The dog situation has changed drastically at our house around the time we merged households. My wife and her ex-husband owned a Chihuahua and a Vizsla, both about 5 years old. The Chihuahua was really my wife’s and he owned the Vizsla. If you aren’t familiar with the Vizsla breed, they all look about the same: Red short hair, red nose, red everything. They are a Hungarian pheasant hunting dog. And a bit energetic. Our household owned a border collie and a mutt puppy. I had gotten the Border collie as a puppy about 6 years ago. The mutt-puppy was a really bad decision, let’s just put it that way.
Within a few months of our separation, we had given away both of our dogs. The mutt was a handful and since he didn’t end up getting trained at all, also very costly (think chewed up retainers, toys, beds, etc.). For the first time I finally set my foot down and found a young energetic couple that wanted nothing more than to have a dog to do things with, and got rid of him. I hated giving up a pet and adding more disruption and change to the kids’ lives (they still talk about him, but of course have a pretty skewed memory of the wake of his disasters), but knew I couldn’t take on one more thing to be responsible for.
At the same time, my beloved yet I-could-strangle-him border collie got himself into some hot water by letting his territorial behavior get the best of him. He bit someone (let’s just say he has excellent judgment) over the fence, and was “convicted” by the city as a vicious animal. We could keep him but only under extreme conditions that I had no way or energy to pursue. Thankfully at the 11th hour we found a friend that not only lived outside city limits, but had been praying for the right dog to come along. We brought him out to her place to meet her and her Great Dane, and she instantly knew she would keep him. He now lives in the lap of luxury, is doted on, has lots of room, and very few mailmen or creepy guys to deal with.
The Chihuahua was a package deal when my wife came to live with us. I love this little guy but never in a million years imagined I’d have a small dog to call our own! What we do for love, right!? J The little dog did so-so with such a huge change (going from a house of 2 adults and a baby that hadn’t really started moving yet) to a busy home of 7 with kids in his face all day. It was challenging because he could walk under the picket fence, had some accidents, and while he’s a rock star compared with many of his breed, he didn’t really appreciate the kids doting-to-the-point-of-harassment. He was also getting too many table scraps which led to some tummy scares. So after a few months my wife’s mom agreed to take him. We get to see him occasionally and he’s also quite doted on. I wish for my wife’s sake we could take him back someday but the kids will have to be a bit older.
Which brings me to Ruiari, the Vizsla hunting dog. When our ex-husbands moved to their house around the corner from us, swapping kids and dogs became quite easy. My ex-husband-in-law (EHIL) works a 24/48 shift, so we gladly agreed to take his dog when he was on shift or when he goes away. What we didn’t expect, however, was that this Vizsla would love the noisy kid home so much! Vizslas are also called “leaning dogs”. They are the kind of dog that cannot get enough attention. A medium sized dog, they will gladly sit in anyone’s lap they can find. They lean into your leg when you stand, and follow you everywhere. After a few weeks we noticed that this hyper, energetic dog was chilling out. He was in heaven! The more the kids pester and dote on him, the happier he is. Think, “Someone is pulling my ears! This is amazing!” kind of doggy thoughts. (“So many crumbs under the table and sticky faces at my level to lick!”) He started sleeping on #2’s bed at night. (He’s also the kind of dog that likes to scoot under the covers and lay on you all night). He tried sleeping with #1 for a while but one morning we woke up and our son was on the couch. When asked why, he responded that Ru was hogging the entire bed and every night he wakes up in a ball or on the floor. We asked him why he doesn’t just kick him off. #1 replied, “Uh, because he is sleeping! I wouldn’t want to make him get up, that would be rude!”
Last summer Ru seemed to be the only member of the family a bit torn and out of place at times. You could tell he was unsure where his loyalties lay and we had trouble keeping him in the fence at our house (sometimes because the kids left the gate open), but if he was with us, he wanted to be with his original owner, but if he was there, he felt a pull to our house. He never really ran off beyond the 2 blocks but we got plenty of calls that summer.
This fall and winter he has slowly shifted his loyalties to the kids and now when my EHIL comes to pick him up, it takes a bit of convincing to leave. He slinks around as if he’s thinking, “If I just lay low, maybe he’ll forget me here.” The boys are also very attached and often ask to keep the dog overnight even when his owner is at his house. On the occasional night the kids sleep at their dad’s, the dog doesn’t know what to do with himself. He spends the night pacing and whining. A few weeks ago Ru jumped out of the truck when they got back and just headed over to ours.
While Ru is far from the vision either of us had about owning a dog, we seem to have inadvertently ended up with the perfect dog. He loves kids. He’s quiet. He’s mellowed out since he has kids around. The best part? We have a part time dog! What to do with the dog for weekends away or vacations is not an issue. Driving us crazy? Send him to the other house. We seem to have come to an unspoken agreement that my EHIL still buys the food but I end up picking up most of the dog poop. I tease him a lot about it, too. When we left for a week last month I asked him if he could take care of my dog for me. 😉 Sometimes no matter how hard you try to find or imagine the perfect dog, the perfect dog ends up finding you.