Two Dogs are Twice as Much Fun
Yes, you read it right–two dogs. Shylah has lived with us for seven months; you are long overdue an update. Toffee, our newest, has been here for three months; it is past time for introductions.
Shylah Makes Me Dizzy
Overall, Shylah has come a long, long way from the shutdown pup her first 48 hours with us; the terrified of everything pup of her first month, and the runaway pup of months three and four. No more disappearing tricks, freak outs in windstorms, or refusal to make eye contact or accept being petted.
However, while I’m fairly confident with the above claims, there are many specifics that change daily, sometimes hourly. For example, Shylah
- plays with a ball with great enthusiasm sometimes, and steers a wide berth others.
- drank water from a bowl during the day twice, but the rest of the time waits until late at night after the lights are out (she doesn’t like to see the water moving).
- ate twice a day – morning and late afternoon – for two full weeks, then reverted back to once a day, late at night.
- moves around the house most of the time, instead of just from bed to bed. However, she only moves to anxiously follow me.
- uses her nose outside, but is exclusively eyes and ears focused when indoors. She growls at the guy on the Trivago commercial.
Shylah continues to be a highly sensitive year-old pup. She still spends a lot of time darting back and forth, and that can be difficult to manage. Anxious dogs, like anxious people, make me anxious which is not how I want to be. Saying “relax” through gritted teeth isn’t the ideal of calm, confident leadership that I’m trying to provide. But those tough times are, fortunately, the exception. Shylah and I now have a strong dog-human bond and she does her best to follow my lead. I can’t imagine my life without her. However, if the timing had been just slightly different, Shylah wouldn’t be a member of my family.
My Dream Dog
A couple of months after returning Lexi, my golden retriever puppy, to the breeder, I dreamt of a new dog. I don’t usually remember my dreams, but this one was both vivid and surprising. The dog I saw in my dream was smaller, hairier, more poodle-like than I usually prefer. I didn’t even know what breed my dream dog represented so I went hunting for a photo, and found the black and white image I’ve put in the margin.
Months later, I was on a walk with Linda and stared in amazement at my dream dog trotting along beside her.
Linda explained that Toffee was a rescue who was giving a lot of grief to her new owners–controlling the house, sitting in the window barking at everyone and everything that went by, lunging and nipping if she was close enough to make contact. Linda was working with Toffee’s new owners which included taking Toffee for off-leash exercise, something that her people couldn’t provide near their home.
I was on a number of walks that included Toffee, and I noticed and admired her every time. But Toffee wanted nothing to do with me and the rescue site where her new owners found her never did have another dog just like her, so I gave up. Three months later, I found Shylah. And four months after that, through a convoluted sequence of events, Toffee joined our family.
Toffee is a 25 pound sproodle (springer spaniel/poodle cross). That makes her one of those hypoallergenic designer dogs with the expensive grooming fees to match.
However, Toffee is anything but a designer dog in personality. There’s an adorable white strip on her nose and chest that is slowly and permanently changing colour as Toffee spends time splashing in dirty streams and rolling in whatever horrid-smelling stuff she can find in the yard. She is a three-year-old bundle of confident assertiveness, burning off energy by running laps in the meadow, always ready to give chase when she hears a chipmunk chirp.
Toffee is so smart, it’s scary. She will do absolutely anything for a treat, so she’s quite easy to train. Her favourite game is for me to hide a treat under one of three clay flowerpots and tell her to “find it.” Within seconds she taps the correct flowerpot with her paw or, if I’m not quick enough, knocks it over herself. This winter, I’m going to have to make the time to do a lot more trick training with Toffee to keep her brain engaged.
If Toffee were just a highly intelligent bundle of determined energy, she would be exhausting. Fortunately, while she’s indifferent to most people until she decides she wants to meet them, Toffee is strongly attached to her family. She adores belly rubs and, if feeling neglected, will come and tell you she wants your attention through a sequence of moans followed by flopping on her back at your feet. Toffee is a happy-go-lucky dog and we are grateful and happy to have her.
Two Dogs Together–Sort of
Kermit and Pink Panther are the feature image because it has proven impossible to get a good photo of my two dogs together. It’s not that they don’t like each other, in fact I’m pretty sure that they do. Sometimes they play together outside, a chase game that Toffee initiates and Shylah tolerates.
Indoors, Toffee plays with her toys while Shylah looks on bemused. The two dogs sniff each other occasionally. In Toffee’s case, it’s with tail wagging; in Shylah’s, it seems more curiosity than a desire to play.
Still, Toffee enjoys having another dog in the house, and she is definitely helping Shylah come out of her shell. For example, when Toffee wants affection, Shylah comes running, determined to not be left out. And one time when playing “find it!,” Shylah was actually keen to “find” a treat that I’d tossed at my feet.
I’ll write another update at the end of February when Shylah has been with us for a year, and Toffee for eight months. I’m hopeful that by then my two dogs will be best of friends.