Saturday, August 9, 2008

New Additions to the Family

We've been threatening to get a dog again, and now we've adopted not one, but two dogs. We'd originally planned to get them last Monday, but couldn't get everything ready in time, and then we realized that on Tuesday, the roofers would show up and decided to wait. Good decision.

Tuesday reminded me of that scene in The 5,000 Fingers of Doctor T where they're touring the dungeons, and Terwilliger shows them the poor wretch who's been imprisoned in a giant bass drum while someone beats on it. The roofers wanted to get the entire job done in one day, so they threw a crew of 6 or 8 at it, and went at it like gangbusters (or maybe eardrum busters). The dogs would have gone nuts; we almost did even though we went out for a couple of hours.

So Wednesday we went to the shelter, and after wanting to take home just about every dog we saw (there were a lot of Border Collie and Australian Shepherd mixes; our last dog was a Border and we fell in love with the breed), we found a pair of older dogs who'd been kenneled together. When we took them out for a meet and greet, they were friendly with us, and got along well with each other, so we adopted them.

There was a strategy in this. We've always had large working breed dogs; the Border, at 45 pounds, was the smallest dog we'd ever had. But now we're neither of us up to giving a dog like that the exercise it needs, and there's nothing worse you can do for the physical and mental health of a dog than not get it enough exercise. This is also true of children; in fact, there are so many similarities that we got a lot of our child-rearing techniques from a book on dog-training written by a Hollywood dog wrangler. So we were looking for small dogs; these guys are both small and past the young adult stage, so their need for exercise is (at least theoretically, see below) lower now.

One of the dogs is a Lhasa Apso female named Jompa, about 9 yo, and the other's a Rat Terrier male, Spencer, who's 6 yo. They're settling in fairly well, though the terrier turns out to be a bolter who can get through our chain link fence in seconds. The good news is that it's not running away, just the urge to explore, because he will come back. The bad news is we live on a busy street, and he doesn't have good car sense, so he's now on a leash whenever we go out, and will be until he's obedience trained.

ETA: our bolter is starting to learn to come back when called. I lost him at the Arboretum that we've been taking our dogs to since we moved to Portland 30 years ago, while trying to hang onto both leashes and get a stool sample for the vet (I need to get a couple of extra arms). But I yelled for him, and he came back and let me grab his leash again.

Neither of these dogs was ever trained in any way as far as we can tell, though they're housebroken and they recognize their names. Worse, the terrier has scars where a harness was put on too tight and left on him all the time, and he flinches from loud voices and criticism. So we have some work to do to win the dogs over (though after only twofour days they're both willing to cuddle and be petted by us, which is a very good sign).

We've taken them to the vet, and had some good news and some bad news. Jompa has an ear infection, a sore mouth where 2 teeth were extracted, and is a little overweight. On the other hand, she's healthy in other respects. Spencer has developed kennel cough since we brought him home from the shelter, and seems to have an allergy to grass. But we've got medicines to deal with most of this, and they are fairly good about taking them (Jompa doesn't like getting stuff squirted in her ear, but she doesn't get angry and snappish, and she doesn't hold a grudge afterward. All in all we're really pleased with the dogs, and we think they'll fit in very nicely.