Jack the New Dog

The Observation Post

It's been about three months and going on four with Jack, the new dog, and I'm thinking about trading him in for a couple of guinea pigs or having a frontal lobotomy done. Maybe both.

Looking back I'm not quite sure of what I had must been thinking at the time. After Nikki had passed away I had been wanting another dog, although it wasn't too clear in my mind of what I wanted a dog for or what kind of dog.

With Nikki, I just wanted a dog, something canine that would become part of the family, and that my son could grow up with. Big or little, cute or ugly, I didn't care. The only requirement was it to be friendly and affectionate.

With Nikki, a shepherd/chow pound puppy, I got a medium sized dog that was a big friendly, loving goofball who would take me out for drags, hog the bed, and was more than willing to help me clean my plate. She wouldn't have been much in the way of a hunting dog or a fishing buddy, but she did like riding shotgun in the truck, or out on a boat. And when someone came home, she'd wag that tail so hard she'd get her whole body into it.

'Kay, so I've got three cats that greet me, too, when I come home, but when they shark my ankles, I'm never sure if it's from some kind of feline affection, or that they've gotten together, took out an insurance policy on me, and are looking to collect. Cats are funny that way.

Maybe I was hoping with the next one to find a dog that would prove to be a staunch defender of the homestead and an early warning system to trouble. It's not because I'm on the other side of fifty and getting older; I just hate being roused from a good sleep, and you know how inconsiderate burglars can be.

I want to be able to get up from bed the morning following a break-in, find the intruder cowering in some corner before Fido, Rover, or whatever the dog's name might be, begging to go to jail. And if I'm lucky, maybe Fido, Rover, or whatever might be intelligent enough and considerate enough to have already keypunched 911 on the phone for me before I had gotten out of bed.

Too much to hope for? Lassie would have done it for Timmy if his folks had a touch tone phone instead of that old rotary one. The old phones weren't very paw-friendly.

But what I got was Jack who, when the air conditioning man came by for the periodic maintenance of the central air system, lay sprawled on his back on the bed, his nether region exposed for all the world to see, and snoring. Couldn't be bothered with a woof, a growl, or a harsh glare.

Nikki wasn't much better as a guard dog. She would have responded to an intruder, a stranger, or a threatening noise either by running into the bedroom to guard the bed, or she would have shown the bad guy all the goodies in the house in hopes of getting a weenie or two for her trouble. Jack, in this situation, just rolled over onto his side.

Of course, I'm human. I just don't understand the canine mindset or canine priorities are. Then again, though I am the primary Food Girl in Jack's territory, he's also got the Backup Food Guy, the husband, and Backup Food Girl #2, Grannie. And the next door neighbor makes it Backup Food Girl #3. So I'm expendable. Rats.

Of course if someone was truly serious about getting a dog for security purposes they wouldn't go to the pound. Instead they'd go to places like Dobermans 'R' Us, K-9 Defense, Pooch Security International, or Mutt-lip Guardians. At places like that they have canines that take guard duty with the seriousness of a heart attack. In fact, some guard dogs look terrifying enough to give a burglar a cardiac infarction.

Mine didn't. What I thought I saw as potential ferocity at the pound turned out to be chuckleheadness and goofiocity, neither of which will inspire fear or a heart stoppage. At least Nikki, in her joy of encountering a burglar, would have unintentionally peed on the guy. That would have been helpful in a police report (“yeah, we're looking for a perp who smells like dog pee”).

Guinea pigs, the cute furry creatures that they are, do possess the capabilities of a good alarm system. They seem to have this special radar that can detect whenever someone in the house moves near the kitchen, and opens the refrigerator. They kind of make it hard to sneak a midnight snack. The opening of a refrigerator will prompt a long series of loud, irritating squeals.

There is no way to shut off or reset the guinea pig alarm other than to give the little boogers a few grapes or whatever other favored treat lies inside the refrigerator. Of course the problem with this type of alarm system is that you have to get the burglar into the kitchen near the fridge. This can be accomplished by posting signs around the dwelling that indicate all the valuables are hidden in the appliance. The drawback would be that the burglar can't read, or is too smart to buy into the trick.

