So yeah, I have a second pup now!
That handsome little cattle frog in the last post is Titus (née Colby), a yearling Australian Cattle Dog mix from Finger Lakes SPCA of Central New York. I can’t say enough good things about the fine folks at that shelter; they clearly care a lot about this boy and were really lovely to work with, including (crucially for the success of this adoption) letting me and Krista drive during his introduction to Lilo.
One nice thing about bringing company for the drive (and scheming about possible hike options along the way) was that it made the trip feel a little lower-stakes (and gave me someone to talk sense to my nerves and help with my planning). Instead of being A Trip To Maybe Get A Dog, it got to be A Grand Adventure With Many Possible Components. That took a lot of pressure off!
I went into the shelter to meet him and fell in love instantly, which was a great relief. He’d looked great on paper and in video and sounded great in conversation with the staff, but chemistry is chemistry. I love almost all animals, but I want to take relatively few home with me. I had a good feeling about this guy, though, and he lived up to it. And then it was Lilo time. She was pretty stressy from the trip and the shelter environment and didn’t want to play, but I liked what I saw in her body language and his enough to — after a lot of time and observation and discussion with Krista — pull the trigger.
It was a gamble. It was a pretty big gamble. I loved him instantly; he’s exactly what I wanted, which is to say almost too much dog. While Lilo didn’t want to play with him yet, she wasn’t offended by his existence and he was willing to be redirected to playing with toys instead; I was pretty confident that they could manage polite coexistence, at least. And he’s really a sweet dog; he seems to like snuggling and giving gentle kisses as much as he does playing intense two-toy fetch.
Buuuut he was full on. And when frustrated and overstimulated, he appeared to be constructed mostly of springs and teeth. And he really did want to play with Lilo and it wasn’t entirely clear to me how barky he would be under less novel circumstances. I had a good feeling, but still: a gamble. And a big project.
And then we took him out to the car and Ty told him to chill and he was instantly all polite yes-ma’am; I felt better.
And then he yapped nearly non-stop for the first hour plus of the drive and peed in his crate; I felt worse.
And then we stopped for one leg-stretch and Ty was clearly in love with him and he was super-appropriate with her and totally charming with me…and then we stopped for another at a lovely sandy pine barren-y park and walked all three together and he was just — “chill” would probably be an overstatement. But cheerful and agreeable and by the end I had a leash in each hand and he and Lilo were trotting along comfortably and I thought that maybe it was going to be okay.
So here we are! I’m typing this on Wednesday evening, after all three of us went for a good walk down the rail trail. Lilo is snoozing at my feet; Titus is back in his crate. He is, as I’d hoped, relaxing and settling into the routine. He’s totally charming and totally hilarious; he watches everything, wants to be involved in even more, and thinks that anything I interact with is worth investigation; he’s already stolen my toothbrush (and my heart). He settles nicely in his crate (whew!) and has been very clean in it and in the house (double-whew!). He’s even pretty quiet most of the time (triple gold star wheeeew!). He has no idea how to stop moving outside of the crate and we had some overtired toddler moments in the first 48 hours before I remembered that it was unfair to ask him to learn about impulse control and settling while he’s still trying to figure out where the heck he even is. So now I put him away when the fun stops and everyone is much happier. The rest will come in time.
(Lilo is a dedicated crate-buster and my prior dog was an escape artist. It’s kind of strange — though very convenient! — to have one who has figured out that it’s nice to have a house of his own.)
Lilo is adjusting more quickly than I expected, which is a relief since I did have one meltdown the second night about whether I had ruined her life. She’s not ready to play with him yet and I’m rationing their in-house exposure to one another, but she’s thinking about it and she’s not nearly as bothered by his mere existence as I figured she would be at this point. The weather’s turned cold this week, which is a bummer. I have a feeling that once it gets nice enough to repeat the pic below a couple of times, she’ll feel even better about him.
I’m not sure how soon I’ll be prepared to take them both hiking for real. I think it’ll help their relationship develop, but I want a bit more relationship with him myself before I ask him to deal with many other people and dogs (and porcupines…!) on trail and before I ask myself to juggle two dogs around same. But we’re trying to get in one good parallel walk each day — or two if Lilo is willing, but she doesn’t believe in morning exercise! And every day they’re more comfortable together, so that’s great.
And that brings us to now! I think he’s going to be an awesome hiking dog and I have a feeling that Lilo will love him once she gets used to the idea. As for me, I already do. He’s a really, really cool little dog and I think we’re all going to have a lot of fun together.
I do kind of want his first White Mountain hike to be the same as Lilo’s — the Welch-Dickey loop — but it’s covered in ice again right now, so…we’ll see what’s ready when he is! And go from there.