Thursday, February 23, 2017


My dear dog, Willow, passed away over a week ago. I raised her from a puppy that could fit into a shoebox, to a 110-pound beauty of a Rottweiler.

I’d barely had time to mourn the loss of my furry child when, on Valentine’s Day, through the help of my friend who works for the NHSPCA, another Rottweiler came into my life.

“We never get Rottweilers!” my friend said excitedly. “And this one is a really beautiful young female that’s friendly with everyone. It has to be fate!”

The dog sounded wonderful. But was I ready for another dog so soon? I didn’t think so. Still, how could I pass up the opportunity to get a purebred dog for one-sixth of the price one would cost if I bought it from a breeder?

What finally convinced me I should check out the Rottie was my other dog, Eden, a Boxer/Rhodesian Ridgeback mix. Eden is only two, and for the year I’ve had her, she’s always wanted another dog to play with. I used to watch her out in the yard as she futilely attempted to encourage Willow to play with her. But Willow was nine, and in Rottweiler years, that’s about 120, because the breed ages faster than most smaller breeds. I figured Eden would love to finally have another dog close to her own age to romp with.

So I made an appointment to go see the Rottie on Valentine’s Day. I was told to bring Eden with me for a “meet and greet” to determine whether or not they would make good housemates. Before we left the house, I gave Eden a pep talk.

“Be sure to be on your best behavior today!” I told her. “You could make or break this adoption. So be really nice to this new dog when we meet her, OK?”

Eden looked at me as if to say, “Blah, blah, blah! That’s all I hear when your lips move.”

The Rottie, whose name was Rosie, was indeed a beautiful dog – solid and muscular with shiny jet-black fur and the typically large Rottweiler head…which was surrounded by one of those cone-shaped Elizabethan collars.

“She was just recently spayed,” I was informed. “You will have to keep an eye on the incision and try to keep her as quiet as possible.”

For me, it was love and first sight. For Eden, it was “Come near me, Fur Face, and I’ll rip out your jugular!”

Rosie liked Eden. She wagged and tried to sniff her. In response, Eden growled and snapped at her. Rosie tried to get near Eden again. Eden bared her teeth at her.

“Call me a pessimist, but this is not going very well,” I thought defeatedly.

A behavior specialist was brought in to assess the dogs’ actions. She told me she thought Eden was uncomfortable with her surroundings more than she was uncomfortable with Rosie. That made sense to me because Eden had been in four different shelters before I adopted her, and here we were…at another shelter. She must have been thinking she was about to be dumped once again.

So after a lot of paperwork and interviews with different SPCA counselors, Eden and I headed home with a giant cage in the back of my car. And in that cage was Rosie, whining incessantly.

The first thing I decided to do was change her name. I wanted to call her something that pertained to what was going on at the time. It had snowed the day before and was going to snow again the next day, so various names ran through my mind, from “Nor’Easter” to “Stormy.” I finally decided I would call her “Winter,” but spell it creatively as “Wynter.”

The first thing I did when I got home was sit down and study Wynter’s paperwork. One section contained a questionnaire that had been filled out by her previous owner. According to her, the dog could do everything but tap dance and cook my breakfast. She said Wynter was obedience trained and knew every basic command from “heel” to “leave it!” She was housebroken, she didn’t chew or climb on furniture, she loved cats, kids and other dogs; she didn’t bark needlessly, she ignored other people and animals when out being walked, she didn’t dig holes, she slept all night…and the list went on. I, I thought smugly, had just adopted the world’s most perfect dog. But I also found myself wondering why on earth her previous owner had put up such an obvious gem for adoption.

Wynter’s first night in my house taught me a valuable lesson…not to believe everything I read.

Within two hours, she had peed 11 times on the rug (my house has all laminate flooring, with the exception of only one 5’ by 7’ rug in the living room).

She rolled a ball underneath my big wing-back chair, so she moved the entire
chair away from the wall to get the ball.  Then she stood and stared unblinkingly at me.

I don’t know which intimidated me more – the fact she had moved a big chair as easily as if it were made of cardboard…or the relentless staring. I began to fear she was picturing me smothered in gravy.  

That first night, I was doing some work on my laptop when Wynter got upset because I wasn’t paying attention to her. She walked over, grabbed the laptop by its cord, ripped it off my lap and flung it onto the floor.

She definitely got my attention.

And then there was Wynter’s fixation with poor Eden. For some reason, Wynter wanted to sit on Eden’s head – about 20 times an hour. Every time I looked over at the two dogs, Eden was flat on the floor and Wynter was sitting on her head.

“Why does Eden allow her to do that?” I complained to my friend Barbara, who happened to call that night. ‘Why doesn’t Eden just bite her and make her get off?”

“Well,” Barbara said very matter-of-factly, “maybe Eden can’t bite her because she is too busy being smothered by a big, hairy butt!”

