Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Adopting a shelter dog

Tyler and I are dog people. We grew up with dogs, we love dogs, we want dogs. For a while that wasn't a possibility, since we lived in an apartment. We tried to foster a dog there and it just didn't work out (it didn't help that she wasn't house-trained and that we were inexperienced, first-time dog owners), but we knew that once we moved to a bigger place, a dog wouldn't be far behind.

I think we surprised ourselves, though, by just how quickly we started pushing out applications to local shelters! (Well.. maybe I surprised Tyler, if I'm being perfectly honest.) Before long, we had committed to adopting Hildy, a mountain dog mutt. We liked hearing that she was "happy and friendly," that she "loved to play," and that she was just an all-around sweetheart. And we figured that since she had mountain dog in her, she would be a calm and confident companion.

Unfortunately, Hildy was fostered in Texas, where apparently people don't like to adopt dogs or something. (What is wrong with you, Texas?) That meant that we couldn't meet her before we put down the few hundred dollars required to cover the cost of her healthcare and transportation. But I was so sure that she was the perfect dog for us that I convinced Tyler to sign the contract with me, and Hildy was soon on her way.

She arrived last Friday, out of sorts and trembling. Along with my sister, we popped her in the car and took her back to our place, where she promptly took to the couch and stayed there for the next several hours. She didn't know any commands or even her own name, but she snuggled up to me and rested her little head on my leg. We soothed each other so much that we both fell asleep while Taite and Tyler watched a movie.

Sometimes Hildy is more cat than dog.

In the morning, we tried to get Hildy to enjoy a breakfast and some water, but she steadfastly refused to move from her cozy perch until we took her for a walk, which she loved. Finally, some sign of the dog she was promised to be! She was alert, happy and perky for the duration of the walk, but when we got home she went back to the couch and stayed there until bedtime, except for when we made scary noises, like opening drawers - then she would do her "nope" walk downstairs and hide by the front door (this comic came to mind). The same thing happened the next day, although she did eventually have something to eat, and dared to drink from her water bowl instead of puddles.

I'm totally charmed by the fact that her tongue sticks out when she's at rest.

On the upside, she was housebroken, patient, and incredibly sweet. She was friendly and playful with the dogs she met on our walks. She gave generous kisses, and leaned against me when I petted her belly. She seemed to be "getting" what the clicker meant (treats) and turning her head at least 50% of the time when we said her name. And on Sunday night, as though emboldened by a couple of days of peace, she picked up one of my slippers and almost trotted over to me with it - until I, surprised and delighted, made a sound she interpreted negatively, and she dropped the slipper and made for the stairs.

Unfortunately, all her bravery fled from her the next day, when our two house painters showed up. I bundled her into the car and took her to my grandmother's house so she wouldn't be further traumatized while I was at work. When I returned, my mother was visiting, and she had apparently fed Hildy people food! Hildy, naturally, was delighted by chicken salad and chocolate-free cookies. It turned out that she also liked turkey, walnuts, honey, and cashews!

Since she was having a good day, we decided to introduce her to the family dog, Jessie, and the two cats, Junebug and Sequoia. She loved Jessie and was disappointed that the older dog wasn't interested in playing, and she kept a respectful distance from the cats, although she whined a little to say that she wished she could play with them. (The cats did not return the sentiment.)

With a few more weeks, Hildy may blossom further. Either way, we love her and she's ours now. I can't wait to take her to obedience classes so we can bond further, and she can build a bit more confidence.

1001 in 101 challenge #7 complete!

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