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.

black and brown mexi-mutt dog

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

black and white of sproodle
The dog I saw in my dream

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 coloured sproodle dog

Introducing Toffee

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.


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  1. Another awesome post, Karen!! Thanks for the updates on Shylah and your new family member, Toffee. First off- I love the pictures you put on this post. Kermit and Pink Panther immediately caught my eye as soon as I clicked on the link in my email. Wow, that is eerie the similarities between the black and white picture of your dream dog and Toffee – no wonder she turned your head when you saw her. I am glad to hear about all the progress with Shylah. I predict that the longer she is with you the more she will improve. It must take a tremendous amount of reassurance to overcome the trauma of her life in Mexico no knowing where her next meal would come from among other things that scared her on the streets in the night. You should get extra points for persistence as I think most other people would have given up after going through all you did (and still do) with her. If that isn’t love and dedication then I don’t know what is. It is also encouraging to hear about Toffee’s positive effect on Shylah – I am sure they will eventually become best friends – look how long it has taken to improve the human/ dog bond with Shylah…I think you have to give it at least that long for the dogs to bond with each other. 😉
    On a final note, I am with Shylah when it comes to the guy on the Trivago commercial, lol. I have never liked him either. 😀

    1. Thanks, Susan. Just this morning, Toffee and Shylah were having a blast playing together outside. So I think you’re right – eventually, they will bond just as Shylah and I have done.
      I appreciate, as always, your great support and encouragement.

      1. Yay!! Glad to hear they were playing together like that. You’re welcome, supporting and encouraging you is my pleasure. 😀

  2. How wonderful(ly entertaining) that you have two dogs, Karen! Shylah seems to have come a long way already, after your last update. I think two dogs in the household is great, because they influence each other and I’m sure the little one will learn a lot from Toffee, especially if she is well-trained, which you seem to be doing a good job of. Why did you have to bring your Golden puppy back to the breeder? We are currently pet sitting a Golden and it sure is interesting to learn all the quirks of the different breeds!

    1. Hi Liesbet,
      Goldens are known as gentle, easygoing dogs. My golden puppy was anything but. No matter how much work we did with her or how much I tired her out with hours and hours of walking, she was dominant – nipping if we weren’t doing just as she wanted, completely resistant to training of any kind…. the list of problems goes on and on. I’m not one to give up on a dog, especially after I’ve spent a LOT of money purchasing a purebred, but that dog defeated me. I’m so glad to now have Shylah and Toffee – they are indeed very entertaining.

  3. Your post was very entertaining and I was so happy to hear of Shyla’s progress and the joy that Toffee brings! I look forward to the next update.

  4. What you have Karen, is a furry “odd couple”; an extrovert and an introvert. Your pictures were terrific – obviously they are both beautiful and healthy dogs and I’ve no doubt they will bring you much joy and love for many years to come.

  5. Congratulations on the new addition to your family….and on the excellent progress that you’ve helped Shyla to make. I agree that dogs typically learn best from other dogs and that dogs that are shy with people are often not shy with dogs. I look forward to reading continued updates on both Toffee and Shyla!

    1. Thanks, Donna. In just the last couple of days, Shylah has been acting much more ‘doglike’, if that makes any sense. If it continues, I’m really looking forward to the update in five months time. Fingers crossed!

  6. I almost asked you about Shyla in a previous comment so I was thrilled to see this. She’s come a long way. It sounds like Toffee is a great addition and will help bring her out of her shell. Toffee looks just like Max, who is my friend’s rescue.

    1. Thanks, Janis. I appreciate that Shylah was on your mind, and that you are seeing good progress. Although I’m well aware that she is progressing, it really helps to have that comment from someone outside the situation.
      Toffee is indeed a great addition. Max – I like that name too.

  7. Toffee looks like a real cutie pie, and a great addition to your family. I wasn’t aware of the sproodle cross before. Poodles are known for their high intelligence. One of my good friends has two standard poodles.


    1. It seems that absolutely anything can be crossed with a poodle these days. I agree that the sproodle cross is really working here – Toffee is adorable, and as soft as a stuffed toy.

  8. Beautiful dogs. They’re lucky to have you–or perhaps I should say you’re lucky to have each other. We’ve had our Charlie (a King Charles Spaniel) for 12 years now. I couldn’t have asked for a better companion. I didn’t really want a dog, but my husband worked from home and wanted the daytime company. I relented and then fell in love. A match made in heaven.

    1. Hi Christie,
      Thanks so much for commenting! You are absolutely right that Shylah, Toffee and I are lucky to have one another. I’m not surprised that you fell in love with your Charlie, despite your initial reservations. They are such great companions.

  9. Having two Goldendoodles (albeit black), we also have designer dogs. We only intended on getting one and maybe doing a rescue for a second one after the first year. Yeah, right! LOL! Hubby went on a three week trip and came home to #2 (technically a Cadoodle since mom was a Rough Collie and dad was a Goldendoodle). They are three months apart in age and very different in personality. Cooper, the oldest – now just a year, is the goofy one and Murphy is the studious one. But with people, Cooper is the shy, anxious one while Murphy greets everyone.

    BTW, since you rescued your pups, you might enjoy todays blog post.

    1. I did enjoy Guilie’s post and have left a comment, Donna. I’ll also be buying her book, so thanks for letting me know about it.
      I love your dogs’ names. I think I could have imagined their personalities from their names, even without your descriptors.
      Toffee, my Sproodle who is twice as old as Shylah, is the bouncy Tiggerish one, while Shylah is much more reserved and really quite regal. It’s so much fun watching them together.

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