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  • Writer's pictureBill Stauffer

Gratitude Friday 03 10 23 – Puppies, Small Packages of Challenge and Potential

As I have written about in prior posts, we lost our beloved K9 companion Mr. Tweaks at the end of January. We are dog people. Dog energy is vital in our home. We began looking on Petfinder quite soon after the loss. Our Ella is older and was used to being half the pack, albeit the quieter member. We knew that there would never be another pup like Mr. Tweaks, but we love dogs. When we see people with dogs, we slow down and want to meet the pups. So, we made the lifetime commitment to another pup in Mid-February. This should not be a surprise to those who know us well.

Our dogs, in order have been Haggis, Sean, Webster, Mr. Tweaks, and Ella. We welcome Sumo. He is our sixth dog. We have always kept our end of the bargain in respect to the commitment between dogs and humans. They give us unconditional love and we agree to take care of them. Every dog who came into our home we have kept and cared for to the end, which occurs with us by their side. We do know what we are getting into on that level. He is here to stay.

Our Alabama Refugee Sumo is a bit feral but eager to learn. He was brought up here with a full family that was surrendered. The non-profit we found him at thinks he is about one year old. He seems a little younger as his ears and paws suggest growing to come, but our vet thinks he is at least six months old. Mr. Tweaks was a Jack Russel / German Shepard mix, weighing in at 16 pounds. Sumo is a German Shepard / Jack Russel mix, who Julie suspects is also part coyote, jackal, and Tasmanian devil. He is 21 pounds and gaining. There are moments he reminds us of Tweaks, but he has twice the guile and four times the energy of Mr. Tweaks. Mr. Tweaks seemed more refined in manner.

One of the things that became nearly immediately apparent to us is that it takes a great deal of energy to keep up with Sumo. There have been days I forget I am no longer 30. I have not had any of those days since he came into our lives. He is best characterized as a loving monster. He can be gentle and cuddly and then springs like a coil into motion. He bounces across the yard jumping over things and running circles around every tree and bush. Our yard looks like a DMZ. He seems to enjoy mud a great deal. I have made a mental note to see if he can get agility training. Maybe he can earn his keep by winning contests. It certainly seems he has it in him to do so and it would help defray his treats and toys.

We can also tell a few things about his life before us. He had never experienced a staircase before we got him. He tends to be more fearful of men (this is more telling of our species than his). He really does not like revving motors and he is really sensitive to children crying (as evidenced by him dropping everything to watch the TV when he hears one).I have found a few articles about the stages of puppyhood, including A Puppy Growth Timeline: Transitions in Puppyhood on the AKC site. Although we are not entirely sure of his age, it is safe to say his in adolescence. He is testing limits big time.

He is a momma’s boy. He adores Julie and tolerates me, although he is slowly warming up. In this

article, The One Person Dog — Tips To Help Your Dog “Spread The Love” it notes that German Shepherds tend towards one person. It also states that they can be trained to be more receptive to others. His fear of males and Julie having more time to train with him are likely part of what we are seeing. One of the things that we are doing differently with Sumo is that this time we are getting professional help. He (or us) will be getting a formal education on being a good dog in the coming weeks. For all of his challenges, it is really clear he is going to be a great dog. All joking aside, he is well worth the investment in time and energy. The average dog is a better person than the average person. Sumo is an above average dog in our opinion.

One of the things that I have been thinking about since we got him is what it means to be a rescue. He comes from Alabama, one of the states that lack no kill shelters. There are rescue operations that find dogs facing death in those states and bring them up here. Sumo was surrendered to a kill shelter with his mother, father and two siblings. Furry Feet Rescue of Walnutport took them all in during the brief window of reprieve they had before being euthanized. The whole family found homes. He is a second chance pup, as I am as a second chance person in addiction recovery. I am grateful for Furry Feet Rescue and all the rescues like it around the county that serve to save dogs from death.

These people are heroes in my book. Please consider a rescue if you are looking for a dog. One of the things I can say about where Sumo came from is that it was abundantly clear to us he had never experienced being in a stable and quiet home before ours. I know this in ways it is hard to express in words but that he showed us within the first few days in our abode. Seeing him feeling safe in a peaceful place for the first time in his life was priceless for us.

This gratitude Friday, I am grateful for puppies and for those who rescue them. Yes, our lives are challenging now. But our little Sumo is eager to learn. I had forgotten how much our dogs understood our routines and worked to fit into our little pack. It has been over a decade since we went through this. As a person in recovery, I got a soft spot for second chances, so I am pulling for our little Sumo. I am grateful we found him.

What are you grateful for today?

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Mar 10, 2023

Beautiful piece, Bill. I enjoyed reading about your challenges and joys…Stay well.

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