For those folks who are giving some thought to buying or adopting an animal there are some things to consider. Needless to say, it's a “buyer beware” kind of thing. What you see, or more to the point, what you think you see, isn't necessarily what you're going to get.

One example was an Appaloosa/Quarter Horse mare I once bought. I checked her physical conformation and health, I led her, rode her, took her through her paces, and took her home. I thought I had gotten a rather placid animal, something ideal for kids until the next morning rolled around. Ha, ha, ha. Turns out the seller had drugged her, and when the drugs wore off what I got was some psycho hose-beast from hell.

Getting an animal that isn't a newly weaned youngster is more like buying a used car. You're getting a used animal that has some mileage on it, and you really have no idea in most cases under what conditions the animal had to operate under with the previous owner(s). What you get told about the dog, cat, horse, gerbil, etc. isn't necessarily going to be the unvarnished truth. Instead they tend to focus on positives as if any negatives didn't exist. You hear things like “loves to play”, “loves to cuddle”, “housebroken”, “friendly with cats”, “clicker trained”, “gets along with dogs”, “is people friendly”, etc.

Some of those descriptions can be misleading in varying degrees. “Housebroken” can mean that things in the house will be broken at one time or another. “Loves to play” may prove that Fido not only is willing to play when you want to, but also when you're not. Like 3:00 in the morning when you're sound asleep, and mutt-lips shoves a chew toy covered in dog slobber in your face.

“Friendly with cats”; friendly sometimes needs to be defined. Take Jack for instance; he likes cats. He won't hurt them at all, he just wants to play. Play sometimes translates into running through the house recklessly at speeds threatening to break the sound barrier and other things while after some fur shark. Usually its Zoe.

I wasn't a total noob at the pound. Besides considering how a dog like Jack would fit into the family, I had to give some consideration to the cats.

Sure, the cats would adjust to having a new dog in the house. Eventually. I know they can hold grudges but there is only just so long that they can poop in your shoes for revenge before it becomes so boring, tiresome, dull. The burning question was how Jack would take to cats.

The pound where I had gotten Jack had a room where a number of cats were roaming and frolicking freely. I thought about throwing him in there to test his “cat friendliness”, but I didn't think the folks at the DAS would have appreciated the potential chaos. No doubt another such consequence would be to have my mug posted every where in the kitty cat world as “enemy number one”. What they did was walk Jack by a few cages that had cats in them. In each case both parties exhibited no interest in each other. But at home, it was another matter.

And don't go “oh, poor kitty” on me. Some cats will deliberately initiate such a scenario just so the crotch sniffer will get yelled at. And the cat will sit there witnessing the consequences of the chase with such smarmy smugness that you can almost hear it snicker in evil smarmyocity. Zoe does.

Zoe's day isn't complete unless she had gotten the dog into trouble at least once during the day. The more the better.

Some of the advisories and descriptions given on the animals should include disclosures like “this dog is a chucklehead”, “crotch sniffer”, “leg humper”, “bed hog”, “pillow stealer”, “cookie thief”, “pantry raider”, etc. In some cases such information could prove valuable in avoiding embarrassing situations.

Imagine some guy wanting to impress his new in-laws with a home dinner invitation. The guy isn't going to score any brownie points with his new bride and her parents if the new dog, by way of greeting, humps a leg or rams his nose into someone's nether region. Worse if it's the mother-in-law. If anything, it'll at least get the guy the nighttime penalty box (the couch).

Honestly, I have nothing against dogs who are leg humpers or crotch sniffers. Either activity can be useful in certain situations (Jack, go say 'hello' to the nice Jehovah Witness), it's just that some warning ahead of time can be appreciated.

Well, it's all water under the bridge now. Regardless of what I wanted or thought I was getting, Jack has become a member of the family. Two of the cats have forgiven me, and the third is in the grudging-but-still-hissing acceptance period. And I know when I go to bed tonight, he'll be sprawled across the bed. Maybe I can get him to move over a little bit so I can also sleep in that bed. Or maybe I'll just bed down on the couch.

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Comments » 1

bossman1 writes:

Vicki, Well done.

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