2.07.2009

Casey: One year later

From casey
One year ago, I was watching the craigslist listings like a hawk, looking for an Australian Shepherd, Aussie-mix, or Golden Retriever to add to our family. Josh and I had talked about it, and we thought we were ready. And then! A beautiful blue merle Aussie puppy! Posted for free! Very few details accompanied the posting, but the picture looked like a roly-poly puppy, and I was in love. I wanted That Dog.

I sent an email after talking to Josh. No reply. I may have even emailed a second time, I don't remember. Still nothing. Alas, it wasn't meant to be. I emailed about a golden retriever, I think, in the meantime. And then! The same Aussie was posted again! Had they not gotten my email? This time there was no asking Josh- I shot an email as quickly as I could. This time, I did get a reply. That Tuesday night, we trekked to downtown Indianapolis, to the little 1-bedroom apartment where then-named Cloud was living with a couple who had no time for him- and no room or yard. He greeted us rambunctiously. I was horrified that they were letting him chew & tug on a knotted sock for a toy, and chase a laser light (which can become a neurotic obsession in dogs of his breed. He's not over it yet.) To add: He wasn't a roly-poly puppy like I thought from the picture- he was just round thanks to being overweight and free-fed a low-quality food. So why did we bring this huge dog home? Because we were there. Because he was gorgeous. And because I kept shooting Josh these longing looks while sitting in the couple's living room.

So, there we were, on our way home. I sat in the backseat with this huge dog in my lap, with only dog food, bowls, collar & leash as supplies. We got home & realized we didn't have a crate for this dog, and didn't trust a strange dog to be free in our house, so we shut him in a bathroom & went out to get him a crate. When we came home, he had scratched and chewed the trim around the door, broke a ceramic toilet brush holder, and scratched the vinyl floor in a couple places. We set up the new crate and discovered he fought tooth & nail to avoid being in it. This began a hugely stressful month, where we were on the verge of getting rid of him just a couple weeks after he joined us.

During the following months, Casey started getting more exercise. We got him eating a better food, one he wasn't allergic to. We started an intense dog obedience class. We finally got him crate-trained, so we could leave the house in peace. He stopped panting all the time, seemed less nervous and high-strung. Eventually, he even would give us peace! He'd go and chew a bone on his own. He wouldn't whine constantly. He finally settled down. He finally realized he was home.

This morning, he has stretched out in a sunbeam, getting up periodically to bring me a toy of his (the count is 4, so far) for me to hold while he chews. He's five to ten pounds lighter than he was when we got him, and has way, way less hair. He's gentle with the kids who give him attention. We have an invisible fence now, and he hasn't broken through it in a long while- so I don't have to walk him in the snow AND he can get all the exercise he needs. He's started howling instead of barking, sending me into giggles every time. Josh and he play tug of war or frisbee, and it makes me smile to see my "boys" enjoying each other. He's a good dog, and part of the family now. The work has been worth it.

We're not done yet! He still greets visitors with way too much "enthusiasm," barking and jumping. For a dachshund or bichon frise, greeting someone with barking and jumping is cute, with our 50 lb furball, it feels threatening to guests. He steals food off the table or counter when we're not watching. He barks at the vacuum cleaner, bikes, and the rolling trash can while they are in motion. He doesn't have manners for a fancy hotel, but when I took him to the clinic of the pet store, the vet commented on how well-trained he is. Basically, he's a normal dog now, and I like having him around. It hasn't been easy, but I'm glad we persevered.

What was your first year of dog-ownership like?

2 comments:

Anonymous Cogitations said...

It certainly sounds like Casey has come a LONG way. It also sounds like Casey couldn't have ended up in a better home. Congrats to the happy family on reaching the one year anniversary. :)

Anonymous said...

Happy 1 year anniversary Joanna, Josh, and Casey! You've done a wonderful job. Dogs can be destructive. We had ones that chewed furniture and pillows, bit Caroline's foot and peed on the floor whenever anyone came in.
It takes a little while to get them trained but when you do they are precious. DL

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