Being a young married couple and first time home owners in this crazy society and economy is tough. In my case, my wife and I now work opposite shifts and pretty much work paycheck to paycheck. Possibly like you are right now. When I wake up during the week my wife is already at work and when I get home many times she’s just getting ready for bed. No one to greet you in the morning and sometimes when you get home at night gets kind of lonely and borderline depressing. Instead every morning and night I get greeted by two wet tongues, eight legs and one and one-quarter tails. My dogs Bella and Bandit.
Let me start by telling you a little about them. Bella is a three-year-old Boston Terrier and Bandit is about a year old and we think a Cardigan Welsh Corgi/Jack Russell mix. The two of them have been together since November, 2011 and are pretty much inseparable, which I am honestly envious. My wife and I have had Bella since she was three months old, she was a wedding gift from my in-laws. When we first saw her at the pet shop I immediately bonded with her. She was very energetic, affectionate and chewed up my shoelaces. What really grabbed our attention is that she isn’t black or brindle and white like most Bostons, she’s red and white. She’s also pretty big for a Boston Terrier, about 28 pounds. Not even fat, just big.
We adopted Bandit from a local shelter after a trip to the dog park. We were looking for a new buddy for Bella (and us), for quite some time and after seeing him on Pet Finder, we went to check him out. We bonded with the little guy immediately, and so did Bella. Bandit looks like a stretched out Jack Russell with a tri-color (black, tan and white) coat, he’s long and colored like a Corgi, but has the features and legs like a Jack Russell. He’s also very agile and fast which is a lot of fun at the dog park. I made a flirt pole for them to play with, it’s funny to watch Bandit hop over Bella and for her to plow through him to get the stuffed donkey on the end of the string.
In November of 2010, my wife and I purchased our first home, a two bedroom condo. Being on your own for the first time is rough, but one of the hardest things about moving to a new area is now knowing anyone. That didn’t last very long having a dog like Bella. From day one, the first time I took her for a walk people stopped me to ask about her. “Is she a Pit Bull or is she a Boxer?” is a question I heard a lot (and still do). Just like that, I knew people and they knew me, except for the one guy who remembered Bella’s name but calls me something different every time. I usually respond just to keep it interesting. With the two of them now, we walk more. Besides the social interaction, it’s been good exercise. I’ve lost 20 pounds in the last five months.
Part of the reason we wanted a second dog was because of Bella. When she first came into our lives we were living with my wife’s (at that time fiancee) parents who had a Miniature Pinscher and a Boston of their own. Bella was very used to being around other dogs and I guess losing that little pack effected her a bit. She was sort of independent, yet still wanted to be a lap dog and became very clingy and was always at your side. Which was nice for us, but she seemed kind of lonely. That changed when Bandit came home.
My wife recently received a promotion from working in the store to the corporate office. Which is great, more money and a set schedule; a little longer drive, but take the good with the bad, right? The set schedule really affected me, we used to get lunch together and get to sleep in on the days she closed. It was nice, but now if we get to spend an hour together during the week, it’s a lot. In the morning I’m pretty much by myself. My wife works days and I’m on the second shift. It gets lonely being by yourself at home. Like I mentioned earlier, I like to take Bella and Bandit for a long walk when I get up. It gives them the exercise they (and I) need and it beats watching daytime TV. My doctor told me that dog walking isn’t good for anything because of all the stopping and going. Cesar Millan said if you make them walk and not sniff anything and everything they get more out of it and in turn, so do I.
I hate my job too, which doesn’t help. Second shift can wear on you since you can’t really have any type of social life or anything. Working in a family business is also rough, especially when you’re the only one who isn’t related by blood (my father-in-law is co-owner), I feel out of the loop. I need a raise (or a new job), but that’s a different story. When I come home my dogs respect me. I’m the boss. I tell them to sit, stay, shake or lay down and they do it. Like most employees, they need a little motivation. Give them a Milk Bone, they’ll do anything. When I get home after a particularly aggravating and most likely boring night the dogs are there to welcome me home with their tail and stump wagging and get a belly rub.
One of the best things I’ve done with Bandit is obedience training. It really began with a bad habit Bella had, pulling when she was on her leash. After we adopted Bandit, it became two dogs pulling on their leashes and two dogs pulling in opposite directions is like being drawn and quartered, or halved in this case. Small dogs or not, it’s extremely frustrating. Between the bad leash behavior and Bandit destroying our love seat I enrolled him in a obedience class. The training also translated very well to Bella, especially the leash aspect. They’re a lot better on walks now. Not perfect but better. I also was able to explore the neighborhood a bit which is something I wouldn’t have done on my own.
Another result from the classes was I gained Bandit’s complete trust. He was still a very young puppy when he was found as a stray. Somewhere between six and eight months. Who ever his previous owner was did invest some time in him as he was already crate and house trained. He didn’t seem to trust us fully though, I guess since he was still a puppy and this was already the third place he’s lived. That’s a lot to take in, for anyone or anything when you think about it. Especially since we’ll never know why he was out on the streets in the first place. I kind of cut him a lot of slack with the destructive behavior because my heart went out to him because he was a shelter dog. The more training we learned, the more he began to listen. After the classes I realized he’s not a shelter dog anymore, he’s my dog.
Weekends are the best time for me since I get to spend time with my wife, but believe me the dogs are hardly neglected and they make sure of it. We usually take them both for a walk and we’re frequent visitors to the local dog park. For the dogs it’s playtime. For my wife and I it’s just some time to talk and enjoy each others company. I was always told that it’s the little things in a marriage that count the most. As small a thing as sitting on a bench having a conversation with my wife while my little dogs terrorize the big ones is, it’s something we wouldn’t have if we didn’t have Bella and Bandit. I thank them for that.
Until I wrote this, I didn’t actually realize how much my dogs did for me. It almost makes my week bearable. In the end I guess what I’ve learned is; “Be good to your dogs and they’ll be good to you.”
Thanks for reading.