Never, I repeat NEVER get a smart dog.
Dogs are People Too
We are dog people. They have always been part of our family dynamic and we speak of them and to them like they are human beings. They sleep in our beds, snuggle with us on the couch and we base our lives around their needs. So after our beloved fur baby Cali passed away last February it wasn’t long before my partner was perusing the rescue sites looking for a new four-legged creature to join our clan. And although I felt it was a little early to be diving back into the doggy pool, I understood the gaping hole left behind by our sweet girl and gave my husband carte blanche to find us our next furry, family member figuring it would be months before we found the pooch that would be right for us.
Fast-forward six weeks to us driving to Ogdensburg, New York to pick up a year-old Australian Cattle Dog cross that had been rescued from a high kill shelter in Kentucky. Her picture was gorgeous. She had what looked like the softest, floppy ears and the stunning classic marks of a blue heeler, with a mischievous look in her eyes that spelled F-U-N. How could we not want her to come home with us? And after a whirlwind process applications, references and a home visit, she was about to be all ours. We just had to pick her up at the rescue home where she was living and sign the final paperwork.
Should Have Seen the Signs
Furry chaos would be the best description of what we walked into when we went to pick up our girl. We were at the home of two of the most amazing people I have ever met who were and continue to live my dream. Rich and Mary Jo rescue Australian Cattle dogs exclusively and when we were there they had 11 living with them. Some were their forever dogs, but most were awaiting adoption. All of the dogs were lovely, but one in particular stood out. She was a beautiful, wiry, skinny little thing running around the house like a lunatic and biting the other dogs in the butt to initiate play. This was our dog.
And so began our journey into madness.
I Blame My Husband
For those not in the know Australian Cattle Dogs are one of the smartest, stubborn breeds out there. They are working dogs and need to be busy and challenged all the time. They are best suited to people who own a farm or are extremely active and available to interact with them constantly. (Even as I type this, our dog is intermittently biting my feet and whacking me with a dog toy to get my attention and make me play with her.)
If you hadn’t picked up on it from previous posts, we do not own a farm and active would not be a word that would describe our family. “Sloth-like,” yes, but not active. And the constant interaction required by this furry monster is not something anything or anyone could have prepared us for.
Three weeks in after our newest family member had eaten a cell phone, my shoes, two pairs of headphones and had mastered maneuvering out of her kennel I asked my husband how much research he had done on this breed? Apparently not enough.
Everything I am Doing is Wrong
So after two months of chaos and destruction we accepted we were out of our depth and needed help. Everyone in the family was rapidly running out of footwear and my husband and I were actually considering purchasing cattle just to keep our dog busy. So we called a dog whisper to come to our home and to tell us what to do. After watching us interact with our dog for twenty-five minutes she had the answer. I was the problem. Our new pup hated how I interacted with her. “See how she cringes every time you pet her,” our dog expert pointed out, “Australian Cattle Dogs don’t enjoy being touched, especially the females.” Great, we’d adopted a dog who hated people even more then than I did. Super. Now what?
All Crazy All The Time
There was only one option. Lean in and figure shit out. As much as my heart hurt that this bundle of crazy would never be the snuggle bug our previous dogs were, I was and am determined to make the best of whatever life will be like with her and love her for who she is. And yes, that’s easier said then done.
Today alone I have said the following things:
“Underwear is not a snack.”
“Is that my shoe? That better not be my shoe.”
“Why is the dog on top of the bookcase?”
“Well, that will probably cost a lot of money to fix.”
“Oh god, hide that from Dad before he sees what she’s done to it.”
And I wouldn’t change it.
Sure our house now resembles the apocalypse and instead of snuggles I get my feet chomped, but it’s fun and crazy and lively and … actually my mom probably said it best during her latest visit.
“You are all crazy about this dog.”
She’s right. We are. Our dog is crazy and we’re crazy about her.