Merlin and how he Tricked a ‘Dragon’

So everyone knows that dogs get the basics of life. I think most sites say the average dog has the intelligence of a typical 1 to 2-year-old child.

So not geniuses by any stretch of the imagination, but certainly not stupid.

Herding breeds are a little bit more intelligent than that. And I’m no different from any other owner of a herding dog. It’s really funny, because if you are not raised around these dogs, you really don’t think that they are all that smart. Their adorable puppy cuteness just muddles your mind and you think ‘oh how could something that fluffy be so smart?’

Let me tell you, as a first-time owner, they are flipping smart.

I mean look at this face! This face says, ‘oh I’m just a cute little fuzzball’ not ‘I’m going to grow up into a dog who can open doors without training.’12734075_185679791797780_2427645239064827003_n

But what really made me realize that my dog, particularly his breed, was intelligent was the ‘Great Cheese Incident of 2016’. Or the 3 weeks my dog tricked me into giving him cheese.

He was about 6 or 7 months at the time which is kind of terrifying that he’s grown in intelligence. But he had just had a bath and I had already dried him off as well as possible with his towel (Micro fiber, a godsend to dog owners!) and he was just ‘putting’ around the house just air drying what I had missed.

Not a big deal, this was normal bath time routine.

Now one thing that is very important to know is that Merlin is very quiet on his feet, most herding dogs are. Also he didn’t have his collar, which jingles with his rabies tag and dog I.D., on.

I stated above that he was ‘putting’ around the house, that’s a code word. Anyone who has an Aussie I’m sure knows that they go bonkers after a bath most of the time. If your Aussie doesn’t, then that’s just amazing.

So while he is in the living room doing the run/roll of freedom I decided to go make lunch. I’m standing at the counter making a sandwich when I step back to go put something in the pantry. Now at the time it never occurred to me that I didn’t hear him going berserk in the living room. Or that he really was a Velcro dog.

I stepped back and I tell you, do you know that split moment when you know you’ve stepped on something you shouldn’t have and you jerk your foot away so fast you lose your balance and hit the ground.

Yeah?

Well I had my moment, I hit the ground with a thud and a puppy yowl ringing in my ears. Sometimes I think I will one day make a terrible mom because I’ll step on my child, but other days I think I’ll be super mom, because I had never moved so fast in my life. They say having a dog is good practice for a baby, but if my baby is ever remotely like my dog then I’m doomed.

I had that puppy up and on the couch in moments, checking his leg and calling the vet all in one go. Now I won’t say I’m an expert on messed up legs, be they dog or human, but I do know what a broken bone feels like most of the time. That was my biggest worry at that moment.

The vet had me bring him up and he was examined for any serious damage, thankfully there wasn’t anything. So the vet felt that it was probably a sprain, and while very painful was easily fixable with proper care for 48 hours.

This meant no running around and jumping, lots of rest, ice and heat packs and baby aspirin. So he was confined to his kennel and went on a lot of leash walks and the application of a frozen back of peas and a hot compress.

But the baby aspirin, he would not take. We tried just about every method known to man to get him to take the pill without putting it in food. But alas, I finally had to relent. I rolled up the pill in a small piece of cheese and at first he didn’t want it. Then grudgingly he took it.

Of course I thought it was grudgingly.

So 48 hours roll by and the limp is still there, so off to the vets we go, this time for x-rays. Was I thrilled about this? Not really. But you say, ‘It’s for your dog! Practically your baby!’ At the time, you’d be right, I was just worried about my pup, I wanted him to get better. After the Great Cheese Incident of 2016 I could have strangled him. Like any parent would when they discovered their child doing something stupidly intelligent.

X-rays come out and guess what? Nothing there. Not a single thing. So the vet gives me some medicine that will help with deep tissue inflammation, and I go and pay for all this and we leave.

Let me tell you, I had to go each of the three weeks to get this medicine for my dog, and that is expensive. But it was for my dog, who was hurting, from a mysterious leg wound, that no one could find…

Wait a minute. Something just wasn’t adding up. So one day I tested out a theory.

I let Merlin out of his kennel and we went into the kitchen. I set the pills on the counter and the small piece of cheese. He sat there as attentive as always. So far no difference. Then I popped the pill out of the package and proceeded to pretend to put the pill in the cheese. I rolled up the cheese and knelt and held it out in the palm of my hand. He sniffed it, looked at me with the same disgruntled look he had been giving me since this all started and took the cheese.

I put him back in his kennel for about half an hour to let the ‘medicine’ kick in, then I took him out for his walk and bathroom break.

Guess what?

He didn’t limp.

Not one bloody time.

Merlin ‘slayed a dragon’ alright.

He played me and my parents like a finely tuned violin. All for cheese.

