I Have Dog Healthy Cruelty-Free Living
His name is Frodo and he’s an English Setter, Australian Shepherd mix, but we’ve also heard Border Collie and Great Pyrenees. He’s also had a lot of names, but we have chosen to call him Frodo and this is his next big adventure.
Frodo is one-and-a-half years old and was dropped off at the shelter about a month ago. He was shy and cowering in the corner, so a loving rescue group, Fuzzy Pawz Rescue, picked him up and placed him in a foster home. After three weeks in the foster home, in which they got to learn his temperament and allow him to heal from the shelter and his previous life, they listed him for adoption.
Two days before Frodo was listed, I had a dream about another dog that this rescue group was trying to find a “furr-ever” home for. In my dream, our three cats had escaped from our home and were approached by a bear that had gotten loose and was running around our backyard. This dog jumped in and saved our cats. I knew him by name and face. The next day I contacted Fuzzy Pawz and asked if I could adopt this particular dog. That evening I got the news that his foster parents, who had been fostering him for eight months, couldn’t bear to live without him, so he was no longer up for adoption. It was bittersweet and the only type of ending beginning that could have been possible for this loving boy. I cried, but I knew it was the right thing. Since this dog appeared in a dream, I didn’t go looking for a different dog. I accepted that it wasn’t meant to be and tried to move on, but my heart wanted a dog. Two days later, Frodo’s picture appeared on my facebook feed. I stared at it and read the description: GOOD WITH CATS stood out above everything else. I emailed the rescue and that evening, it was a Tuesday, I received a phone call about Frodo. We set a date to meet him on Saturday.
Saturday morning, I was in jitters. I grew up around dogs and I have friends whose dogs call me Auntie, but I have never had a dog in my adult life. This would be our first as a family. I was also nervous because what if he isn’t good with cats? What if he wants to chase them? At 9am, Frodo and his foster mom approached our screened front door. All three kitties sat and stared at them. Not a one budged. After about three minutes of staring and sniffing through the door, we opened it and let Frodo in. He approached slowly, unsure of entering a strange house, especially with three kitties with bright eyes staring him down! We led him up the staircase and the cats just sat and watched. Even Bandit, our only male cat who runs from anyone who comes to the door stayed put. We were impressed!
We showed Frodo around the house and let him sniff the cat toys. He checked out our backyard and noticed immediately that we have an abundance of squirrel friends. We pet him, he sniffed us, he walked around, and we watched him. The cats kept staring from a distance. 45 minutes later, he and his foster mom left and we went on with our day.
That Sunday, I received a phone call asking if the foster mom and one of the rescue representatives could come over for another house visit if we were still interested in adopting Frodo. YES! We were definitely still interested. That Tuesday, they arrived. We had just heated up dinner, so we set it aside and re-did the cat introductions. We let him wander the house a bit, run around the backyard, and we answered questions about how we planned to take care of a dog. What would we do with him while we were at work? How would we try to integrate him with our cats? Are we ready for this type of big commitment? After talking, answering questions, and asking questions of our own, all while Frodo loved all over his foster mom (as if he knew they were saying goodbye), the ladies stood up, shook our hands and said “He’s yours. Have a wonderful evening.” They walked out and Frodo watched from the window. Gene and I looked at each other and I said, “Well, are you hungry? Dinner’s getting cold.”
We had just adopted a dog and he was going to live with us for the rest of his life. After eating dinner, while Frodo sat and watched us, we took him to the pet store and picked out a bed, dog food, toys, brushes, etc, etc, etc. We were all so nervous. He wasn’t sure about us and we had just been thrown headfirst into dog ownership. Luckily, we had done our research and knew exactly what we wanted to buy (we did a lot of window-shopping on Saturday and made a list, because we’re crazy-anal like that). We let him test out the beds at the store and he picked his favorite. Then we let him pick out a couple of toys, he got a treat from the nice girl at the counter, and we headed home.
That first night was a doozy. We brought home a squeaker toy that Frodo immediately went to town on. That thing squawked and squeaked and he tore it to pieces. The cats watched on in shock. “What the hell is that thing and why is it making so much noise?!?!” They were not impressed. While Frodo set to work on removing the squeaks from his new toy, we set to work putting his kennel and bed together. We played with each other and much love was shared. When the night came to a close, we took him out to potty then put him to bed.
