Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A boy and his dog

Lambchop toy didn't last long...
A few weeks ago, we adopted a dog.  Some of you might be thinking, "But wait--didn't you just move a few weeks ago?"  Yes, we may or may not have gotten a dog one day after our household goods arrived. :)  As spontaneous as it may sound, this goal has been a long time in coming. I remember when Lo Lo was born, our landlord in Massachusetts had just gotten a dog that he was calling his "Baby" (which I, having just given birth to a real human child, thought mildly ridiculous).  He remarked that he and his wife weren't ready for a child yet; too much commitment.  But Jerry and I have always felt the opposite!  We could easily imagine having children right away and carrying on with life.  For example, children are allowed tenants at most apartment complexes.  But dogs aren't.  A dog has always seemed in the long-term goal list.  More of a capstone accomplishment than a whim to enter into lightly.  And apparently we have arrived!  
 Meet Kuma (Japanese for "bear" which is a cool name, the title he came with when we adopted him).  He is an awesomely unique solid black purebred German Shepherd Dog.  He can destroy a fluffy squeaker toy in seconds, shred a tennis ball in minutes, and became our loyal protector in a few days.  The first night he visited our home, he pretty much ignored us.  His gaze was fixed on his owner at the time, Mister J.  I love this aspect of the breed; German Shepherds are adoring to their families and aloof with strangers.  It makes me feel special to be the recipient of highly selective love.  He isn't like the labs and goldens who are friendly to a fault; Kuma intimidates most people when they first meet him.  I take him jogging and feel invincible.  I sleep at night with peace knowing Kuma is nearby watching over us.  More than once, people have asked me if he is a wolf, including my next door neighbor, who is a canine aficionado and breeds mastiffs.  Yes our dog fights through the fence with the beefy neighbor dogs.
Probably the most delightful part about dog owning at this stage in our lives is that the kids are young enough to be wholly enamored by their canine buddy.  They spend most of the day tagging along together, playing ball, brushing, cuddling, and "teaching tricks" to Kuma.  They have taught him such useful commands as "Lick," (he will lick a hand) and "Cross the Street."  (He walks across the street on a leash).  Kuma comes everywhere with us, waiting in the car if he isn't allowed in a particular store, but coming in if it's a store like Cabelas, D&B, or PetSmart.  He sits in the front seat of our little Nissan Versa Note--because it is the only part of the car he will fit in.  He pokes his head out the window while we drive.  I've also had him in the back of my dad's big Dodge pickup truck a couple times, and he gots a lot of honks and stares.  He is such a gorgeous, striking dog.

Because Kuma is a classic GSD, we are needing to constantly reinforce training.  He has a strong prey drive, and could play fetch for hours--but we are cautious to break up the ball throwing with obedience practice.  For example, when he brings a ball back to be thrown again, I first have him sit, lay down, or shake a paw before I throw the ball again. We are still working on him leaving slack in the leash while walking.  He stays a lot closer to me off-leash than on-leash, ironically.  I'd also like to see him be a little less barky, but don't have much hope of training out that part of him.  He is a German Shepherd afterall.

Anyway, we are totally thrilled and feel like all our dreams have come true.  Oh, and I should add that Jerry and I are referring to ourselves as Kuma's "Mommy" and "Daddy."  It really does feel like we added another kid to the family.

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