Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Story of Panda

I thought since I have that adorable photo of her on the right side of the page, I should tell you a little bit about my dog-child, how we came to be a family, and some of her more amazing personality traits.

Yes, I know its silly to write a post about my dog, but I'm mostly doing this for myself.

In the beginning of 2010, I was not a happy camper. I was working somewhere I was unhappy because it was the only job I could get after college. I was getting home hours before my boyfriend, only to sit on the couch and eat my weight in cheese and crackers. I was still adjusting to living with someone full time, which was not easy for someone who had gotten used to living alone in college and liked things her way.

I was lonely and frustrated, so I threw out the idea of getting a puppy. The initial response was "we don't have time, and we don't have the space, and I don't want a little toy dog". I'd had these thoughts too. Neither of us are toy dog people, but I needed something to look forward to when I got home from the office of unnecessary drama, and I was convinced a puppy would be just the thing.

After I'd brought it up enough times, he said something to the extent of "Okay, Alyssa. Maybe we can get a dog, but only if it's this very specific kind of shepherd."

It took me maybe an hour to find this photo with an ad on Adoptapet.com. It said she was a Belgian shepherd - exactly the type of pup Tim had told me about.

I sent it to him right away, and since I have the patience of a 3 year old, I emailed the nonprofit and told them we'd be coming to the adoption on Saturday to meet her. They had applications for us to fill out, and they told me they always do home checks when they adopt out puppies, but I didn't care. Forms, home check, bring it on!

We were still apprehensive when we went to meet her on Saturday. She was not the warm and cuddly puppy we'd read about, but she was sweet and she was cautious. She let us pick her up, but she was reserved... and we totally got it, and it made us like her more.

That night, we officially submitted our application to adopt a puppy. Then we bought a crate and a set of bowls, and I ripped up an old sweatshirt and tied it into tug toys. The following Wednesday, I went to Petco and had a tag made for her. We forked over our adoption fee and took her home.

She's such a lady. She got majorly carsick on the drive home, but she politely got up off my lap, walked into her crate and puked out of sight.

She slept in her crate at night and every day while we were at work. The first day I came home from work on lunch to take her out, she cried and cried until I picked her up and carried her out to the grass.

We quickly learned to speak each other's language. That crying and running in circles doesn't mean "I want to play". It means "I gotta goooooooo".

Getting up at 6am and putting on real clothes just so I didn't have to feel embarrassed when I took the dog out first thing quickly got old. I eventually stopped changing into jeans every time and only changed when I had gone to bed in pjs covered in cat-aliens.

She was the big reason we outgrew our 600 sq ft apartment on the 3rd floor. That kind of space just doesn't work with a 65 lb dog. Elevators and stairs and strangers who are mysteriously afraid of the 20 lb puppy who just wants to be friends... but we all need to get our mail, and usually I need to get my mail when I'm taking the dog out for our evening walk.

She's a hardcore snuggle bug, and there's no question she thinks she's a lap dog.

She outgrew her crate so quickly. My aunt had a bigger one she let us borrow, but she was sleeping on the floor by the bed around the time she was 6 months old - couldn't sleep in crate with that giant cone on her neck anyway.

Chewing on things she shouldn't was the hardest thing we had to train her out of. She stress chewed until she was almost a year old, but not just on shoes or water bottles or whatever we left on the floor. She chewed on baseboards, furniture, and into walls.

One morning I woke up and found a hole the size of a mango underneath our bedroom window.

We moved when she was about 9 months old. It was like all the work we'd put in to calm her down went right out the window. We were leaving her alone all day in a strange place. Many a piece of furniture was destroyed. She also got into a bag unopened bag of 12 disposable razors... TWICE. I cried as we tore the room apart making sure every single blade was accounted for.

She's usually very friendly, but gets majorly stressed out in large groups of people, which means less friendly and more growling.
We took her to the Rose Bowl to hang out while I ran my 10K. At one point Tim had to run back to the car while I went to sign in. I had to take her into the swarm of people to wait in line for my tag. Waiting in line with her was a disaster. Everyone wanted to come up and say hi, but she was terrified, so she actually growled at some people. Note to everyone, if a large black dog is wrapped around her owners legs, head down, eyes up - probly a bad idea to approach. For real. My dog is a sweetheart, but read the non-verbals.

I took this after I found a shady spot to calm her down.

There are a lot of rules about pets in our condo community - no dogs in the pool area, no dogs off leash, pick up after your pets (the normal stuff). Someone scratched the NO off the sign in the pool area, so I took her leash off for this photo op.

I let her off leash all the time because I know that I can trust her to stop dead in her tracks at my say so.

One thing she does - that she probably shouldn't, but I like it, and I don't know how I would begin to train her not to do it - we call the "Dive Bomb of Love".

She is always SUPER excited when we come home from work - both of us, so she does this twice every day. It goes a little something like this...

I open the door. To stop her from jumping on me, I lower myself to her level, typically into a squat or crouched in my knees. Then she kind if moves like she's trying to tunnel underneath my legs and then flops over on her back for snuggles and belly rubs.

Too bad I don't have a video of it. *sad face*

Instead, please accept this totally awesome video of Panda barking at the giant teddy bear in our old place...

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