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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

New Dogs, Other Dogs, and Old Cats

I don't have a lot of experience with dogs. When I was five-years-old, we got our first cat, a big gray male we named Smokey (or Mudie, in Yiddish). I was in college when he died 15 years later. Rather than get a new cat to keep my grandmother company, my parents decided to get her a puppy. My father and I picked out two pups from a large litter of mixed hound-shepherds. They were lively and charming, and my grandmother loved them, even as they grew too large for her to manage. The neighborhood had changed during the years, and the dogs eventually became victims - one poisoned, the other blinded.

Except for a few months in a judgmental apartment complex in New Jersey, I've always had at least one cat. When Karen and I moved to the inland Northwest from Wyoming, we brought three cats with us, and when we moved to our place in Post Falls we inherited my mother-in-law's eight cats, for a total of 11. We also became responsible for Karen's mom's mixed Shepherd, Charley - perhaps the most self-centered dog in the world. Through our local vet, we found a good home for Charley, and the cats dwindled through age and illness. Readers of this blog know that we recently lost three of our six cats to coyotes and that on Sunday we adopted a four- or five-year-old Brittany. During the past couple of days we've found out quite a lot about Pepper, our Brittany, and animal relationships.

Pepper already understood the commands, "Sit," "Down," "Come," and "Stay." But, he complies better on a lead than off.

He's really four legs and a nose. Bred to hunt, Pepper keeps his nose close to the ground as he crosses back and forth along the trail we're on. This evening, he first smelled, then saw, some turkey hens and chicks about 120 yards away.

Big dogs can be dangerous friends. On this morning's walk, down near our spring, a neighbor's Australian Shepherd, Duke, came bounding up along behind us. Duke sniffed Pepper; Pepper sniffed Duke, and everything was fine - until Molly came down the slope followed by Theresa, her tiny owner. Molly was not on a lead, and I wish the enormous Mastiff had been. Molly's a sweet dog, but big, friendly, and clumsy. She rushed in to sniff Pepper, bumping into him; Pepper held his ground. There was no snarling, growling, barking, or biting, but Molly had blood on her nose and mouth, from what I knew had been a brush with a  fence a few days earlier. I pulled Pepper by his collar and Theresa pulled Molly by hers. We eventually got them apart, and Pepper and I continued our walk just as before.

Pepper's a world class digger. After he dug under two different gates this weekend, I drove 18-inch rebar spikes into the ground under the gates; today I saw he'd gotten one-fourth of the way down one set of spikes. I'm hoping the obedience class we're going to tomorrow will help with that.and with Pepper's issues with cats.

The first day here, when he broke out of the back yard, he ran our long-haired black cat up an apple tree. He stayed in two different trees for two days and nights (tonight Pete showed up in the back yard, and we gave him back his garage, where Pepper had spent his first night here). Pepper took a jump at Geordie, our long-haired tabby, and he's been avoiding Pepper, staying in one of the bedrooms or spending time outside. Pepper tried the same thing with our old tabby, Harry, and received a claw on the nose for his efforts and has stayed clear of Harry since.

Last night was the first night we let Pepper sleep in our bedroom, and he was great, curled up on the rug next to the bed near me. He slept through the night, and was ready for his morning walk. Today, we let him off the lead while in the house. He was pretty good, spending a lot of time with a rawhide dog chew I got at Wal-mart. Since then, I've read on the Internet some horror stories about them. Tomorrow, it's off to PETCO for some Merrick jerky bones and a pet door that we're going to install in our new garage, exiting to a chain link pen we'll build. This is going to be an expensive pooch.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jay,

    I am a volunteer with the group where you adopted Pepper and have been following him online. It Is great that he has such a wonderful home now! I hope your other cats learn not to run away from him. You might want to try agility with him. I have two dogs that I adopted from this group and they love agility. I hope you have lots of fun with him!