Maybe everyone thinks their dog is extraordinary. (Except my friend, Keri, who keeps trying to give me hers!) A blog I read this morning put me in mind to tell you about our Max.
His name at the time of our meeting was "Bouncer". On the fateful day of our meeting, I had stopped at the pound, as I regularly did, just to have a look at the adorable little pups. When I walked in the door, I saw a sign that requested that foster families take dogs home for the week so that the kennel floors could be redone.
Our wonderful boxer, Chauncey, had died just the month before, so we were dogless for the first time in 10 years. I figured that it was a good time to help out the cause.
I walked around the entire dog area looking for something that looked "boxer-ish". I saw this adorable big headed black and white dog with tiny ears looking up with these big brown doe eyes. He kind of looked like a boxer, but I wanted to make sure there wasn't some purebred brindle just around the corner, so I sped around the whole place scanning the cages.
Seeing nothing else that peaked my interest, I returned to Bouncer. He was so happy to see me back in front of his cage. He wiggled and wiggled and leaned against the front of the cage, just so I could pet him. This was my dog, I was sure of it. Reading the paperwork, I found out that he was actually part Sharpei (Little ears and wrinkles!) and who knew what else. I loved him. So I did the paperwork and we were on our way.... only for a week, of course.
When I got home, my husband was in the driveway working on the car. As I got out of our car, with a dog following on a leash, my husband looked up and said something to the effect of "What did you do?!"
I quickly responded with "It's only for a week!" He just sort of shook his head and went back to work.
Earlier that day, he and some friends had installed new carpeting in our daughter's bedroom. The minute I released Bouncer from his leash, he went into her room and pooped on the BRAND NEW carpet. This was the beginning of our "Bouncer woes".
Bouncer was not housebroken. Bouncer ran away every time the door was open. Bouncer barked non stop. Bouncer chewed up everything that was left on the floor.
About a week after Bouncer came into our family, he was taken back to the pound. Our children cried. They loved that mutt, but it didn't appear that he was the dog for us.
Fast forward two weeks. We had gone on vacation and returned home. A friend of mine had told me that there was a dog at the pound that was absolutely adorable and that I should go see him. and that his name was Bouncer. I told her we had already seen him and experienced him at our home. Adorable yes, but not for us.
A few mornings later, my husband was getting ready to go to work. As he stepped outside, he noticed that our shed door was open. He went over to shut it and as he glanced inside, he notice a MAN ASLEEP IN OUR SHED! (It seems that he was so drunk that he couldn't find his way home, and decided to use a bicycle pedal for a pillow! How drunk do you have to be for that to be comfortable?!)
Anyway it was then and there, that I decided that we had to have a dog. I went back and got Bouncer, who unceremoniously became "Max". ( I would some day like to have an animal with a really unique name, but so far that hasn't happened- Presently we have Max, Bella, Janey, April, June, Nessie, and Mama cat- whose real name I think is Rosie.... but that's another story.)
Unfortunately, Giving the dog a new name did not give him new character. He still chewed, barked, ran away, and made messes in the house.
I will spare you the details of the next few months. Suffice to say that there were many times when the dog almost took a return trip to the pound. but then, God took pity on us and gave us a few "dog miracles".
Our friend, Heidi, who had two large dogs of her own, lent us a huge training kennel so that we could housetrain Max. The idea for the training is that when they are in the kennel, they won't go to the bathroom (cuz it messes up their "space"). Well, Max must not have known about this rule, because he just kept going to the bathroom in the kennel. The only positive aspective was that at least it was easier to clean the bottom of the kennel then it was the carpet! Finally, one day while I was cleaning the cage, I sprayed it with Lysol. From that moment on Max never went in the cage (or in the house!) again. I keep thinking maybe I can make some money by advertising Lysol as a housetraining trick!
Getting rid of the running away habit was just as miraculous. I was complaining about how often Max ran away, to a friend of ours at church. Unbeknownst to me, this friend worked at one of those Invisible Fence places. (Where your dog wears a collar and if he goes over top of a buried wire, he gets shocked.) He offered it to us for free if we would allow them to use Max and our family as a promo for their company. We said yes, and got a very expensive electric fence set for free! Now Max could be out in the yard without us and be safe (and we didn't have to spend hours chasing him anymore!)
The last unbearable characteristic of poor Max, was that he chewed up everything! All of the time! and he barked and he didn't listen very well, etc.
My hubby was speaking to an old friend about this dog that we had and how frustrating it all was. come to find out that this friend (and his wife) trained dogs! they offered to take Max for ten days (for free!) and train him for us, with the understanding that on the tenth day we would come and be trained ourselves. We agreed. The difference in Max with only ten days of training was absolutley amazing!
He was obedient, quiet, and only used his mouth for eating his dog food! (And an occasional offical bark!)
All in all, we probably got about $1000.00 dollars worth of "help" for free that allowed Max to be part of our family. He has been with us for 9 years now and is an absolute gem. There really aren't words to explain what he has become to our family. I would not trade him for the world. Big dogs don't last forever though, so I know that I probably only have a few more years left to enjoy him.
Unfortunately, we already have Max's replacement. Her name is Bella and in a moment of unclear thinking we accepted her into our family about 21/2 years ago. Bella is a coll- lab- oration (border collie, lab,and dalmation) mix.
Bella runs away every chance she gets. Bella barks and "talks" non stop. Bella chews up everything that is left on the floor when she is left alone.
Here we go again.