It took another week after that for him to realize that he had been caught and he was not getting any more cheese, no matter how he ‘limped’. Finally he stopped altogether and that ladies and gentlemen ended the Great Cheese Incident of 2016 and I never felt dumber in my life.

Thankfully he hasn’t tried anything like that since then, for which I am most grateful and so is my bank account, but he still does incredibly intelligent things, like opening the door, that sometimes make me wonder.

Just how smart can my dog, or any dog for that matter, be?

Sincerely,

The Owner (Who will admit to getting played very well)

The Three Musketeers… Sort of

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When I brought Merlin home he had to be introduced to the 2 other dogs already in residence there.

Lady my Dad’s blonde Chihuahua (A.K.A the Twinkie)17424834_396205037411920_6835948956248468508_nAnd Zoe my mom’s miniature Maltese (A.K.A the Snowball)IMG_1261

Now to be completely honest these are some chubby dogs. But in recent months I am happy to say that our vet finally got through to my parents about cutting down on the treats and  more daily exercise. Both dogs, I am happy to say, are getting back to healthy weight. Having an annoying cousin-puppy there during the day might also be helping in the healthy lifestyle.

Anyway, as I was saying when Merlin came home he had to be introduced to these 2 wonderful little ladies, but we held off until the following day, to not over excite Merlin too much.

A lot of stuff was happening in his tiny little puppy life after all.

When he came home he weighed 7lbs and some change, so he wasn’t a big pup by any stretch of the imagination. But it didn’t occur to me, when I was playing with him at the store and when the store clerk and I were talking about his parents, just how small he really was.

It didn’t hit me, until the day he met his cousin-puppies.1240326_183012708731155_5272890151996722281_n

That’s Zoe, the miniature Maltese (who at the time of the picture had just turned a year old and weighed 9lbs.) and Merlin the 2-and-a-half-month old puppy who was all fluff.

He was a pipsqueak if there was ever something to physically represent the word! And Zoe and Lady took full advantage of it too. Now they weren’t overly mean to him, but they certainly liked to show him who was boss.

So, learning the pecking order of a pack became Merlin’s next big dragon to overcome. That one took a while to figure out how to beat. Every day for a month that poor pup could not figure out how to get the other puppies to play with him and not beat him up. He’d bring out one of his toys, only to have it stolen. He’d lay in a doggy bed (never his of course) and get rolled out. When these tactics didn’t work, he decided to switch up. He tried to steal toys and knock the other dogs out of bed. That didn’t work either.

So we as puppy parents stepped in and began the long process of training the dogs into all being more receptive of each other. It took some time and a lot of patience, but now they all get along like they’ve been a pack all their lives.

And suffice to say Merlin “slayed” this dragon, and he outgrew his cousins to boot.17498749_396205020745255_3536430504255952518_n

He’s ended up being a nice 43 lbs. and with all his energy he stays healthy with a great diet and lots of exercise, he even keeps me in better shape!

Sincerely,

The Owner (Who is being puppy-dog-eyed into another walk before bed)

 

Even Heroes need their Sleep

The continuing adventures of our fearless hero, Merlin!

So, as any good dog parent knows one of the biggest milestones for a pup is the “Fist Vet Visit”! Possibly the most traumatic moment in a young pup’s life and also the moment they realize that you’ve completely betrayed them to get poked ad prodded.

The nice thing is that they don’t dislike you for very long.

So I set about scheduling Merlin’s very fist vet visit with some mild apprehension. Not anything horrible, just the average thought of “What if something is already wrong with my baby?” or “What if I’m not doing something right already?”, fairly average things for someone who has just gotten a puppy.

The appointment day rolls around and Merlin dawns his armor, his adorable little collar and matching leash, and happily trots out to the truck with me. At this point he had no idea the torture he was about to endure, the poor, poor puppy.

So off to the vets we go and he sits in his seat (the left side of the back seat is ‘his’ seat with his seatbelt leash and his blanket and he will let anyone know it too). Once we get there he is super excited, its somewhere new! Somewhere he’d never been before! Somewhere- Oh holy crap what is that big monster with fur laying on the ground!?!

Now at this point Merlin had never seen a dog bigger than a 50 pound Labrador, so to discover a 90 pound plus German Shephard just snoozing on the floor was a bit of a shock to Merlin. The first dragon of Merlin’s young life lay before him, and he had no idea what to do.

Or at least I wish he had no idea what to do and just let me carry him about. But no, not my little hero he had a perfectly good idea, or at least he thought it was a good idea.

Merlin jumped on the bigger dog.

Now before anyone thinks I’m a terrible puppy mom, let me just be clear that I do know this dog very well as he is our vet’s dog and chills at the office, usually giving other animals someone to play with so they’re not so scared. I’ve seen him covered in kittens and puppies and just as chill as you please so I wasn’t worried that anything would happen. I feel it was more of a “Oh my goodness my toddler puppy is being rumbustious” kind of moment. Anyway back to the story!

