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You know how some people turn their head at the sight of (physically) attractive strangers on the streets? Yeah, I do that motion too, but only for dogs. I can’t help it! For many reasons, I’ve never lived with a dog, yet I’ve been swooningly (I know it’s not a word) wanting one for as long as I can remember.

The past with dogs

I’ve cared a lot for two dogs so far in my life. The first was a miniature schnauzer. I never knew I liked schnauzers until I met him. He wasn’t leash trained, and no one told me that. We were going for a walk. I was holding his leash when he decided to run through the half-closed garage door. I let myself be pulled and my forehead hit the door with a loud thud; I had to sit down and apply ice later on. He hopped on the sofa and leaned on me. That was the first time he expressed such friendliness. Yes, the picture below was taken right then. …was that what it took for him to care?

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The second was a labrador retriever. The first time I saw him, I felt something I never felt for any other dog before. Familiarity and warmth. He kept looking at me, and I did the same through glass windows. Our time was short but nice. The second time I saw him, he stole some of my food, and I’d like to think we bonded over that. I’m not sure I’ll ever see either of them again. But hey! Good news! I’m getting a dog!

The near-present with dogs

For the past year, I’ve been educating myself a lot more on dogs. Why? Because I knew that I would soon get a dog. I’ve been taking online lessons on how to train and care for dogs, what are the annual costs, what breeds would suit my lifestyle, etc. etc. etc. I’ve done at least 5 (10 maybe?) quizzes about what breed I should get. “Medium” or “large” were always my answers for preferred dog size. Answer of many quizzes: Canaan dog or Brittany Spaniel. Both are relatively rare and are therefore hard to find in a shelter. I’ve been visiting the Ottawa Humane Society website every day. I really want a Brittany though. There are at least three breeders in Ontario. …but helping a dog at a shelter is important to me. The Brittany could be my second dog.

In December, my family welcomed a dog into the house–a Yorkshire Terrier (English breed) x Biewer Terrier (German). This was not to be my dog. I planned to adopt one in late fall 2017. The plan was for me to train this dog, and my aunt would adopt him. Fast forward to February 2017, my aunt decided to not adopt him and my mom insisted on keeping him instead of returning him to the shelter. Fast forward to April 2017 (now), the remaining people in the house have warmed up to the idea of keeping him.

The present with a dog named Champ

Even though I wasn’t sure where he would end up most of the time before now–it was never for me to decide–I still trained and mentally stimulated him for his (and our) sake. He learned to pee outside in a sheltered area often (note, it was winter when we got him), and eventually stuck to doing it permanently. People who have Yorkshire Terriers would understand how hard it is to house-train them, because of how stubborn and audacious they are. Oh, and they’re smart too.

Champ, the Yorkie Biewer, eventually learned to sit, wait (i.e. stay), come, bang! (i.e. fake dying), up (stand on two legs), spin, and “let’s go” (resume walking along). I was blown away by how fast he became leash trained. He understands both English and Vietnamese. He leaves right away when we say “good night!”. He loves fetch and slippers. He loves to sleep at a different spot each night, alternating between his doggie bed, the laundry basket, and the sofa. He used to not be able to jump on the sofa, but those days are long gone.

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Challenges and future avenues

As a result of adopting him during the winter and family disputes over what to do with him, part of his training had been delayed. Notably, he did not really get to socialize with other dogs. Still, I tried to get him to socialize a lot with people. Family members see him as a stay-in-the-house kind of dog. But to me, that’s impossible.

These days, I’ve been trying hard to get him used to being in the car and other dogs. It was really a struggle in the car at first, with him being very anxious. He’s now starting to like being in cars. While he’s still stressed around bigger dogs, I can see him improving. Yorshire Terriers are known to act big despite their small size and play with bigger dogs, and I hope Champ does that too, someday. He’s at ~6.5 months, and while the socialization window supposedly closes at 6 months, I have hope. He has many times proven to me how adaptable he can be. Many other dogs adopted from shelters can change despite being much older than him!

Nope, he’s not my dog. Well, I don’t like using possessive pronouns, but that’s not why. Champ’s the family’s dog. Still, if ever anyone asks, I have a son and his name is Champ.