1. MAYBE I should have left his name as Elvis, with the way he treats the furniture, he certainly appears to believe he’s a king.
For a dog that has never lived inside a house before, Moomkin has certainly been making up for lost time. In my house, animals are allowed on the furniture. When you spend half of every single year sleeping and relaxing alone (Will is a military firefighter, between their regular schedule and regular deployments, I’m lucky if we get even that much face to face time!) having animals to snuggle up with can be a real mood lifter. I don’t have any “small” dogs, or any small cats for that matter. So I’m used to how much room can be taken up when one of them decides to stretch out. But I have never seen a dog so intent on taking up every single spare space, on every single piece of furniture. Moomkin spends all day bouncing from couch to love seat to chair, back to couch, back to love seat, back to couch, trying the chair again now, Mom! It doesn’t matter which other animal is trying to rest where, he has to spend time in each and every single spot.
He also treats furniture as his personal thrones Every night, I put all the dog toys back in to their toy box. And every morning, Moomkin bolts downstairs and starts the routine between he and Syn that will go on throughout the day. First, he finds his skunk (its his favorite), and places it gently on the love seat. Then he goes back for the kong, then wubba, next is the rope toys, followed by the rubber rings, a couple balls, and finally, a frisbee. Each toy is placed carefully on its assigned furniture piece, where it will remain until Syn decides she’s had enough. Syn will then proceed to gather up ALL of the toys, and take them into her kennel, where she will guard them fiercely until something moves outside and requires her dedicated intervention. At which point, Moomkin will promptly swoop in and return the toys to their rightful place on his thrones. Back and forth the two of them will go, all day long, until I clean up the mess they’ve made and shut the door to the dog room for the night.
2. If I scream loudly enough, MAYBE Moomkin will realize that he’s sitting on my face. Then again, MAYBE not.
It’s bad enough that Moomkin doesn’t have any respect for the furniture, but he also lacks any manners whatsoever when it comes to personal space. Moomkin is a BIG dog, and getting bigger every day. His paws are larger than my hands, his forearms make my forearms look like sticks, and his head probably weighs as much as the rest of his body combined. He’s old enough to have learned where, and where not, to impose himself on someone, but his education has clearly been lacking. Moomkin places himself where ever he wants, whenever he wants, regardless of what is already there.
My pillow looks more comfortable then his? I wake up to a mouth full of dog fur wondering if I’m drowning. It’s time for his turn on the couch? No, that’s okay Moomkin, I don’t mind your butt ON MY FACE. My side of the bed is closer to the fan? Sure, go ahead buddy, lay across my stomach, I don’t have to pee or anything. Olivia is trying to type up some important paperwork for P.E.T.? No big deal, what’s a laptop without some slobbery doggie artwork!
3. Moomkin MAY BE the slowest eater I have ever met.
Moomkin weighed in at 83 lbs the day we got him. For a giant dog breed like a Tibetan Mastiff, that’s about half the average weight for a male. Moomkin isn’t a particularly large TM, but he’s not small either. My goal is to bring him up another 25 to 30 lbs over the next year. He’s still young and clearly has a great deal of filling out left to do; that alone will buff him up. Added to the fact that he was underweight from the travel, well, it’ll be interesting to see what he eventually weighs in at one day.
Rescue dogs by nature tend to eat well because they never forget what it was like to not have access to regular meals. Large dogs eat lots of food. Moomkin is currently getting 6 cups a day (about 2 cups less then I want him to be eating). He eats two meals, morning and night, and gets Salmon Oil and Seameal as supplements. Every meal requires a prolonged discussion to convince him, that yes, his toys will still be there when he’s done. No, eating meals isn’t optional. Yes, the cats are still out of reach in the cat room. No, Moomkin, you can not take a mouthful of kibbles and bring them onto the couch. Yes, Moomkin, I am picking this dish up if you don’t want anymore, and no, you may not complain later that you are hungry and ask for a snack. I thought he would have settled down and in to a better eating routine by now, but it’s slow going. And I am having to learn to accommodate his distracted eating style, because if I need to feed my dogs and walk out the door in five minutes, that’s just not happening anymore!
4. MAYBE Moomkin doesn’t realize that’s my breast he just tried to chew on.
Moomkin puts everything into his mouth. Everything. Toys, blankets, pillows, hands, feet, the cats, the other dogs heads, legs, or ears (whatever he can reach best), and when he’s really feeling frisky, my breast! They estimate his age to be between 2 or 3 years, but if I had to guess, its closer to two. He’s like this two month old puppy in a really big body. He chews constantly (thankfully he sticks to the dog toys for that). He steals anything soft. He likes to nibble on the dogs, and if I happen to be in the way, he nibbles on me too. He has no idea that the pads of his feet are rougher than sandpaper, and he loves to throw them around to get your attention. That means paws to your face, throat, chest, legs, whatever is convenient. Time for mom to wake up? Whack! There, she’s awake; wonder where that black eye came from though… she needs to be more careful. The fact that he does it all with this ridiculous smile on his face makes it so hard to stay mad though.
5. If he stands up and puts his paws on my shoulders, MAYBE Moomkin can get me to open the door faster.
Sit has not come easy to Moomkin. Actually, none of the commands we are working on have come easy to him. And it’s not because he’s dumb, he’s just stubborn. And distracted. And lazy. And not the least bit food motivated (except hot dogs but I can’t stomach feeding my dog that many hot dogs a day). The result is that I have had to get really creative about finding rewards that make working worth it for him. One of the best I’ve found is doors. Moomkin loves when doors open. He just can’t wait to see what’s on the other side (he’s hoping its the cats)! His impatience has gotten so bad that he’s decided he can hurry me along by climbing up my back. Clearly, an open door is motivation for him. The result? Moomkin doesn’t get to go through any doors until he sits. He doesn’t even get to see the door start to open until he sits. And if he doesn’t stay sitting, the door closes again before he can get through it. There is no command given in this exercise. The point isn’t yet to teach him what the word “sit” means, it’s too teach him that the act of sitting leads to a positive reward. The sit has to be his choice. Sometimes it takes a very, very long time to let the dogs out in the morning. But I can be as stubborn as he can, and slowly but surely, he’s choosing to sit faster.
6. The cats are less then convinced that MAYBE he won’t chew on them again.
We’ve been working on our cat manners for a little bit every day. The cats are getting tired of hiding out in the cat room (they are used to ruling the house), and I refuse to banish them there for life just because Moomkin is rude. We’ve gotten to the point where he doesn’t bother with them when they are in their room, but god forbid they decide to take a stroll to the kitchen! He’s taken a few swipes to the face, but I think he is too fluffy to feel them. This may take longer then I thought, darn stubborn dog.
7. MAYBE’s are chances worth taking.
Every day I get to wake up to the most wonderful sight in the world… my furry family cuddled on or around the bed. Some people think it’s crazy to have so many of them, but as someone who is alone so much of the time, I can honestly say that each and every one of them brings something unique and priceless into my life. Bringing a new dog into an established family of animals is always risky. Bringing home a rescue means you can never really be sure why they act the way they do. There’s a steep learning curve, and lots of moments where you ask yourself, “What did I get myself in to?!? Maybe this wasn’t such a great idea.” The thing is, there are a lot more moments when you find yourself grinning and laughing like a loon and telling him, “You are so worth it, you crazy dog. Maybe’s are so worth it.”