Some years ago I promised myself I would not adopt any more animals. So naturally now that my two rescues from last year are settled in (one happily living with my sister in NY, the other with me), yesterday I brought home a dog from Round Valley Animal Rescue in Springerville AZ. They tell me he’s part Great Dane. He’s tall, and with that brindle coat and those big paws he for sure could have some Dane blood in him.
I’ve had my rescue, Rosie, for 10 months now. I don’t love leaving her at home when I go out but I don’t like dragging her around while I do errands, especially during the heat of summer. She’s not a real enthusiastic traveler, and needs to be lifted into the car, an awkward experience for the both of us. Even though Rosie’s had surgery to correct brachycephalic syndrome, she’s still not 100%. That means she struggles to breathe if she’s been exercising or is overheated. Which is pretty much all the time this time of year. And that means leaving her at home. By herself (cats don’t count).
That’s why, in spite of my best intentions, the moment I saw a photo of a large, goofy looking dog on the RVAR Facebook page I immediately contacted them.
What was I thinking?
Are you kidding? Of course I wasn’t thinking. I was feeling.
Bubba had come to RVAR a month or so ago. I was told he was microchipped and had an old rabies certificate. He was supposed to be 8 years old. If he was full Great Dane he wouldn’t be around much longer since that breed’s life expectancy is 8-10 years. However, Great Dane crosses tend to benefit from the age expectancy of the non-Dane breed. It’s hard to tell what Bubba’s parentage might be, but I don’t think he’s in any danger of dying soon.
The adoption process was super easy, barely giving me time for second thoughts. Not that it mattered. As soon as I met him I knew I had no choice. I told him then I’d give him a home and I knew he understood it as a promise.
I brought Rosie in for a meet-and-greet a few days after I met Bubba. It was anticlimactic. Rosie barely acknowledged him and Bubba was distracted. Still, Rosie didn’t hate him, so I took it as a sign it was the right thing to do. I signed the paperwork and arranged to pick Bubba up another day when I wouldn’t have Rosie with me. I felt it was too soon to have the two dogs in as confined a space as the back of a car.
I noticed that one of the gentlemen who was doing the adoption paperwork called the dog Bubbaz. At least that’s what it sounded like to me. I looked on the form and he’d put down “Bubba’s” as his name. I loved it. Bubba didn’t appeal to me but something about that Z at the end changed it from the name of a doofus dog to, well, something else. A name I liked better and that didn’t involve a new name. Seems to me that while old dogs can learn new tricks it’s simple courtesy to call them by the name they know.
So yesterday was the day to bring Bubbaz home. I wondered as I drove in whether he would be afraid or maybe reluctant. Or if he’d even remember me.
I needn’t have worried.
The moment the gentleman and Bubbaz walked around the corner of the building to where I waited, that tail started wagging. He looked at me and he smiled. I don’t mean the gentleman, I mean the dog — because that’s all I had eyes for. Bubbaz headed for the truck, hopped in when asked, and settled down to wait for his ride home.
Next challenge: Rosie & the cats on their home turf
A meet-and-greet at RVAR is one thing, but when Bubbaz stepped into my house Rosie decided she was going to set things straight right away. Her lips curled into a snarl (my timid Rosie!) and she growled. I cleared my throat. She glanced at me and oops. Suddenly it was all sniffing and tentative wags.
The cats — Tux and Lili — were not nearly as welcoming. The growling from them did not stop just because I told them to knock it off. They’re cats, after all. But Bubbaz didn’t pay any attention to them. He paced around my small house a few times, then, when he seemed done with that I showed him the dog door. He went through it and onto the porch, then bounced down the stairs to explore the dog yard.
All was well and good till I went to the truck to bring my groceries in. Next thing I knew, there was a dog waiting to get into the back seat. Uh oh! My arms were full! But he didn’t try to run off — in fact, he more or less hovered around me as I made a couple trips into the house with my stuff, and was not at all reluctant to come with me back inside.
I went back out and waited to see if he’d escape again. He did. He had found the tiniest gap in the fence and nosed through it, something Rosie had never tried. So the first order of the afternoon was to fix the fence, not a big deal. Bubbaz wasn’t trying to escape as much as he was attempting to stick with me. The fence is clearly a non-issue as long as I was inside it, too.
When it came time for dinner, I fed them in separate rooms and kept an eye on them. Rosie is intensely interested in her food, and compared to her gobbling Bubbaz is a slow eater. Rosie didn’t bother him while he was eating, though. And he didn’t bother me when I added some kibble to his bowl, just to see how he felt about me messing with his food.
Nothing bothers Bubbaz. Some of it is being a mature dog, and some of it is his mellow personality, but he’s also had some very good training. He doesn’t pull on the leash. He waits at the open door for me to go out first. He comes when he’s called. He doesn’t go into the garbage. He sits promptly, but seems to feel stay is optional. He’s nice to Rosie and to the cats.
Lili is not so nice to him, but she’ll come around. Tux… well, he’s gone walkabout. I don’t think there’s a connection between a new dog being here and Tux’s taking off, since last night he went with Rosie and Bubba and me for a short walk after I fed the horses. Going walkabout is just a thing Tux does.
So if the dog’s trained, then what’s left to do?
I don’t know the extent of his training, and I can’t presume that Bubbaz is already settled in here just because he’s relaxed, seems to like everybody, and doesn’t run away at the first opportunity. We will take it as slowly as is needed.
Yesterday afternoon I tied Bubbaz in the barn as I unloaded hay and later when I fed the horses. This morning when I fed I put Bubbaz on a drag chain in the barn. His leash (red, for visibility) is attached to a length of light-weight chain that leaves a nice trail in the dirt when he drags it around. If I have to I can easily track him. This is only used when I can keep an eye on him when we’re outside — when we’re walking he’s going with me on leash. So far with the drag chain he has explored only a bit — going out maybe a hundred feet from me. He seems to prefer being underfoot.
There’s a lot of hovering around Lif right now.
Taking photos is a challenge. Bubbaz wants to be next to me, not over there modeling. Rosie doesn’t like Bubbaz being that close to me. The good news is that when I go for a walk now, Rosie makes an effort to keep up. Maybe she’ll get some decent exercise and lose a pound or two. Or maybe once she’s accepted the new situation she’ll go back to plodding along. Time will tell.
Meanwhile, I’ve discovered Bubbaz is just as happy to answer to Bubz. But then again, he seems happy for whatever happens. And Rosie? Well, maybe someday she’ll enjoy having a companion again. I did catch some play behavior she initiated this afternoon when she thought I wasn’t looking, so friendship (packship?) might happen sooner than not.