None of us could sleep. I stayed up listening to every little sound that came from that kennel, worrying that something might go wrong. Is he okay? Does he have to potty again? Are the cats terrorizing him while he’s stuck behind bars? Did we feed him enough? Are we sure we saw him go potty? He whined a bit and the first time he did I let him out and took him outside. He didn’t have to go, so I put him back to bed and attempted to fall asleep… again. He whined about an hour later, but we stayed in bed. If I remembered one thing from my childhood of having dogs it is that you can’t give in. They’ll learn that with every little whine you’ll come to their rescue, and we just couldn’t start off that way. That also meant that we got very little sleep. But we were all off on a new adventure and sleep would eventually come, right?
The next morning, I arose earlier than usual. Took the dog out to potty, fed him breakfast, then got myself ready for work. The husband and I took him for an early morning walk the first time in our 14 year relationship that we’ve ever gone for a walk before work. The three of us enjoyed the fresh morning air, the sunrise, and the sound of squirrels in the neighborhood trees. It was a new start for Frodo and for our family.
We had to continue as normal, so we went to work I actually got to work early and lived our day the way we always do. Gene went home for lunch, as he gets to do every day, and said that Frodo was fantastic at lunch time and listened to him when it was time to go back in his kennel. After work, we took Frodo for his first hike and he loved it. We loved it. Everything was magical. Until that evening when he puked up what looked to be a week’s worth of food. I’m sure that it wasn’t, but after living with cats for the last 14 years, the puke I’m used to is petite and easy to clean. Without going into too much detail, the puke from a large dog is large. Once I cleaned it up I looked at the clock. 24 hours sure goes by quickly. And with that we settled into a routine of living with a dog.
At the time of writing this blog post, we have had Frodo for two-and-a-half weeks. We go for a walk every morning before work. We call it “Squirrel Patrol.” Frodo is very proud of his squirrel patrol walks someone has to keep the neighborhood safe. Everyday after work, we either go for a hike or run around the neighborhood. On the weekends, we take him to the elementary school down the street and let him catch the frisbee or tennis ball. We are wearing this boy out! I’m pretty sure that this is the most exercise he’s ever received. We’ve been on two doggie-play-dates with our friends. He did great hiking with a female border collie named Piper, then he did exceptionally well hiking with a pit bull named Tobey and his brother Duke, a german shepherd. Frodo does like to growl at other dogs, so these two dates have helped him tremendously as we work to make him feel safe and secure with us as his parents and pack leaders.
Three Cats on a Cat House Stella, Ashy, Bandit
The cats are finally starting to come out of hiding. At first they would congregate downstairs, because Frodo was terrified of going downstairs. They would hang out on the couch or in the windows and we were feeding them in this little safe haven. Eventually, we moved their food back into the kitchen and Frodo, all of a sudden, decided that the downstairs dungeon was actually a nice place to be. Once he discovered that, the cats no longer had a “haven.” They HAD to come upstairs and be social with the dog. And eat. Now, they enjoy walking around and watching him as he plays loudly with his toys. They’re not afraid to swipe at him if he gets too close and they’ve even taken to drinking from HIS water dish. It’s only fair. He likes drinking from theirs.
As we continue to work with Frodo and the cats and reassure everyone that they are all loved equally and that no one is going to hurt them, we as a family are finding our new normal. The cats like our consistent wake-up time (no sleeping in on the weekends any more) and Frodo is liking having a family that loves him. Frodo’s past had potential, but his former owner walked down a path of self-destruction and Frodo ended up receiving the abuse from that relationship. From his reactions to us, we can tell that he’s been abused. He is having a difficult time accepting Gene and I was immediately thrown into the role of “person he needs to please.” We’re working to correct this behavior and allow him to trust that Gene will never hurt him or lay a hand on him. He is teaching us how to be calm and in control, which is altering our lives at work and how we deal with people. This new life is the best thing that could have happened to all of us. The cats are proving that they can accept a new family member; Frodo is in a peaceful and loving home; and Gene and I are growing as people and learning what it means to be the peace and love that our family and lives need.
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