One year, two dogs

Waiting for treats to celebrate one year as roommates.

As if this weekend’s four birthday celebrations weren’t enough, we had another special event last night.

This time, it was the celebration of our one-year anniversary of adopting Charlotte, making us a two-dog family. Mabel remains our only cat.

There were new squeak toys for each dog and a pizzle, too, but no candles, cake or ice cream. (A pizzle? Yep, they make chew sticks from animal penises.)

We toyed with calling Thursday’s event a birthday celebration but, honestly, we don’t know when Charlotte was born and the veterinarians who’ve examined this 11-pound dynamo can only guess. We’re calling her two years old.

Anyone following this blog even semi-regularly already knows how Charlotte quickly stole my heart last fall. Lori talked me into bringing her home from The Pixie Project, a nonprofit animal adoption center, on a “fostering” basis. Well, it took all of three days from the time she arrived in our home last October to a firm decision that we wanted this little rescue dog, a black-as-coal terrier mix, to be part of our household.

(Click on images to view captions.)

She’s been a great companion for Otto, who’s 11. She’s just what we wanted in that she initiates play, keeps him active rather than sedentary, and often lies side-by-side with him on a shared pillow.

She’s also put us through some trying times. At first, she couldn’t (or wouldn’t) sleep through the night, forcing me to walk her between 1 and 2 a.m. so she could relieve herself. After we solved that problem by getting her a soft-fabric kennel and placing it in our bedroom, there was the challenge of taking her to weekend training classes at the Oregon Humane Society.

Let’s just say there continues to be room for improvement. But let me also say there’s been great progress, too. Charlotte isn’t nearly as reactive as she used to be with squirrels and cats, though she still barks at most other dogs she sees. We’ve learned to shorten the leash to keep her close by on walks and we avoid unnecessary confrontations by redirecting her whenever we spot an approaching dog before she does.

My favorite photo of Charlotte: a royal imp. How are we supposed to say no? Charlotte's Pixie Project profile said: "I play well with others and I’m the extra sweet girl with lots of flirtatious energy."

My favorite photo of our royal imp.

Though a stranger might focus on her flaws, I see them as part of her personality. She is a lovely and loving creature, always happy to greet the day, take a walk or mellow out by curling up at night on our outstretched legs. In this regard, I think Otto has been a great role model. In a piece I wrote earlier this year, I expressed my appreciation for “Mister Otto,” as we are fond of calling our Jack Russell terrier.

“It’s not easy when you’ve had your ‘parents’ all to yourself for the past few years. All of a sudden and with no choice in the matter, you’re asked to share the attention, to wait longer for a shorter walk and, most of all, adapt to this strange critter who came in off the street.

“But Otto has done it all and done it masterfully.”

I wasn’t wild about the idea of two dogs. But now that we’ve got both Sheriff Otto (the original nickname for our senior dog) and Princess Charlotte under our woof (er, roof), it’s hard to imagine having just one.

So here’s to both of our canine friends. Happy Adoption Day to all of us.

Read a tribute to Mister Otto.

Read a Q&A with Charlotte.

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2 thoughts on “One year, two dogs

  1. We love our pets! It’s great to read your loving thoughts about Princess Charlotte and Sheriff Otto. You’re participating in an esteemed tradition of writers including Elizabeth Barrett Browning (beloved Flush) and Gertrude Stein (several gorgeous white standard poodles named Basket) and Steinbeck (the marvelous Charley.) As always, I love to read whatever you write–but dogs have a special place in my heart.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/28/style/28iht-akell.11498293.html

  2. Browning, Stein, Steinbeck and Rede?

    Somehow, Flush, Basket, Charley, Charlotte and Otto sounds like a more likely group of strangers.

    Thanks for your comment. You’re too kind. And big thanks for sharing that wonderfully amusing NYT piece. Mind if I share it on FB?

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