Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Stray Dog and a Prayer

They begged and pleaded, and we said no and no and no. We can't afford a dog right now. We can't afford a dog right now. We can't afford a dog right now.

You get the picture, yes? How this sounded week after week, as soon as they had opportunity to pet a dog somewhere? Or see a dog movie?

Finally, I changed my answer to their pleading, as I often do when they plead for something that costs money: Whatever you think you need, pray about it. If God agrees, he will provide it in time.

About 18 months ago, we adopted a dog who kept snapping at the kids, though not actually biting them. We gave it three months, before giving him back to the rescue operation, when a particular snapping scared us pretty badly.

The kids and I mourned the loss of the dog, but we knew rescue dogs often have serious issues. We couldn't afford a professional trainer, or risk a bite either, for that matter. We waited for God to drop a suitable dog in our laps, along with the funds for purchase. It was just too distracting for Peter to peruse dog sites constantly (obsessively). Many of the rescue fees were $200 per dog.

Fast forward about 12 months.

One of the neighbor kids found the little guy pictured above--a German Shepherd mix we presume--roaming the neighborhood. She kept it at her house, and posted lost dog ads on three different websites. She's had the dog a week, and she daily brought him over here for outdoor playtime in our fenced yard. My kids became attached to the dog's puppy-like energy and fetching antics, not to mention his loving ways. He marks his territory already, which I think occurs in male dogs six months and over, especially if they haven't been neutered (he hasn't been).

About this same time we learned that the neighbor girl's family is losing their house at the end of the month, and they still hadn't found a home for the dog. They already have one dog, and this new one doesn't take well to other dogs, though he doesn't seem to guard his resources (food or water or toys).

I thought of all the reasons keeping the dog here was a bad idea, especially since I didn't know how long he had been a stray or what issues he might have--though he seemed like a great, fun-loving, energetic dog, perfectly matching my children's energy levels. As well, German Shepherds make good therapy dogs. I watched closely out the window each day and noticed that the dog seemed to keep Peter's OCD at bay temporarily.

Finally, with everything considered, God spoke to my heart and He changed my no to a maybe...we might be able to see how it goes, if Daddy agrees. The Lord reminded me of the kids' sincere dog prayers. We had to assume that if God provided a free dog, he would also provide for his food and other bills.

We're still in the first 24 hours of possession, but we can all tell the dog--who appears to be between six months and a year old--has been housetrained and at least knows something of a dog crate, although the neighbor girl let him sleep on her bed, which spoiled him. Our pediatrician has long said "no pets in the bedrooms" because of allergies, so bedroom sleeping is not an option for us.

We're rusty with crate usage and forgot to lock its side door when we went to the dentist yesterday, and he got out of it, without damaging the house, thank goodness. And last night he whined in it for 45 minutes, before falling asleep (from midnight to 6:30, when my husband went to the kitchen). We're hoping for more sleep tonight. I believe he's old enough to sleep eight hours, once he acclimates here.

We plan to take him to a vet who does free microchip checks, to try to find an owner, before claiming him as ours. Taking him for frequent walks should also help us find an owner, if he lived in this neighborhood.

The neighbor girl was undisciplined with him and allowed mouthing during play, which we will have to train out of him if we want to keep him. It's mild, however. I told the kids not to do tug-of-war games that encourage mouthing.

We'll keep you posted. Needless to say, I've got some happy, grateful kids right now.

Do you have a dog? How did the crate training go at night, after the initial potty training? I've read three or four articles on it, but I still feel less than confident in it. That whining was hard to take last night, but I stood firm, knowing to give in was the worst thing I could do, and not having the luxury of time to acclimate him slowly. I couldn't let a stray dog have the run of the house or even the kitchen, nor did we have enough barricade items, since he jumps. He seemed like he had at least seen a crate before as he went in readily, but not sleeping in one ever, or at least for a time, was a problem.

We don't care for the name Pedro, which is what the neighbor girl gave him, but for training purposes we will keep it for now, and maybe even get used to it.

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