Sunday, February 2, 2014

Been Babysitting

A while back my husband brought home this unexpected guest...

He found this stray/lost/abandoned/whatever Chihuahua (and MinPin, we think) mix puppy.  We took care of him while searching for his owner, but it seemed the owner didn't want to be found.  My husband took the puppy in to a vet to check for a microchip and assess his health.  No microchip, and we found out that the puppy is almost 6 months old.

Considering the rate at which stray dogs are euthanized around here, and looking at how many dogs of this puppy's description are currently up for adoption, we decided to keep him.  When I worked for the animal shelter in Nevada, people were constantly pressuring me to adopt a third dog, but I could resist because it was a no kill shelter.  Dogs and cats would be continually cared for at the shelter or in foster homes until adopted, so there was no rush.  But here, you never know if you are giving an animal a death sentence by dropping it off at a shelter.

We had previously agreed that when Midge and Scrappy pass away, we will replace the carpet and learn to live without dogs, because our new house doesn't have any safe outdoor space for them.  The desert isn't the ideal place for little ones.  Too many predators.  However, for a puppy in need who seemed to be dropped in our laps, we decided to work it out.  

He and Midge passed their meet and greet test with flying colors right away, but Scrappy was another story.  Scrappy is possessive and he did not like sharing me, Midge, or the house with a newcomer. He just considered the puppy extra competition for food.  It took some time and undivided attention to train Scrappy to leave the puppy alone, and train the puppy to understand our limits with his rambunctiousness.

The puppy also was not toilet trained, but he's learning fast, and within a few days he began giving me signals that he needed to go outside.  I figure that since cleaning up accidents is part of my routine now with two old dogs, this is probably a good time to add a puppy into the mix, because cleaning up accidents isn't a new thing that takes me away from anything else I'm doing.

I've forgotten what it is like to walk through the house with a dog attached to my pant leg by his teeth and to have scratches and bite marks all over my hands and arms, but I figure it is better to have them on my hands and arms than on the furniture or my shoes.  He understands NO, so I'm teaching him not to bite and scratch while he's young and impressionable.

I'm used to being able to take my food into the living area and sitting on the couch while I eat, but the first time I did that with the puppy out of its kennel, he jumped up and latched onto my plate with his teeth and hung there.  So, I'm training him that he has to stay away from people food and sit quietly while we eat.

He's also an escape artist, so we have set up an airlock system in the house, where everyone comes in and out through the garage door, because we can keep the laundry room door shut, so that the puppy can't slip outside while the door is open to let people in and out.  If anyone comes to our front door, they're out of luck.  No doors to the outside get opened around here unless the puppy is locked in his kennel or another room.  Walking the puppy outside is tough, because all you have to do is have one second of inattention, lose your grip on your end of the leash, and the dog is gone.

The puppy is so lithe and acrobatic that he leaps from dog to human to dog to human around the room.  Both Midge and Scrappy have been really good lately about ignoring him when he climbs all over them or tries to ride them around the house.  But when he bites them, I allow them to set their limits by growling and snapping the air.  They have the right to defend themselves.  Scrappy now seems enamored with the puppy.  He's a good dad, in that he's learning what behaviors to discipline and which ones to accept.  And when it is apparent that the puppy is getting on the older dogs' nerves, I just put him in his crate and he knows that means it is time to settle down and take a nap.

I'm really amazed by this little guy.  He has boundless energy, is smart, and seems relatively easy to train.  He's more like a cat than a dog, because he can jump up high and run fast across counter tops and tables without knocking anything over, and he arches his back and rubs up against the other dogs the way a cat does when it purrs.  Despite his hyperactivity, all you have to do is pick him up and carry him, and he instantly settles down.  He rarely barks, and it is just a quiet huff huff when he does.  Obviously, I wouldn't be able to tolerate a barker.

It's going to be a challenge getting good photos of the guy, because he's constantly in motion.  I took about 20 shots the other day and the majority were just one big blur flying past the lens.  So, I will have to take the time to set up my professional camera for speed shots and get the puppy to reliably follow the command of "sit", but even when he's sitting, his head is snapping all over the place as he latches onto every little noise around him.

When we settle on a name for him, I'll add him to my cast of characters on the sidebar of my blog... and what a character he is.

I have always said that I wanted a lap dog, but all of my dogs of years past have either been too big or too aloof to sit in laps.  This little guy will curl up in my lap, but only after 10 hours straight of bouncing off the walls and squirming around.  Hopefully, that will change as he matures.  In the meantime, I've got a lot of puppy-proofing to do around this place.


Dreaming said...

Sometimes animals just appear - it's fate!
I'm betting your other dogs are feeling younger, just by having him around.
He looks really cute!

Sam said...

He's a cutie. I wouldn't worry too much if you could drop him off at AJAC, but I think you are in the same zone as us - any stray dogs we find go to Pinal and that is a guaranteed death trip. He is sweet - I'm surprised no one is looking for him.

Cheryl Ann said...

Oh, I'm so glad he found you! A PUPPY~ Ripley was our last puppy and she refused to be potty trained. How can a dog be so DUMB? So, we put her out at regular times. Last night, she woke us up by throwing up all over the you, we should RIP OUT our carpets, but, since we still have the dogs, we'll wait until they are gone (...wink, wink...) you know the story...
Cheryl Ann

Venom said...

We too had decided not to get another housedog after our last had died. After all, our shepherd lives inside with us all winter.

Reasonable agreement, but no match for BRIGHT little brown eyes...

OUR min pin Pixie fell into our laps this past August. I have never in my life had such a BUSY and clever pup!

2 words for you Nuz: clicker training.
Pixie learns quickly but her attention span can be short at times. The clicker has her slowing to think rather than blowing through my commands.

What's his name??

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Venom - Funny you bring that up. I had that thought pop into my head when I saw how hyper and distracted this puppy can get -- "This dog is a prime candidate for clicker training."

Then, of course, I was off to scrub the carpet and totally forgot. We're calling him Stewie, but I keep forgetting his name and calling him "Pup". He does come to Stewie every time, so maybe it is close to whatever his previous name was.

achieve1dream said...

How exciting! Congrats on your new puppy! He's cute!