Yes. It’s true. I caved. ::sigh::
The biggest campaigner to add a dog to our family was my eldest, the Dear Girl of 15. The other two girls would pipe in occasionally, but not as excitedly. I think that they were content either way. I played along by researching which dogs would be good for families and older children. I checked local rescues occasionally to see who was available to adopt.
Then 11 days ago, I woke up that lazy Saturday morning and made my coffee. I opened up the computer to see which beaches were open as there were warnings about on the news regarding bacteria counts. As it happened I hadn’t used the computer in a couple of days, and the tabs were all open to different rescue sites. The first one was opened up to Connecticut’s Newington Humane Society. They didn’t have many dogs available but they did have a new 3-male litter of German Shepherd-mix puppies who were just that morning adoptable. The girls saw and told The Mister, and instead of going to the beach that day (which turned out rainy anyway) we went to see the puppies.
There were the three puppies, and two were already meeting with other families. While there, they were being adopted into those families. There were two female puppies, a bit older than the litter we were there to see, who were only just intakes and becoming adoptable immediately.
We were lucky. We got to meet with the third little boy in the litter I found on the site. They had named him Zeppelin. I knew already we would change his name. 😉 He was sweet, energetic, cuddly, and had a great personality. We talked about him as if we already had him in our home. That was it. We needed him.
He was, they said, eight weeks old and had just had his neutering surgery and micro-chipping surgery the day prior and would need to avoid very energetic exertions for a week or so. He was, they said, about ten pounds. TEN POUNDS at eight weeks. He is, they said, a German Shepherd mix. He is beautiful.
I think I see some Labrador Retriever in him, particularly his coloring and shape. It’s really early to tell, though. He’s already exhibiting shepherding behavior. A Shepherd. I always said that if we rescued a dog, it wouldn’t be a German Shepherd. I had bad experiences with a neighbor’s GS when I was child. They let it run loose in the neighborhood, and he wasn’t a very nice or good dog. He was a biter, and mean. Hanzi. I hated Hanzi. I used to have to run away as fast as I could from him into the neighbor’s house or my house. He scared the shit out of me. I hated him.
Anyway, we brought this darling puppy home knowing he’d be a handful. We named him that same day after much thought: Leonardo Thor. We call him Leo.
It’s been nearly two weeks and he’s definitely part of the family. We’re house-training him really well. We have a routine for him that he relies heavily on, and you could run a clock on him. He knows the routines. He’s learning to let us know when he needs to go outside. There’s a lot of Shepherding behavior… he likes to nip and tug on clothing to bring you where he needs you to go. That’s got to stop but it’s instinct.
We’re about to sign him up for puppy kindergarten classes. It’s required as part of the adoption contract. We’re crate training pretty successfully since obtaining the crate this past Friday. Yes, we went almost a week without a crate. The weekend was spent on getting him used to having it around. The serious crate training began Monday, and it’s working. He’s learned it’s his and it’s a nice place to rest. He needs to sleep in it. He eats in it. He sleeps next to it, near it, in the same room as it, but not IN IT.
We’re using a lot of distraction techniques and using the train of thought that all behavior is communication. It’s hard to think that way when he’s hyped up and thinks that nipping, biting, and climbing is fun play and showing love. We’re trying to use yelps and whimpers as a dog would to signal when something hurts.
He’s learned the words and meaning of:
- Leo’s Crate
- Home; Leo, Home
- Heel; Leo Heel
- No, plus the ASL sign for “no”
- Yes, plus the ASL sign for “yes”
- Good Dog
- Good Leo, and the ASL sign for “good”
- Down, Get Down
- Sit, although we’re working on that one, he’s spotty with “sit”
- Where Is It?
- Leo, Come
He loves the grass. LOVES IT. Especially in the morning, when it’s cool and there’s still dew on it. He likes to stick his snout in the grass and inhale, even when he gets dirt in up his nose or ants. Sometimes he’s rewarded with a worm.
He loves cat poop way too much. On walks he actually looks for bird poop on the sidewalk. I think he looks for rocks to eat out of spite.
But those eyes. Oh, and his ears. And he loves his Mommy. He loves to play. He loves walks. He loves face kisses and meeting new friends. EVERYONE is his friend. The cats are his friends, but they’re still getting used to him. They won’t admit they like him yet. They’re at the curious stage except for the barking. It’s loud, and is presently making them nervous.
What’s funny in regard to the cats is that Leo likes to “chase” them because they run. That’s playing to him. When they’re sitting in front of him, he wants to play with them. So. Very. Badly. He lays down prostrate in front of them so that they don’t hiss, and he’s barking, play growling, and saying,
“Look! You’re the boss! But I neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed you to play! I looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooove you so much! Pleeeeeease!”
The barking startles them, so they hiss and get puffy, and if he gets too close he barks some more and they take back up. He then play nips and essentially, he tries to herd them into playing with him. They take off in a cloud of puffy cat tails and puffy body armor.
Clearly, Leo didn’t get the memo that you can’t herd cats. Not even the Myth Busters can herd cats. <—- Seriously.
I’m in love with this little boy, it’s true. He’s part of the family, and here to stay. He has, however, proven that I’m a cat person. Cats were far easier to housetrain. And quieter. Easier to play with. Easier all around. Easy to snuggle with. Portable. I’m slowly, slowly, slowly becoming a dog person. But that’s not entirely accurate.
I can clarify.
I’m a Leo person.