I Am Not Sure if I Would Have a Cat if I Knew It Would Grow to Be Over 55lbs.

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A while back I wrote about my adventures in dog-sitting. In that post, I mentioned how I had never had a dog, and how, once-upon-a-time, big dogs even scared me a little. It now looks like I have signed myself up for a life-long version of immersion therapy.

Meet “Lina”.

Mrs Dog Dobalina

This is a false representation. She is rarely, if ever, this still.

Her full name is Mrs. Dog Dobalina, in homage to The Monkees’ song, “Zilch” (although my fiancé chooses to reference “Mistadobalina” by Del Tha Funkee Homosapian, which is clearly a homage to the ORIGINAL “Zilch” song- but whatever.) She is a Belgian Malinios, a breed very similar to the German Shepherd, but slightly is smaller in her final form. At this point she is 18wks and the heavy side of 30lbs. I have nicknamed her “Tank”, as her best descriptor would be “incredibly solid and oblivious to objects around her”. This includes people, furniture, cabinetry, walls, doors, the cats- pretty much anything in general. She bounces and shakes off the impact like it was nothing. Luckily walls do not bruise, and the cats are pretty good at holding their own.

Man Down

He didn’t stand a chance against “The Tank”.

Things that I have learned about having a puppy so far:

  1. They have to go to the bathroom- A LOT. And sometimes even they don’t realize that they need to go until the moment they do (on the oriental rug).
  2. You realize how much attachment you have for material things based on your reaction to the puppy chewing on it. (But I LOVED that toy that I don’t even remember where it came from or when the last time was that I even acknowledged its existence!)
  3. No matter how many toys she has within her reach, if you are not playing with her, she is BORED.
  4. It is rarely a good sign if she is Too Quiet (see #1)
  5. Similar to children and cats, the most favorite toy is often the packaging of something else.

    Box o Lina

    Yep- This is my dog, Folks.

  6. Dog farts are horrible, which can be good a good thing, as I have already adopted the practice of blaming any and all farts on the dog. So far, she has been OK with this.
  7. Awkward puppies are pretty much the best thing ever. Exhausted puppies are just below that.
  8. If you have a smart puppy, there is a very high chance that you also have a very (very) stubborn puppy.
  9. Puppy teeth are some of the sharpest objects on earth.
  10. If it is dead and decaying, a puppy will find it and try to eat it, or roll in it. Same thing goes for all poop. (Lina is becoming a connoisseur in that area. Currently she prefers duck and deer poop, but she will branch out as the situation dictates.)

The whole “training” thing has been an interesting process, as my cats more trained me than the other way around. First, I’ve had to butcher learn commands in a completely different language, as you wouldn’t want some stranger to be able to tell your dog to “roll-over” at the drop of a hat, would you? (Of course not. Those are family tricks!) Second, I’ve been trying to learn how to be the “alpha-dog” to her. I now have more empathy for parents with toddlers who are learning to push their boundaries. “If you didn’t see me do it, then you don’t KNOW that I did it, right?” (Cue the puppy-dog eyes, which, by the way, STILL do not work on me, so tough luck there, Lina.)

Puppy Dog Eyes

No matter how many versions she tries, I refuse to melt (usually).

I know that she has learned (and grown!) so much in the 6 weeks that we have had her, so I have to remind myself that despite of all her progress she is still a very energetic and distracted puppy. One whose first reaction is to give puppy kisses, and want you to play tug-of-war and get belly rubs, and contort herself in funny ways when she outruns the ball.

Tuckered out

There are occasions where I question if she actually has all her bones.

As long as she understands that I will always take the cat’s side, then I think we will get along OK.

Living with Cats Is a Poor Rehersal for Dog-Sitting

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There are times when you find yourself in situations where you are flooded with apprehension and anxiety. You wonder, “ How will I possibly endeavor to make it through this?” You may even find yourself becoming irritated at the person who placed you in that situation, only to take a step back and realize that you had a big part in getting yourself into that uncomfortable position.

My most recent example of this convoluted situation involves taking care of a dog. Growing up, I have never had a dog. In fact, even when my friends that had dogs, I wasn’t in the neighborhood long enough to get to know them all that well. For a time, as a child, I was actually scared of bigger dogs. I eventually became comfortable with them, and even to want a snuggle or two, but I’ve never been in a position where I was taking care of a dog. This goes double for taking care of a dog SOLO.

Even as a teenager or adult, I’ve never been asked to look after another’s dog for more than a few hours, and that was more-or-less on a passive level. None of my past relationships had an active roll in the family dog’s life, and so I did not either.  Did I mention that I grew up as a cat person? Yep- totally a cat person.

If this does not prove how much of a cat person I am, then I don't know what will.

If this does not prove how much of a cat person I am, then I don’t know what will.

So when my fiancé asked me to dog-sit the dog that he and his ex share joint custody over while he was away for a week, it was natural that I would be flooded with apprehension and anxiety. What if I do something wrong? What if something happens to her on my watch? To heighten the situation, this sweet dog has a terminal illness and has gone blind. So she is completely dependent on the humans taking care of her.  But I agreed to take care of her on my own, because sometimes you just have to face your own negative feelings (and it doesn’t hurt that she is so freaking sweet and adorable that you just cannot say “no” to her face.)

This face defies any chance of "No" being said. It's a good thing she's never unreasonable.

This face defies any chance of “No” being said. It’s a good thing she’s never unreasonable.

Well, the week is almost up, and I am happy to report that the dog has been very patient with my learning curve.  She has been training me to notice when she needs to do her business (as slow as I have been in picking up her cues, she’s only had one big accident), and that I spend too much time on the computer (I needed a new power cord anyway).

No really- I wasn't going to use that cord at all this week. Seriously.

No really- I wasn’t going to use that cord at all this week. Seriously.

I’ve also learned that I am willing to sit outside in the cold for hours so that she can sniff the dirt and enjoy sleeping on the grass.

So yes, I started out this week in a situation that I was not entirely comfortable with. But I was reminded that if you embrace those situations, and make the most of them, you can wind up making a new (and sometimes fuzzy) friend. Plus, now I can never say that I have not dog-sat.

(Were she a parrot, I’d seriously have no idea what to do- except perhaps, “Don’t let the cats eat her.”)