For some reason, her words struck me funny and I burst out laughing.

Eden, however, finally did decide to fight back – in a totally disastrous way.

The incident began when I decided to get rid of the huge “conehead” collar Wynter was wearing and switch it for a new state-of-the-art collar that works just as well as the cone in preventing dogs from biting at their incisions, but allows them full vision and the ability to move about freely. It’s like a blow-up donut that goes around the dog’s neck. I happened to have one, which had cost me close to $40.  But over the years, I had learned it had been worth every penny, because my previous dogs loved it.

I inflated the collar and put it on Wynter. She was thrilled to be rid of the cone, and I felt better knowing she was more comfortable. She rushed right over to Eden and, as usual, knocked her over and sat on her head. Eden struggled and managed to slip out from underneath the “horse” on top of her.

 And then she bit Wynter…right on the inflatable collar. All I heard was a loud, “hisssssssssss.”  I tried to duct-tape the holes, but the collar also had holes in the liner, so I was left with a $40 pile of rubble.

The first night, as I tried to sleep, Wynter barked for six hours straight. And it was a bark so loud, it practically shook the walls – kind of like the sound the offspring of Godzilla and King Kong would
make (if one of them were a female). The second night, she barked for five hours. I ended up with such dark circles under my eyes, I looked like Tom Brady on game day.

And I don’t think the dog ever had been given a treat, such as a dog biscuit or a chew bone. When I gave them to her, hoping to keep her occupied for a while so I could get some work done, she looked at them as if they had just been beamed down from outer space. She batted them across the floor, She flung them into the air. She rolled on top of them.

And then Eden stole them from her and ate them.

The next night, Wynter decided to jump up on the sofa and sit next to me. I was flattered, but I’ve never allowed any of my dogs to jump on the furniture, so I told her, “no,” then took her by the collar and led her back down to the floor, where I told her to sit (the ONE command she actually does know), and praised her for being on the floor.

This procedure was repeated close to 100 times that night, yet it still didn’t seem to penetrate. The minute I praised Wynter for being on the floor, she jumped right back onto the sofa. I tried every command the owner claimed she had been taught – “Off!”  “Down!” “Leave it!”  If I had been speaking in ancient Egyptian, Wynter couldn’t have been less responsive. She finally got tired of jumping on the sofa…and walked over to the end table and chewed off a corner of it in practically one bite.

The trouble with having an 83-lb. puppy is I can’t lift her. In fact, I can’t make her do much of anything she doesn’t want to do. So after she had run around the house for over two hours without pausing for a breather, I figured I’d take her for a long walk to tire her out. After all, the vet had told me to try to keep her quiet until her spaying incision healed, and there was no way she was going to be quiet unless I somehow could make her relax.

According to her paperwork, Wynter loved walks and didn’t pay attention to other dogs or people she passed while on a leash, so I simply attached a leash to her collar. I have all sorts of other walking devices, left over from my previous dogs – harnesses, non-pull collars, retractable leashes and more – but I figured a simple leash would suffice.

Wynter enjoyed the walk and was great on the leash, so I felt encouraged. Finally, there was something in the report about her that was true! Then a couple walking a Boxer came around the bend and headed toward us. The next thing I knew, I was flat on the ground and Wynter was gleefully jumping all over them and their dog.

“Ohmigod!” the woman called out to me. “Are you all right?”

I felt a stabbing pain in my left knee, but managed to say I was fine. Then I apologized profusely for Wynter jumping on them. When I stood, my knee protested, but I managed to walk over and grab Wynter’s leash and then head back home. Aside from a nasty scrape and a big bruise, my knee was okay.

The next day, I tried a test drive in the car with Wynter. The only time she had been in my car was in a cage in the back seat. So I wanted to see how she acted when not caged. According to the paperwork, she “loved to ride.” 

She eagerly jumped into the back seat, and off we went, but just around the block. My road is lucky if it sees three cars a day, so I thought it would be a good place for the test run. All I can say is it’s a good thing I hadn’t chosen a busier road because I’m pretty sure I would have been the cause of a head-on collision. Within 30 seconds, Wynter had leapt over the seat and was trying to sit on my lap. In the process, she moved the steering wheel to the left, which nearly caused me to have an intimate relationship with a snowbank. Seeing that I couldn’t budge her, I had to drive home with her climbing all over me and sticking her tongue into my ear.

Thankfully, in the week I’ve had Wynter, there have been some small improvements. She sleeps through the night. She hasn’t jumped on the sofa again (but she did grab a throw-pillow that was on it and rip it to shreds while I was in the bathroom). She hasn’t peed in the house for three days.

But she’s still sitting on Eden’s head.    

It has taken me five days to write this because Wynter insists upon constantly dropping her spitty toys onto my keyboard.

I think I’m now beginning to understand why this “perfect” dog was put up for adoption.

Pray for us.

                                                                          #   #   #


No comments:

Post a Comment