Doesn't he look sweet and innocent?
Don't be fooled!
At age 2, he is a TODDLER.
And here I thought I was comfortably past that period of my parenting life.
We got Dudley from a Lucky Lab Rescue after a local shelter decided we wouldn't be good doggie parents because I work during the day. Never mind that we've already had two dogs who did just fine at home by themselves, and with the babysitter coming in before the school bus, the dog's alone time would actually be less than Henry and Cassie had.
Even though the Petfinder had his location listed as Salem, MA, which is nearby, Dudley was living in a foster home in Indiana. God bless people who can foster. I just can't imagine taking care of a dog and then having to let him leave. I'm having a hard enough thinking about him going to my Mother-in-law's for a week while we go on vacation. Anyway, nearly a month after we agreed to be his new family, Dudley came to us via a truck ride to Connecticut.
I didn't want a puppy. We are not in a good position to be training a puppy, and so getting a dog who had some experience living in a house and understood some basic commands was probably going to be best. From the moment they handed me his leash however, I knew we were going to be in for a ride. This dog is strong. And, as an added bonus, not used to walking on a leash. However, after his, uh, pit stop, he hopped into the crate in the back of our car as if he belonged there.
Lucky Lab asked us to buy the crate for the ride. We have not really used a crate with our previous dogs. Henry came with one, but it was too small for a grown Lab. I dutifully went out and spent nearly $200 on a collapsable one that was mostly backpack fabric around a foldable aluminum frame. Once home, the dog ate through the crate within 72 hours. Thankfully, PETCO took it back in return for a large gift card with which to pay for dog food for months to come.
Now the dog hasn't really chewed anything else. He does like to move shoes around, so there is yet another creature in the house determined to keep me from finding a pair of matching shoes for myself and each child every morning. At least when we do find them, the shoes are intact. Dudley seems to know they are not food.
Side note - my sister once had a cat with a sponge fetish. He would steal sponges off the counter and hide them in odd places around the house. If you needed to wash out a dish, you might have to look under the sofa first.
When it comes to real food however, not much stops him. You can't leave anything on the counter unattended for a second. While I was looking the other way, usually to break up an argument between the boys, that dog has absconded with:
- A newly made sandwich
- A box of uncooked pasta
- The top crust of a yet to-be-baked blueberry pie
- And much more
I want to be mad at the dog, but most of the time I'm just kicking myself for having left the room and left the food there so invitingly. That dog is quick!
Apparently his foster family allowed him to think that dogs belong on the furnture. He has his own bed, but much prefers ours. Or, if there's are are people actually in the bed we will sometimes wake up to find the dog sleeping atop the trunk that sits at the foot of our bed. That can't be comfortable. In the last few days he has figured out that if he gets up on the bench in the mudroom, he is better positioned to watch for the school bus. Awww!
The challenging thing about a rescue dog, is that you often have no idea of his background before he got to his foster home. And, sometimes, I'm finding, you'd prefer not to know. Piper and I have figured out that much of Dudley's behavior is based in fear. It's why he wants to be close to the adults in the house at all times and why he barks like a hound from hell.
Um, yeah. We can't have people over anymore. Not that we had a lot of visitors in the first place, but oh, boy Dudley doesn't want anyone new in his house. Putting him upstairs while the guests come in and letting him out while they are here seems to work just fine, but if we forget that step, Dudley goes into full guard dog mode and the guests go into panic. Not. Good.
So we need to find a doggie shrink trainer who can help us with that. Because as the kids get older, they are going to want to have more friends over. The boys were quite the handful as toddlers, but they were never biters. I don't really want to have one now.
Thankfully, the vet says that at age two, he's still young enough to be trained.
After having kids, it's easy to forget that having a dog is still work. But Dudley is getting us all out walking more than we had been and it's been great having him play out in the yard with us.
He's made himself right at home.