Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I am a real boy (er dog), Geppeto!

Our dog Dante does not act like a normal dog in any way, shape or form. One of his quirks is that he does not like to play with toys. He has never played with any type of toy since we got him over a year and a half ago. He does like to play with other dogs at the dog park on occasion, but he's really unique in that he can tailor his style of play depending on the dog he's playing with. If it's a small dog or puppy he's really gentle, but his favorite is when he finds another dog with dominant tendencies that he can play rough with.

Well, today he decided to actually play with a BALL. What!?! We had been out playing tennis and we were just sitting under a tree hanging out getting ready to put the tennis balls away when Dante decided to pick one up and start running around with it. DH and I just looked at each other in total shock and amazement and DH said "I wish we had a camera". Well, being fully prepared for any occasion, I did have my camera in the stroller so I started snapping pictures in case this was the only time he did this. We think he might have been abused or hit with balls before we got him because he has always run from the tennis balls or soccer balls whenever we were playing with them. Ari was so excited to see him playing like a real dog! That is his tennis ball now!

DH is Dante's favorite person and DH is Dante's favorite (over other dogs even) to play rough with. So, when they start to play around, DH has gotten him to play with his tennis ball a few times since then. To Ari's dismay Dante won't play rough with her because he knows she is the "puppy" of the family. He will play with me if DH isn't around, but when I was about 8 months pregnant and on blood thinners I had to take him out for a walk because DH wasn't home. He ran up behind me and chomped down on my arm (like he does with DH) and left a huge bruise about 3 inches across on my arm because of the blood thinners. He doesn't break the skin because he is play biting, but it hurt, so I discouraged that pretty quick. He doesn't play rough with me much anymore!J

A little background…

On a Friday afternoon in late July 2006 Ari was in Idaho staying with Grandma and Grandpa for a few weeks and I had taken the afternoon off to spend some extra time with DH. He was doing research at the time at some vineyards about 45 minutes away from where we live and I went with him to see where he had been working. He had been telling me of these two dogs that lived at the vineyard that didn't belong to the owners and were starving and emaciated and how cute this one yellow lab was. The other dog was a Rottweiler that pretty much stayed away from people. He and his co-researcher had been taking dog food and feeding them but we decided on this day we were going to try and find the yellow lab and take him to the SPCA. We looked and looked for the yellow lab but couldn't find him. I really wanted to see this dog because my DH had talked him up so much and had even said he wouldn't mind keeping the dog if we had more space (we live in a townhouse with a tiny backyard). We were about to leave but I suggested driving around one more time and that's when we saw the Rottweiler. He was miserably hot and so skinny that he didn't even have the energy to get up when we went to give him food. My heart just broke. We talked to the manager of the vineyard who didn't really speak any English but we did get "you want, take him" out of him. He could hardly even stand he was in such bad shape and DH had to lift him into the back of the truck. We called the local shelter and drove him there to drop him off. They checked him out but said that because of where we found him they couldn't take him and we'd have to drive him to a different shelter. The girl also said that the other shelter only kept animals for 72 hours and if they weren't adopted by then they euthanized them. It was about 4:30 in the afternoon and there was no way we were going to make it to the other shelter in time so we stopped off at a local pet store and got a cheap collar and leash and a small bag of dog food to last through the weekend. On previous occasions we had talked about what kind of dog we would get when we had space for one and I was pretty emphatic that I didn't want a Rottweiler. For some reason I have always had some kind of prejudice against them. My DH on the other hand had owned a few Rottweilers in his life and really liked them. My husband also really wanted to get a pure bred dog because he said you're more guaranteed in what type of temperament and such that you are going to get, but I was also emphatic that it needed to be a rescue since there were plenty of good homes for pure bred dogs, but that rescues need good homes. Well, after having this Rottweiler for the weekend I fell in love, and DH got his way on the Rottweiler issue and I got my way on having a rescue. We spent close to $1000 on vet bills to get him healthy again and it's our joke that he cost as much as a pure bred without the papers or guarantees.

After Ari got back from Grandma and Grandpa's we sat down and talked about names as a family and came up with Dante! (You know, Dante's Inferno about the 9 layers of Hell…Rotweilers are said to the dogs that guard the gates of Hell so we thought it was a fitting name for such a mean looking dog) He is the sweetest, most gentle dog you would ever want to meet and a scaredy cat too. One time a delivery driver knocked really loudly on the door and he ran upstairs to hide, no barking or protecting…nothing. Nice guard dog huh? Everyone is afraid of him just by the way he looks though. I have taken him out on walks after dark and never been worried because people will cross to the other side of the path or take the long way around us once they see him, makes us laugh because we know the truth, but a nice visual deterrent if nothing else. He's also great because he doesn't chew on things so he doesn't tear up the house and since we don't have a yard we (mostly DH) take him out for two walks a day and he's perfectly ok with just going to the bathroom on those two walks. He is just sits there when the neighbor kids like to hang on him and play with his tail...he just sits there and takes it and just looks at us like "why are you letting them do this to me?" He is definitely the perfect dog for us.

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