I'm not Dog-gone mad anymore...

I adopted Aspen, our 2 yr old Staffordshire Terrier who joined us this winter, because she's done with having puppies and I'm done with having kids (so at least we have a connection).... I also got Sherlock, my 18 week Cardigan Welsh Corgi, to have a fresh start in pet ownership and hopefully accomplish all those dreams of dog agility and dog shows that are unfulfilled. And Leo the obnoxious cat comes to dinner every once in a while.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

New Breath, New Blog

I had to close down "Dog-Gone Mad" because it was about Pepper. And Pepper passed away. It didn't feel right writing about another dog when I had blogged for a year about her.

I was missing Pepper, and reading over the blog, and seeing how many "lessons" or "moral to the story" there was weaved through out my experience with her. She taught me so much about courage and submission (and what happens when we don't!).

And as I type there is a 50 lbs little Staffie snoring away happily between my kids, and I realize how much she needs my love and attention. And I thought that I needed to build a relationship with her, to put my efforts into making her the best dog she could be. She has the temperament of a therapy dog - she loves everyone! And all she wants to do is cuddle on your lap.

Aspen doesn't even know how to play with toys. But she knows how to give you dog kisses and lay on you, which is good enough from her. Aspen was dropped off at the pound in Wasilla one cold November morning, heavily pregnant. She was pulled from the pound and brought in to the rescue only to find she had this amazing desire to be loved by people. Her foster family reported that she refused to whelp in her box unless they sat beside her and pet her; she would follow them around the house as inconvenient as it was with her huge belly. Eight puppies later (who all coincidentally look just like her - or I'm being blissfully ignorant to the cruelty of backyard breeding) it was plain to tell she wasn't interested in being a Mom; she was craving to be a companion.

I was drawn to her as I read update after update. I could relate; I had three children back-to-back due to ineffective birth control. And while I love my kids, I feel like I was pregnant/nursing from 2005 through 2009. And my life right now is "on hold" because of this call to parenting, but there's so much more about me than the fact that I am a Mom... So many other passions I have besides taking care of my children (and I LOVE my children!). I felt ready to explore these other dynamics to being me this year; my love for dogs, for singing, for helping people, for blogging. I've always wanted to have a therapy dog that could visit abused children or children in foster care and help these children express love and affection where they sometimes have a challenge doing so with other people.

And if there's any dog that could pull that off, it's Aspen!

So we bring her home, and she seldom barks, and is mostly housebroken and crate trained. In fact, Aspen will do whatever you ask her to do with a face that says, "I love you and I'm so thankful I have a home!". All the time. She's not fond of the kennel when there's people that she could be licking, but she still bears that same expression of love and gratitude.

She doesn't know what to do with toys. But she does play with the kids. Right now the game is called, "Tackle with affection!" The kids will jump on her and pet her and give her kisses... then it's her turn! She will pin them down and hold them down with all of her weight and then lick their ears silly, even more so as the kiddos explode with laughter and try to turn their faces away from her. The wrestling match leaves them all exhausted, and they pretty much fall asleep on the spot.

Any progress to be made has been put on hold by this horrible process of moving. Just after we adopted her, we moved from a 1-bedroom unit to a 3-bedroom place. There are boxes EVERYWHERE. We still haven't sorted out where to put everything. Aspen just watched patiently from inside her kennel. But now that there is a trail from the kennel to the front door, and around the kitchen, there are a couple of things on my "to-do" list as it pertains to her:
1.- Obedience training. Hopefully dog school at AK Dog Sports, when finances allow and time opens up. She likes to move around and she's athletic, but I don't know how she would do for agility. We'll see, I guess.
2.- BATH! She needs to be groomed. I was waiting for her to recover from the spay, and that is done.
3.- Canine Good Citizen - important in her defense. Her pitbull face is two out of three strikes against her, but even amidst all the breed misconception you can't deny the argument that a well behaved dog makes.
4.- Therapy certification? One day.
5.- FOOD - I'm feeding her Pepper's left-overs and I'm not sure that's the best diet for her. She gets these awful red stains around her lips, ears, and in the wrinkles and folds of her body. Which is my cue to go grain-free and protein-based, probably with higher quality proteins too.
6.- Dog Day Care. Pepper loved it and I know she would too. She's a little rough, and oddly enough responds aggressively when dogs bigger then her try to play rough with her. But she'll chase our neighbor's sheltie all around the yard. I'm afraid of the bull-dozing effect she'll have if she actually catches up to said sheltie.

And now I'm blogging to keep myself accountable to working on all these things this year and getting involved with her care. As much as it hurts when it's time to let go, I can't enter this relationship half-heartedly. Oh will I ever learn...

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