I had the newspaper laid out on the bed next to the pile of laundry I was folding. I rarely found time to read the paper, this was a good opportunity to catch up on the local news.
I wasn’t looking for anything particular as I flipped through pages of ads and services, when I came to the Pet section. There, in a 2″ x 2″ box was the most beautiful dog I had ever laid eyes on. She was white with patches of brindle on her body. Her eyes, they were a golden brown, yet a sadness was reflected in them.
I abandoned my pile of laundry, announced to my kids, “Let’s go for a ride!” and hopped in the car. Questions were ricocheting off the windows in the car. “Where are we going?” “What’s up Mom?” “Why are we going to Jackson?” “Mo-um, what are we doing?”. My response, “We’re going to pick up my dog.” Silence…..then, “What dog?”, “We’re getting a dog?”, “Why?”, “Who’s is it?”, “Where is it?”, “How old is it?”. The excitement was abounding. “Just wait a minute and you’ll see.” I replied.
The woman at the desk for the Amador County Shelter was very nice. She called back to the kennel porter to bring out Mimi. Then, strange enough, she asked us to wait outside the door. It seemed to be a bit odd of a request, but we complied and stepped outside the door to wait. It didn’t take long at all.
Inside the building, down the hall, we noticed a commotion, along with the desk lady who turned to look as well. The kennel porter had a leash in her hand. On the other end was a wiggling, jumping, twisting, spinning, out of control Mimi. They came bursting through the doors, and stopped at our little group, “Here’s Mimi. She’s a handful.” said the kennel porter as she struggled to control Mimi. Mimi was everywhere and nowhere at once. The girl commanded, “Sit!” and to our surprise, Mimi sat! (The sit command became our savior!). It was only for an instant before the wiggle was in her nose, then her shoulders, then her back started going, then the tail and legs joined in, and she was back to out of control, flailing of legs, body and head. I reached for the leash to relieve the kennel porter, she handed it over reluctantly. I could see in her eye she was concerned if I could handle the dog. Everyone stood back, I crouched down to Mimi’s size and did my best to control her while the kennel porter explained to us her history. She had been there for almost four months and her time was running out. She is a very sweet dog, but every dog has it’s day, and hers was coming soon. Other patrons had looked at her but were unable to handle her energy. She then commented, “You’re one of the only people to take the leash. You’re doing pretty good.” I didn’t feel like I was doing pretty good, but I was able to keep Mimi down, and sitting every few seconds. My kids didn’t dare come near for fear she would flail all over them and she was a big girl, 60 lb pit bull terrier. I was in love. “We’ll take her.”
The porter popped open the door, announced the news to the desk lady and the paperwork was done in minutes. The porter girl took Mimi one last time to put a chip in her with my name and phone number as her owner. They gave us leashes, coupons, dog food, all kinds of things. They were thrilled to see her go. I was concerned. What was I doing?
Mimi just wasn’t a fitting name for her. Keeping with the Mmm sound of her kennel name, but altering the rest to a name we liked, we turned Mimi into Misty.
We already had three Chihuahua’s at home. Misty out weighed them by 150 lbs easily. Our first task was to protect the little dogs from her, and get a handle on her flailing about. As it turned out, Misty liked the Chihuahua’s….a lot! Although, the Chihuahua’s didn’t like her. What was the big, crazy, out of control beast doing in their house?!
Walking in the door, after work, was the hardest part for me. I took to calling the house just before I arrived to ask one of my kids to get a hold of Misty. If I didn’t call ahead, when I walked in the door, Misty would plow me down with her wiggling, spinning, bouncing self, flailing four legs and her head everywhere. Twice, in her out of control joy, she cracked me in the head with her head. She didn’t notice that she just hit my head so hard that I saw stars, and would keep flailing, and now, she would catch me with her claws because I was seeing stars from the head butt. This had to stop, now.
For the Chihuahua’s safety, and our safety, we decided to tie Misty to the 200 lb sofa sleeper with a 6 ft leash. She was to be on the leash at all times unless she was being taken out, by me, to go to the bathroom. She could move around, but we could get out of her reach, and she couldn’t plow me down when I came home from work. We ended up tying the couch to the chair because Misty would drag the 200 lb sofa sleeper when she wanted to. It worked. She lived on the leash for about two weeks. When I would come home she would be crazy legs, bouncing and flailing, but not on me. I would tell her “sit” and when she did, I’d give her my undivided attention, and lavish her with love. This just re-enforced the sit command as a good thing in her mind. After those two weeks we took her off the leash, and when I’d come home, she’d wait patiently at the edge of the kitchen linoleum for me to give her my undivided attention, and I would/do every time.
As we got to know each other, over time, I learned that Misty is an amazingly smart dog! Her allegiance to my family, and her desire to please us amazes me. I don’t think, I know that dogs have feelings, they have thoughts, they have wants and needs, and Misty has proven this to me many times. She has evolved into such an outstanding dog that she is the envy of people that meet her. There’s no need to envy her obedience, we worked together to get where we are. I’ll tell you how we got where we are now, from a spastic, crazy legs dog, to a calm, very obedient family dog. It’s all in what your expectations are for your dog, and directing your pet towards those expectations. Some of the things she does amazes me!
First, and foremost, recognize your dogs different moods. You may already know your pets moods, you just need to recognize that you do. You probably know when your pet is hungry, or needs to go outside, or doesn’t feel like being bothered. Without a word, you know. That’s the first step.