Our "Baby" Trainer, Rocky
I remember how much my honey tried to convince me to get a dog. He wanted a labradoodle – a labrador and poodle mix. I’ve had small dogs all my life, and having a labradoodle was the last thing on my mind. We planned to have a dog after our son turned one. But once Jeff met Rocky, a year was out of the question.
Rocky’s baby blues and auburn and white coat made Jeff’s heart melt. He, too, grew up with dogs. The difference? They were all big dogs. I was used to chihuahuas and wanted a small toy dog for Sebastian. Something from my childhood reminded me that a toy dog would simply be a toy for Sebastian. I was about 7 years old when I got my first dog. She was great, my brother Aldo and I would flip her on the bed and laugh when she’d make faces. The poor thing was terrified. She lived almost 15 years and hated my brother and I for what we did. Can you blame her?
On Cinco de Mayo we celebrated Rocky’s first full day at the house. We had a few friends over and introduced him to the family. They loved him and he loved all the attention — and still does to this day.
His first time alone at the house probably felt like a nightmare for him. We got him Saturday night, partied with him on Sunday and when Monday came we all went our separate ways. Jeff came home during his lunch break to find a mess: scratches on the couches, broken window shades and he peed in the kitchen.
The second time we tried isolating him in the dinning room by putting two chairs and a couch in between the dinning room and the tv/living room and a chair in between the kitchen and the dinning room. Jeff came home that day, parked on the street just to sneak up on Rocky. He looked through the glass door and found Rocky laying face up on the rug, tongue out as to say “Man, that was tough.” Jeff laughed, came in and saw the damage. The wall separating the tv/living room was scratched, the couches were a little more banged up and a hat Jeff had left on the kitchen island was now on the floor in the kitchen, almost as a way to say, “You thought you had me, didn’t you?”
After that, we did what we didn’t want to do — we put Rocky back into the cage he came in. It was big enough for him to stretch out from time to time and we left him water and a cookie.
He cried. It broke our hearts, but what could we do? On Jeff’s early days I’d rush to leave first so I wouldn’t have to be the one to put him in there. Eventually I would have to be the “bad” one on Saturday when I’d go foods hopping. I’d cry with him and tell him I’d be quick.
My concern was if something were to happen he’d be stuck in a cage. My parents would say he’s fine. It didn’t get easier with time. One afternoon my parents heard my “what if something happens speech” and suggested I leave him out. We left him on the first floor. Shades up so he can look outside. He went to the window when we left. We went around the block and saw he was still at the window, waved and left.
When we returned, all he did was pee on the island – the usual. We tried leaving him alone two more times during the week and he stopped peeing in the house. I guess he didn’t like seeing us on our knees scrubbing his “territory.”
During the week, Rocky hangs out with other dogs at the dog park. He loves it. I used to join Jeff when I was pregnant. It was like seeing our son play with his friends. At first the other huskies wouldn’t accept him because he was several pounds lighter and his coat had been shaved due to too many knots. They’d try to fight him, but with time — and approximately 30 pounds later — the huskies at the park began to accept him. However, by then, he picked up his own “crew” of non-huskies.
When Sebastian was born Jeff brought home baby items he had worn: his blanket, hat and shirt. This helped prepare Rocky for what was to come. He had always been more gentle with me while I was pregnant, but this time, we needed to make sure he wouldn’t get upset with the baby around.
It worked. When we came home from the hospital Rocky came up to the baby and sniffed him. That was all he needed to do to know that’s his new baby brother.
He’s been great with Sebastian, so much so that if someone is holding Sebastian and another person gets too close to, he’ll growl.