We have “that” dog. You know the one that is super naughty most of the time. The dog that isn’t your best friend, but rather is always trying to figure a way to get the most out of every situation. You know the one that acts like a wild beast, only sometimes willing to be tamed. He will do whatever it takes to get what he wants, even if it means spending an entire evening trapped on our table. Getting up to get what he wanted was easy, getting down was another story.
Linus is a golden retriever and loves having everything and anything in his mouth. Pillows, blankets, small arms of young children, large arms of adults, glass plates, trash, Love Rocks, clothes, potted flowers, potting soil, queen size comforter, and shoes of any size. This list can go on and on. He basically will put anything in his mouth, and if it doesn’t fit he will chew it down to size. He has a giant blanket that he carries around to aid in his obsession, but he is not opposed to replacing it with something he deems juicier.
I know what you are thinking, sounds like we are horrible dog parents and haven’t done anything to train him. But actually, we had a couple of trainers work with him and they thought he was a really good dog. They both agreed that he was really smart. and although they believed the stories we were telling, they felt that Linus was more than capable of behaving if he wanted to. He just didn’t want to. During our training sessions he would figure out what behaviors got him the treats, and he would focus on them. One trainer informed us that his manipulation skills were some of the best she had ever seen.
Great. We have a bad dog with awesome manipulation skills. What are you supposed to do with that?
On Mother’s Day of 2015, my husband and I received an amazing gift. Feeling nauseous and tired for a couple of weeks prior, I decided to take a pregnancy test to rule out the possibility that we were expecting. Having another child was not even on our radar, but we were both very shocked and delighted to find out that was happening.
With tears of joy in our eyes and happiness in our hearts, my husband and I looked at each other and said in unison, “Oh no, what about Linus?” The thought of bringing a baby home to our life with a naughty dog was extremely overwhelming. I would wake up in the middle of the night completely stressed that Linus would put our newborn in his mouth like he did with everything else. Of course I knew that I would have control over that when the time came, but worrying in the middle of the night always skews reality.
We immediately established a plan and called it, “Operation Gated Community” with designated Linus vs baby zones, all separated by baby gates to eliminate co-mingling. We had talk after talk about how we were going to protect our daughter from Linus putting her in his mouth, and we talked extensively about how to make sure he felt loved too. After all, we didn’t want him to harbor any resentment towards the new kid. Before bringing baby home, we did what all the books and trainers told us to do; we gave him a blanket with her scent on it so he could start to get acquainted with her smell. He carried it around and slept with it, which was a good first step.
I think the transition of bringing a baby into our world with Linus was a lot more overwhelming in our heads than it was in our hearts. I’ve grown up with dogs, and I will forever consider one them who was my constant companion for thirteen years, my “soul dog.” I had hope for Linus and our little girl, but knew it would take time.
Over the past 16 months we have found that our daughter has tamed our naughty, wild beast, and does indeed have a best friend that lives in our home. Linus, after some time, has realized that this “juicy” little being who got most of our attention is now giving him attention. They have developed a friendship that is amazing to witness and truly a blessing to our hearts. This relationship is full of unconditional love, daily ear-pulls, toy sharing, and lots of good food.
Linus may not be my “soul dog,” but he has definitely captured the heart of our youngest. And for that reason, I will be forever grateful to our big naughty dog.