Merlin climbed all over that poor dog, from his tail to his head my puppy climbed and slide and had a absolute blast. Did the other dog wake up? Yep.

Did he go back to sleep after realizing that it was yet again, just another puppy? You can bet your bottom he sure did. In this moment, I felt Merlin had ‘slayed’ his very first dragon. Before when he had been introduced to dogs outside of our family’s dogs he was shy and skittish, but after this particular adventure he became a great deal more bold and friendly. Has he had to be trained to not go chasing after every new dog he meets? Yes. Has he had to learn to respect other dogs space? Yes? Was it easy? Yes and no I suppose. But that is neither here nor there in this story so moving on!

You see, Merlin’s adventure wasn’t over yet, he still had to see bum bum BUMMMM… the vet! His second dragon. So into the exam room we go and so begins the typical process. Paperwork, questions, lots of loving on the puppy who hammed it up like you would not believe, then came the temperature, shots and nasal spray. The temperature was by far the worst for him, he did not appreciate it at all, but he was a brave boy and rose above the discomfort. Then came the shots, which he sailed through like a champ. Finally, the dreaded nose spray, which after a few sneezes, was forgotten all about.

Now we were at the end of the exam and the vet was feeling legs and back and giving me some advice for my puppy, when Merlin did the most bizarre if not completely adorable thing.12734073_1102761269747578_2363233632826628317_n

He fell asleep. Right there in the middle of the final physical exam. Just poof! Out like a light.

Now for anyone who has never raised a puppy or a child, I’ll let you in on a secret. Puppies and children can sleep absolutely anywhere at any time. Now can this be part of a serious health problem? Yeah it can, but most of the time it’s not. It’s just they’re super tired from the over excitement, plain and simple.

So the vet technician snapped the picture above for me and for their Facebook page, it’s not every day that a puppy falls asleep during a checkup at the vets. But I guess facing 2 dragons in one days would be very tiring to anyone, even a little Hero like Merlin.

So I bundled him up, put him back in the truck and drove home, and he slept the entire car ride. But like a said being a hero is very tough work and even they need their naps.

 

Sincerely,

The Owner (Who would love to be able to sleep like a puppy, anytime, anyplace)

Bird Watching

So here’s just a quick bit before work. Merlin likes to bird watch every morning after his walk. Does it matter if there are birds out there or not? Not really.


He just likes to sit there and look outside at the bird feeders and just watch. Nothing deters him, not the possibility of a Chex square, not a head pat, nothing.

Now I will say he gets very excited if this one pair of doves happens to be around. He never messes with them, but he will sit inside or outside and just watch them. I think he adores his ‘pet’ doves.

Now it’s time to go drop Merlin off at Grandma’s to have a fun day with the other puppies and then to boring old work for me.

Sincerely,

The Owner (Who is now being puppyeyed for Chex squares)

How the Hero met the Damsel in Distress

Once upon a time there was a girl.

You know what? Nah, once upon a time there was me, and I was in a crap load of distress. In fact, I was having a right royal breakdown in the worst sort of way. When I was 18 some seriously bad crap happened in my life that did not improve my mental standing. This is not to say I wanted to do anything horrible to myself (my most heartfelt love to anyone suffering from those thoughts and if you need an ear to listen, well I’m here) but I wasn’t bouncing back like I should have been able too.

It was suggested that I needed something to get my attention, I guess you could say something to make me care.

So, my parents got me a puppy. A little chubby puppy with a tail that looked like it had been dipped into paint. I feel in love immediately.

I named him Raphael, after my favorite artist of course, and he surprised us all by growing from a little 8 pound puppy into a 120 pound dog. And to me he was just the greatest thing in the world. He ‘owned’ the garage, had a better bed then I did and would always be waiting for me when I got home from work or school.

He had the most terrifying bark but was the biggest coward in the world, preferring to climb up into someone’s lap like the smallest of lapdogs.

All in all, he was the sweetest dog in the world and to this day I still miss him.

He was poisoned when he was 9 years old and passed away. I was distraught. I had raised this dog (that first dog that had been solely my own) he had gotten me out of a mental funk when nothing else could at the time. He was my dog and I was his human.

Again, I entered a not so great place, not as bad as the first time certainly, but definitely not good by any standard.

Now this is where, looking back now, the story gets a little bit funny.

So, a few months later my mom was bringing her dog to our vet for the annual checkup, when they ask if I had found a dog yet. Of course, I hadn’t yet, but I was looking at the local pounds and even at some local breeders.

