Ready or Not...
When I write about the farm, most of my writings are about my lovely ladies, the goats or Eric’s porcine princesses. I have referenced my big, red, dog crush in previous posts but I have never fully given credit to two very important members of our family, our dogs. I have always had dogs in my life and they were always important, well loved members of our family. When I was in my early teens, we had our first pit bull and I have been in love with the breed ever since. Eric too has fond memories of his grandparent’s pit bull, Sheba and is enamored with the breed as well. It seemed like a natural fit for us and our lifestyle to include this smart, loyal, people pleasing, kid loving breed.
Almost a year ago to the day, we adopted my big, red dog crush from the Humane Society in Indiana. Our family was reeling from a very painful situation. We felt vulnerable, threatened, and afraid. As if life hadn’t already dealt us a cruel hand, my faithful, bad ass West Highland Terrier, Walter had to be put down after a 15-year companionship. Not only was he the coolest, most loyal, loving companion but he was my dad’s dog as well. Losing him, after losing so much was like pouring salt into an already painful wound. I had made up my mind there would be no more dogs for an indeterminate amount of time. I just wasn’t ready to welcome another friend into my world. However, as I have found out lately, the universe knows what you need, often times more so than you yourself.
As I sat scrolling through Facebook, a picture of a huge, red, handsome pit bull pops up and gives a brief description and states that he is available for adoption. It was so random; I wasn’t even following the Humane Society but here it was. I clicked on his description, read that he’s believed to be a pit bull/ mastiff mix, a neutered male, and available for adoption. My bibbed wearing buddy had expressed a desire for a mastiff, especially for protective purposes but it went no further than a brief mention. He knew I was grieving my Walter and didn’t press the matter. I mentioned this huge, red dog to him and asked if he had an interest in going to see him. After a bit of discussion, we both agreed we were good with one dog for the time being and perhaps now wasn’t the best time to consider a new member of the family. This dog kept popping up on my news feed on Facebook every time I logged in and I kept thinking about him. We talked about him just a bit more in casual conversation but were both resolute that we did not need another dog at this point. We went to bed, we slept well, we got up did our chores, had our coffee and BAM! there was this huge, red dog on my Facebook page again. Without even mentioning it to Eric, he asks casually and randomly if I would want to go meet this dog. I reluctantly agreed but we set the terms that if he wasn’t a good fit, we wouldn’t even consider bringing him home. We agreed we would not get a dog just for the sake of getting a dog.
We told The Bean we were going to the pound to inquire about this dog and meet him. She of course had to be reined in from her enthusiasm. We explained if he wasn’t a good fit, we would under no uncertain terms walk away. She curbed her excitement and agreed with us but I’m pretty sure it was just a show. We looked up the website, found the hours and got ready to go meet this massive, red beast.
I hate going to the pound. It breaks my heart to see such loving little souls cast off like unwanted objects. The dog area was full, it was maddeningly noisy, and it was heart wrenching. Every other dog in the place was going berserk at the sight of new people. We approached a kennel and there stood the biggest, reddest, massive pit bull with a block for a handsome head that I had ever seen. I do believe it was love at first sight. He was not barking or jumping, whining or pawing at the door. He was standing there in all his regale handsome glory calmly waiting for us. He had an intelligence in his eyes, and a calmness about him that just spoke to me. He looked at me as if to say, “It’s about time you get here.”
The volunteer got a leash and took him out of the kennel for us. This massive, red, devil made a beeline for The Bean. He sniffed her, licked her arm and hand, and then waited for her to walk out with him. The Bibbed Wonder gave me a knowing look. We were led outside to a quieter kennel and he was released from the leash. Eric did his test of pulling his tail, sticking his fingers in his ears and mouth, taking a toy away from him, putting him through the commands of sit, stay, lie down, etc. This big handsome boy did a wonderful job. He was obviously well taken care of and someone had spent some time with him. The most important thing for us was that he seemed smitten with The Bean. After an hour or so, we made our decision, did the paperwork, paid the adoption fee, and we were on our way home with this massive, red dog sitting by The Bean in the backseat.
This handsome boy just fit into our family as though he were meant to be. He was very attentive with Jordan, followed me around like a shadow, and had a respectful affection for Eric. All was well for the first few days. The pound had called him Turner…as in Turner and Hooch. I didn’t think the name fit him. We tried out dozens of names everything from regale and important to campy, funny, and very human. None of them seemed to fit this massive, intelligent, comical being. We were sitting around the fire pit with friends, my new shadow was beside me, he went to take a marshmallow off my plate…just a precursor for things to come…and I said, “Oh no, Buster Brown! Bad, Bad!” He looked at me as if to say, “Finally, you nailed it.” He has been Buster ever since.
Buster and I got along amazingly well. He was everywhere I was. I have never been one to allow big, shedding dogs on the furniture but he sat with me on the couch and napped with me on my bed in the afternoon. As he got more comfortable, certain behaviors began to emerge. His head is almost counter height. He merely has to stretch his neck to steal anything he wants from the counter. I began to find tell tale signs of dog hair and scratch marks on my newly restored dining table. I began to find bowls and plates undamaged but licked clean inside his dog crate. There were also alarmingly large paths of puddles leading from the toilet to the hallway. Last but not least, I began to find garbage that I am certain was in the garbage can with the step-on lid all around the house. Hmmm, all very mysterious and only happened when one big, red dog was left alone to his own devices when we were outside.
