's another story entirely.

This story is about Penny.  Or Dharma as she was named when she first came to our house.  She was found as a stray and taken into the rescue program where she immediately began charming everyone who cared for her.  See, when she's in a cage at the kennel, she can't chew up very many inappropriate things.  She's free to be a sweet, lovable puppy.

So after hearing so many rave reviews about her, Shaggy just couldn't turn down the opportunity to foster her.  Though I suspect that in his mind "foster" really always meant "adopt."

I think our first mistake was to rename her.  With her, it was an option, one that we didn't feel we had with Charger.  Charger is probably not a dog name that we would ever choose.  But since he had gone by that name for at least 3 years, we didn't feel that it would be a good idea to change it.  But since Dharma had only gone by her name for a week or two, we figured changing it wouldn't be a problem.  We talked about it a lot.  The kids all got involved in the name discussion.  We took it pretty seriously, and finally settled on the name Penny.

Which we all thought fit her pretty well.  Lucky penny.  A penny saved is a penny earned.  Etc., etc.  And for me it has the added bonus of making Shaggy stop bugging me about the fact that I vetoed it as a name for R, in spite of the fact that he REALLY wanted it.

Penny's stay in our home began fairly uneventfully.  She was a little anxious being in a new place.  And she was extremely sleepy because she was on medication for kennel cough (like pneumonia for dogs).

But then she got better, and that's when all the trouble began.

We're keeping a running tally of all the things that she has done--it's getting fairly long, too long to list here.  So I'll share only the most interesting/mystifying ones.

The worst thing, by far, was that she figured out how to lift up the boards on the fence and went for a romp with the neighbor's dog . . . in the neighbor's yard.  Charger, naturally, just had to join her.  And unfortunately, this all happened when we were away at church.  So very shortly after arriving home, we had a nice visit from the neighbor giving us a recap of the morning's events.  Fortunately, the dogs were all fine and no property was damaged.  Other than our very old fence, that is.  In Penny's defense, the fence had become extremely run down and unstable.  And with big dogs on BOTH sides of it, it was a miracle that it lasted this long.  It really was pretty naive of us to expect it to hold even with so many fosters in and out of our home.  Lucky for us, we have a nice neighbor who understands both life with dogs and the nature of fences.  We all plan to put up a new one soon.  Until then, ALL loose boards will remain secured by 2x4s. 

It's just an unavoidable fact that puppies NEED to chew.  On a good day, they'll stick mostly to their dog toys.  On other days . . . well, they like to expand their horizons a bit.

Penny, on her not-so-great days, has decided to chew up the following things:  a bug collection jar, a magazine holder, the corner of our backyard bench, a potato, various papers, a viking ship, a potted plant, a mini easter basket, a bag of potting soil, approximately half a carton of baby tomatoes, a broom, and a cordless phone.

Thanks to my acute hearing, she only managed to chew the antenna off the phone before I rescued it.  Shaggy has since patched it up nicely with silicone, and I'm happy to report that it works flawlessly.

I understand Penny's desire to snag the bread off the microwave, or lick the breakfast bowls clean of milk once the kids have gone to school.  I get it that she smells dinner cooking and can't resist propping herself up on the counter with her front paws to get a glimpse of what food was left out.  But potatoes?  And tomatoes?  Not what I would consider typical temptations for dogs.

There was one afternoon that I heard some suspicous sounds coming from the kitchen, so I went to investigate.  She was fully on top of the table--all four feet.  Standing there trying her best to avoid my stern gaze because she KNEW she was doing something wrong.  After ordering her down, and giving her a sound scolding, I noticed that the small bag of tea was missing from J's tea party invitation which had been sitting on the table.  Apparently she had decided to have a little tea party of her own.

So, we have a puppy that likes to chew up dirt bags, eat tea bags, and have occasional light snacks involving potatoes and tomatoes.  Huh.

So why are we keeping her, you may well be wondering.  The timing is far from perfect, with a new baby due to join our family in 3 months.  And we're supposed to be fixing up the house so that we can sell it someday and move into a place where we're not packed in like sardines.

Our first feelings of attachments came when we renamed her.  We love the name Penny.  And who doesn't want to keep a shiny new penny they found?

Another reason can be seen quite clearly by looking at Shaggy's face.  I recognize that smile from pictures I've seen of him as a kid.  Pure delight.  Total happiness.  He's always wanted two dogs and now he has two dogs.  But not just any two dogs.  Two beautiful dogs that get along tremendously well together.

In fact, they LOVE to wrestle, and play tug of war, and share a nap, and stand sentinel at the front window.  They often steal each other's toys, and Penny will try to play keepaway from Charger.  Penny seems to really enjoy biting Charger's cheek when she wants to start a wrestling match.  And Charger is pretty much always game for a little doggie play.  Their timing isn't always ideal in MY opinion, but there's always the backyard when they get too much underfoot.

Now that I think about it, they get along far better than ANY of my children.  And they're much more likely to discourage burglars.  My children are not very fierce.

Of course, Penny doesn't look all that fierce in these photos.  But the potential burglars will never see them.  I probably shouldn't have taken these photos, if I didn't want to keep this dog.  I mean, how can I NOT want to keep this puppy when she gets along so well with my crazy, loving toddler AND looks so adorable in photos with her?!

So Penny gets along fantastically with Charger . . . the kids adore her . . . Shaggy's enraptured with her.  But still, I could steel myself against all these reasons to keep Penny if it weren't for the simple fact that I like her.  Lately, I find myself liking her better than Charger.  At least she doesn't bark at anything that moves.

I like her beautiful, intelligent eyes, that show every emotion that she's feeling.  I like how she sidles over to the kids whenever they sit on the floor, trying to get them to play with her.  I like how she tolerates R's hugs.  It makes me laugh when she catches sight of anyone's bare toes and can't resist licking them.  I like how she rolls over on her back whenever I pet her head as if to say, "That's not good enough.  Give me a belly rub!"  I like how she just can't figure out why J's remote control dinosaur won't play with her.

Hmmm . . . it sort of sounds like I'm turning into a genuine dog person, doesn't it?  Maybe this is just all part of Shaggy's cunning master plan.

But I am still firmly grounded in reality, even as much as this sweet puppy has managed to charm me.  I realize that having two dogs around adds exponentially to the chaos in my home.  I know that when I have a newborn, I generally don't do very well with chaos.  Which means that we have three months to train the worst of the bad habits out of these dogs.  No more counter surfing.  No more table top exploits.  No more excessive barking.  Wish us luck.  We're going to need it!

But speaking of cunning master plans . . . since we seem to be running out of room on our sofa, maybe this will get me closer to getting that nice, sectional one I've always wanted.


kara said...

I'm always pro-German Shepherd for pets. I grew up with 2 (at separate times) and they are fabulous dogs. They look gorgeous, and look like they belong in the family. Enjoy the chaos! And built a better fence.

Natasha said...

fantastic updates, as always. I can't wait to join the ranks of dog owners!