“Wouldn’t it be great to have two dogs?” my husband and I kept asking. We would daydream about how joyous our house would be with a second pup as a part of the family. Mental pictures of snuggling with a dog on each side of me while I drank hot cocoa and smiled blissfully in the distance floated in my head. I imagined hours of fun play that Bean and our imaginary pup would engage in as they lilted around the house, romping but nary breaking a single piece of furniture.
It is with this image of bliss, that we sought out a second dog, turning to the idea of rescuing one from local animal rescue organizations. We scoured rescue websites, filled out dozens of applications, had phone interviews, welcomed home inspections, fell in love with dogs we had gotten to know through facebook and were told “sorry, the dog you wanted has already been adopted.” Too many times to count. So, after having shed quite a few tears, we were coming to terms with the fact that perhaps a second dog was not in our destiny.
One afternoon, I photo popped up on my Facebook feed from the breeder where Bean is from in New Hampshire. “Yoda,” an adult male who had been one of their studs was in need of being placed in his new forever home. The husband firmly believed that the dog’s name was a sign that he was destined to join us, since he’s such an avid fan of Star Wars. And so, after the exchange of a couple of emails, and being assured that he gets along with other dogs, and the promise that he’d be updated on his vaccinations and neutered...Yoda was the future sibling of Bean! We planned to pick him up upon our return from last year’s BlogPaws in Nashville, and we began to nest for his arrival. We picked up a new crate, new bowls, fancy leash, and the food he was accustomed to, and started our Yoda countdown!
It was a blazing hot June morning when I set out for New Hamsphire to pick him up. I nervously packed the essentials and set the coordinates in the phone GPS app. With a deep breath, and a sip of coffee, I was off! Three hours, some traffic, and a few missed turns later, I pulled into the driveway and heard the distant sound of excited barking. A few minutes later, I was greeted by the breeder and her toddler son who was holding Yoda’s leash and gently walking him on their yard. I was immediately thrown by his largeness. Compared to Bean, which is what I was accustomed to, he was a GIANT! A meatball of black and white, with spit lined lips, and excited grunts nosed his way towards me, and I heard myself let out a squeal! He sniffed my legs, leaving a trail of drool and dirt, looked me in the eye and plopped his rotund bum on the ground and I was in love.
After the exchange of paperwork and niceties, I situated Yoda in his newly padded crate and backed out of the dusty driveway towards our new lives together. We arrived home, and I attempted my first photo shoot of him near the welcome home banner I had made in Star Wars font. He looked at the banner, tried to eat it, peed on the floor and walked away with a “screw you” attitude that jarred me. I came to quite a few realizations in quick succession, Yoda was not potty trained, he didn’t have to be where he was coming from. He also didn’t realize that Bean was not available for him to provide his studly duties. Put bluntly, Yoda didn't know how to be a pet!
The first couple of weeks were stressful, as we all tried to determine what our new “normal” would be. In the meantime, Yoda had quite a few potty training incidents, and he promptly destroyed his newly acquired bed. He didn’t know or understand the beauty of snuggling, and he would anxiously putz around the house, not knowing how to relax.
“Play” between Bean and Yoda resembled something out of WWE specials. They bounded off the sides of furniture to jump on each other. We experienced moments of pure terror when sounds emanated from the dogs that most certainly did not sound like they were enjoying each other’s company.
We wondered if we had made the right decision as we saw Bean glance at her new roommate with trepidation and we scrubbed the floor after another accident. Even so, we would look into Yoda’s eyes and see his true loving nature. We knew that we wouldn’t give up, and that our family was worth the work.
Eventually, after a lot of dedication, Yoda was fully house-trained. We went to weekly training with both of the dogs so they could work on their manners, and getting used to each other and other dogs. We learned to give each dog individualized attention and special one-on-one adventures. We rewarded them with high value treats when they calmly played together. We used exercise and problem solving toys to help stimulate the dogs and also tire them out.
After giving Yoda and Bean all the tools to succeed, something magical happened! The house was quiet, the floor was clean of urine, and I tiptoed to find the two snuggling together in the sun! We had arrived at our new normal, and it is fantastic.
Yoda is such a fun and goofy pup! He playfully dances in the morning while Bean performs her yoga routine. He is fond of the ongoing squirrel chase and he willingly engages in neighborhood watch shifts with Bean either on the porch, at the front door, or the living room windows. He now knows and appreciates the amazingness that is the snuggle, and he willingly seeks a human to nuzzle against while resting under a cuddly blanket.
The moral of the story is, no dog is perfect, neither are humans! It takes work, a lot of hard work, to help your dogs to reach their true potential. That doesn’t mean it’s okay to shy away from that hard work, like so many people do when they return a dog to the shelter shortly after adopting it. You have to buck up, seek help, make a routine, and keep on trying. We did, and our family is blessed with two amazing dogs that help to make each day joyful.
Our ode to Yoda may not be superfluously filled with joyous tales, but neither is reality. Our ode to Yoda is one of tenacity and love. We are so blessed to have him as a part of our family, and I hope our story continues for many years to come. Thank you for joining us on our adventure together!