For those of you who know Joe’s and my canine clan, this is not one of Huff’s baby pictures. No, yesterday, we adopted Minnie, a one-year old Great Dane from the award-winning Virginia Beach SPCA!
The spitting image of our 160 pound, 5 1/2 year old Huff, only 100 pounds lighter (we’re working on that), Skinnie Minnie has the sweetest disposition. And she’s such a happy dog, though she doesn’t necessarily look like it in the picture.
She was trapped by Animal Control in a trailer park and kept at their kennel for the required number of days. No one called to claim her, so an employee from our SPCA, where my husband is the president, brought her over to their facility. Last weekend–very blue and missing our recently deceased Webster–I had no sooner emailed Sharon Adams, their extraordinary executive director, to say “if anyone special shows up needing a home, be sure to let us know,” than she notified Joe about Minnie.
He met her last Tuesday at a meeting; I met her that night. It was love at first sight. When she gave me kisses, I was a goner. Then, Thursday night, we went for an official meet-n-greet with our dogs and the kennel manager, Barbara Gibson. Barb is such an experienced pro and knew just how to “manage” the dogs…and us! Poor dogs didn’t know what was expected of them–sort of like us–and it turns out that our big boy Huffie is quite jealous of, especially, my affections. He got his first two tastes of Bitter Apple, but he responded as we needed for him to with, “Oh, I guess that was inappropriate behavior.”
I was admittedly worried about the get-acquainted period. Would it be 2 days or 2 weeks and would Huff ever accept her? I’ve seen Huff out of control once–with Pyttle–and it was ugly. Plus, he’s so big that he’s not easily controlled. But that was years ago, so I had high hopes for his acceptance of Minnie who is extremely friendly and submissive, though not timid. It seems that whoever owned her previously socialized her well.
Thank goodness we had our good friends Marc and Juliane Curvin here for the weekend (they used to belong to a schutzhund club). It was very helpful to have additional pairs of knowledgeable and calm hands on board. Juliane and I went to pick Minnie up and, when we got home, the boys brought Huff out to meet her. He was somewhat aggressive, so we immediately took them for a walk which, being on neutral territory, broke the initial ice. Still, back in the house, we kept both of them on their leashes with a bottle of Bitter Apple at the ready, which we had to use a couple of times. There were lots of feelings bubbling beneath the surface, and a few signs of trash talkin’ aggression from Huff, though Pyttle seemed mostly okay with what was happening.
To compress the last 24 hours into a few words, suffice it to say that, after literally having to wake Minnie up at 7 a.m. in her crate, there was more of the same posturing this morning, though better. But, at some point, someone dropped his leash and nothing catastrophic happened. So the other dropped his and, pretty soon, Huff and Minnie were just wandering around and acting quite normal, if a little unsure. Pyttle was mostly keeping her distance, though coming down to check on things periodically.
Barb had told us that when Huffie bowed in the play position, we were as good as home-free. And he did it this morning on the deck! However, lest we get too comfortable, he lunged at Minnie later in the house, and she squealed like she’d been dealt a death blow, though he hadn’t even touched her.
We found that, as we started going about our quasi-normal Sunday morning activity, the dogs followed suit. Without us refereeing, they were fine. I guess the phenomenon is akin to when parents get too involved in issues that their kids just need to work out. The palpable change was evident to the guys too, who had gone to the gym at around 10. When they walked in, Marc said, “Are they a pack now?” and it was clear that they were.
At around 11:30, we went with the Curvins to brunch and then dropped them at the airport. When we got home, we saw this brindle dog stand up on the sofa, stretch, and step down. We assumed it was Huff, but it was Minnie who we’d left in her crate! We quickly looked around for signs of mayhem, but all was quite well. She had found a way out and was napping on the sofa while the other two were following suit upstairs, unfazed. Still, we’re going to batten down the hatches for our first day back at work tomorrow so that our pet sitters don’t find her on the lamb again.
A mere 24 hours after she came home to live with us, she has been 99% accepted by her pack and 110% loved and adored by her “parents.”