Charlie Update, 3/21/21

Charlie, lying down in a such a way that it looks as if she is running.

It’s been a full twenty-four hour since Charlie has been gotten, which is enough time for me to say that based on early observations, she is, indeed, a very good dog.

Yes, yes, all dogs are good dogs, I know, I know. But I mean that Charlie has shown herself to be a) quite intelligent, b) very even-tempered, c) socialized to an impressively significant degree, all of which we couldn’t necessarily hoped for right out of a box for any dog, much less a shelter dog whose previous home life and treatment were a mystery to us. But so far:

* She’s been great with the cats, who at this point want to avoid and/or murder her. Her response generally has been “Okay, you don’t like me, that’s cool, maybe you’ll come around later.”

* She hasn’t really looked at the standing bowls of cat food or the cat’s water bowl; she understands which bowls are hers and uses them exclusively. If this continues this will be the first dog we won’t have to yell at for eating the cat food.

* She has met and played with the neighbor dogs Buckley and Gus, and has also gotten along well with Roxy and Roscoe, my mother-in-law’s Shih Tzus. She’s personable and doesn’t seem to need to dominate other dogs.

* Is housetrained and lets us know when she needs to go out.

* Is calm when meeting people and looks to us to make sure they’re okay, and if we indicate they are, is good with them.

* Is able to bark, but doesn’t unless there is a reason, which is a thing I love so far.

* Is a snuggly loving cuddlepup.

On the flip side, she did have some immediate separation anxiety when Krissy left the house; Charlie went to the door she left from and started whining and pawing the door. We calmed her down and I took her for a walk to dissipate some of that nervous energy. Then Krissy came back, proving that she had not in fact abandoned Charlie, which was a happy moment for the dog. When Krissy left later in the evening, Charlie was rather less stressed about it. I suspect this is part of Charlie’s learning curve that this is her new home and we’re her new people, and that we will go, but we will come back. The sooner she learns this the better, because in usual times, we do of course leave the house and even travel.

Also she was disappointed to learn she’s not allowed up on furniture, but seems to be accepting that fact pretty well.

But that’s it for “negative” behavior, at least so far.

Charlie’s actually pretty remarkable degree of calmness and situational intelligence suggests to me that the story we received of the previous owners surrendering her because she got too big for the terms of their apartment lease might actually be true; this does not seem to be a dog who was neglected or hurt, and indeed seems to have been as least lightly trained. Our previous dog, Daisy, had neglect as part of her backstory and it was something we did have to work through a bit, especially at the beginning. So far, what we get from Charlie is pretty much, “Is this my new home? Is this my new squeaky pig? I love all of you!” Which, you know, is great.

As with our previous dogs, Charlie’s most immediate and obvious bond is with Krissy, who she happily follows all through the house and wants to be by most of the time. I mean, I get it; I feel the same way. But it’s amusing to me that, given that all three of us met Charlie at the same time and gave her equal amounts of love and attention, she imprinted on Krissy the quickest. She knew that Krissy was her human, just like the rest of the dogs knew. They always know. The irony is that she, like all the other dogs, will spend most of her time with me, because I’m the one who is always home. And that’s fine. She likes me! And is happy to be with me! But she clearly loves Krissy the most. Again, I totally get it.

As a family unit, we’ve had three dogs: Kodi, Daisy and now Charlie. All of these dogs have something in common, which was that they were someone else’s dog before they were ours. Kodi had been claimed by someone who had then changed their mind for whatever reason, so when we mentioned to a friend we were thinking about getting a dog, he said he knew of a puppy who needed a home. Daisy we got through a lab rescue organization. And Charlie, now, from a shelter. I’m not someone who feels it is an absolute moral imperative to get a shelter/rescue pup (there might be specific and reasonably ethical reasons to want a “purebreed” dog, mostly relating to allergies and temperament), but all things being equal, I do think it’s strongly preferable to do so when one can, and I do recommend doing it that way. We hadn’t gone wrong with secondhand dogs before this, and with Charlie, at least from the perspective of one day in, we seem to be going three-for-three.

— JS

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