Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Dog Days

We are dog people.

We have, over the years, had quite a few pets, but there has pretty much always always been at least one dog. We also have a parrot, but he is more like a tiny alien who must be appeased than an actual pet.

Over the last year or so, I started to "borrow trouble". Particularly once spring hit, and I realized Bosco, our beloved 90 88 lb. pound puppy, had turned the big 1-0. Everything I have read, about "big dogs not living that long" started to haunt me. Veteran that I am of many pet dogs, I have done the "mourning a deceased pet" thing, and while I was heartbroken and bereaved, would never have considered cloning a pet- Until this big guy.

 He is widely considered to be The Best Dog, even by people who are NOT dog people. He's not an indiscriminate licker, he's not a leg humper, he loves everyone, he has a calm demeanor but loves to play fetch and chase his tail for comedic effect, he responds to commands AND hand signals, he's highly intelligent, he heels automatically when on walks, he eats his vegetables, he plays gently with visiting children. If he has faults, it's that he DOES shed like a Wookie, he doesn't like to be left alone, and he loves to raid the garbage. So we bought a Furminator and a trash can with a lid that closes. Separation anxiety has luckily dissipated over the years.

A few years ago, buying treats at the pet store, I saw a tiny version of Bosco in a cage- she belonged to a rescue organization. Same markings, like a jaunty fluffy tuxedo. She was shivering. She needed a home. Bosco needed someone to keep him company and to play with. And after much begging and pleading and promises that we both knew I didn't intend to keep, Moxie came home with us.

Moxie is a WHOLE different kettle of fish. She is a stereotypical small dog- at least I think she is, she is the only one I have ever had. She came to us with a serious attitude, a dislike of being outside, other dogs, being brushed or generally interfered with in any way, and a kindergartener's sense of waiting until the dire last minute before going out to take care of business. While she tolerated Bosco, she preferred lurking under the bed like Grendel to playing fetch. But Bosco loved her anyway, and we grew to love her too, quirks and all.

After the realization that Bosco was getting older, we finally were back in the house and had access to a large backyard, and I started thinking about how great it would be to get a puppy. I had something specific in mind: more a personality thing than an appearance thing.  And I guess it happened organically: friends invited us over for a BBQ, they happened to have a puppy they needed a home for, and she spent the evening alternating between sleeping on my lap and SG's. A week later, we took her home. I know, we're suckers. 

The first thing we noticed: lots of burping. And farting. For such a dainty little girl, she certainly wasn't shy about bodily functions. And unfortunately, we had named her Sassy, so "Gassy Sassy" wasn't much of a stretch! And she was so....quiet. Almost eerily so. While the vet had given her a clean bill of health, and said she was an "old soul", there was a certain puppy mischievousness that just wasn't there.

She was eating specific puppy food (it came with her) but was much more interested in our dogs' grain-free kibble than her own, so we just stopped putting out the puppy food. After a week or two of gorging, she seems to be slowing down- and somewhat miraculously, the sound effects have all but disappeared too! She's also regained her puppy curiosity and energy and is growing like a weed- she's tripled in size over the last month, and is living up to her name and giving Bosco a run for his money. We try to get them both outside before it gets too hot,  and they spend as much time as they can wrestling and playing tug-o-war in the backyard. Bosco is having a blast, and is very sweet and patient with her. In fact, both dogs love to play with Sassy- it took Moxie awhile to come around, but now all three of them get along. It does my heart good to see it. I know Bosco doesn't have a huge amount of time left, and I am determined to make sure all three of them are as healthy and happy as possible. 

Which brings me to today: the vet visit for the two older dogs. Our new vet was mightily impressed by how healthy they both are.  They have both lost some weight (probably all the wrestling) and are going strong. She specifically mentioned their shiny eyes and coats, and the health of their teeth- How often did we brush their teeth? When I said we don't brush, she was amazed. I guess little dogs in particular are prone to tartar, and neither of them needed any dental work. I honestly didn't realize until I was driving home that it probably has a lot to do with the grain-free diet we feed them. Food for thought!

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