This is Pete. And doesn’t he look sweet and innocent. For the most part Pete is a sweet and innocent puppy but like most dogs, he has his moments. Like a few moments ago when he tried to rip my clematis out by the roots. Those kinds of moments.
Pete was an unexpected dog. As I said in a previous post, we had owned a Cocker Spaniel who was the apple of my eye. She was my dog and followed me everywhere, slept with me, and did everything I asked of her. The world’s most perfect dog. So it was devastating when she finally decided she had loved enough and needed to take her leave of us. She was fifteen and had given us every ounce of love she had in her little body. I was convinced I didn’t want another dog but my daughter, and the universe, had other plans.
Honey died in June of 2009. A year that would also see us lose two cats as well all in the space of three months. And we almost lost a third when my baby, Mac, decided to make a grand escape only to get lost for eleven days in what was one of the worst summers for severe weather. To say it was a horrible spring for us was a bit of an understatement. Now I know more horrible things happened all over the world but when bad things are happening to you those become static noise. Sad but true. So in a year of loss and near loss and unbelievable stress, a picture of a happy-go-lucky, funny-looking dog seemed as incongruous as feathers on a cat.
After Honey passed and KD a month later, I was just not in the mood to be looking at potential new family members but there was something about Pete that I just knew we needed. He was named Bruno at the time and was at a rescue who had brought him in from a high-kill shelter in Ohio. As I said, I had no interest in adopting another dog but my daughter seemed really keen on him so I let her fill out the application. When the news came back that he had already been adopted I thought that would be the end of it. But I was wrong.
A week after being told Pete had found a home, the rescue called to ask if we wanted him. The adopters had not checked with their condo to see if he would be allowed, they just assumed since other people in the building had dogs, small dogs, that Bruno would not be a problem. Unfortunately, at 50lbs, he was just a little bit too big to pass their regulations. So he was returned and now the rescue wanted to know if we still wanted him. So we went to his foster home to see what he was like. Pete’s foster had nothing but glowing things to say about him and indeed Pete seemed like a lovely, friendly dog. Could we take a week to think about it? No, he had to go now since they had another dog that desperately needed fostering. So we took a long, hard swallow and signed the papers. Pete was ours.
What followed was a tense trial and error time where we had to get used to a stubborn, assertive, bullying, cat-loving, funny, exhausting dork. He really didn’t have many house manners, he would shove his head into the refrigerator and try to grab whatever he could before you could stop him. He had a couple of “accidents”, he tried to play with the cats (who really hated him on sight despite growing up with a dog), he surfed the counter, and tried to bully us around. The rottie in him made him act like a herding dog and he would try to push us around to do his bidding. He was never aggressive, never mouthy, never dangerous but he had ways of letting you know what he thought of your attempts to train him. What saved us was his absolute devotion to food. If he thought there was a treat in it for him he would have danced on the ceiling. What a mercenary.
We did finally teach him manners. There were times when I regretted adopting him. There were times when it was frustrating. And there was the time shortly after we got him where he went out the front door and kept going. But that isn’t unusual for a rescued pup and we did get him back mostly because he was overweight and had the stamina of a guinea pig. And also I was determined not to let him out of my sight. I found out just how fast I can run in stocking feet. On the other hand he has never tried it again. Not because we beat him or punished him but because we took the time to train him properly. He still doesn’t have as good a recall as Honey but he is at 98% and I think that’s pretty good for a dog who thinks he’s the smartest being in the room.
He has his odd quirks that make us laugh uncontrollably at times. For instance on rainy days he will stand at the door looking all the world like the unhappiest dog ever, even his funny, bouncy ears droop (oh those ears! I could write a whole post just on them). We have to pretty much drag him out and then he sticks as close to the house as he can while hiding under the eaves, moping to the nearest tree, doing his business and then running back in the house. That’s the Shar-Pei in him. He doesn’t like to get dirty. He licks his legs like a cat and positively hates walking in puddles or mud. On the other hand, he has very little doggy odor which is good since he is terrified of water. He really doesn’t like the wipes we use to give him a dry bath either, though.
Pete has been a part of our family for the past four years. He was around two when we got him. I am not looking forward to the years ahead when he will start to slow down, and be more content sleeping on his bed than dragging us down the road. His muzzle is already showing a bit of gray and some days, mostly rainy ones, he doesn’t want to leave the house at all. It’s hard to believe that the frustrations and exhaustion of dealing with a strong-willed personality has given way to a love that is beyond description. Such is the way with dogs, they worm their way into your heart. But I still have a sneaky suspicion that it’s a cunning ploy to make you give them whatever they want.