Living on the island of Cozumel has many advantages. With her lovely shores, friendly people and exotic foliage it has become the perfect place to start a new life. But, in spite of everything, there was still something missing. Companionship. Since the furry kind seemed best, for now, off I went to the island’s Humane Society. And, since this was not my first time going to such a place, I made a decision before I went. Ask to see the dog who’d been there the longest, or had the most problems and then I’d be less likely to want to adopt them all. There is always something heartbreaking about walking past a series of cages filled with the hopeful. I long to be rich and have a huge home to fill with the unwanted. But, back to this story…….
Once there I was immediately introduced to a dog that had the markings of a doberman, but the temperament of a mouse. Her tail was between her legs, her head was so low her nose almost hit the ground and she peed herself every single time I tried to reach out. When asking about her history I discovered that she’d been mistreated and then abandoned while still a puppy, and had then spent the rest of her short life in the Humane Society. Confident in my abilities, I know better now, I adopted her and named her Serenity, or Nity for short.
That night she stayed in the corner of my apartment venturing out only to pee in the middle of my floor. But, to start immediate training seemed a cruel thing to do so I merely cleaned it up while whispering reassurances. I’d bought a leash and a collar with tags and put them on her the next morning as soon as the sun came up. It took close to half an hour to get her out the door, and another half hour to get her to walk outside. Every person that walked, drove, or bicycled past caused her tail to go between her legs just in time to get peed on. She was not a happy pup. But, I still had all the confidence that she would emerge from her shell. It was just going to take some time.
Let’s jump ahead a few months. I’ve been told that people should be careful what they asked for and, to be honest, I’ve always thought that saying was a bit trite. I don’t think that anymore. Nity developed confidence alright, enough confidence that she decided to let me know who was in charge and it wasn’t me. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. I’d adopted a dachshund I’d seen on a local forum for two reasons. First, the old girl needed a home and I had a bit of room, and, secondly, to be a companion to Nity. It worked miracles. My mousey dog not only came out of her shell, but she began to challenge her place in the pack. Not towards Metta, my dachshund, because she loves other animals. No, her challenge was directed solely towards me and mine.
She began to wake me at 4:00, 5:00, or 6:00 depending on her mood that morning. Our walks consisted of my arms being stretched in two directions. One for the doberman wannabe going forward with emphasis, and the other for the dachshund who just wants to sniff and dawdle behind. The walk, or as I like to think of it, “the tug,” would last about an hour. Once back home I’d feed them. But, how she still had an appetite after eating shoes, toilet paper, pillows, a fan cord, a yogurt container (with the yogurt still in it that I’d forgotten on the counter), bath rugs, bath towels, sheets, mattress corners, and my plants is anybody’s guess. Funny thing was, she’d be picky about what I put in her bowl. A broom handle was tasty, Purina Dog Chow was not. Who knew? But, her tail was no longer between her legs to use as a pee stick. Nope, now she used my bed as her private toilet, the tail was spared. And I began to question my sanity.
What to do? I called friends, wrote and asked for help on the local forum Cozumel my Cozumel, read articles online by advocates of whispering and clacking, and talked to the vet. I got many good suggestions and I did begin to apply a few of them. And, I want to say that those were what made the difference, but I’d be lying. No, it was the day of my final meltdown that caused the biggest change. And, before I go any further I want to say just one thing, they (the dogs) are a lot smarter than they let on.
There I was, with chewed leaves in my hands, scolding Nity yet again about her latest adventure (she’d destroyed my Bougainvillea) when I broke down. In tears I sat down on a hot cement deck with Nity in my arms. While looking her in the eyes I was telling her that I just might have to take her back to the “pound” (the word I used at the time) and was letting her know that things just couldn’t go on like that anymore. Was I in need of counseling? Perhaps, but after about a half hour of complete, and unintended, hysteria something happened. She got up and looked at me, licked my face, and, apparently, made a decision.
So, here we are just a couple of weeks later and I am happy to report that not a single plant, shoe, or fan has been consumed. My toilet paper remains on the roll, and my newest mattress is still sanitary. A friend showed me how to walk her and, sure as I’m sitting here, that worked too. I tell her to go lay down when she gets me up before 6:00 and, yes, she does it. Now, she still won’t eat Purina, but she doesn’t eat plastic anymore either. In fact, for the purpose of this blog I put her on her bed with two choices for a photographic opportunity. And, yes, it could have been classified as entrapment if it’d worked. I gave her both a tennis shoe and one of her chewy toys, but it only took a second before she picked the toy. It’s a miracle!
Now, this is certainly not meant to be advice. Nor do I think this is the way it should have been handled, I hope to never repeat the performance, but I’m not going to question the results. Who knows, maybe she just needed to know what my breaking point was? No matter, I’m happy to report that life is now good for all concerned. Salud!