We have the most awesome rescue dog. When my wife took him in, a few years before her and I began dating, she was told he was a Pomeranian. We’ve never had him genetically tested but we’re pretty sure he’s a mutt of a Pom and Schipperke, or, rather, in modern rebranding a Pomerke or Schip-A-Pom or whatever bullshit designer dog name that’s been applied to his breed. Regardless of what his formal name is to us he’s a glorious ball of white streaked black fluff.
And, he’s mr. personality.
It would take an entire separate blog post to even remotely begin to enumerate all the quirks and unique attributes that make Dex, Dex. Each and every one of them though is beloved. Because once he looks at you with those big, brown doe eyes and tries you lick you with his seemingly chameleon tongue you can’t not love him despite some of his crazy.
Generally, however, he’s a very well behaved dog which is a big part of what makes him so awesome. He follows directions and seems to be smart enough to use good judgement on his own which means for the most part he gets along with nearly everyone in nearly any type of circumstance. He’s equally as good on a crowded city street or riding the subway as he is just hanging out with a small group of family and friends in the yard or meeting random strangers on the hiking trails as he is cuddled up with the two of us.
We’re about to find out how applicable this is with the little one coming.
If there’s one thing that’s pretty special about Dex it’s how tied to his mamma he is. There’s probably all kinds of psychological reasons for his affection for her but it’s undeniable.
When I first met Dex I was told how close he was to her, how he cries incessantly when she leaves and goes completely crazy upon her return. He took to me pretty quickly which was one of the reasons my then-to-be wife and I actually continued dating. However, despite that connection anytime she left the two of us alone in those early years he would desperately cry for her. His eyes doe like darting eagerly seeking her out. His bat like radar ears pinned to even the softest of sound trying to detect her return. His little rabbit like nose twitching endlessly for even the subsist of her scents. There were many occasions of public discomfort this caused. Evil looks by passerbys. Under the breath comments. Even a cop once with a few too many questions that probably made me more uncomfortable than Dex’s apprehension of being away from his mamma.
Even now, when we have a bachelor’s weekend together I occasionally catch him wildly trying to track her down when he thinks I’m not paying enough attention. The loving devotion is almost enviable if it weren’t, well, so inhumanly cute as only Dexter could do it. He snaps out of it pretty quick and then usually clobbers me with kisses, nuzzling and then falling asleep in some awkward position on me as if he were a gargoyle growing out of my shoulder.
So, what does this all mean?
Well, it means that Dex should be an awesome older brother.
Assuming we can get him over the initial jealousy of having to share both of us with another being. It’s one thing to have Statler and Waldorf as pets but turtles, no matter how personable and awesome, just don’t encroach on personal space the same way a child likely will.
It was pretty obvious early on in the pregnancy Dex could tell something had changed. I can’t necessarily describe some of his behavioral tweaks but there was definitely differences in the how and what of his “routine.” Because of that, we’re hoping he’ll make the transition to the baby easily and won’t react negatively.
Obviously, we’ll have to make time for him separate-and-aside from the kid and we’ll have to introduce him to this new addition to the household smartly. Considering his track record with warming up to people, there’s a pretty good chance most of it goes without a hitch early on.
The bigger “concern” if you want to call it that is actually to counteract one of the things that makes Dex, well, Dex.
Dogs, as I’m given to understand, don’t have the ability to process memories linearly so they don’t process experiences the same way humans do. It takes a certain amount of repetition to create a habit and even moreso to break one.
One of Dex’s habits, which is the byproduct of the lack of linear time, is his reaction to either of us coming home. His usual behavior won’t be easy to manage while also juggling a baby and trying to undo his natural tendencies. He just loves us so much and wants to kiss and cuddle so badly that even mere moments apart are the same as hours and quelling his need to lovingly assault us so that we can manage both his desire for affection and not dropping baby on its head is imperative. Figuring out what this new balance in behavior will be, for both he and us, is, well challenging. Like I said, normally, he’s super well behaved, so it’s not like he can’t follow directions but even the most stern of commands and even the occasional other assistance hasn’t proven enough in the early going. That is, of course, to be expected, because we’re breaking a habit that’s based in a different way of processing memories than how humans do.
Another habit also has to do with his undying love for us as well. It’s not that anyone dislikes affection but Dex has an incessant need to give kisses. Sometimes aggressively. And, I’m not just talking about the innocent nibbling he does now that he’s had some of is front teeth removed in his old age. But, the kind of kissing that’s heavy tongued, rapidly paced and perhaps almost suffocating in its lack of ending. Believe me, it’s fun to roughhouse with him due to this quality at times but he will pull it out without regard to, well, anything other than his own desire to lick. For an adult we can overpower him physically when he doesn’t respond immediately to verbal commands and pick him up and put him out of trouble, but with a little one around they can neither verbally call him off or appropriately handle him otherwise. Training him to be more subtle will prove to be even more difficult than his reaction to missing us in the first place.
Finally, I’ve given to understand dogs of most breeds don’t have the same depth perception humans have, so they don’t realize the size difference between them and the world around them. It would certainly explain why Dex absolutely loves to confront the adolescent rot-pitbull mix on the trail at the lakes despite the fact the dogs paw is essentially the size of Dex’s cranium. Dex does it out of fun-loving interest and the other dog seems to enjoy the playfulness of it. But, it’s pretty obvious neither of them when they begin playing understands the size differences and us as owners are put in the awkward position of pulling them apart before they hurt one another. Even when Dex and I play, it’s obvious in his attack patterns he doesn’t realize the size difference so getting him to go a little more politely in the way he just generally interactions outside of the other two scenarios would be good.
I’m not worried too much actually. Dex is a quick study in so much stuff. Thus far, we’ve taught him commands for each stage in life. Early on I began to teach him short leash heal commands beyond his normal walking commands to deal with multi-mile walks around central park and we’re still refining on local trails and he’s been a great sport, especially when I take him out on photo sessions (I’ll never get every shot, but I’ll never feel bad about him missing the opportunity to explore with me, a few missed photos is a small price to pay for all those other experiences). We introduced wait and quiet as actual commands more recently and both verbal and physical cues that he is very responsive. Even more recent we’re teaching him the difference between his bowls too and he is doing good at responding too.
Even so, it’s weeks or months to establish new boundries and behaviors with Dex and we know that. The challenge will be figuring out what exactly we need to teach Dex in order to help make his relationship with the baby as seamless as possible during each stage of both their developments.
If I have any one thing to believe is when I was a kid our poodle was a lot like Dex and he took to me, and subsequently my sister in un-explainable ways and was beyond an awesome experience for me as a young human being to have as a first pet. I have no doubt at all that Dex is capable of being that too and however he behaves he will have the potential to craft this child’s love for animals the same way my first pet helped me craft mine.
Till then, the funniest thing ever will be to continue to watch Dex try to figure out curling up in a little fluffball on top of my wife’s ever expanding stomach in a feble attempt at ‘king of the kill.’ He is our king dex, aka rex dex, t-dex as in tyrannosaurus-dex, dexurus rex for now but a little princ/e/ss is on the way to share the throne once they emerge from his faux mountain perch.