The vet told her that they had a rescue dog staying with one of their foster families that had been rolled by a car, but was now ready to find a forever home and if I would be interested in meeting the dog.

My mom came and kidnapped me from my job to meet this dog. It felt like a James Bond moment, just with a puppy and not a villain at the end of the kidnapping scene.

I get there and they set me down in the “meeting room” and in comes this little beagle, cute as a button and twice as nice. Yay, I have a new dog! I named him Hayvn, because poetically he had turned out to be my safe heaven.

I put in 2 months of work with Hayvn, house training, lease training, vet visits everything. Then one day he disappears from our fenced in yard. Now this was a bit of a puzzlement, because we have a huge yard and 2 other dogs that Hayvn got on really well with. So, like any responsible pet parent I did all the things you do when your pet-child goes missing. Flyers, call the pound and alert the vets offices nearby. Three weeks I waited, I looked, I freaked the heck out, but then as the fourth week rolled around guess who comes galloping up to the house.

Hayvn.

Followed by a teenager that lived on the road behind my house.

In the most bizarre turn of events, turns out Hayvn’s name was not Hayvn, it was Brownie. And he had gone missing from the boy’s yard 3 months ago. So being a ridiculously selfless person, I gave Hayvn back to the boy and I became dogless yet again.

Did I slide in a depressive state this time? No, not really. A little maudlin maybe, sad certainly but at this point I figured I was just never meant to have a dog ever again. Which was a horrible thought to me, life without a dog? What the heck kind of life was that? No one to love me unconditionally? No one to get excited just because? No one to give sloppy kisses? Well now that was just depressing.

My mom and dad suggested that maybe this time I needed to get a puppy, not an already grown dog or I might with my luck, reunite everyone in the county with their missing dogs but end up dogless myself.

So for weeks I kept a careful watch on the local pound websites. No puppies.

The day before Valentine’s Day my parents kidnapped me, again. I really do feel like my parents were possibly spies and just never thought to divulge the information. Anyway, they kidnapped me and we drove to a pet store a few hours away that had puppies for sale.

Now let me just put this here before anyone gets super self-righteous, I fully believe you should adopt if possible, it’s a great thing and it gives dogs a chance to get the love they deserve. Raphael was adopted, Hayvn was adopted, both of my parent’s dogs are rescue dogs. That being said, dogs who come from responsible and caring breeders also deserve love even if they cost money.

Moving on now to the happy part of the story.

We get to the pet store and immediately I wasn’t thrilled. I kind of felt like my parents were pushing the dog thing and really, I was not about to drop three thousand dollars for a puppy. Not that I wouldn’t, but I just didn’t have that kind of money at the time.

But I stayed and I looked at the puppies they had and I must say the puppies were all happy and energetic and super cute. But I just didn’t feel the spark with any of them, none of them were ‘my dog’. I am happy to say however that all the puppies from that day were all bought so I never felt too bad for not finding ‘my dog’ there. As we left the store owner told us there was another pet store about two and a half hours away that also sold dogs and maybe we’d have better luck there.

So off I was dragged on the Great Puppy Expedition. On the car ride I figured I’d look up the store, see reviews, you know the normal stuff. Turns out they had a full website with pictures of the puppies they had at the time. Some of the pictures had “Found A Home” posted over them but a few didn’t and they looked super cute.

There was a black tricolor Australian Shepherd and a blue merle Australian Shepherd, and there was a black Shiba Inu and a tan Shiba Inu all still for sale.

Now let me give you a quick back story on why this was important. When Raphael passed away and my mom felt I wasn’t going to burst into tears, she asked me what kind of dog I wanted if I could choose any dog on earth. My first answer?

Australian Shepherd.

My second and third choices were Shiloh Shepherd and American Alsatian, but as those are not common breeds of dog, I wasn’t too serious about getting either one of those. Now back onto the story.

So I’m looking at the website still and even though I didn’t think I would meet ‘my dog’, I started checking prices because at this point I was still a broke college young adult. The Australian Shepherds were the more expensive of the dogs available, the blue merle one being the most expensive. So I started looking at the Shiba Inu’s with the full intent that if I was going to get a dog that day it would be one of those.

We got to the pet store and walked in. I promise you I tried to walk by his cage, I really did. I just didn’t. The moment I saw him, this little ball of fluffy white, black and grey fur, I knew I had found my dog. I found Merlin.

So I signed paper work, forked out more money than I had intended and brought him home. And he has spent the last year getting into trouble, going on adventures and being a typical puppy. So I figured that I’d tell some of the stories of what he has gotten up to and what he continues to get up too. Also, some fun facts and advice that I have learned and am learning while raising a dog.

So here’s to Merlin, his dragons, and his often head shaking owner.

 

Sincerely,

The Owner (Who is really owned, but really have you seen his face!)