Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Old Lady, The Puppy Head, and The New Guy

I realized when I was reviewing my About Me page the other day that I haven't written about losing our sweet Hannah very suddenly and quickly in April. It still hurts. Before this, I was lucky to say I'd never lost a pet. My parents always gave away our pets before they got old. So weird, right? 
My last picture of Hannah.
She was my first adult-life dog. I spent time with our Hannah girl as much as possible in the months before we lost her. Every time I thought to myself, Man, I don't want to take a walk with these dogs, I'd look at her and think too, But what if this is your opportunity for your last walk with Hannah Banana and you didn't do it? I'd grab their leashes and walk 'em both. Morbid? Maybe, but when you've been through big losses in life, I think your brain just naturally goes that way-- the DEATH way-- and that is mostly okay. In that way, I have no regrets that she didn't get enough love from us. 
Our last picture together.
I started talking about her very advanced age six months before we lost her because I wanted to be prepared. She was fifteen and damn, that's an old, full life for a dog. That's how I spoke about it too. "Damn, this dog is old, but look at her! She's still bouncing around and cuddling and being a sweetie! She's had an awesome life." And she did. 

Life post-Hanners was very quiet. Nipsy had never been alone in her whole life with us. She did not know what to do with all of the attention we were trying to slather all over her. She's not a cuddly dog. She's lovable and she'll love on you, but in her own way. This means by licking you or staring at you anxiously until you stop looking at her. It's not her personality to want to be all up in your grill. I tried, but she just looked scared.
I wanted to cry every time I looked at her little, white puppy face. She seemed so lost that I wanted to get her a buddy right away, but it felt too soon. Then we started dabbling with Petfinder-- you know what happens once you start looking at dogs on Petfinder. We went through the application process with a rescue dog organization in town so we could meet a few dogs and when the woman called me to interview me, I started ugly-crying when I talked about how much we loved on our dogs and how we lost Hannah and she was our first dog together. Then she started crying about her first dog that she lost years and years ago. We were both sobbing and through her tears, she said, "Honey, you guys obviously care about your animals. You can see any of our dogs and any time and I hope you adopt one." Aw. The kindness of strangers, let me tell you. I love dog people. 
So. Freakin'. Cute.
We met dogs and they weren't a good fit. Some of the dogs we met were so needy and nervous--my heart went out to them, but I didn't want to pair our sweet anxious dog with a new anxious dog. It took Nipsy years to not shirk away whenever she walked by a car or a boot. Then we met this guy:
Louis, formerly known as "Oscar," formerly known as "Zeus."
We'd been searching for a thirty pound dog around 3 or 4 years old with a gentle demeanor. I got the feeling when, on a whim, we went to meet a 70 pound dog around 1.5 years old on Mother's Day and he put his paw in my lap and pranced around with Nipsy. I was sold. 
Louis' first boat ride. Pure joy. 
It was VERY different getting this little bear housebroken and crate trained compared to housebreaking and crate training the Nipsers. 
I wanna be on you. Never leave me!
He's a gentle giant, but he IS a giant and I had no idea how to train the guy. After our first few weeks, my palms were covered in blisters from hanging onto his leash and getting pulled all over the neighborhood. When I tried to take him into the woods for what I thought would be a walk to burn off some of his puppy energy, this happened:
This story got lots of likes on Facebook. Muah. 
We went to my first ever dog obedience classes, where I learned how NOT to phrase everything to him like a question. I called the teacher my first week in tears because he wasn't listening and she told me to chill out and be patient. After eight weeks, we got it. If we don't practice, I get pulled around the neighborhood, but he's a smart and sweet boy who is eager to please. 
When I say "SIT." instead of "sit?" I get results. 
The best part about Louis is that he and Nipsy behave like a pack. The love is there and even with the crazy age difference of Louis at 2ish and Nipsy at 12ish, they get along like two peas in a pod AND Nipsy is the alpha now. He submits to her and lets her nip at his ears. He keeps Nipsy on her little white paws and I'm glad they've got each other.
He didn't sleep on a bed for his first few weeks, just next to her.
Teaching him about riding on the boat. 
Leaning on Nipsy.
So glad we got this big guy. 

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