Old Dogs, New Dogs: Good Dogs, True Dogs

Good dogs are the best, even when they leave you defenseless against cats.

Sammy has been with my husband since she was a tiny thing. He taught her to pee on command when she was about 9 weeks old. Of course it was treat-oriented. She still pees when asked even at 12 years old. He taught her to leash walk, shake, hi-five, rollover, and sit. Sammy caught on quickly and grew close to my husband.

But she wasn’t always the perfect angel. When she was young her worst habit was chewing. Favorite target: wires. My husband, being a computer guy, had wires everywhere. It got especially troublesome when she chewed through the Internet modem. So he dipped all the wires he could find in hot sauce. Sammy definitely got a surprise when she went to chew on the rest of them. But it stopped her habit.

Another issue was digging. When she was smaller she could dig some then squeeze out of the holes at the bottom of the fence line. My husband tried to fill them all in, but it seemed Sammy was a little escape artist. But then she got bigger. Sammy tried to squeeze through one of her tried and true holes and only her head fit—she got stuck. She stayed that way until my husband found her. She learned yet another lesson.

He also took Sammy for car rides, hiking adventures, and boating trips. By the time I entered the picture, Sammy was his best friend, sleeping on the bed, pretty much having run of the house. There was one time I came home from teaching a night class and my then-boyfriend had been trying to wait up for me. He ended up falling asleep on the dog bed with Sammy.

Soon I became the “other woman” to her when I moved in, asking that she sleep on the floor so there would be enough room in the bed for me. But I won her over with treats. It’s still that way—I’m not her preferred human, but she knows I give out the best food.

At our current house, it’s much more country than what Sammy had been used to at my husband’s suburban place. When we first moved in he took her for a walk around the property one evening. This was before we had fenced everything in. The sun was setting behind the trees by the time my husband made it to the creek line in the back corner. He and Sammy peered into the darkness.

A set of slit eyes low to the ground opened and peered back at them, probably curious as to what these two creatures were doing.

Sammy, being the ever-obnoxious city dog, started barking, showing how tough she was and this was her territory. The eyes didn’t like that. They rose from the ground and let out a menacing hiss.

And that’s when Sammy bolted and left my husband defenseless in the back property corner. He took off right after the dog. Fortunately, the big cat had most likely already eaten and did not pursue.

Thankfully, Sammy, with her companion Emma, do defend the property against attempted burglaries. So while they may shy away from big cats, they have no problem with stranger danger. And they demand treats practically every time you go outside, especially when groceries are brought home.

And now, we have a new canine to add to the mix: Wesson. He’s a Labradane, a cross between a Labrador and a Great Dane. And at 9 months he’s already bigger than Sammy and Emma. He lopes along like a horse but still has all the playfulness of a puppy.

What’s his story? He’d been taken out of an abusive home when he was 3 months old. He spent a few months at the shelter and grew a lot. Apparently no one wanted to adopt him because his playfulness was seen as too aggressive and was too big a dog for most people’s homes. But when we saw him he did jump around but also was able to focus on us. He even sat and laid down for my husband. Wesson was large but he didn’t use his weight to push us around.

So now he’s part of our crew and gets along great with Sammy and Emma. He is afraid of the cats—Elsa hisses at him and Wesson is like what the heck is that?! Socks is more cautious and watches from a distance. Probably the only downside is his weapon of mass destruction: his tail. This thing is sooo long and whips everything around. It’s constantly whacking our other dogs in the face when he walks excitedly around. As you can imagine, all glass items have been moved up to higher shelves.

Wesson with his incredibly long tail.

Bigger plush dog beds are on order (because Sammy and Emma needed new beds too), along with some larger long-lasting chew snacks. More training is in the future, and for that more treats are called for.

Are your dogs spoiled too?

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