Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Furry Children

I love our dogs. They really are a part of our family. And they really are like children with their own developmental needs and unique personalities.

Cocoa is my chihuahua. She is five years old, so she is more than an adult. But she is also only four pounds! She was picked on by the littermate she lived with before I got her. As a result she has developed a few personality "quirks" that we have been working to overcome. 

The first is that she is kind of neurotic. Part of this is her breed, too. But she is very skittish and scared of just about anything. This has really improved thanks to Patches, amazingly enough. She has done really well learning to live with another dog. As a result, she has gotten a little bolder when it comes to meeting strange dogs. She will not only allow them to sniff her, she will often walk right up to them, which is nice because I know she can be more social. She's getting a little better about socializing with other people as well, but we still have some more work to do there.

Her second quirk is her eating habits. Although the other dog she lived with was smaller, the other one was the Alpha and would push her away and not let her eat. When I first got her, she would only eat at night when all the lights were out and nobody was watching her. She will now eat at normal times during the day, but still doesn't like any people to be around watching her, but if she's started eating she will let you watch her eat it. She is still a little funny in that she will take a piece of food and carry it away from the bowl and eat it, then come back for another piece.

I have recently become aware of the fact that she likes to get up in the middle of the night for a drink of water. I think part of this is my fault because she is used to staying up much later with me and now I am not staying up as late but she hasn't quite adjusted to our new schedule. This may have been going on for a long time but she always was able to get on and off the bed by herself (sometimes with the help of a stool or something to give her a boost) so I never had to get up with her. Now she can't get back on the bed by herself and we usually close the door at night so I have to get up and let her out, then wait till she comes back and put her back on the bed. 

Even though she was about two and a half years old when I got her, she wasn't quite as potty trained as I was told she was! I'm sure part of it was the transition to a new home and the fact that we moved about every year and that's a lot for anyone, but especially a little dog with nerve issues already! We have finally gotten her almost totally trained. She still doesn't always tell us when she needs to go out and if we wait more than about four hours while she is awake, she can sometimes have an accident. But for the most part, she is really good. 

Patches is our black lab/australian shepherd mix. He is about a year and a half old. He still has a lot of puppy in him and is full of energy. He has calmed down a lot when he isn't around other big dogs to cause trouble. But has a few quirks of his own.

The first is just that he sleeps on his back with his legs up or sprawled out. It's really funny to watch and makes us laugh.

Like any lab puppy, he loves to chew on things. We try to give him rawhide bones and other things that he is allowed to chew on, but he has eaten flip flops, a comforter, rugs, and even pulled a small fabric case for my contact stuff out of my purse and ate that! He also ate a huge hole in Jeff's grill cover! He is learning not to chew on things, but I have a feeling there will be some other casualties!

Although he is a big bundle of energy, I think being around Cocoa has taught him the joys of being a lap dog. He isn't allowed on the furniture, but loves to sit right next to us and just be petted and loved on. He also loves to give kisses, but can stop if you tell him no. He still gets really excited and loves to jump, which can almost knock you over! We're trying to teach him and he can be really good at listening to "no" or he can be totally oblivious, depending on his mood. 

Despite their quirks and areas for improvement, they are wonderful additions to our family and I can't imagine life without them!


  1. Molly has a thing about some nights she wants water in the middle of the night. We have learned it's just best to keep her a small bowl of water in the bathroom that is connected to the bedroom. we did this at the apartment too and she seems not to fret as much. I dunno if this would work with cocoa since she has trouble getting on the bed. Just a thought! Hope ya'll are doing well!!!

  2. Yeah, we used to keep water in the bedroom for her, but the problem is having to get her back on the bed. I seriously may invest in some of those doggy steps. I just hope Patches doesn't decide he needs to use them too!