Louie's Adjustment To A Third Dog

I am Louie's person. He's incredibly protective of me, too. That dog doesn't like when another dog invades my personal space, and recognizes that my personal space boundaries encompass a 5' circle around me. Louie will step between me and another dog that tries to gain my attention, touch me in any way, or look me in the eye from across a room. Jealous is a bit of an understatement. 

Because Louie is so focused on saving me from the affections of other dogs, he generally doesn't interact with them. He looks like a total snob, ignoring dogs of all shapes and sizes as he stoically walks beside me, waiting to come between me and any other 4-legged being that will threaten our bond. 

Because rules are meant to be broken, Louie's one exception to his no-play contract are shih-tzus. Louie is in love with those long haired dogs. He just can't seem to control himself when he sees one, and lunges at it in an overt greeting and invitation to play. His reaction is interpreted as an aggressive act by other dogs, and his would-be friend cowers from him in terror. Pet conferences are a struggle for us both, as we engage in a contest of "who can spot the shih-tzu first." I think Louie finally gave up on his love of long hair, though, as last week's BlogPaws conference was the very first event where he didn't uncontrollably lunge at another dog.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I was sitting on a bench in a relatively empty lobby, and Louie leapt off the seat to greet another dog before I even knew that dog had entered our line of sight. I looked up to see what was going on (and call my errant dog back), when I realized that the dog wasn't a shih-tzu, but a shelter dog.

Louie loved Fiona from the moment he laid eyes on her.

I am so sure that Fiona is the dog we were meant to have. The fact that we were able to rescue a dog from the Humane Society at all is a miracle in itself. Having Louie accept her from the start is also a big deal. 

I didn't want to push my luck with the infatuation, so I let Fiona run around and take in the sights. I held Louie and we both watched her. I barely interacted with the sweet new dog, for fear of making Louie crazy jealous. I figured there would be a lifetime of togetherness to make up for that missed hour, if we chose to make her our own. I even went as far as to have friends help with Fiona the rest of the evening so that Louie and I could be together, as he expected. I really didn't want him to hate the new dog from the beginning, and have to work to undo that when we got home. It would be a much more difficult transition for all concerned, if that were the case.

All bets were off in the hotel room, though. With 3 dogs trying to do the meet and greet, it was crazy. Once we got all dogs settled into something that might work for the night, I held Fiona beside me, waiting for her to calm down. Louie snored at the foot of the bed.

Louie's boundaries of my protection include anything that I'm sitting or lying on. Beds, sofas, chairs and benches are for me and Louie to share. No other dog is allowed to even jump up and place a paw on that object. A dog sleeping under my arm is a total OHMYGOSH WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU DOING WITH THAT OTHER DOG kind of emergency situation. But Louie snored peacefully by my feet as Fiona laid by my side, allowing me to be a dog mom to someone other than him for once.

There is no doubt that Fiona is meant to be our dog. And by "our," I mean Micah's dog. 

The very first time Louie laid eyes on Fiona.

What's In A Name?

Fiona's name was Dixie. She didn't seem to respond to anything when we called her (it may have been the stress of the situation), but we figured we'd give her a new name with her new life.

I had plans on choosing a name for her, and everything dog related ties back to the business. My thought was that she came from a social media conference, so naming her something related to social media would be genius. As a bonus, this would be memorable and catchy on Instagram. Instagram is where I do my advertising for the store, and a unique name that grabs attention would be good.

 We tossed around names like Moogle, Flickr, Snapchat (shortened to Snap), Instagram (shortened to Gram, but then realized that the already-recognized boy's name of Graham would brand our girl as a gender confused dog with idiot parents), Zip Drive (or Zippy), and Twitter. Micah gave a hard no to all of the above. I'll admit, I was rather grateful for some of the turn-downs.

I changed tactics, and thought she could have a name that reflected her boy. Something to do with Down syndrome. The first one I thought of was Chrome, representing the chromosomes that are different in individuals with DS. It could also double as a nod to social media, as a bonus. Micah wasn't fully opposed, and even attempted to say it, but I could tell it was a huge struggle for him. I realized it would be a huge struggle for anyone, really. A single-syllable word with that many sounds is a real mouth full.

Moving on, I started throwing out any name I could think of. Daphne, Beatrice, Poppi. No, no, no. The dog needed a name, and Micah wasn't even keen on Dixie, which I'd also tossed out. At the 2-day mark, it was getting old calling the dog The Dog, especially when we had 2 other dogs to get confused with.  

Just about time I thought I'd have to take a parental stand and say, "your dog's name is....", I realized Micah was watching Shrek again. It's currently his favorite movie, and he identifies himself as Shrek.

