Having Three Dogs at Home
The past few Saturdays, I’ve talked about the dogs who have shared my life. With the deaths of Major and Rocky, Digger had the house and yard to himself. Kevin had repeatedly said “No more dogs!” So imagine my surprise when he asked if I’d found any MinPins available at nearby shelters. I immediately looked online, and found a small dog that looked like a MinPin at a private shelter in Polson, Montana, about 60 miles away. I showed the picture to Kevin, and he suggested we go look at the dog. The long and the short is that with that trip to Polson, we went from one dog to having three dogs at home.
The shelter’s website showed two dogs that I found of interest. One was a red and white Chihuahua cross named Rebel. The second looked more like a MinPin, but was definitely also a Chihuahua cross. His went by the name Simon. I called the Shelter to ask if we could see Rebel and Simon that day. (It was a Sunday, and we are supposed to be “sheltering at home,” so I thought it best to call before we made the trip. We told the Shelter owner that we would see her around 1 p.m.
Meeting Rebel and Simon
It didn’t take us as long to get to Polson as we had planned, and we arrived half an hour early. Pulling into the driveway, we saw a man doing lawn work, but no one else around. We parked the truck, got out, and waited. OK, we were half an hour early, but I would have thought that someone would have noticed us drive up. Finally, the man said “She’s around somewhere,” and went into the house looking for her. I don’t know what he said, but still we waited. There were a few dogs out in play pens, and one separate pen had six puppies climbing all over each other. But while I thought I recognized Simon, I didn’t see any dog that looked like Rebel.
Finally, the shelter owner came out and said “You’re here to see Rebel and Simon?” We assured her yes, and she said, “Just a minute.” When she returned, she had a young red and white Chihuahua cross with her. She handed me the leash and said “Why don’t you walk around with him.” Easier said that done. Obviously, Rebel had never before seen a leash. He planted his feet and refused to walk. I picked him up and carried him around for a while, then handed the leash to Kevin. Rebel wouldn’t walk for Kevin, either.
The woman returned with another dog on a leash. “This is Simon,” she said. Simon had had more training than Rebel, and had no trouble with the leash whatsoever. We spent some time with both dogs. And we introduced Digger to them. With three of us living at home, before we added anyone else, all three had to agree. Digger had no problem with either dog, so we lifted them up and put them on the truck’s back seat. “Do you want both dogs?” the woman asked. I wasn’t prepared to take two dogs home, meaning that we would now have three dogs at home.
“I’ll give you some time to talk it over,” the woman added, leaving us alone again. Kevin looked at me. I looked at him. “What do you want to do?” Kevin asked. I told him that I couldn’t make the decision because looking around, had I the resources, I would take every dog we saw–even the Husky. Much to my surprise, Kevin said he wanted to take both dogs. So we did. After filling in and signing all the paperwork, we left with three dogs in the truck and a hour later we would have three dogs at home.
Living with Three Dogs (and a Cat)
Having all three dogs at home was a learning experience for all of us. We had never introduced more than one dog at a time. Nor had we ever introduced puppies to an older dog. We had never had an unsocialized dog. Then there was the cat. We did not know how the dog-cat dynamic would play out. The dogs made themselves at home very quickly. We have a large, fenced yard, so we could let the dogs out and not worry. We did close and latch all the gates.
The first problem showed up that evening. We have neighbors who often come for supper or just to chat. When Jean and Terry came into the house, Rebel would not shut up. We ended up closing him in the master bedroom just so we could hear each other talk. He was becoming a Chihuahua-shaped Tasmanian Devil. Simon, on the other hand, welcomed our guests and even climbed into Terry’s lap. Jean and Terry have been back twice since that initial visit, and the red dog will not stop barking at them. We have to shut him outside or in another room.
