Tuesday, August 09, 2011
I had two dogs. They are both old men now, 11 and 12. The younger one, KJ, is a basenji/pitt mix. He was a maniac in his younger years, easily the fastest dog I had ever seen. It took years for us to get into a tolerable groove. This last year he has slowed to the pace of a normal 3-5 year old dog. The older boy, Smokey, is a McKenzie River Malamute/German Shepard mix. Life's a little harder on that old boy. He's been lumbering at a mellow pace for a good 8 years now, and he's ancient as far as his breeds go. He has trouble moving around sometimes and if he tries to get going fast his legs tend to not agree with him. Anyway, it was nice to have my boys mellowed out a bit, it made for a simple day to day routine.
I'm a firm believer that puppies and kittens aren't for Christmas. They're a 10-15 year commitment. I don't plan a camping trip, road trip out of town, etc without taking my animals into consideration. They didn't choose to live with me. I chose them. Therefore, I owe it to these guys to make sure they live the healthiest, happiest life I can possibly give them. Sometimes it's expensive, sometimes it's not pretty (ever had a dog get the flu? It's gross.), but they are my boys and whatever it takes is what they deserve.
Saturday we got a new addition to the household.
My cousin bought a purebred Australian Shepard a year ago. She's extremely curious and ENERGETIC. My cousin also has three children under the age of 10, a full time job, and just got two pitt bull puppies. (We won't go in to how I really feel about that situation.) Long story short, she decided to find a new home for Babe, the untrained Aussie. And she decided that new home should be mine...
This sweet, happy, beautiful animal is amazing and has great potential. You can see the gleam in her eyes, always wondering 'what's next?' BUT, she has NO manners due to unbridled energy and lack of training and attention. Come to find out she's been in a kennel 10+ hours a day for most of her short life. She tries to herd children, nips ankles and arms, and jumps about four feet in the air onto people.
Not cool. Not acceptable. Not her fault.
I have my work cut out for me.
I've had her two and a half days. We took a 2 mile hike up and down a mountain trail yesterday. She probably made the same trip we took about 10 times in the time we did, running back and forth. She LOVED it. She took a nap in the car on the way home, and was raring to go again when we pulled in the drive. (A little taste of what I'm working with. Raw energy.)
Today, I went to a spinning class, then Babe and I spent almost 2 hours working on simple commands. Sit and fetch. She is catching on, the fetch is actually for my benefit :) She has so much energy, she can't focus on learning. I've gotten her to learn to bring the toy back, which is an improvement from yesterday. We spent an hour throwing, running & retrieving before her tongue was hanging out a little and she wasn't acting straight psychotic and nipping at my elbows and heels. (By this time, I was sweating and wanting to call it quits.) THEN we were finally ready to get a "Sit" session in, and even several "Lay downs". She's making slight progress, but it took an hour of excercise on both our parts to get to the training! This is going to be one long haul, getting her manners up to speed.
I didn't want a third dog. I didn't want a working dog. They take a lot of training, time and attention to become those wonderful genius dogs you read about and see on TV. People get these dogs thinking they COME like that. Then (like my cousin) they realize they can't handle the dog, and the poor pooch becomes an ill-behaved, sometimes dangerous, crazy creature. I did this for Babe, not for my cousin. I think I might have gotten her just in time. I think it will be good for her to be living here. And now I see it will be good for me too. I can't skip workouts now. No days off. If I'm going to help her become the dog she deserves to be, I am going to have to get my butt out there and wear her out EVERY single day. Then when we reach that "tired" point, I am going to have to push us both harder to get some actual lessons in.
Babe is going to learn manners. I am going to get mass cardio in whether I like it or not. The winter sports I was debating (but unlikely to) take up, now HAVE to happen. She's still going to need to be worked when the snow flies, so I had better learn how to get out there and burn some energy mid-winter. Her energy is forcing me to match that energy. Fighting energy with energy is an interesting concept I have never been forced to comprehend.
I am not going to let this girl down, which oddly enough means I can't let myself down either. I can't take the winter off to hibernate and build up my Alaskan insulation again. This lifestyle change that I have been working at for the last few months just became a permanent reality. There's no quitting, I just made a 10-15 year commitment that is going to RUN MY BUTT OFF. (Literally)
Maybe eventually Babe will become a lady. Maybe eventually I will become a babe.
Here we go Turbo! Let those fitness minutes roll!