In one of those great moments of weakness I decided we needed another dog. We lost our greyhound, Ammo, back in November and our old girl, Jet, didn’t adjust to being an only pup. Jet especially didn’t adjust to Cheekies finding Jet interesting. Our veterinarian highly suggested we think about adding to our family. In fact, Doc Morrow went as far as picking out a shelter for us to visit and a dog to look at.
A week ago we went out to Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary. Safe Haven is a no-kill shelter in Las Cruces, New Mexico. There we were greeted by Jeff, the sanctuary manager. Jeff let us leave Jet in a spacious dog run the size of a yard while we walked through the kennels in search of our new companion. Jeff took us to the kennel of a poor pup named Champ. Champ has been at the sanctuary since last June. His first family gave Champ up because of Champ’s size.
Champ is an Anatolian Shepherd. If you have never seen an Anatolian Shepherd they are rather large dogs. Large may not be the right word. They are giants. Anatolians were bred for one reason and one reason alone; to protect stock out in the middle of nowhere Turkey. Anatolians are fast, clocking around 35 miles per hour in their glory days. (Slightly less than a greyhound which clocks at 43 miles per hour.) They are lean, but large. Some are very furry, like Champ. Others aren’t that hairy. These wonderful creatures are very protective of their “flock” or “herd” but since they were bred to keep lions, bears and such away from the stock Anatolians aren’t exactly prone to attack. Anatolians will act larger than they are in an attempt to get you to back down. They have a stubborn streak a mile wide. Anatolians are a bit headstrong. It’s like dealing with a stubborn teenager. But, Anatolians are really big lovable teddy bears with their people and stock. (Anatolians have also been used by Jack Hanna to help cheetahs. You can read about it in Frenemies for Life.)
Anywho, we decided that an Anatolian Shepherd would work for our family. Jet seemed okay with Champ when we introduced her. Jet does look small compared to Champ. It was love at first sight for Cheekies and Champ. (I’m pretty sure Champ thinks Cheekies is a little puppy.) Lumpy made friends quickly. Within about fifteen minutes we decided we were bringing Champ home with us.
And that is when the fun began. Champ has always been an outside dog; until now. This means housebreaking an adult dog. (Which is surprisingly easy when you already have a dog that is housebroken.) Champ has never been with a senior dog. That has added a whole new set of things to teach him. Champ couldn’t understand why Jet didn’t want to run around and play. Poor boy doesn’t understand that someday he’ll be old and may have cancer, too. Luckily, Champ is almost three so he isn’t as active as a puppy. We are teaching Champ not to lick the baby to death, even if the baby giggles happily whenever Champ gives her a kiss. And there is the big one: No growling at Jet!
Obviously, it is a bit harder than I thought. So far we have come quite far. Champ has stopped growling. Well, most of the time he doesn’t growl. He has begun understanding the rules for living with a senior dog. In fact, for only being together a week life is going great. The only thing that has really suffered is my writing. Between the vacation and Champ I may not get a short story written this month. Oh well, this will work itself into a story soon enough.