Confessions of a Sheepdog soccer Dad
Donít just react, when you can over-react, is an operating principle Wonder Wife and I have observed throughout our marriage. So, when Lady, our beloved Old English Sheepdog was killed in February, we reacted by acquiring two Old English Sheepdogs. Now, we have Sammy, a 14-month-old female and Bandit a ten-week-old male. But it hasnít been easy.
Only 66 days after we lost Lady came a call from one of the nationís top breeders of Old English Sheepdogs. Some couple, that didnít have time to care for it, turned in a female Old English to her city animal shelter. Would we rescue this one-year-old pup?
Although still in mourning for Lady and not really ready to resume our role as canine caregivers, it was a question of just talking the talk or actually walking the walk. For over seven years, Wonder Wife played a key role in the group that supports our county animal shelter. Having been a major fund-raiser, spokesperson and president of Pet Pals, Inc., Penny felt she had to walk the walk. Alos, I was longing for another Old English Sheepdog.
Sammy, the name we gave her, had been locked in a basement for most of her young life and only let out at night when her owners came home from work. Fortunately, they at least had enough sense to turn her into a shelter. We named her after Ladyís mother, Samantha.
Sammy, who had never had a real home before, fell in love with us and we fell in love with her. Unfortunately, Sammy had no training, so she was like an eight-week-old pup in a one-year-old body.
Forty-nine days after we gave Sammy a new home, our local animal shelter called to say they had some eight-week-old, male Old English pups. Would we come down and look? Again, we walked the walk. We picked out a pup with black masks around both eyes and named him, without expending a lot of imagination: Bandit.
Wonder Wife and I thought we understood how to introduce a new puppy into a home where there was a dog already in residence. Wrong. Despite giving primary attention to Sammy, nothing went right. Sammy went ballistic.
To keep peace in the family, Bandit and I lived in a tent out on our deck for three, mountain-cold Colorado nights. Meanwhile, Wonder Wife and Sammy possessed the warm interior.
Each day, we put Sammy and Bandit together for brief, supervised periods on neutral, outdoor territory. As long as Wonder Wife showed zero interest in Bandit, Sammy was okay. But the house was still off-limits to Bandit. After three nights on the deck, Bandit and I started sleeping on the dining room floor. After three nights on the dining room floor, we were all able to sleep in relative peace in the master bedroom. Whew.
To complicate matters, Bandit isnít completely house-trained and requires constant surveillance. Indeed, about all I have done since the arrival of Sammy, and now Bandit, is be a soccer dad to two canine-Americans. That means the central focus of your life is the feeding and bowel habits of two dogs. Are we having fun yet? Weíre getting there.
This led me to start thinking about the soccer moms of America who must juggle so many roles and activities to make sure their children are fed, dressed and gotten to where they are supposed to be when they are supposed to be there. Fortunately, the life of a writer and consultant is fairly flexible, so my work gets done when Sammy and Bandit are asleep or resting. Meanwhile, Wonder Wife is in the middle of her busiest seasonal workload. So, the two of us are like zombies from lack of rest, but the dogs are becoming pals.
Would we take on two young, untrained dogs again? No, not by choice. But sometimes duty calls and there is no choice. Besides, we think Lady would be very proud of us.
William Hamilton is a nationally syndicated columnist and featured commentator for USA Today