Wednesday, January 28, 2015

puppy snugs

Two years ago this month we adopted our second dog, Liza Jane. She was our first pup we adopted from the Iowa City Animal Center and began our love affair with rescue dogs (we've since adopted two more, bringing our pack up to four). We'd adopted Loki just a few months before (from a friend of a friend) and we felt like he needed a furry companion to help him get his energy out and to keep him company while we were at school and work. Braeden spotted Liza on the website and he fell in love with her right away.

Here's one of her pictures from the website.
Even now I couldn't tell you what it was about this photo of a part Pug, part Boston terrier that drew us to her, but almost immediately we went and visited her at the shelter, first alone and then with Loki to make sure they were compatible. The workers told us that they'd found her as a stray, but guessed that she may have escaped from a backyard breeder as she was only four or five years old but they could tell she'd had a lot of litters in her short life. Once we took her home and saw her skills as an escape artist that just lent even more credence to that theory.

Here she is, tethered on a lead in the backyard. She figured out how to burrow under the fence and crawl through to the driveway in an attempt to get back inside. She would have made it all the way to the side door if her lead hadn't stopped her. The only fenced-in area she's never been able to break out of is the dog park off of Foster Road: she even escaped from another dog park in town and nearly gave us both heart attacks. We even keep her on a leash in our new yard while the other pups run around off-leash. She is one wily pup.
When we first met her, Liza was very stand-offish, not interested in playing with us humans at all, but totally opened up with Loki. They ran around the fenced in play area faster than I'd ever seen Loki run and the workers said they didn't even know Liza could move so fast. They clicked right away, something I took for granted at the time, but have since learned is pretty rare. I remember picking her up and her belly, which was still shaved from being spayed, was so cold from being outside. The whole time I held her she just ignored me, and as soon as I set her down she ran off.

I honestly felt pretty neutral about the whole thing, but Braeden was sold on her so we filled out paperwork to adopt her. We ended up having to wait a whole week before confirming our interest as Braed's parents were coming to visit and we couldn't have a brand new dog to focus on for their brief visit. The center's policy is that they don't hold animals for anyone, and if you don't call back before 10 am the day after your application is approved you have no guarantee you'll be able to adopt the animal you want. When we called back almost a week later we were told five different applications for her fell threw in those few days, so we were able to claim her. Crazy to think how close we came to never seeing her again.

When we first brought her home we joked that she was our zen puppy. She would find a high place, like a couch or chair, curl up with her back to an armrest, facing out so she could always see what was going on. She was not interested in being touched by anyone, but wanted to be able to see you from where she was at all times. When we'd take her on walks she would freak out whenever she saw another dog or human or motorcycle. We'd pick her up to help calm her down and she would thrash around, sometimes scratching one of us so badly we'd bleed. She ruined my first real winter coat the next winter, shredding it with her back nails until the stuffing all came out.

Thanks, Liza.
We didn't see her smile until we'd had her for about three months. Braeden pulled out a rope toy to tease the pups with, and after several big jumps trying to get it and failing, he looked down and she had the biggest grin on her face: we didn't even know she could smile at all! It was adorable.

See? Love this grin!

Around this time last year she had definitely warmed up to us, but would still rarely deign to crawl into anyone's lap. Snuggles from her were a very rare treat. If anything, she would curl up near you on the couch, but that was always on her terms and if you tried to get too cozy she would get up and leave. We called her our cat dog.

But now that we've had her for two year this has become a typical end of day situation:

I like playing with her ears: when you hold them up she looks so much like a Boston terrier.
I camp out in the front room on one of the big armchairs and Liza crawls up and snugs right next to me, kind of on top of me sometimes, head on my lap, often falling asleep and gently (or not so gently) snoring. While she's still a bit tough on walks, she is learning to manage her stress and anxiety so much better and if we need to pick her up to help her calm down she actually does calm down instead of thrashing around violently. She even does a great job at "leaving it" when she hears another dog bark in the neighborhood and will only bark once or twice in response, but keep walking and not get thrown off by the fact that other dogs exist in the world besides herself and our pack. I'm so proud of how far she's come.

We just love her to pieces, quirks and all. I would even say she's my favorite of our dogs, probably because of her anxiety and craziness. While Loki is the dog that made us love dogs, with his friendly nature, and quick smile, Liza is the dog that taught us patience, problem solving, and that dog obedience classes are a smart thing to do.

I am so glad she's a part of our crazy, furry family.

No comments: