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.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Something new...

 I was convinced Aspen was bored to tears.  I started doing random things with her to break the routine.

Like on some days, I take her to work with me so we can go for a walk on my lunch break.  Other days I come home and let her out to the back yard to run off-leash (she is not a very obedient dog - more headstrong than anything! So she hasn't proven reliable to be off-leash yet).

Yesterday we went for a long hike along the coastal trail here in Anchorage.  She got to sniff about 2.5 miles worth of land, trees, pine cones, etc.  It wasn't a dog-social event, which is where she needs work.  But we all got out, got sunlight, smelled fresh air, stretched our legs... Much needed.

I must confess I miss walking with Pepper, she was the perfect dog on hikes, and very reliable off-leash.  Aspen gave me a work out.  She likes to pull a lot, and I have misplaced her gentle lead, so we were back to the basics; stopping, pulling her back, not going anywhere until she decides to heel.  In the mean time though, my arms were killing me, although as the walk progressed she got the point and stayed relatively close.

I also am working with her because she likes to jump on people to say hi... but with her weight and her nails, it's painful.  So I am teaching her to sit next to you when she wants your affection.  The problem is she'll do it with ME now but not anybody else.  Still working on it.

Otherwise, I have to say Aspen is not a bad dog at all.  She loves the kids; her face lights up when she sees them.  She'll go right up to Anakin and roll on her back, wag her tail, to get some of his attention.  She's housebroken and does not bark much - even her habit of running to the glass door to bark at dogs outside has decreased tremendously (we don't allow her to do that at all, and she's getting the point).

She's learning the doggy rules, although she still looks a little confused.  She's smart enough to where she understands what they are, it's just at times what SHE wants to do seems more important to her than listening to us.  But I understand that we've only been her family for the past 4 months or so.  She wasn't properly socialized as a younger dog, specially a dog of this particular breed (with such a powerful body! She's so small and yet she can bring Paul to the ground if she tried!).  Our upper-hand is in her sweet nature (towards people anyhow), her willingness to learn, and her desire to please.

I talk to her a lot, and give her plenty of affection, as well as everyone in the house, but I have to confess that I don't have as close of a bond with her as I have other dogs in the past.  I also understand that she is a unique and different pet and so our relationship will be unique and I can't compare that to what I had with other dogs.  There was something in Pepper that I connected with, because there were ways I was learning from her... I saw a lot of myself in her, so there was a much stronger emotional bond.  Aspen is more of a pet I'm taking care of, one that I love... not quite my sidekick though, but she's a buddy to the family and that's important to me.  My kids have a closer connection with her than they ever did with Pepper and I'm seeing them express themselves with Aspen... maybe they have that bond now? And so, it doesn't matter much to me that Aspen and I aren't close-knit buddies because the emotional maturity of my 3 children is just as important as well.  If Aspen is a blessing to them, she's a blessing to me!

She is one lucky gal though.  She's in a good home, one that will keep her out of trouble.  If left to her own devices she would be a mess in her people skills and dangerously dog aggressive.  And yet, even though she ACTS like she doesn't like our neighbor dogs when she's inside the house, I've seen her romp and play and be very friendly to these same dogs when we're all in the yard.  But we don't let her just do as she pleases, which may sound harsh to other pet owners... however, we are bearing the weight of a 50 lb animal strong enough to bring a moose down, stubborn as can be, and with an already bad reputation just because of her breed.  We are responsible for her and everything she does.  So it's for her own good that we set the standard so high.

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