It took putting a blanket on the floor and sweet talking him for five minutes to get Punchy to hang out with me in my office. It’s a first, him laying there while I type.

He’s a very tentative dog. Sort of like a guest who’s not sure he should use the good towels. So he hangs back in his uncertainty until he is completely convinced that it is okay for him to do something new. He seems to want a ‘new dog in the house’ handbook so he can get things right and not offend.

I love his utter lack of entitlement, his unassumingness, his patient waiting while his friend dog, Swirl, chews on a bone, only getting up to investigate the bone after Swirl leaves it. He would no more insist or growl or fuss over the bone than he would knit a sweater. It’s not my place, I can hear him saying in his head.

You have to love a dog like that. I’m working on it. Just now I gave him a kiss on the head. He was surprised but stood still. Maybe he’s thinking it’s okay to get a kiss, just like it’s okay to lay on the blanket in my office.

Advent 8: Punch

Our new dog, Punchy, chomped on my hand today. I was holding a Milk-Bone at the time so I’m not entirely blameless here. Still, the chomp hit my upper thumb, sort of a jaws wide open grab whatever is meat kind of action like a shark gliding under feet dangling from a surfboard. Instinct doesn’t allow for the differentiation of treat from human flesh.

Despite the chomp or the chomp notwithstanding, either way, Punchy has made a remarkable adjustment to life inside. He sleeps in a bed. He follows the morning routine. He eats from his own bowl. He walks in a straight line instead of running in circles like he did the first week or so. He stands quietly for me to put his harness on. He stops doing bad stuff if we yell at him. And……biggest of all…..and amazing after two weeks. He comes when he’s called.

We’ve been working on this at the dog park every day for two weeks. Having him know we are his people now is the basis of everything. This goal comes after ten years of him having been a working sled dog that lived outside in a dog yard with 200 other dogs. We’re all about bringing him to a new pack – our little TV-watching, rum-drinking, truck driving pack. Big cultural shift, yes?

So the other day when Punchy punched through the fence and tore off after a squirrel or some such and we saw him halfway down the next block, across a busy street, we called his name and he looked up and ran right toward us while we yelled for a nice, concerned college student to stop traffic for him. He barrelled right to us, turned around and waited for us to rub his fanny and tell him that he was a good boy, a very good boy.

And he is a good boy. Amazingly so. Except for the Milk-Bone issue. We’re working on it.