Monday, August 8, 2011

Oh Luis!

I guess I need a little background for this post, so here it goes...

Our wonderful neighbor Joni has lived in her house across the street from us for 27 years!!  When we bought our house in 2005 we didn't move into it for 3 months while we got things settled with school (me) and work (Jeff).  And Joni, without even being asked (as we didn't yet know her), watered our lawn and plants so that they wouldn't die before we actually moved in.  She continued to be super helpful, always watching our cat and chickens, and watering all our plants when we were away on vacation.  And she never accepted any payment from us, no matter how hard we tried.  

Sadly, a few months back Joni learned that the bank was not going to help her with her mortgage and they were foreclosing on her house.  Her and her two sons had to move in with her mother, and since her dog Luis didn't get along with her mother's dog, she had to find a new, and hopefully temporary, home for him.  And to make a long story short (a little late, right?) we offered to take him into our home while she figured things out.

She brought him over on the 4th of July and we've been getting used to this 90+ pound beast of a dog ever since.  

Sophie Dog, Jeff & Renee, and Luis (black dog on the right) on the 1st night we had him.

That first night with him was interesting to say the least.  Luis, for as big as he is, is a giant wimp!  He not only has separation anxiety, but he's afraid of fireworks!!  So, that whole evening we were basically coddling him and reassuring him that everything was going to be okay as he paced and shivered.

The next day he was much better though, and I stayed home from school just to make sure all the dogs were going to be okay with this new arrangement.  They had all met before and played just fine, but asking three dogs to play together for a little while, and asking three dogs to live together and share their space and, more importantly, their human attention are two completely different things.

Sophie and Kirby weren't exactly happy about the new doggy guest at first, but they've gotten used to him.  Sophie and Kirby are 6 and 7 years old respectively, and so they had started getting into an older dog routine of just sleeping all day and barely playing with each other or with us.  But, Luis is only 4 and he still wants to play a lot.  At first our two seemed really annoyed by his constant pestering to get a game going, but now all three of them are always playing!  They run around our backyard like crazy, chasing each other, wrestling, and playing tug.  And they go back and forth between Sophie and Kirby ganging up on Luis, and Sophie and Luis ganging up on Kirby (the latter combination is really not very fair at all, but they seem to have fun).

Sophie (50 lbs.), Kirby (20 lbs.) and Luis (90 lbs.)

Don't get me wrong, it hasn't all been perfect.  There have been two pretty serious dog fights, both over food.  But, that is to be expected when adding a new dog to a group.  They have to work out their doggy seniority among themselves.  The scuffles did make Jeff and I realize that we were confusing the dogs by giving Luis a little too much attention, which made him feel like he had higher rank.  We've since been better at making sure that Luis knows he is bottom dog.  Kirby is top dog (he sleeps on the bed with us), then Sophie, and then Luis.  And now Luis eats his meals outside while Sophie and Kirby eat inside to prevent any more food related scuffles.

Even with everyone getting along, things have been less than smooth sailing with a 90 lb. dog living in our tiny house.  He is just sooooo big and so he always seems to be in the way.  And he's destroyed more than his fair share of household items including a screen door, two sets of mini-blinds, some of Renee's toys, a dog crate, and the dog water dispenser.  Plus, having two male dogs in the same household has created a very literal pissing contest in our backyard.  One of them goes on a plant, then the other one comes up behind and goes on the same plant.  They go back and forth like this until the poor plant is dead, and then they move on to another.  I try to keep up and rinse off the plants I see them peeing on, but I am too slow and many of our newly planted flowers have perished.    

None of this really matters to me though.  I am a dog lover in every way possible and so Luis's adorably sad face, dopey personality and need for a home have won me over completely.  The destruction of property is really only an annoyance in my mind, something that will (and has) get better with time.  Jeff, however, is not as easily won over by doggy cuteness, and has been waiting for Joni to come take her giant destructive dog back from day one!  Luis's ONLY saving grace (in Jeff's mind), and the only reason we haven't called Joni and said that this just isn't going to work out is that....

Renee LOVES Luis!!!!  

Renee and "Lu Lu" (that's what she calls him).

And even more importantly, Luis lets Renee "love" him any way she wants.  She climbs on him, she sits on him, she pulls his tail, she kisses him, she hugs him, she pokes at him.  Anything a toddler can imagine doing to a dog, Renee has done it to Luis.  And he just lets her.  

Not that we condone her abusing the dogs.  Quite the opposite, we are constantly telling her to be nice and gentle to all three dogs and the cat.  But it is so cute to watch Renee interact with this gentle giant of a dog.  And seeing Renee happy, makes us happy.  So, Luis gets to stay :D

He has, of course, bumped into her on several occasions, knocking her down and making her cry, he's just so big he can't help it.  But, it has never resulted in more than a bump, bruise or scrape.  Renee does more damage to herself than that all on her very own.  Luis's tail is also a force to be reckoned with, it hurts when it hits me and it happens to be perfectly aligned with Renee's head.  And so she gets knocked in the head with a happy dog tail on occasion.  She's actually really good at avoiding it now though, ducking and weaving like a pro.  She's also really good at running over to me or Jeff when the dogs get a game going in the backyard.  We hold her up so she can safely watch the comedy of three dogs tramping through our yard.  She loves watching them all play, and laughs hysterically as they run back and forth.

Dog trainer in the making.

To Renee, Luis is completely part of the family now, and I'm sure she will be very confused when he goes back to Joni.  Actually, we haven't heard anything from Joni for about a month, so we're not quite sure when, if ever,  she plans to take her dog back.  For now though, he is part of the family and we're all making the best of it.