On October 2nd we invited a new element of chaos into our lives. We found her on a roadside pullout near our house. It was raining hard and windy. She was sitting there, soaked and afraid next to a kennel. She growled at us when we stopped to check her out. Within an hour she had a name.
Gypsy wouldn’t get in the car with us and she wouldn’t let us put a collar on her, but she was happy to follow us home on foot. She did so twice but returned to the pullout and the kennel each time; apparently she had been there for a few days and in her mind it must have been home. Once we brought the kennel to our house though, she stuck around.
She wouldn’t come in the house so we put a dog bed on our front porch and set out some food and water for her. All night we wondered if she’d stay. She did.
The front door was scary and she wouldn’t go through it. On her third night with us Dillon heard her growling and went out to investigate. A porcupine was walking through the yard so Dillon picked Gypsy up and brought her inside. When we woke up she was pretty pleased with herself at being in the house, but the door was still very scary and she wouldn’t go out. That is when her official training began. It involved opening the front door and coaxing her with food. In four weeks time the coaxing has gone from around ten minutes per door episode to a mere few. This is good considering that it’s almost November and an open door can really cool a house down these days.
Sometimes Gypsy cries in the middle of the night and because she’s had a couple of accidents in the house I’m pretty quick to jump up to let her out. If the door seems especially scary I end up pulling on my boots and running out before her, when she sees that the door hasn’t harmed me sometimes she follows. Sometimes she doesn’t and I am outside standing in the yard in my shorts and mud boots calling her. It’s been invigorating really. I’ve seen beautiful night skies. I’ve heard owls and coyotes. Think of the things I would have missed had I been warm and asleep in my bed.
Fortunately, Gypsy loves Ripple, our older, much more mature dog (ahem) and the feeling seems mutual as far as I can tell. They started out playing around the yard then figured that if they had fun in the yard they’d probably have a really great time roaming the neighborhood. Dogs roaming the neighborhood is rarely a good idea, and even though they were considerate and brought us souvenirs from their adventures (one day a mutilated bunny, the next day a halibut tail) we’ve resorted to putting them out separately, which would be fine except for the fact that Gypsy had almost gotten to the point of being unafraid of the door when she saw Ripple going through it. Our door time, as we’ve come to call it, was almost down to nothing but we’ve gone backwards now that she has to go through it all by herself again.
Have I mentioned that Gypsy is incredibly gentle? Aside from when we first found her, abandoned and afraid on the side of the road, she’s shown absolutely no aggression. She seems genuinely thrilled to have a warm house, a soft bed, a dog friend and four people to dote on her. Still though, it’s taken a while for her to entirely trust us. She loves us but she still gets nervous if we approach her too quickly. It seems like her previous people sent her mixed messages, affection one minute and something much worse the next. It’s going to take a while, but she seems more comfortable all the time. Sometimes we have a set back though, like this morning.
We got our first snow of the season last night and so this morning I had the notion that it would be nice to stay inside and enjoy a cup of coffee near the woodstove. I made the mistake of letting the dogs out at the same time. When they came back twenty or so minutes later Ripple had two porcupine quills stuck in her muzzle. Gypsy had about thirty. Dean brought out the pliers and I went to work removing them, but we soon discovered that she had them all over her tongue and inside her mouth. A vet visit was in order. Unfortunately all the things we’d been easing up to—the car, the leash, the vet—had to happen all at once. All of her biggest fears were realized within an hour, along with what I imagine must have been an incredible amount of pain.
Aside from the bill, the vet visit was a good thing. Gypsy’s got her shots now and after examining her teeth, Dots, our lovely veterinarian, informed us that Gypsy’s only about eight months old. She’s just a baby. There’s plenty of time to get over the silly fears, plenty of time for her to stop having accidents in the house.
Just the week before we rescued Gypsy we had started considering getting a second dog. We’re kind of a two dog family and Ripple was seeming a little down after losing Nayak. Although I will never understand what kind of a person would abandon a puppy on the side of the road in cruddy weather when the Homer Animal Shelter is such an easy option, I do believe the timing and the placement of that person’s bad deed was very serendipitous. Now Gypsy is with a family that is willing to be trained and I’d say we’re doing a darn good job of meeting her every need. In trade she’s giving us a lot of laughs and a fair amount of joy. She’s bringing sweet energy into our lives—and in a household that’s busy and chaotic to begin with, a little sweetness can make all the difference.