A long time ago, when we first bought this house, we had intended to adopt from some friends a sweet, well-behaved, loving, and calm Pembroke Corgi, who really needed to be an only dog in a home full of people who will pay oodles of attention to her all day long. My boys could be up to that challenge, boy howdy. We were getting ready to prepare to bring her home after our second child was born.
However, before that happened, we got a call from our friends to let us know that they just discovered this beautiful, sweet dog had lymphoma, and not long to live. 😦
She had to be put down a few months later. I wasn’t extremely heartbroken, because she hadn’t been ours yet. I hadn’t seen her (or our friends) much in months. Life just kind of got in the way. Perhaps providence. I don’t know. But I really wasn’t sure how we would ever find another perfect dog like her for us.
Fast forward a year or so: I left my boys with some friends from church one evening while I was at a choir practice, and when I went to pick them up, I met our friends’ newly adopted Golden Retriever. She was about a year old, a little timid, but sweet as could be and the perfect energy level for my boys (which meant too much for me!). My friends mentioned that another set of friends from church, who are getting ready for a big cross-country move, were trying to find a home for their older Golden, because they just didn’t think the move would be good for her.
I kind of wonder if God put a few of these Golden Retriever owners in my life at this time to get me ready for this new addition to our family, because Ladybug would be the fourth Golden Retriever (maybe fifth, if I count an older one who died a few months back, who belonged to the people who just adopted the one-year-old) I would encounter in a few months’ time. One of my friends owns two Goldens, that are her ninth and tenth in her adult life, and tells me there is no better breed, especially for raising boys. She said she couldn’t have raised her three boys without her Goldens.
I thought about it. At first, I didn’t want to promise anything. I wasn’t sure I could be a big-dog owner. I’d tried before, and I couldn’t handle it. I was sure I would need something with big-dog attitude, but of a controllable size (like a Corgi; I really wanted a Corgi). Well, in truth, the big dog I’d tried before was not a dog I had any business trying to own and train myself. He needed special keeping, and I was definitely not a good match for him. Bringing him back to the shelter was not, on the face of it, my proudest moment, but looking back, it was a very smart move on my part. He was aggressive and too energetic. At this point in my life, I KNOW I could not have handled him, especially since I found out five days after bringing him back to the shelter that I was pregnant with our first child.
Since then, I’ve researched Corgis. I’ve looked up adoptable older or senior female dogs who just need a loving family and a good home to spend the rest of their days. But I didn’t know if I could do it. We don’t really have a good yard set-up (yet) for a dog, nor a fence. We could adopt a sweet dog, but if she was a runner, we would be forced to stay outside with her the whole time she was going potty, rain or shine. And what if she wasn’t good with cats, or children? Most petfinder sites are good at screening those, but I found my first dog through them, and they did NOT have the full scoop on Maxie. I just wasn’t sure whether to trust them.
Enter my friends from church. Suddenly, they have to find a home for their dog in a matter of weeks, and here I am, wondering if I was going to make a big mistake by asking them about it. Was I setting myself up for heartbreak? Failure? Future bad behavior from my cat, who still resents the fact that we brought children into her territory? (She’s not aggressive, just irritable.)
I talked to my friend, then agreed to meet with her and Ladybug at a local park, so we can see how she handles the kids, the strangers (both men and women), strange dogs, etc. Fortunately, all those things were present! A family brought their dog, which was the same size as Ladybug, and sat not far from us. The dog was off-leash and came to say hi to Ladybug at one point, and Ladybug, though a bit stressed, did not react at all. She did not react to men coming to talk to her. She did not jump on my boys or lick their faces. She was pretty much perfect, and I couldn’t help but feel that she would do just fine with us.
She is six years old, has gorgeous curly hair on her chest and hindquarters, the sweetest brown eyes, and such an immensely loving disposition that transfer to our house was nearly seamless. I say “nearly”, because she does have an issue with submissive urination. After a couple days of cleaning up messes because she didn’t want to go do what I wanted her to do, and didn’t like it when I approached her to correct her, we’re starting from the beginning with some crate training (to get her comfortable with smells and sounds, and so she’ll realize that she mustn’t mess the crate, since that is where she will be spending a lot of time), then we’ll work up to “who’s the boss” (roped to me all day, following me around while I do daily stuff, learning sit-stays and down-stays), and hopefully we can get her more confident around us so that she won’t feel like she needs to wet herself, her bed, the floor, her crate, or anything else because she feels threatened or timid.
Tonight was great, because we all went for a walk, and it only took a quarter or a third of the walk to get her used to my walking rules (walk next to me, behind my husband (for today); don’t pull; sit when I tell you (she’s kind of hard-headed about that one sometimes); and stay till I tell you (that one, too)). By the end, she was barely pulling on the leash, and I could hold it loosely looped in one hand while she walked next to me and Sweetie. She even mostly ignored the boys when they turned around in the stroller to call her. Such a smart girl! 🙂
She is still getting used to a potty schedule, but as far as I know she has had no more accidents in the house after Friday morning, when I decided we’d go back to crate training for a while. She’s been a good listener, has let me clip her toenails without complaint (or peeing!), put in her ear medicine in (she’s fighting yeast infections, which should hopefully clear up soon), and has been happy to play ball in the yard with the kids. She hasn’t barked but once. She would rather be by my side or chasing a ball — and bringing it back — than running off into the sunset. And she’s a calm car-rider.
But the best thing about this dog? I’m not a total big-dog failure! And she’s so dependent on our love and companionship that I feel like I can actually be a good leader for her. She’s helping me be a bit calmer toward the boys, especially since loud noises freak her out a bit. 🙂 AND I’m getting the house cleaned. Slowly, but she’s good motivation. 🙂
I’m really glad we could help our friends out, because they were so worried about finding a family for her, especially if it would have to be strangers. And she is just about as perfect a dog for us as we could ever ask for!
Here she is, lookin’ for love:
Pie torturing her: