Tag Archives: the right dog

Tucker – Our Other Puppy

Before we adopted Callie, we had another puppy named Tucker.

I’m about to admit a lot of stuff that I am not proud of, but I think this is a post that is important to share. We talk about getting the right dog, we talk about the dogs that end up in rescues, we write about the dogs we have and the ones we have rescued. But it is difficult for a dog owner, one that cares so deeply about animals, one that rescued her own puppy mill mama and is working hard to introduce her to everything, to retrain her, to admit that they once out-dogged themselves. But it happens. And in our instance, we got lucky.

I should back up to the beginning.

We decided to get a dog, and I had lived with several different bully breeds/mixes and loved them dearly. I previously had a lab too. I was watching Petfinder all the time, but I also did something stupid, I went on Craiglist pets and found an adorable “pit/lab” mix who was 12 wks old. The owners were getting rid of him because he was already too much for them.

It was instant love, and off we went to meet him/get him. img_0142 img_0144 img_0166

 

 

 

 

He’s pretty darn adorable, right?

 

 

 

 

 

Life with Tucker started out fantastic. He was fun, sweet, easy to train. He loved to play in the most entertaining ways. He stole the bottom of the cat tower…

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As Tuck grew, he began to get wild. Puppy wild of course, but intensely so. I became friends with a woman named Erin who has a southern rescue boxer mix named Eos, a tiny chihuahua, and a huge field with a river running alongside it.

We met about 3 days a week and walked in that area where Tucker could run off leash baby-tuck-and-eosand swim in the warmer months. Even after an hour or so of that, he was still wound up.

 

There were several factors my wife and I didn’t consider when we chose a dog. I have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, she works full-time and is more of a cat person than a dog one, although she loves dogs. My fibro began to get worse as the added stress of having Tucker grew, and I kept trying to convince myself that everything was all right. Nobody was really happy. The cats hated him, Tuck wasn’t happy, we were stressed, it was hard.

We began to notice something else, too. When we got Tuck, he had these adorable speckles on his nose. One day my wife looked down at him and said to me, “Where did his speckles go? His nose is just black!” img_0384

I took one long look at his face and said, “No, his speckles have just moved back as he has grown.” Along with his snout. He still had a bully head, but not a lab face, and I realized he had to be part Border Collie. That explained the obnoxious herding behavior. It also helped explain the strong reactivity combined with this anxious need to not react badly. Particularly in a dog that was probably an accidental mix.

Erin – the owner of Eos – and I became very close friends, and she began to fall in love with Tucker. Her whole family did, really.

Jess and I struggled with the reality of life with Tucker, but also what it might do to our daughter if we couldn’t keep him. We also agreed that we were committed to Tucker, no matter what he would never end up in a rescue.

Slowly, over the course of a month or so, Erin and her husband, along with Jess and I began to seriously talk about giving Tucker to them. It started as a joke one day. Erin loves animals and always talks about wanting to run a sanctuary, or perhaps doggie daycare. We joked that Tuck should stay with them half the week and with us the other. Not really that funny, but it was our reality at the time.

Finally, we all agreed that it really would be best if Tucker went to live with them. He would be 5 minutes away from us, we would see him all the time, and he would get to run in the field with another big dog several times a day.

It hurt to admit that I couldn’t do it. That I had out-dogged myself. I failed.

Tucker, however, ended up where he needed to be. His dad is his favorite person on earth, his best friend, he still has two kids to play with, and when I come over, and someone says, “Mommy,” if I’m sitting down, he will still climb in my lap. Tuck loves all three mommies. Like any good bully breed – he has a neverending supply of heart.

Photo credit- Erin Yunger
Photo credit- Erin Yunger
Smiley Boy - Photo credit - Erin Yunger
Smiley Boy – Photo credit – Erin Yunger

 

Biggest stick EVER! - Photo credit - Erin Yunger
Biggest stick EVER! – Photo credit – Erin Yunger

 

 

He’s a much happier dog now.

We would have kept trying, but it would not have been great for anyone. As much as it hurts to admit, I out-dogged myself, and the best thing I ever did for Tucker was give him away.

It took our family almost a year to be ready to even talk about another dog.

 

 

So, one very long post later, I have admitted some things I am definitely not proud of, but are part of a discussion that needs to happen. Even those of us who know a lot about dogs, who have a lot of experience and think they know what they are doing, can get way in over their heads. At least I did.

A Little Bit of History, Part 2

 

gertie-in-color-copyWhen I was 8, my parents adopted an ex-breeder Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Gertrude, who was also 8 years old. The age was important to me as it felt like we grew up together. She was from another home and had been socialized, so she was much more relaxed than Callie.

 

Gertie, as we called her, was my best friend in the world. She was a little girl’s dream dog.

Gertie would let me dress her up in doll clothes and carry her everywhere. She was happy to have the attention and willing to do anything that didn’t involve exercise (she was a bit overweight.)

My father had built a beautiful doll bed that matched mine. She insisted that my parents tucked her in every night when they did so with me. As soon as they left the room, she would get up out of bed and sleep in front of the door, but that didn’t change the routine.

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The bed’s still around, in my daughter’s room at her grandparent’s house, so Callie just HAD to test it out 🙂

When my wife and I started to talk about getting a dog again, she said she wanted to stay small and fluffy. We also wanted to rescue and were ok with a mix. We talked about Papillons, Pomeranians (apparently stuck in the P’s for a little while) before I mentioned Cavaliers. I felt stupid not to have thought of them before.

Before Callie, I had applied to a rescue and was in the process of potentially adopting a Cavalier mix, but when she was cat-tested it was evident she wasn’t the dog for us. Super disappointment on my end.

And then, one day, I searched again in Petfinder and Callie popped up. I wasn’t sure about her at first. Gertie had been a Blenheim, the red and white coloring, and the other Cavalier CVCR had rescued was a Blenheim too. Plus, Callie had serious WOAH eyes in her picture. We could see the whites of her eyes the whole way around. The other dog looked more relaxed to me. But, my wife felt a connection with Callie, she loved her “wooly-bear eyebrows,” serious expression and her beautiful coloring. I really wish I had saved a copy of that picture!

The woman we spoke with at the rescue described “Shannon,” the other dog, as more outgoing, apt to settle in faster, more relaxed and Callie as reserved, a little more hesitant, loving but unsure.

So off we went. Me, doubtful that she would be the right one, my wife less so, but still ready to walk away. And then we met her. Sure, she was terrified in that environment. She hadn’t yet made it to a foster home. She would barely come near us, but when my wife finally managed to coax Callie into letting J pick her up and hold her in her lap, it was over. Callie started to relax a little bit, not much, but a little bit, and we decided we needed her as much as she needed us.

Isn’t that the truth.

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One of my favorite things that Callie loves to do is put my daughter to sleep.

My daughter is 7.5 yrs old, close to the age I was when my parents adopted Gertie, and absolutely in LOVE with Callie.

So both get tucked into bed after stories and my daughter talks or sings to Callie until she falls asleep. I call Callie “Nana” now, as in Peter Pan. Wonderful, beautiful dog 🙂

It’s funny, one of the main reasons we got a dog is because I do better with an anti-anxiety trained pet around. I had been hoping that Callie might be a trained as a therapy dog for me and, in the future, for others. Now it looks like any therapy work she will do will be with children and working with her will be my therapy. 🙂