Thursday, March 16, 2017

Bringing Prewash the Dog into the Miser home

I guess the first thing I should say is that this isn't a "Saving Money" post.  Getting a dog can be expensive proposition, no question. To wit, even though we found our new dog Prewash at the Humane League, we've still shelled out almost 900 bucks this week alone, and there are clearly more expenses on the horizon.
Prewash cuddling up with N-son.
He and the boys have become good buds.
We already had a lot of the infrastructure ready to go -- we have a dog door and a fenced-in dog run; we have a crate and a variety of leashes and dog bowls.  If Prewash had been our first dog, that would have added to the overall cost.  He's also neutered and came with a bunch (but not all) of his vaccinations.  The expenses so far have been $183 to the Humane League, about $550 to the vet (more on this below) and another $150 on food and training supplies (again, more on that below).  There's a LOT (for me) of driving and gas money, between going to get the dog and the vet trips (plural) and pet store runs.  There are also replacement costs on things the dog destroys and chews up; although so far those have been surprisingly low with this dog.

There's also an "expense" of time.  I am on my college's spring break this week, so I have time to stay home and watch and train the dog.  I knew this week would be an important time of transition, and that flexibility would be important.  It's not that I'm not working -- I am assiduously ticking through a giant checklist of to-do items.  But I don't have scheduled meetings, or classes to teach, or students to see all day long, so I can work around the dog this week.  Next week, that changes.

Prewash had been surrendered to the shelter because he chased cats in his old house.  He's got what people call a strong "prey instinct".  Our first night with the dog had me worried that I hadn't taken the "high-energy" part of his description seriously enough, because he was pretty whacked out, even chasing my feet as though they were squirrels.

But I discovered in a multitude of different ways, we've lucked out with this dog.  For one thing, he crates beautifully.  That is, at night he is content to stay in his crate and sleep with no barking and minimal whining.  That's a HUGE relief.  Seriously.

For another, he's shown an extraordinary restraint in destroying our property.  Our first dog, many years ago, chewed the woodwork on furniture and doors, and I had to paint all our woodwork with chili sauce to get her to stop.  Another pair of dogs destroyed everything in their path, including woodwork, furniture, any objects we left on the floor, and digging up all the grass in their dog run.  And even our recent beloved Miser Dog snacked on my underwear and my husband's expensive bike gloves.  But Prewash, aside from his first two nights here when he was hyper and searching for good toys (and then destroyed two pairs of underwear from the laundry), seems to be content to go for only his pre-approved toys.  He's ignored gloves, books, shoes, and all other human objects.  I'm sort of stunned.  

(But that does explain the second run to the pet store; I really needed to get him toys that will keep him happy).

Just as stunning to me is that he seems to have no desire to run away.  He's mastered the dog door by now (smart dog), and he's even mastered the practice of sitting on top of the dog house, which is right outside our dining room window.  But he hasn't tried to tunnel under the fence or jump over it.  Even when he's with me in the back yard, he doesn't seem to want to leave the yard.  What dog doesn't bolt when the back door opens?  I don't know why he's different, but I'm not going to question my good luck.
Prewash sitting on the roof of his dog house,
outside our dining room window.
I've learned a bit of humility working with this dog -- I seem to be under-endowed with humility, so I can always use an extra dose.  When I was a kid, my neighbors used to pay me to help train their dogs, and I've had many dogs before, so I thought I knew what I was doing.  This week, I've been learning about clicker training, about exhausting exercise, about special dog toys, and about teaching a headstrong dog to walk on the leash.   He is indeed high energy, and I've gratefully soaked up advice from my oldest step-daughter (who deals with rescue dogs) and scoured the internet for training videos. We've come a long way already, both Prewash and me.

What else?  Oh, the health issues.  We're currently treating Prewash for allergies, including a yucky yeasty ear infection.  After the snow storm on Tuesday, he started limping, and on Wednesday the vet said that he's got a scary inflammation in his knee, for which he's taking steroidal anti-inflammatories and some pain meds.  It might be ligament damage, but we won't know until the knee inflammation goes down.  We're supposed to not let him run too much -- which is challenging, because he really is a high energy dog.  And last night, he started developing diarrhea -- so we're likely to go back to the vet for the third time today.  Oog.  

Prewash imitating a carpet.
Update: Probably this is TMI, but a pair of underwear and bits of a tennis ball just made it entirely all the way through his digestive tract.  Having those objects on the outside again might help to clear up the latest messy issues he's been suffering through.
But if we can get these health issues sorted out, I'm getting more and more optimistic about the future.  It does seem like the longer he's here, the calmer Prewash gets.  (I was really worried that the longer he'd be here, the bolder and naughtier he'd try to be, so the trend is encouraging).  Giving him a good walk in the morning and evening does seem to help a lot.  For example, I got much less nervous about heading back into the office next week when he spent much of the day yesterday imitating a carpet while I did my committee paperwork on the bed next to him.  In fact, he fell asleep while the vets were examining him -- so he can be high energy, but he can also totally nail the "relax" side, too.  Phew.  

Meanwhile, I'm getting in two or more outdoor walks each day that I wouldn't have had without him, and we've made great progress on walking without pulling (although we'll have to keep working at that).  Prewash seems to become more and more attached and devoted to me, and he seems to be getting more and more comfortable in the home.  And the boys seem to love being with him and being part of his training.  So we're off to a good start!

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