Carolyn White : Living the Good Life 4-4-11
April 4, 2011
My husband and I adopted a seven week old, Rottweiler-mix named “Darby” from an animal shelter in January. She’s definitely been a hand full. During her very first night with us, she whined so much in the kennel that Frank got up 16 times (by his count) to take her outside. “She won’t go potty,” he fretted around 2:00 a.m. “Whenever I set her down she just bolts for the door.”
“She probably doesn’t like being confined,” I told him sleepily. “Besides, right now everything is strange to her.”
Cradling her against his shoulder, he mumbled, “Yeah, I’ll bet this has been hard. I’ll take her downstairs to play for a while.” As she started nibbling on his ear, he soothed her, saying, “Poor widdle baby girl, yah yah, you just gotta figure tings out around here, oh yah, you’re such a sweet puppy … OUCH!”
Next morning Darby was wobbling about, investigating, while he watched from an arm chair, bleary-eyed. “This isn’t working. She puddles on the floor the moment I turn my back,” he complained. “Whose idea was it to bring home a baby?”
“Yours,” I responded.
“No, YOU wanted her.” Darby wandered over to his toes and started chewing on them. “OUCH … you little …” He picked her up. “Man, she’s into EVERYTHING!”
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“We’d better get used to it,” I said dryly. “We’ve got another year to go.”
Frank – because he’s home most often – is the one who’s ended up with the lion’s share of responsibility. Whenever he sweeps, she chases the broom, flops down in the dirt piles and then scatters things with her wagging tail. She climbs onto the open door of the dishwasher, snatches utensils, and drags them off. While he’s putting on his boots, she snaps at the laces and as he heads for the door, she grabs ahold of his pant legs. Outdoors, she tries to eat what’s in the feed buckets; chews on tools, axe handles, and bungee cords; and of course, chases the chickens and cats. But John Henry, our silver tabby, has had the funniest interactions with Darby since they’re often inside together.
Right off the bat he gave her a warning whack, but when that proved unsuccessful he leapt onto a footstool, balanced on his tail, and used BOTH front paws- BAPBAPBAPBAPBAP – along either side of her head. “Arrroooof!” She responded, crouching and bouncing clumsily from side to side. Henry then trotted off to squeeze behind the piano. Darby followed at an awkward lope, doing a couple of face-plants along the way. Both disappeared. Henry, after slipping out the other side, deftly spun, crouched and BAP, nailed the puppy once again the instant her muzzle appeared. Backing out the entire way, she reemerged butt-first and resumed the chase. Henry, sideways on tippy toes, teased her into pursuing him towards a kitchen chair, where he jumped onto the seat. Frank’s coat was hanging on the back and after the puppy had stopped to quizzically look around, the cat snaked a paw through the slats and tapped her once again. “Arf arf arf!” she responded in frustration. By that point I was laughing so hard that my sides started to hurt.
To Darby, everything’s a toy, from empty milk jugs to boxes to grocery bags. (She especially enjoys shredding the newspapers and snapping the kindling that Frank uses when starting a fire.) She loves to roll tennis balls, tug at knotted socks, and fetch the stuffed doll that my Oregon friend, Anne, sent as a welcome gift. Weeks went by before she’d grown large enough to get her jaws completely around it, however, and we’ll never forget the day that she finally connected with the squeeze box inside. When that doll started talking the pup bolted across the room like a Thoroughbred, her tail tucked and ears back. Sliding to a stop in the kitchen, she cautiously stalked back towards it while Frank and I practically fell off the couch in hysterics.
It’s taken every moment of our time to raise our Darby and if it weren’t for those funny moments – along with the training books and videos, plus advice from much more experienced owners – I don’t know if we’d be able to do this. Many, many times I’ve come home to find Frank pouring through the chapters while the puppy was asleep on her blankets, recharging energy. “Are you figuring things out?” I teased him one night.
“She’s been a total pain all day,” he replied. “I think we’ve adopted a Rotten Weiler.”
“Wanna take her back?”
Hearing voices, Darby lifted her head, yawned, and looked up at us innocently. “Naw,” we both agreed. “Let’s keep her.”