Monday, December 15, 2008

Holly Comes Home: Meet Ben

The first thing we did when we got home was give Holly a bath. She was pound smelly. That pungent urine/feces/wet dog smell. The Wife got her into the shower, and I started explaining her presence to Ben.

After the shower and drying time, we let Holly explore. Ben stood at the top of the stairs and growled, and Holly pranced happily to and fro at the bottom of the steps. Then it dawned on me, this dog had never seen stairs before!

My suspicion was confirmed when I tried to get her to follow me up the stairs. It was like she was learning to walk. Wobbly legs, tail between the back two. She came up a couple of steps, then turned back. Finally she mustered the courage and stumbled up the stairs. She was supremely happy with herself, wagging her tail so hard that her whole hind end swayed. Ben stood in the foyer, growling. But Holly was not dismayed.

I tried to get her up the second flight to the living room, but instead she went up and down the lower flight a few times, showing off her new skill. Finally she came up to the main level and started checking things out.

After an initial sniff around, she and the Boyo began their games. Their favorite two are tug of war and RUN! The first is done with a six inch rope tied in knots on the end and frayed (all the better to floss with) RUN! is played by simply running everywhere and anywhere, the Boyo laughing with unrestrained joy, Holly the Puppy prancing along behind or going in front, puppy paws a whirl.

For three hours they played. Amazingly, the dog ran out of steam first! She stretched out on the living room rug, panting and happy. The Boyo sat beside her at first, then stretched out next to her. She rolled over and slumped into him. It was quite charming.

Holly is five months old, but already in the day and a half she's been here, she has demonstrated a great kinship with our pack. She is calm when she needs to be, hyper when she needs to be, plays well with the kiddos, keeps trying to woo Ben over. She is curled up at my feet right now, fast asleep with her head on my foot. When we change Sweet Pea, Holly comes in and lies by the crib, alert and curious, but not hyper. The Wife and I both think she could easily be a cross between Rascal and Shoba, similar features of each in her. But we were surprised to find characteristics of both of those dogs in Holly as well. The way she stretches out. The way she acts around us. The gentle nature. The look in her eyes. A day and a half, and she is well received by the pack... generally.

Ben still growls and snarls if she gets too close. But then he's always been a bit skittish around others. Dogs, cats, humans... doesn't matter. I'm really the only one Ben will spend any time with. He'll obey the Wife when she calls. Doesn't mind the scratching and attention, but goes back to his spots when she's done. He'll curl up next to me though, and although his snarling and growling can get quite fierce sounding, I am certain he would never bite me. He doesn't like the vet, doesn't like other dogs much, doesn't like how fast and loud the Boyo can be. He self selects his company, and generally prefers to be alone on his bed, or curled up near me.

So when Holly comes around, he'll get really growly and I'll stick my hand in his snarling mouth. This quiets him, as he is realizing that I'm calling his bluff! We're going to be working on socialization with him for a time I think. At least until he tolerates her like he did with Shoba and Rascal. He's going to take some time though.

When Holly met Emma the Cat, she went into a play stance and wagged her tail. Emma hissed once and just stood there and stared. Holly bounced a bit. Emma stared. Holly cocked her head questioningly and her tail slowed down. Emma stared. Holly stood up and looked back at us with a puzzled stare as if to say "Is she for real?" Emma stared. Then Emma walked downstairs regally. And so they now ignore each other.

Well. At least Holly is fitting in with the humans well. She's an easily trainable dog. Today we played fetch with the rope. She can 'go get it' and 'bring it back' and 'drop it' on command. We still have her on the leash for going potty, but tonight after I let her back in, I went back to get Ben and she bolted. As she dashed out into the yard, me following behind trying to catch her, I remembered the words I had been telling the Boyo all day long.

"If you want her to come to you, don't chase her! She just thinks that's a game. Call her and run away from her, and she'll catch YOU!"

Sure enough, when I stopped, called her name and headed for the door, she was quick on my heels and ready to go back inside. She's going to be an outstanding dog. We are going to bring out those Shoba/Rascal-esque traits that we loved so much, and train her to more commands. I think she'll fit in just fine!

More Later


Sharon said...

I think she has definitely found her family!

shaffersouth said...

Congratulations on the new pack member!