The way she came is probably indicative of how she will continue for the rest of her life with us here. I was approached by a friend who had helped place her in a home. She said that the people who had adopted her could not cope. To me this is really unfathomable. How could you take in a beautiful little baby dog, knowing full well that it is a breed that will grow to huge proportions, then when it starts to grow you throw it out? Anyway, their loss is my gain.
When I went to see Petra at the house of this lady who was acting as in-between, my heart broke. She would not let Petra in the house, to see her we had to go out to the patio. She was brought in by one of the staff. The moment she saw my friend she ran towards her and tried to jump up on her, enthusiastically licking and trying her best for some attention. My friend is not a dog person, she kept trying to curb her enthusiasm, which to poor Petra must have felt like rejection. This too broke my heart. I decided on the spot that she will have a home with us. So after a few minutes of trying to get her to get used to me, they carried her and placed her in my car and off we went back home.
Her first introduction was to Helen and Troy. It was in the garage and all three were scared.
But I just stood there petting each in turn and giving them all time to smell one another on my hands. I had some water brought out, and this helped when they all started drinking together. Troy started to relax before Helen, and bit by bit he started to sniff at Petra.
Petra is quite large, and poor thing, her diet was not at all suitable if you want a healthy dog. She has longer hair than my pair but it is rough and dull, a strong indication that she is not as healthy as she should be.
Those first few minutes were crucial to their future relationship. I thought it best to take them into the garden, give them the option of the pool which would help in breaking the ice, and it did. Although Troy started playing with Petra, Helen was more reserved and mainly kept aloof, trying to judge the newcomer.
All went well in the garden, then after around an hour of frolicking in the water and on the grass I called them in. First I wanted to introduce Petra to Cookie and Frisky, then I needed to get them washed and then fed.
The introduction went well at first, till Petra in her enthusiasm, with one of her huge paws, flattened Frisky!
And that was the end of peace. He immediately jumped up and started snapping at her. She was totally taken aback, backed away too quickly for her to keep her balance and fell on her back. In the twinkling of an eye Helen was on top of her nipping at her and growling ferociously with poor Petra squealing like she is being slaughtered. It took me a few minutes to untangle all these dogs, held on to Petra, chastised both Frisky and Helen, then took them all upstairs for their shower.
This incident set the mood for the next few days. Petra, not realizing that her size gives her an advantage that challenges others, and that her enthusiasm is interpreted as aggression, is quite surprised and a bit scared when she is attacked by both Frisky and Helen. My work was cut out for me.
My first concern was to make Petra feel loved and secure, despite the antagonism of the other two dogs. Also it was uphill work as she does not seem to have been disciplined in any way. She did not recognize “No”, she just ignored it. But bit-by-bit she started to, at least, understand the tone of voice. Though totally wild, she has a lovely temperament and is fairly bright. By the end of the second day she started catching on that jumping up is a No-No, that biting hands with enthusiasm is a Big No-No, and that her food is exactly the same as that of the others and she should stick to her plate.
Today I have had her for a week. She is no longer hyper active, she actually sleeps during the day. She is now comfortable about waiting for her food while I prepare it for all three, secure in the knowledge that her next meal will be coming. She is now careful when enthusiastically greeting me not to bite hard anymore. She is starting to understand that she should be more gentle with both Frisky and Helen, so Helen now is more friendly and they are starting to play together well. Frisky is still aggressive with her, but I am trying to control that, and I think in time he will calm down once he realizes that she is no longer being rough with him.
The cats are a different story.
Pixie saunters right under their noses, and if it is too much of a challenge for one of the dogs who starts chasing him, he quickly jumps out of the way, walks five steps away then just saunters again. None of the dogs ever hurt him. I think to them it is the principle of the thing. They HAVE to chase the cat. Snowy though is a problem. He seems to be very tempting to all the dogs, with his fluffy white hair and by just curling up into a ball when attacked.
The other day I picked him up to find Petra’s teeth clamped to his tail. So now Snowy has become a very BIG NO-NO. Every time one of them is about to attack him they look at me first, and now all I have to do is growl, that stops them in their tracks.
With such a tribe living indoors and with such an ongoing circus, the decor of the house has changed drastically. There are now no carpets on the top floor, hardly any decorative flowers left, practically no pictures on the mantle shelf and jumbo kitchen towels in every room. To call my current decor eclectic would be kind. But I love my rather bare, damaged, untidy house, full of very lively, happy loving pets. My babies are happy, healthy and brighten my days. This was one of the best decisions I have made in a long time. They are keeping me physically active, running after them when they take something they shouldn’t in their teeth and run with it. One of their favorites, besides my slippers, are my reading glasses. They give me joy when we all swim together. They work me very hard cleaning after them, preparing their food and feeding them, keeping an eye on them, giving them discipline and love in equal doses. They are a love, a joy and a lot of fun.