I had an inkling my big handsome dream dog was the culprit but it was not confirmed until Eric’s mom came in to stay. GramBarb caught Buster in the act of every single crime he committed. She caught him sleeping on the dining room table like a cat. Not only did he ignore her when she told him to get down, he growled at her. She caught him happily and loudly drinking from the toilet. She caught him carrying Jordan’s ice cream bowl carefully to his crate and when she told him to drop it, he again growled. But the last nail in the coffin for Buster with GramBarb was the great donut heist. GramBarb stopped at Dunkin Donut, bought a dozen of her favorite donuts, brought them home, placed them on the counter, and went to find Jordan to tell her about said donuts. Upon her return, Buster had the donut box inside his dog crate minus all one dozen donuts. GramBarb was livid. She locked Buster in his crate and then proceeded to tattletale on every crime he had ever committed in his short time with us. She ended her tirade by calling him an undisciplined redneck. Once Buster was finally released from doggie jail, a whopping half hour or so spent in time out. He promptly went to the room GramBarb was occupying and pooped beside her suitcase. Now, one can add spite pooper to his list of felonies.
Buster’s bad behavior escalated from there. He stole things from the counter boldly and blatantly. When I tried to take back the contraband, he not only growled at me but snarled an intimidating snarl. When my bean was sitting beside me on the couch, he sat and barked at her until she moved. He would then promptly jump up to take her spot and growl if she even acted like she was going to come near me. The last straw was when I put my arms around his body while he was standing up and he growled at me. I scolded him, sent him to time out and sadly admitted to myself that this wasn’t going to work. He clearly thought he was large and in charge. I called my uncle who has adopted many pitties and he said he has never dealt with those behaviors before…not a good sign.
I signed Buster and myself up for obedience classes. The instructor told me Buster views me as his, I’m his pack. I have to admit, I was flattered this big, handsome boy felt so devoted to me…could I be part of the problem? I was told I need to put some space between us. He was not to sit with me constantly, he was not to sleep with me, and he was to be given time away from me on a daily basis. I think I found this more difficult than he. However, he was continuing to steal and growl with no progress insight. In the past, we have used training collars to curb bad behaviors. We have always liked using the collar because it is quick, it is direct, and we aren’t the bad guy…our dogs just stopped the behavior they didn’t view us as the culprit for the brief shock. The trainer advised against this. Although my intelligent boy could sit, heel, stay, down, and wait until given a command for treats, he was still acting like the Godfather of the family.
Against, her advice I used the shock collar on my boy. He snarled at me when I went to take a stolen butter wrapper from him. One loud, firm declaration of, “NO!” and a brief shock and he dropped it. He looked at me incredulous and went to his crate to pout. I ignored him. He growled at The Bean as she walked past the couch when he was sitting with me. Again, the loud, firm declaration of, “NO!” and a brief shock and he went to pout. We did this with all behaviors but the table sleeping. I cannot catch him in the act…he’s like a big, red, table sleeping ninja. Suddenly, Buster was a new dog. Incidentally, we stopped going to obedience class. All offensive behaviors stopped…okay not all but the one’s I felt could be truly problematic stopped. He no longer snarls, growls, or steals from the garbage can.
However, I must say his intelligence impresses me. He knows how to step on the peddle to lift the lid of the garbage. He can open doors with his big handsome head. He learns tricks and commands amazingly quickly. He is also extremely protective and quietly vigilant. The table sitting is really not such a crime…really…he is extremely protective and likes to be at the highest view point in the house…which happens to be the dining table in the octagon room that is all windows. He is not being bad; he is being protective and vigilant…it’s an admirable quality really. Think about it…it is admirable if that is how one should choose to spin it.
The Bibbed Wonder does not find my big, handsome boy quite so charming. He fails to see the charm in really charming creatures…like myself for instance. He frequently laments about Buster being the embodiment of all bad behaviors of every dog we have ever had, plus some. Which, I must admit could be true if that is how one would choose to spin it. He does drink too much at once and then burp and vomit water when he is done…true. He does have a tendency to pass gas loudly and then look at his bum in shock, as if to say, “Who did that?” He does steal all the good toys and horde them away from our other dog. He likes to eat from any bowl other than his. He is also a 100-pound lap dog with anal gland issues. We frequently take him to the vet to have his anal glands expressed. The vet has offered to teach us how to do this but it is worth the $20 to have someone other than us stick their finger in the 100-pound bottom of a dog inclined to growl. He also is prone to leave smudge marks on the lap of whomever he is sitting on when said glands need expressed…it’s usually The Bean.
However, this dog is also gentle, fun, has a sense of humor, is loyal, and protective. He is everything I would want in a companion. He is smart, handsome, protective, creative, and lovable…very much like The Bibbed Wonder. The Bibbed Wonder feigns jealousy over the B-dog. He will observe us cuddled up together on the couch, roll his eyes, and tell us to, “go get a room” or ask if we, “have set a date yet” …all sad attempts at humor. I adore this dog and at times declare my love for him greater than my tolerance for my cynical, sarcastic bibbed wearing buddy. He has been a wonderful addition to our family and definitely deserves his own blog.
I hope you have enjoyed my love letter to Buster. As he sits beside me, waiting for me to make a move, I know he is one of the best things to happen to me whether I was ready for him or not. As always dear reader, stay safe, stay smart, be accepting of ready or not, and keep washing your hands.