Those of you who have been with me since the beginning may remember that I was stalked by one of Devin’s affair partners. This is nothing like that. This is not terrifying. This is hilarious.
A few months ago, we brought a puppy into our home. Yes, that’s right. Another one. We now have three dogs. One was super easy to bring in to the home. He was a puppy from the SPCA. The other, well she came from a hoarding case that was so large it required several states to adopt out the animals - large and small.
Both have their own set of unique quirks that make them loveable and causes us to say, “Well, we don’t know what they went through before they came to us so….” And the sentence never gets finished because how do you explain a dog who just won’t stop licking people? Or another who completely ignores you until she’s damn good and ready to receive some affection?
Our latest addition to the pack was brought in because our oldest is starting to show signs of aging. Don’t worry, he’s got plenty of time left, but we wanted to make sure that whatever dog we brought into the pack would pick up on his sweet, kind, and loving demeanor.
It worked. The Doberman just turned a year old and is the gentlest guy I’ve ever been blessed to have. Even more so than my first Dobie. He loves to snuggle although he doesn’t quite understand how big he is just yet and I’m wondering if he ever will (so I get squished a lot).
He also loves to stalk us. I’ve never had a dog that stalks and it’s hysterical. At first, he would only stalk me and sometimes Devin. Now he’ll stalk anyone that stalks him too. He also peeks around corners to make sure we’re there or let us know he wants to play. Here’s what a stalking Doberman looks like
Not my Dobie:
(^^^not my Dobie but you get the drift)
Since writing this post, I joined a Doberman Facebook group and discovered that stalking Dobies are very common...so are Dobies that squish their loved ones. They all love to cuddle and smoosh their family. Along with following them everywhere. That's why they're called velcro dogs:
I'd like to take this opportunity to welcome Guilie Castillo. If you don't know her, she's simply amazing. Not only does she share my love of animals, she rescues them. Not the kind of rescue I pictured, you know, walk into the local animal shelter and take one home....like me. No, she's on the front lines, rescuing animals from the streets, many times from dangerous situations, then bringing them to safety and to healing. Take it away, Guilie.
Elsie, thanks so much for having me over today! I’ve been an admirer of your blog for a long, long time—it fills me with awe, how effectively you manage to address issues that leave 90% of the population at a loss, not just for words but for hope. In talking about these hard, hard issues, you strike a tone that manages to feel familiar, even friendly, without trivializing any of it in any way.
Which is why, when you said (in a previous post) that our writing styles are similar, you made me blush to the tips of my ears. That tone, which you achieve here so (seemingly) effortlessly, is exactly what I wanted the Dog Book (aka It’s About the Dog: the A-to-Z Guide for Wannabe Dog Rescuers) to sound like: no guilt-tripping or self-indulgent wallowing, just a straight-up, honest look at what it’s about, and—hopefully—a guide for those who want to help.
Well, a beginner’s guide. I can’t stress that enough. Ask any experienced rescuer: there really is no easy cookie-cutter formula that guarantees a successful rescue; that only comes from experience, from doing it over and over. Why? Because no two rescue dogs are the same. They’re unpredictable. They come with hang-ups. They’re really, really smart; they have to be, to survive for as long as they do out on the street. And they’ve learned all sorts of behaviors that do not an easy rescue make.
Or an easy housemate.
I admit your Dobie is the first stalker dog I’ve ever heard of. (Is it weird that now I want to play stalk with him?) I’ve had cats who stalked me but… no, never a dog. I do have a clingy one, though. His name is Sam, and he agreed, most generously, to grace the front cover of the Dog Book. Sam, along with six siblings, was born in the house, under my office desk, one windy night in November 2012. (The mom had been rescued from a garbage dump, we were too late to do anything about the pregnancy, seven puppies happened.) He’s never known any family but ours, any home but this one… And yet he’s terrified of—well, all sorts of things, including a ceramic cow, about five inches tall, that sits on a shelf in the living room. But mostly he’s terrified of being outside a three-foot radius of me. This means I have to be very careful before scooting back my desk chair, avoid sudden movements, look where I step. Every step. It means I will never be lonely on the six-step trek to the kitchen, the cross-living-room odyssey to the washing machine—and I will never, ever again know the joy of a solitary trip to the bathroom.
