Saturday, December 26, 2009

Prince Harry

I was thinking about getting a second pup since Honey (my Pit Bull/German Shepherd mix) is getting older. I got Honey from the Oakland Animal Shelter when she was about five and by the time she was seven, it was a now or never time. Dogs get too “set in their ways” with age and I wanted to get her a companion before she was too old to accept one. Honey had come to us very soon after my adored Cocker Spaniel, Mitch, had died, and she was and is the light of my life. The first time I saw Honey, there was a calmness that just emanated from her. My husband didn’t feel the same way. I told him to come and look at this gorgeous small German Shepherd and he took one look at her and said, “That’s a Pit Bull.” What rubbish!

When we brought Honey home, I did notice that she was quite a bit larger than my Cocker had been and she had the most muscular body I had ever seen on a female dog. She also had amazing jaws! Hmm. Okay, I finally understood that she was part Pit, but a smarter, gentler, more soulful dog has never lived. She’s wonderful with kids, and people. The only negative is that she is not crazy about other dogs. She’s golden and gorgeous, still people cross the street to avoid walking by her. Her honey colored eyes were what prompted me to change her “shelter name” (Fern) to Honey. Still, even if you call a Pit Bull “Honey” or “Sweetness,” there are folks who are going to cringe at the sight of a very muscular seventy-pound dog who has a huge chest and an enormous jaw. Whatever, that’s my baby!

From the time we got her, we were aware that Honey had some health issues, severe arthritis in her hips for example. We have taken her to vet orthopedic doctors, as well as having a dog acupuncturist and herbalist treating her. This is one expensive “mutt.”

It was only fair that my husband, Alex, be allowed the final say on dog child number two. We drove down to the Oakland SPCA to look at a German Shepherd who looked like he might be the perfect family addition for hour home. It was not to be. When we arrived, the GSD was being vetted by two darling little girls with their Mom. I said we had also looked at a dog on-line named “Abner” and the guy who was helping us, Dan, said “Oh that’s one great dog! He’s a puppy, about eighteen months old.”

Apparently, Abner was one of his favorites and I said we’d like to meet him. The first time I saw Abner, he was a blur of red gold fur that jumped up and down constantly. He was presented as a “Retriever/Shar Pei Mix,” but this dog is one who defies classification, unless that classification is of “Jack in the Box.” Abner burst out of his kennel, and he was the most exuberant dog I have ever seen. He was a tornado of a dog. He was absolutely the most hyperactive, crazed creature in the whole place. Damn!

Of course, this is the dog my husband wanted. Dan explained that Abner had been left in the night drop box THREE times. This was something of a worry to me, but not to Alex. This was his dog! We brought Honey from the car to the yard so we could see how the two interacted in a neutral setting. Harry play bowed to her and then proceeded to jump over her about twenty times in a row and race around the grassy area as if to say “Ha ha! Ha ha! Try and catch me!” Honey frankly looked overwhelmed and a bit dizzy. Alex by this time was convinced that this big red crazy dog was the only one for him.

Because he’s a redhead, and a young guy who has a few issues, we named him Prince Harry. It did take a little time for Honey to accept him, but it all worked out eventually. Harry soon learned that Honey was the “alpha” in our pack. If he approached a toy, she taught him that it was her toy. If he wanted food, yup, it was her food. If he wanted water, she taught him that it was her water. If he wanted air, Honey let him know, in no uncertain terms, that it was HER air. She did graciously allow him to breathe, eat, play, and drink eventually, but it took some time.

Prince Harry is now about four and about ninety pounds. He still realizes that Honey is the Queen of All She Surveys. She may be smaller, but she’s a lot more mighty.

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