"Micah, do you want to name your dog Fiona?"

He stopped the movie, looked up at me, and said, "Yes!"

Micah doesn't always understand questions. Even when he does, sometimes he answers what he thinks you want to hear, and sometimes he answers no just because he's a kid with a word that holds power. If he said yes to a name, it didn't necessarily mean the name is a win for him. (Conversely, all the no's he'd been throwing around may not have been adamant no's.)

Daddy asked Micah to help him take the trash out at that moment, but when he came back, I tested the waters.

"Micah, is your dog's name Fiona?"

He walked over to her crate, got down on his knees, patted his legs with both hands and called oh-so-gently, "Ona! Ona!" I'll be darned if that sweet dog of his came out, looked him in the face, and licked his hands. Micah picked her up and hugged her for a few moments before they parted ways and went on with their evening.

Fiona is a winner of a name. It's been decided by both Micah and his dog.

What Happens In Myrtle Beach Comes Home With You

The chaos in the hotel room was probably typical for Myrtle Beach, but it was far louder than I was comfortable with. Three dogs chased each other in circles while having an "I can bark louder" contest, and no amount of hushing would stop the insanity. The dogs were doing zoomies around the room and jumping between beds like kids at a slumber party, buoyed up with sugar and adrenaline. I always take Louie to conferences with me, but this was far more than I ever bargained for, and I only had myself to blame.

A few days before I left for the conference, I was asked to find a home for a dog who needed more time than his owners could give him. I applaud the pawrents for recognizing that it wasn't the best life for a dog, and wanting better for him. I knew I was heading to BlogPaws, a conference focusing on social  media for the pet bloggers and others in the pet industry, and would have a large base of pet owners to help find him a home. It didn't take long for someone to make a perfect connection for the Boston terrier, and I made arrangements to take him to Myrtle Beach with me, and a friend to take him on to his new home after the conference. The problem was that my roommate was the one taking him on the second leg of his journey, so I had to room with him the entire week. I really liked the dog, but he and Louie tended to have loud wrestling matches in the late evening hours, as boys of any species are prone to do.

I had the Boston at the house for a few days before we left, and Micah really started bonding with him. Sam and I realized that it was probably time to find Micah a dog that he could play with. Louie is game to fetch for quite a while, but he suffers breathing problems like most of his breed does, and I have to stop the fun after 5 minutes. We decided to look for a companion for Micah.

We have a list of criteria for this hypothetical dog, though.

*Good with kids and other dogs 
*Small enough for Micah to pick up but not so tiny as to be fragile 
*High energy for play, but able to calm for petting 
*No fluffy undercoat that tends to make allergies flare for the family (including Micah) 
*No flat-faced breeds that would also suffer breathing issues. 

I was thinking a jack russell would be a great fit for us, and as luck would have it, a JRT mix was available at the local humane society. We visited the shelter, played with him, and realized that it was exactly what we were looking for. We filled out the application and crossed fingers, toes and eyes that we'd have a new family member by the end of the week. Instead, I was told that we were denied adoption rights because Louie isn't neutered, and Jill isn't spayed. We are, clearly, the worst kind of pet owners ever. It doesn't matter in the least if we were responsible breeders for 15 years (and my vet can vouch for that), and that the potential adoptee was already neutered and would never be able to accidentally have puppies with an unspayed female in the house. We just suck as dog owners, and aren't allowed to own dogs, as far as the humane society is concerned.

That makes you feel like a large piece of flaming dog poop, let me tell you. It also does not foster warm and fuzzy feelings toward the humane society. With the judgment of all the proponents of  "adopt, don't shop" weighing heavily on my shoulders, I knew we'd end up shopping for a new pet because we are not eligible to adopt.

At the conference in South Carolina, one of the exhibitors set up there was the North Myrtle Beach Humane Society. Through a completely fortuitous turn of events, I ended up talking to the ladies behind the table, and they were just as confused as I was by the "your dogs aren't surgically altered" clause that kept me from adopting. I told them what we were looking for in a dog, that we wanted it as a companion for our son with Down syndrome, and asked if they had anything that might be a good fit.

That's how I ended up with 3 dogs in the hotel room on Saturday night, doing the meet-and-greet as they pushed the limits on hotel noise ordinances.

Guys, meet Fiona. Micah is crazy proud to have a dog of his very own, and chose the name himself. I absolutely love that we were able to adopt a dog, and that we have a mixed breed for the first time in our dog owning history. I feel that these two will be inseparable before long, and am looking forward to watching their bond develop. Our family just grew by 4 paws, and our hearts expanded to make room for them.