The quirkiest dog I live with, though, is Rusty. (The black dog in the book’s back cover.) It’s not because her quirks are necessarily so much weirder, but rather because they’re so unexpected. She is the sweetest, gentlest soul, incredibly well-mannered (not our doing; she came like that right off the street), social and tolerant and playful. On walks, even though she loves being outside (and has been known to jump out the car window as soon as she sees the beach coming up), she’ll stay right at my heel. And when she does make one of her dashes—usually to water; she loves water—she comes back immediately when called. She’s the perfect dog, in fact—except for one thing:
She’s an escape artist.
For reasons we haven’t been able to understand in all the years she’s been with us, Rusty loves the street. It’s not separation anxiety; she jumps over the gate even when we’re home. She shows no signs of being unhappy, has no conflicts with any of the other dogs, has two yards here at home, both large and shady and full of iguanas begging to be chased. When we’re on walks she never strays. If she goes off with the others to explore, she’s always the first one to reappear. But back home… it’s like she’s suddenly possessed by the demon of wanderlust. And she always comes back—if we haven’t found her first. She’s never gone for long, but we panic nonetheless; it’s a busy street we live on, and although she seems surprisingly street-smart, it’s a stupid risk. And people here aren’t all that dog-friendly. All it takes is one call to Animal Control, and she’d be in hot water.
She even scaled a three-meter-high fence at a dog hotel once. (There went our plans to raise the gate.)
The weird thing is that she won’t jump over walls, only the gate. We thought it was because she could see through that, and the street being out there, so inviting, so welcoming—well, impossible to resist. So we changed the gate. But, alas, she still jumps.
We tried exercise. Maybe she gets restless, we thought. So I started going out on long—really long—walks with her. And for a while it looked like that might be it. Until one day we came back from a four-hour walk and, while I was rinsing off another dog, she jumped out.
So now we’re extra vigilant when we’re home. And when we go out—when she can’t come with us—we leave her locked in one of the bedrooms. Not alone; we thought that was cruel. So we leave another of the dogs with her, someone not too boisterous. And she’s fine in there. No destruction whatsoever. Not even a single scratch on the door. She’s so well-behaved, in fact, that she won’t even pee indoors. Not even when we’ve had to be gone for hours.
Why the escapism? We don’t know. None of our multiple behaviorist consultants have been able to give us an answer. It’s just part of who she is, and at ten years old, chances are we won’t be able to train it out of her. Or, apparently, walk it out of her, either. We just need to learn to live with it.
Like you said, Elsie, “We don’t know what they went through before they came to us.” And maybe it doesn’t really matter. Maybe it’s one of our own quirks, this human obsession with ‘history’, with the past. Maybe dogs come into our lives to, among other things, teach us to take things as they are, to change what we can, to accept what we can’t, and to acquire the wisdom to know the difference.
— * —
Elsie, thank you so much again for letting me run off my mouth—fine, my typing fingers—here at your lovely blog. I’m so proud to be a part of it now, and I hope I’ve been able to contribute a bit of insight, a couple of chuckles at least, to you and your readers. Thank you, also, for the wonderful home you’ve provided to your furry ones. We need more of you in the world!
— * —
Guilie Castillo, Mexican expat, writer, and dog rescuer, is the author of It’s About the Dog: The A-to-Z Guide for Wannabe Dog Rescuers (Everytime Press, April 2018), a hands-on, less-tears-more-action, 100% practical introduction to dog rescue.
This post is a part of The Dog Book Blog Tour; during April and May, author and book will be making the rounds of dog-loving sites on the blogosphere to talk dogs and rescue—and to give away THREE signed copies. (More about both tour and giveaway here.) Come join us!
Have you ever had a pet that stalks you? Do you have a pet that likes to cuddle?
Also, our Dobie is having surgery today, so if you would, could you send some prayers and healing vibes our way? Thanks!
ETA: Our Dobie is home from the vet and is doing good. He's in a bit of pain, (and not shy about letting us know how much he's hurting and it's quite heartbreaking on this mamma), but he's on the mend! Thanks for all the prayers and good vibes!