Looking Back on 7 Years of Man’s Best Friend (part 1)

12 August 2010, 00:15 CDT

Nixa turned 7 this past weekend.  It has been a great 7 years.  We’ve moved 4 times, including a 6 month stint in South Florida, where she spent much of her time herding anything that moved – cats, foxes, raccoons, giant lizards, a turtle (had to give her props for perseverance), and even a kid who was being obnoxious.  We’ve been to the vet more times than I can count, including a few trips to for emergency care in the middle of the night.  We took puppy classes at the vet’s office we still go it, and I think it made a big difference not only in terms of starting her off right with basic obedience and socialization, but being comfortable with the vet’s office itself.  She loves going there, even if we’re just going over to pick up food or say hi to the staff.  Occasionally someone will come out and greet her that I don’t even recognize.  She has made a great, positive impression on the people she’s come in contact with.

She is a rescue dog.  A local pet store hosted one of the county humane societies adoption events, and I was looking to get a dog.  I knew I didn’t want to buy one from a store, so adopting sounded like a good option.  She was in a pen with about 5 or 6 other puppies from the same litter.  All of the dogs except her were climbing over each other, playing and wrestling in a multi-colored furball.  Nixa was off by herself on the other side of the pen, looking kind of bored, and even at only 6 weeks old, just the tiniest bit irritated with the commotion.  I knew she was my dog, and that we were going to get along great.

She turned out to be an incredibly loyal and easy to train puppy.  Some dogs really couldn’t care less, and will take any attention they can get.  Nixa craves positive attention, and really takes negative attention personally.  She tends to pick things up quickly, even things I don’t realize she’s learning.

In 7 years, I’ve only ever seen her get angry 3 times.  Once at a puppy who wandered in to the exam room while we were waiting during one of the late night dog ER visits.  She was in rough shape that night.  She just growled at him, but it was enough.  The obnoxious kid who was harassing her was another time.  She was running around him in circles, barking – basically being a shepherd, but the barking+teeth meant she wasn’t fooling around.  The instant I called, she came right over to me.  Most recently it was a guy from the neighborhood who she didn’t know that walked up to the sliding glass door – and she didn’t know where I was (I happened to be just out of sight from inside the door).  Funny that I could absolutely and immediately hear the change in her bark from ‘warning’ to ‘I don’t know where dad is / I don’t know who you are / Don’t think about coming in my house’ – the neighbor didn’t hear it.  Cat people never do.

She knows when we play outside that she can’t leave toys in the yard so she almost always brings it back inside with her without being told, and always knows what it means when reminded to go bring it back inside.  She usually greets me at the door when I get home from work with one of them.  If not, I’ll sometimes find that she has piled the toys in one place.

Over the years, she has occasionally eaten ends off cables, napkins, and CDs.  One time she even ate my homework. No really.  She’s smart though.  I once had two doughnut holes on the coffee table.  I came around the corner to find her enjoying one of them.  I took it away from her, told her ‘no’ and went to throw it away.  When I came back, the other one was totally gone.  She learned her lesson – eat it faster.

Next: water, agility classes, and a shady character.

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