We are approaching Rocket's 6 month birthday, which means we've had him for about four months. But I can't remember what life was like before we got him.
I was still sort of saying goodbye to Oz in my heart and I had decided that I was not going to replace him. I saw news that a litter of puppies was born in Connecticut through Relic Canaan Dogs. About four weeks after that, another litter was born. The pictures of the puppies were getting to me. My friend, Renee, noticed me appreciating the photos and asked me if I was looking. I insisted that I wasn't.
One night I was out with a couple of friends that are older and wiser than myself. They have had several German Shepherds through their life. They had asked if I was going to get a puppy for Gogo and I told them that I was not going to get another dog. They said to me: "You have to get another dog. That's what life is." That phrase stuck with me. I let it roll around in my head.
I contact Amy at Relic Canaan Dogs and asked for some details about the two litters. We started a dialogue. Within no time, I had a name all picked out. Amy started sending me pictures of the puppy that she thought would be good for me. I made plans to go out and visit both litters. Then this happened:
I still get a little choked up when I watch this video. I fell head over heels in love with him on that day. I knew without a doubt that he was the puppy for me. For those of you that don't know, Canaan Dogs are supposed to wary of strangers. They're supposed to take some time to warm up to you. Every single one of the other puppies did what Canaan Dogs are supposed to do: treat you with curiosity and trepidation. But as soon as little Rocket was dropped in my lap, he was a kissy, wiggly, fuzzy potato of a dog.
Amy drove to New York to deliver Rocket to me a few weeks later. The meeting between him and Gogo went very well on the first day. Unfortunately, it didn't go so well after that. Gogo was cranky and then seemed to grow depressed. She stopped eating. I had wondered that perhaps we had made a mistake. David and I decided to shower Gogo with attention as much as possible. We booked a weekend in Fire Island and took only Gogo with us. After a couple of weeks, Gogo was used to Rocket and was eating again. They now occasionally play - which consists of Gogo stealing Rocket's food or toys and growling at him if he tries to get near her. I think Gogo appreciates Rocket now - especially now that he is not constantly nipping at her or trying to kiss her. It was funny to see grumpy Gogo fawned over by her little ward.
It had been so long since I had a puppy, that there was so much I had forgotten. I was amazed how quickly he grew. There were times that David and I swore he increased in size overnight.
Looking back on it, the house training went quickly. However, at the time I didn’t feel that way. There were times when I would get him to pee outside, then take him back indoors and he would immediately pee again. As I got a paper towel and the carpet cleaner, he would pee again right near me. I think at one point I counted five successive pees. Since he is a Canaan Dog, house training generally went out the window when it rained. He would much rather go to the bathroom indoors where it’s dry.
But how can you stay angry at a face like this?!
We are now in a steady routine. I take him for a walk every morning and we go to the dog run. He loves nothing more than running around the dog run and playing with everyone he runs into. Sometimes the dog run can be a little frightening. I’ve found that a lot of owners with problem dogs don’t want to admit they have a problem dog. Especially owners of problem pit bulls. Having had one dog that was a problem dog, I can relate. However, Gogo was never violent - just loud and obnoxious. And that was enough to keep us from the dog run.
Rocket is pretty sleepy during the day which allows me to get work done. I give him a walk at night to make sure he sleeps well.
He arrived crate-trained for bed when we got him, but during the house-training, he got the better of us. Sometimes he would wake us up in the middle of the night and I would take him outside. When we got back in, I would let him sleep in the bed with us. Then when I went out of town, David let him sleep on the bed with him. And now I shudder to think what would happen if we tried to put him in the crate for the night.
After a couple of months, I saw a look in his eyes. It reminded me of Oz - that look that says just how much he loves being with me all the time. I gave it right back to him. I knew we were stuck together.
He’s still growing into a handsome young man. I can’t believe he isn’t even 6 yet. We constantly get stopped on the street by people asking what his breed is, if they can take a picture, etc.
David and I are still waiting for the bitey and destructive phase to be over. Even when he kisses me, he gets worked up and does this sort of teeth scrape kiss. He just loves biting for some reason. It's never hard, it's just kind of annoying.
When he was deep into puppyhood, I kept thinking “When is he going to grow out of this and be a self-sufficient dog?!” An hour later, I would notice that he didn’t quite fit in my arms the way he used to and I would think “Wait a minute? That phase is puppyhood is gone already? This going too fast!"