Doesn’t he look dapper here? Friendly? Well, for the first six weeks, he was. Honestly he seemed like the dream dog for us. Jason took him along on his evening jogs (sometimes WITH the stroller and two much-too-big-for-this boys), he would tag along in the back of the car on all of our errands, he slept at our feet while we watched movies. Isaiah adored him. Gryffin was starting to… tolerate him. He still called him “the dog” but we were making strides there. Being patient. And we were already dreaming about all of our camping trips and day hikes with him this Summer.
He did get up on the furniture. And he left a lot to be desired when we would walk him. He walked us is the more apt description. He barked a lot when anyone came to the door. And he might have bit Jason in a, shall we say “delicate,” place when J took him on an frisbee golf expedition and he mistook J for the frisbee. But we happily and diligently worked on all those minor problems. Well, admittedly Jason wasn’t too happy about that last one. We put foil on the couch because the sound and the feel of it is supposed to deter animals (it did). Jason checked out a dog training book from the library, bought a training clicker and set to work every evening trying to train Mr. Bates. The boys helped with feeding and bathing and everything was really off to a swimming start.
So what happened? It’s still a bit of a mystery to us. First we had a houseguest. He growled at her quite a bit the night she arrived but that was nothing new. The next morning, though, during breakfast, as she walked from the fridge to the table, he nipped the back of her leg, unprovoked. We were surprised but we all chalked it up to the fact that she had some food in her hand and maybe he was making a lunge for it? No big deal, right? We were still working on his training after all. But later that morning when she was walking up the stairs to leave for work, he bit her hard on the back of her leg. Again, unprovoked. This time it bruised her. Through her pants. (Sorry, again, Kell. Love you!).
So…that wasn’t good. But not insurmountable, right? Our friend was really gracious about it and offered all kinds of ideas as to why he had done it. But still Jason and I fretted over it and hemmed and hawed and wondered what to do. Was this a one-time thing? Did she bother him in some way? Was he feeling protective? Did something provoke it that we could not see? What do we do now?
A couple days later, amidst Jason and I trying all sorts of training tricks and newfangled ideas, Mr. Bates started growling at Isaiah. Often. Now, admittedly Isaiah did love Mr. Bates in a rather physical way. He liked to push on him, pull on him, sit with him, hold his feet, rest his head on Bates’ belly, and just generally snuggle up every chance he got. So we thought Mr. Bates was just letting us know that Isaiah was pushing the limits a little. Which seemed understandable. Heck, he pushes our limits sometimes. We pressed on.
But then. Then one afternoon while Gryffin was skipping around the counter during lunchtime, Mr. Bates bit him on the back. Hard. It broke his skin. Broke his skin and sealed the deal. Mr. Bates was going back to the Humane Society. Cue the violins.
He bit Gryffin on a Wednesday and the next available appointment they had for “surrendering a pet” was two days later, on Friday. On Thursday morning, and again on Friday, we woke up to a lovely pile of dog poop on the carpet downstairs. It was like he knew. He knew and he wasn’t going down without a fight. It certainly didn’t leave Jason, who dutifully cleaned it up both times, with any sort of warm fuzzies before he left. I, on the other hand, cried my eyes out when I had to walk away from him at the Humane Society. I don’t think it was him so much. I mean, he kind of lost my trust when he bit my baby. But it was the idea of him. I had pictured years of camping trips and the boys snuggling with him while we watched movies on the weekends and teaching him tricks and all those things I did with my dog growing up.
Ah well. So much for that. Everyone keeps asking if we’re going to get another dog. And the answer is…not so much. The whole experience with Mr. Bates took the wind out of our sails. It was stressful and we’re over it.
But never fear. You can’t keep the Rusts down for long. I saw an ad for a free bunny last week and decided that a bunny would be just the thing for us. No adoption paperwork. No background checks. We bought a cage, a bag of hay and that was that.
I didn’t think I would get attached to a rabbit but he is about the sweetest bunny you could find. One of his ears sticks up and the other one is down. He happily hops around the house and lets us hold him when he’s out of his cage. Otherwise, he seems perfectly content to chill out on the patio. Nearly everyone from our community group took a turn holding him last week. This is my kind of pet. And hey, after Mr. Bates, the expectations ’round these parts are pretty low. Here’s to hoping Chicken Taco is here to stay.