You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry

July 2011

Our little girl is coming along nicely.  Yes, she’s bull-headed and pushy and choosy with her crate-training.  Yes, she can leap clear over the top of her baby gate and make herself comfortable on the couch.  But she’s sweet and loves to snuggle.  She barrels into closed doors at the right speed and oomph to pop them open so she can investigate the happenings on the other side.  She wags her entire body.

And Zozo is amazing.  He’s patient and kind and ignores the little girl until she needs to be yapped into line.  He shows off his cues and proves to be a great big brother and occassional alpha.

Individually, they’re wonderful.  Together, they’re their own little wolf pack.  It’s delightful.

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We’re excited to introduce MJ to the people and places we love to take Zo.  We call to schedule her for a bath.

“How old is she?”

“Oh, almost 8 months.”

“Weight?”

“32lbs”

“Breed?”

“Catahoula/Pit mix.”

“…Hold on…. (hold muzaq).. I’m sorry, we don’t groom Pits.”

“Oh, but she’s very sweet and has never shown any signs of aggression.  She loves kids-“

“Sorry, no Pit Bulls.”  Click.

This happens with the daycare we like to take Zozo to.  The Yappy Hour.  I begin noticing people avoiding our pink bully as we puppy-lurch down the road (our leash skills could use some work).  MJ doesn’t understand; she just wants to shimmy and play and give kisses.

I find myself shying away from admitting she’s Pit-mixed.  “She’s Catahoula with some kind of American breed– boxer maybe.”  It’s a lie no one falls for.  She may be gloriously speckled, but her snout is all Pit. 

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And I feel like a coward for betraying her heritage.

Gradually, when I call to make plans for spa days, daycare, boarding and training, I start the conversation off with the following phrase:

Do you have breed restrictions?

The question becomes part of our vernacular.  The answer? Unsurprising: can’t, no pit bulls. 

We became one of those families.  We’re young, living in the suburbs.  We have two rescue dogs.  One is a Pit Bull.  Obviously we’re dangerous drug dealers or thugs and criminals, and she’s vicious. 

And that’s when I get mad.

 

 

The Status is Quo

February 2009-December 2009

Now that we’ve completed our three weeks of formal training, the informal portion begins: business-as-usual.  We’re reinforcing the lessons we took away from our time with Olde Towne School for Dogs, and we’re getting better at reading Zo’s cues before he melts down.

We’re not always successful, though.  The following are a couple of examples of our continued failures:

  • We throw a party, and people trickle in starting around 7.  The music’s not loud, the dishwasher isn’t on, and the attendees are a group of people whom Zo has met and loved.  He enjoys the people-food that our guests “sneak” to him, and he’s a champ at making rounds and licking up the crumbs until about 9pm, when something sets him off and he runs down the hallway to our bedroom.  He wedges himself under our bed.  If people want to say hi or bye to him, they have to squat down and peer under the bed.  Many of our guests do this.  He remains there until the last person leaves and the serving-ware is dried.  He’s reluctant to venture down the hall when it’s time for a potty break before bed.  He slinks outside, tail tucked and shoulders lowered, does his business in record time and then bolts back inside.  By the time we’re ready for bed, he’s calmed down enough to hang out on his cot, but his wide eyes and panting let us know that it’s going to be a long, restless and jumpy night for everyone.19777_1337730476256_4112101_n
  • It’s finally occurred to us that we should light up the fireplace in the basement of our rental house.  It’s chilly outside and the air smells like cotton, pine needles and cloves.  A perfect night for pulling up a chair (or rearranging the furniture so the couch is in warming distance to the mantle) to the fire.  I’m upstairs in the kitchen making hot cocoa in a pan, and I’m just about to the add the Bailey’s when Zo comes flying up the stairs, almost not making it around the corner into the hallway and back to his under-the-bed hiding place.  James isn’t too far behind in ascent.  He lit the fireplace, and Zozo got spooked and bolted.  The heat, the smell, the sound– we don’t know.  So, we push the couch back into its carpet-divots, break out a heavy blanket and enjoy our beverages and books sans flame.
  • Zozo has met my father-in-law more times that I can count.  They have spent a lot of time outside with a tennis ball.  And yet every other time he comes over, Zozo submission pees as a greeting and crouches into his crate.  Maybe Zo’ll grow out of it; maybe he won’t.  But I do know we’re buying stock in paper towels and Clorox wipes in case he doesn’t.

On the flipside, some wonderful things happen that make us forget these instances of “what have we done?”  There are absolute moments of joy.

  • We take a vacation and Zo and Athena can’t join us.  Off to camp they go!  “Camp” is my mom’s house. She has a cat of her own, Asparagus (or Gus, for short), who gets along tolerably well with Athena, and Gus doesn’t seem to mind Zo too much, either.  The cats divvy up the sunspots and nap away the week, and Zo hangs out with my mom.  They go on daily walks around the neighborhood, and he gets the hang of someone else taking him on-leash.  New smells, new human friends.  A fenced backyard inhabited by a family of bunnies.  He’s in heaven, as our daily reports… report.  In fact, we’re emailed photo-evidence that he’s having a good time.0     2
  • SNOW.  This dog is meant for cold weather, and for a hot minute we consider moving west to Colorado, he’s SO happy in the snow.  The dream melts away when I remember how much I loathe the cold.  This snow is just a dusting, but we spend hours outside playing, wrestling and chucking a tennis ball. Sure, we have to blow-dry the ice pellets out of his fur when we come inside, but the silliness is worth it.  In fact, Zozo perfects running into the back of my legs to make me fall over in the snow, just so he can lick my cheeks.  Gross? yes.  Hilarious when it’s happening, though.

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  • We take ourselves and Zo out for adventures.  We find local dog parks, Yappy Hours, brunch places that allow dogs on the patio.  We make play dates with friends and their furbabies.  Zozo is great with a rawhide bone under a cafe table.  He’ll sit by a park bench and sniff around and nap while we have coffee with friends.  He’ll run at the park until we force him to take a break.  He loves the ladies- who seem to love him- and he’ll tolerate male strangers if they have a friendly dog of their own.  We’re getting exercise and socialized.  We’re all coming out of our introverted shells.222882_1049956682091_8851_n

 

If this is what having a dog is all about (the goofy personality, the playing, the snuggling, the little kisses on my nose or feet, the daily success at conquering his inner boogeyman), it was more than worth the effort.