The New Kid

I got this puppy in April 2020. I had been on multiple breeders lists and had been in line for multiple litters that didn’t happen all for good and understandable reasons. I wasn’t uptight about it, it’s just fate and the spin of some huge celestial wheel and then somehow you get a puppy one day.

The global pandemic of Covid-19 had begun, I lost my job at Ace Dog Sports which very sadly had closed down, and I was watching businesses board up their windows on every block, and people start wearing masks and avoiding each other. I was like YAY what a time for a puppy! I had no idea what was happening. I was just feeling good about it, and the breeder was so cool. She kept in touch with me and knew what I was looking for, a puppy for sports but not an insane puppy that’s hard to live with. Not shy, very confident and if you show him a toy he will run fast and want to GIT IT. If you introduce novel people and things he will approach, investigate, have interest in learning. He is totally like that and it’s so cool how I really did get so much of what I wanted.

Before his arrival, I got a bunch of beds and blankets and toys, I got a pen and a crate and some really nice little puzzle toys and water bowls. I had so much to learn. When he arrived he taught me that any water bowl not secured to something is a toy- it’s for splashing in and pushing around with the front feet, not for drinking. Beds that are very cushiony are simply for picking up in the mouth and thrashing the head back and forth, and then you hunker down and pull out all the stuffing. Toys that are not durable will be shredded, and not even in a fun enriching way that gives the puppy a good workout, but more in the style of let’s take an emergency trip to the vet hospital because these shredded fluffs are to be consumed.

I learned to give him very flat, vinyl pads to rest on and a towel or a very thinly padded sherpa thing. Thick cushions were weeded out or transferred to the very luxurious life of the senior dog, who enjoyed these secondhand luxuries and the thicker the padding, the better. He lounged around on them like a king on a throne. Toys that were very stuffy just got shredded with careful supervision and thrown away. They were lame and disposable, and the rubber milker tugs and hard ball-on-rope and tug -on-handle things became the real toys. The water bowl became a stainless pail with a flat side and a handle, clipped with stainless bolts to the side of the pen at four points of contact. There were still moments of slapping at it and a bit of splashing, but it pretty much became for drinking.

I thought I might call him Rumble or Motor or Jackson or Peregrine. Slap, Atlas or Jett. Mars, Villian, Justice, Hero.

But after trying out many cute and fun and lovely names, it became clear that his name was Crimes. His full name, “When Laws Are Unjust Crimes Are Justice.”

An unusual name, a name that makes people ask why the hell did you name him that. I can’t help it it’s just the right name. It’s his name, I didn’t know before I met him but it just is another thing I’ve learned.

I never would have guessed any of these things about him before I met him. We have been together for about 6 months and have successfully handled teething, house training, confinement and alone time, and how to live together in harmony with all 3 of us having pretty different needs throughout the day. He knows sit until released, down until released, circle work, jump, tunnel, forward GO. He likes a long duration nose target in highly arousing situations like toys being wiggled or god help us, a water hose being sprayed. He cannot stand being asked to hold an object and I think he just hates the way I ask. I have started bringing in the mail and folding the junk mail and casually asking him if he wants to bite it, and I’m getting more progress there than I was with my formal and special home made props that have worked with every other dog I’ve ever handled. Sometimes I just stop focusing so much on what my goals were and just play with him for a week and stop thinking so much about training goals. It’s kind of painful but I have to look at myself and my behavior, ask myself why so much pressure internally? What is it like to even be trained by you when you’re like this? I think any resistance or conflict between us is something I need to handle within myself and so here come the life lessons, ready or not. Every dog will tell you these kinds of things if you are observant enough. If you’re super grabby and try to take their stuff, you’ll create some real difficulty when you want them do deliver toys to your hand.

He’s durable, even if I’m acting like an asshole it doesn’t crush him, it just harms my chances of successfully getting what I want in the training session. It’s the perfect punishment for me actually, because that’s painful and I will not keep making that mistake forever even if I make it multiple times. I just have to see it to change course and when I get different results I get so damn happy and then we share the happiness and things spring forward again.

He was 8.8 pounds when I met him and now he’s 34 pounds of lean, muscular adolescent. He still likes to be handled, picked up and carried which actually delights me. He shouts a lot which I hate, but he’s starting to do some variations like a sing and a yodel and a sweet soft woo woo woo. He’s fast and strong and way bigger than I ever wanted. I was thinking 20, 25 pounds would be great, but here we are. He has very expressive ears that sometimes stand up and sometimes flop around and I was very certain that stand-up ears were crucial to my life, that they were required, but here we are, and he is my dog.

Well now I look at him with all he brings to my life, the whole package, the lessons I don’t even know I’m about to learn, the floppy ears and huge body and long legs and all the things I wanted and many that I didn’t, but he’s suddenly part of me. If he’s not in the car I still think he is and then I remember he’s at home. I’ll get to where I’m going and check the surveillance camera just to see what he’s up to, and my heart melts when I see he’s asleep in a crate with the door open and my older dog is sleeping in the same room, on the other side of the barrier but within sight / hearing of each other.

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