Even at the shelter, we started calling Rebel “Red” because of the color of his coat. Once we saw how he behaved with company, we renamed him “Taz.” Now we had to convince him of that. Actually, it’s not hard to rename a shelter dog. Often, the shelter itself has already renamed a dog. When we got Digger from the local shelter, the shelter called him “Grover.”
He never answered to that name, and as we watched his actions, we knew to call him “Digger.” He answered immediately to the new name. Similarly with Rocky II. The shelter called him “Major,” but we already had a “Major at home.” Rocky took to his new name with no problem. And now, Taz answers to his new name as well.
How to Manage Three Dogs at Home
We are fortunate. Our home is large with an even larger fenced yard on twelve acres of forest land. We could easily handle more than three dogs at home. In fact, we have had as many as five dogs at one time. My advise should you want to add a new dog to your family, introduce him in the yard first. Make sure you let any existing pets know how much you love them. Let them out into the yard with the new dog. Watch closely–you most likely know if your dog is aggressive. Once the dogs settle down, they will probably start playing with each other. At that point, you can open the door and let them inside.
I suggest introducing them outside because, frankly, there are just too many things that can go wrong indoors. Dogs, especially puppies can be rambunctious, and you don’t want grandma’s urn knocked over and broken. For that matter, for the first few days, at least, make sure that anything fragile is out of the way of dog tails or snouts.
Just a quick note on rescue dogs. Check out this blog post to learn more about the benefits of rescueing a shelter dog.
One problem I had not anticipated. Puppies bite. Sometimes those little jaws can clamp down with surprising force. Taz remains convinced that I am his chew toy. I have not been able to convince him otherwise. I was very happy, therefore, to find Dog Trainer Zak’s video where he teaches us how to stop a puppy from biting. Full discloser, Zak needs to make money to keep making his videos, so this message starts out looking like a commercial. News flash! It is a commercial, but in no time, Zak gets into the nitty gritty of training a puppy not to bite. Believe me, I’m going to be watching this video many times to protect my fingers, my arms, my hips, well you get the picture. Puppies bite! Let Zak show you how to get your puppy past that stage.
Today I have found one site that gives you multiple recipes. In fact there are 6 recipes for Quick and Healthy Dog Treats. With three dogs at home, we go through a lot of dog treats. I have to admit that usually the kids get store-bought treats. But I love to bake, and home-made treats are so much better for your furry kids. You know what is in them. Furthermore, you can adjust these recipes to take into account your dog’s likes and dislikes. Yes, dogs can be just as finicky as a human three-year-old. Although generally at our house, the rule is “If it’s on the floor it’s dog food.” Try these recipes and see if your kids don’t love them.
Life is stressful enough these days. I try to avoid the news and find ways to protect myself as I “shelter at home.” But I’ve read that fearful people are flooding shelters with dogs and cats rather than keeping their fur-family members at home. Don’t do that. Please. Today’s guest site addresses the problem head on. Titled COVID-19 Tips for Dog Owners, this post from the Dinky Dog Club Blog should reassure you that you can keep your pets and yourself safe. And if you should find yourself testing positive for Corona Virus, the post has great tips for how to be safe with your pet, how to deal with scheduled pet appointments and even pet emergencies. Please, please, please take care of yourself and your furry family members. We are all in this together.
So Long, Farewell
Today’s car of the day has no connection to our theme, except that the photo was taken in the same town where we found Taz and Simon. The flower of the day connects only in that the dogs seem to love getting into my flower boxes and are even chewing on the woody stalks. The photo of the day is the one at the head of this post. Our three dogs playing at home. They refused to sit up straight and pose for the camera. Maybe I need to do a post on pet photography.
In closing let me say this: Please enjoy your pets. They can help keep you sane during these trying times. And if you’re considering adding a dog or cat to your home, please consider a shelter animal. Most of my dogs have been rescues from a wide variety of shelters. Only twice have I had any trouble at all with a rescue dog, and I know I can get Taz to the point where he welcomes company, instead of trying to get them to leave. You too can have multiple dogs at home and live through the experience.
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