My significant other (‘˜the boy’) and I rescued a puppy about 2 months ago. This striking half Japanese Mastiff, half Boxer mix entered our lives unknowingly. A coworker of the boy’s had given Zuna to her two young children as a ‘˜Santa Present,’ last year. She was around two months old when she went to live with her new family, joining a rambunctious group of a busy family of four. She was cute, as most puppies are; however, she quickly outgrew her ‘˜cuteness,’ as she got bigger.
As she entered the adolescent stage of dog-hood, similar to human teenagers, she stopped listening to the little training she was given. And she continued to grow. Soon the human kids, who were not growing as fast as their canine friend, became scared of her. I don’t blame them, because even though she is one of the sweetest dogs I have had the pleasure of owning, at 80 pounds and 10 months old, our gentle giant could be scary.
We drove out to the country (although, less of the ‘˜country,’ where we live), one Saturday to pick her up. On a harness and a retractable leash, she dragged her family around the yard. Finally breaking free, she ran with the speed and gracefulness I had only previously witnessed in the horses I grew up with.
We loaded her doghouse, some treats and the leash in the boy’s truck, coaxed her into the back of the cab onto the previously laid blankets, and drove home. Before leaving, we asked the boy’s co-worker how much she wanted for a re-homing fee. She said she was satisfied knowing that the dog is going to a good home with people she knows. ‘˜Free dog,’ I thought to myself, one hand reassuringly placed on our new friend, as we navigated the backcountry roads.
Once home, she adapted quickly. Promptly learning that we were her pack leaders, she learned ‘˜sit,’ in a day. By the end of the day, she was also leash trained and knew the yard parameters. The boy and I went to bed that night, marveling at how lucky we are.
At a year old, about two months after rescuing her, she will sit on command. She will also give high-five (paw), lie down and stay.
She just returned from the vet, since when we got her, she wasn’t fixed. As striking as her coat was, and as easily trainable she became, we thought that spaying her would be the responsible thing.
This is the second time we’ve taken her to the vet. Our first visit, a wellness check, provided her with shots she hadn’t gotten, a chance to familiarize her with the vet, a chance for the small family owned clinic to meet her, and a $200 bill for us.
In this most recent visit, she was spayed, micro chipped and boosted on some of her shots. She was sent home with pain pills, wobbling and groggy (which is a sad but funny site in a dog that now weighs close to 90 pounds), and pain pills. We were sent home with the dog, discharge instructions, and a bill for $500.
Prior to picking her up from our friends, we built a kennel in the backyard, which we now term ‘˜Doggie Knox.’ It is reinforced with wood panels dug underground, since she learned how to dig her way out of her previous kennel. The sides of the kennel and some weak spots are linked with panduit straps, also known as cuff bands. Or what I call ‘˜DEA handcuffs.’
Her first day in the kennel (a total of an hour, to see how she would handle it), she busted out of the door. We reinforced the aluminum door and added cinderblocks against the chain link. The kennel that she now cannot break out of set us back another $500.
Our free dog has now cost us over $1200, not including upgrading her from Ol’Roy to a decent brand of dog food, increasing the amount of food she eats, and buying her treats and toys.
Going into this, the boy and I knew that nothing comes for free. Two months, some frustrations and many successes later, we couldn’t picture our lives without our free dog.