Same Circus, Another Monkey

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After 4 years of dragging home every animal I could stuff into my suburban backyard (ducks, chickens, rabbits, cat), and trying to force each one of them into dog-like lap pets (the rabbits were by far the best, but gave me sinus headaches), WE FINALLY GOT A DOG!

I had been holding out on anything dependant on me to let it out to potty when the kids were little and home all day. We relished our freedom to be spontaneous. But now that our lives and schedules are determined by the public school system… eh, what’s one more commitment, really?

Grover is a 15 week old Labrador/American Bulldog mix, that we rescued from the Canine Human Network through Petfinders.org. He came to us house broken, and chew-free. This is my 3rd dog off Petfinders, and I highly recommend them if you are looking for something very specific. For us, we needed low prey drive (please don’t eat my hens and bunnies; the cat is up for grabs), low energy, and low shedding. I don’t need more to clean. But unfortunately, any breed you look at will give you 2 out of the 3 criteria. The AKC is not on my side.

However, if you plug this info into Petfinder, you can get a list of dogs that meet your wish list, while being healthy mixes. I’m all about mixing it up!

So here we all, 4 days deep into doggy ownership and the kids could not be more thrilled! I have never seen 8yr old Girlchild spend so much time off her hiney, and running the puppy up and down the streets of our neighborhood. The young ‘ens have also discovered that Grover does much better on a leash if he has something to chase. Enter 5yr old Manchild as human bait. Cesar Milan would probably not be very proud of us, but I kinda am. Grover never used a leash or collar before we brought him home Sunday night. Now he’s a miniature pro, almost.

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However, not everyone in the Schenanigans Household is taking this new family member in stride. Jax the cone-free kitty is pretty sure he could live without Grover. This actually surprises me, since Jax has no less than 5 doggie friends that walk through the neighborhood on their leashes, and stop to visit him along the way. He goes looking for them at their houses, too! He genuinely likes dogs… outside of his home. Inside is a different matter.

After watching Jax hide under furniture and swipe his claws at Grover as the pup plows by, or sneak up behind him and scratch Grover’s doogy backend, Jax’s opinions became quite clear. This puppy, and it’s desire to chase anything willing to run from him, was not welcome in his kingdom. That’s a bit unfortunate, seeing as how Grover’s here to stay.

The funny thing is, Jax refuses to stay away. He’s almost always found in the same room as the dog, and they both greet me in the mud room when I come home. While Jax doesn’t want Grover here, it’ll be a cold day before he sits back and allows this rescue puppy to sop up all his family’s love and attention! He sticks close, jealous, but close. What a hater.

I’d say Grover’s FAVORITE animal on the property is Girlchild’s best rabbit Cotton. Cotton is one of those rare, world class rabbits who comes when you call him, LOVES to socialize with people, and doesn’t chew cords. Apart from unwrapping a few gifts under the tree before Christmas, and happily digging in the Lego bin, this bunny is a delight to let run through the house from time to time. Which leads us to today…

After the Schenaniganlets had boarded the bus to higher enrichment, and Captain Schenanigans and I were back inside the house, finishing our tepid cups of coffee. Grover came bounding into the kitchen, freshly off the leash from his trek to the bus stop. He took one look at the free range rabbit on my tile floor and could barely contain his enthusiasm. The front half of his wiggly little body bowed low, then popped up and down, while the back half remained high and wagged his flag of happiness. He took a couple sloppy lunges at Cotton to ask to play, and while the pup never used his mouth on critters, Cotton wasn’t sticking around to find that out. He started spinning out his little fluffy paws to safer territory.

While Grover loves to chase, what he loves even more is to BE chased. So when Cotton took off running through the kitchen and towards the hallway, Grover gleefully took off after him. Seeing a chance to attack a distracted enemy and break the Geneva Convention, Jax hopped into the fray and ran with the duo. While Cotton had the head start, Grover had longer legs, and soon jumped OVER the rabbit, and KEPT ON RUNNING. Now we have a scared rabbit, running behind a happy dog, being chaperoned by a spiteful kitty, and they all three hit the intersection of the basement stairs and the kitchen doorway at the same time. That’s when, just out of our view, when the hissing and crying kicked up.

Not being entirely sure what we just witnessed, Captain and I scramble to the top of the basement stairs and take inventory. What we find is confusing. There, having fallen/ran/slid halfway down the staircase is Grover, crying and cowering on the steps,  looking upward for answers. Lording over him at the top of the stairs is Jax, proud, angry, and hissing with vengeance- just because he can. Nowhere to be seen is Cotton, the socially defeated and rarely hiding gray bunny, who just had the start of a very bad day.

Walking out of the kitchen, through the art room, and into the living room, I called for Cotton. He responded by bravely crawling out from under the glider and presenting himself in the middle of the room. What a fluffy little trooper! While unhappy, he is also unhurt. I scoop him up for comfort snuggles and head back to the kitchen.

Captain has since freed the submissive Grover from under the hold of Jax-the-Stair-Master and both animals are timidly loitering in the kitchen. Only one of them looking guilty. Captain and I pause to do a verbal re-cap, and I have to lean against the wall, I am laughing so hard. I still don’t fully understand what Jax’s stake in the whole thing was, if any. Was the cat was concerned about the welfare of his friend the rabbit and jumped in to help (doubtful)? Or was he really just gunning for a chance to take free shots at the otherwise busy Grover (deviously more accurate). I have underestimated this cat for far too long! He is smarter than I gave him credit for.

After that, we sorted everyone out into their “safe spots” for the day, separating cat and dog by wooden doors, and head off for work.  While I never thought the puppy would put his mouth on the bunny (and he didn’t), I did know that rabbits can die of fright, and didn’t want to have to explain to Girlchild that her new puppy killed her rabbit. Esp. since we already had to explain to her that her new cat killed her baby bunny, once in the past. Family additions aren’t mess-free, no matter how you slice the pie. This is doubly true in human relationships!

SOooo for the moment, peace has been restored in our single-level sanctuary. But after you witness your dog, rabbit, and cat running in a three member huddle, you have to beg the question: If three runners are athletes toghether, wouldn’t this qualify that moment as a Triathlon?

Anyway, apart from that very exciting moment, our only complaint so far during doggy ownership is the amount of time our new pup spends sleeping. We literally stand around, waiting for him to wake up so we can train him! He’s fallen asleep during meals, and is practically narcoleptic at any point in the day. I don’t consider us a high octane family, but we must be wearing this puppy out! Or, there’s one other possibility. To paraphrase Cesar Milan, this dog is just acting like his sleep loving owner.

“A dog is a reflection of your energy, of your behavior. You have to ask ‘What am I doing?’ That is the right question to ask”- Cesar Milan

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While I never asked for a high sleep needs puppy, the Lord knew what he was doing when he gave us one. This is my favorite way to bond with my children, too! 🙂

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