“If your second dog was your first dog, you’d only have one dog.”
These words were spoken to me by a veterinarian back when I was working my way through college as an animal care tech at a small animal hospital. His first dog (a rescued greyhound) was, from the way he and his wife spoke of him, an actual saint in dog form. Then they got a second dog. And the proverbial shit hit the fan. Maybe even some non-proverbial shit. I mean, the dog did have some major housebreaking issues if I’m remembering correctly. The point is, I’ve never forgotten these words and they were the first thing on my mind when we started throwing around the idea of getting a sibling for Asha.
As a stray picked up off the streets of Detroit, Asha was no saint. But her behavioral issues were more of the “I want to love people and explore the world, but I’m timid and scared and need you to build trust with me so I know you’ve got my back,” variety. She took to training like nobody’s business and we worked very hard with her. I swear if you look closely enough at her adorably wrinkled forehead during training sessions, you can actually see the little gears grinding and the light bulbs going off. It’s awesome. She’s come so far in a year and it feels great to see her handling life like the lovable, social, confident pup we always suspected she could be!
We decided to get Asha a sibling because she’s a pretty dog selective lady who we figured could benefit from having another dog she likes around all the time. And because we love dogs. And because, according to Section IV, Article III of the Gay Agenda:
It is hereby decreed that all lesbians must house and care for a minimum of two rescue dogs (or cats if you’re frail and/or have commitment issues). Each of these rescue animals must meet at least two of the following criteria: facial/body scarring, amputated limbs or other stark physical limitations (i.e. eye missing), severe medical/dietary/emotional issues, and/or be of a breed that the general public finds scary. Bonus gay points awarded if any of your home’s rescue animals were confiscated by the police during a drug or dog fighting raid. Basically what we are saying is, get pit bulls, ladies. They need you. And it’s Gay Agenda Law.
So our main criteria for a second dog was, “Must like other dogs. And must be liked by Asha.” I’m not 100% sure what it was about Mr. Gomez that absolutely grabbed our attention, but after stumbling across his hang dog face on Petfinder, we were smitten. I talked to his foster mom Stacey at length and got his story. Stacey had personally pulled an emaciated Gomez from a local municipal kill shelter. His life prior to that moment was totally unknown. She helped him put on weight and got him through the agony of heartworm treatment. He was with her for about a year. I’m so glad there are people like Stacey. So is every dog that she’s ever sprung from death row, I’m sure.
Asha and Gomez met for the first time outside a PetSmart. We took our time letting them meet each other, circling and moving in slightly closer every time they calmed a bit. The meeting went off without a hitch and my heart was warmed watching Asha do so well around another dog. I said, “She likes him! I’m sold.” I beamed at the two of them as they calmly lay down next to each other in the busy store. This two dog thing is gonna be a breeze! We can do this!
I had not anticipated some things, however. The first thing I had not anticipated was that I would be acclimating Gomez to our home by myself, as my girlfriend was unexpectedly called out of town for work the very first day he came home. She then ended up on the road for most of the first two weeks we had him, putting her squarely in the “dead beat dad” category as far as I’m concerned. The second thing I hadn’t considered was that Gomez is one of those dogs who is calm and collected in public, but who likes to kick it up a notch (or three) in the privacy of his own home. I expected him to be overly curious and possibly wound up a bit. New home! But I did not expect that he would never stop moving. Ever. Unless it was to grab something that wasn’t his, launch himself onto the couch/bed/table/counter. Oh, okay. This is one of those “high energy” dogs I’ve heard people talk about.
I had also not considered that a dog who had been on exercise restriction for the past several months and who had previously been emaciated in a shelter probably had not walked on a leash much. Or ever. I knew I needed to help him burn off some of his energy, but walking him was insanely difficult. And not fun. Though he seemed to like pulling me down the street just fine. Thankfully, our trainer Tammy hooked us up with a Canny training collar and a waist leash and those two items made it infinitely easier to make headway. Walks are actually starting to get fun!
That’s not to say we haven’t had some maniac moments. After the first huge snow storm, I took him for a walk without thinking about the ice factor. Or the “OMG SNOOOOW!” response that would cause Gomez to seemingly forget everything we’d worked on. With him attached to my waist, he gleefully bounded and ran while I took every opportunity to grab on to stop signs and telephone poles in a feeble attempt to remain upright. Toward the end of our walk, he tricked me into letting my guard down as we traversed an icy parking lot. The next thing I knew, Gomez bolted forward and jerked me off balance. As my arms flailed, I inadvertently waved a (very full and still warm) “waste disposal” bag over my head while saying an assortment of swear words (as one does when they’re about to die). I have no doubt I looked like a crazed mental patient. As soon as I caught up to Gomez, I lurched forward and the waste bag made full contact with the side of his head. And split open. I had just socked my dog in the face with his own shit. I might not be an expert yet, but I know that’s not widely considered a component of reward-based training. I felt horrible.
After we got home, I cleaned poor Gomez’s face and collected myself. “Welp,” I thought, “There’s nowhere to go from here but up, right?” Then I took a deep, measured breath, made myself some tea and wished I had the tolerance to be a hard drinking woman.