I've had a number of cats and dogs and like them both. Animals bring a great deal to life. I regret the periods when I couldn't keep a cat or a dog.
For the last fifteen years I've had dogs, first a Great Dane/Shepherd mix who was very intelligent and now what the vet says is a Portuguese Mountain Dog, Baxter, whom I got from the animal shelter. He had been wounded in the side with a pellet gun and abused, so he was very shy. One family had returned him because he wouldn't come into the house. Baxter was near the end of his allowed time at the shelter and I could not refuse to take him. We've had him nearly four years and he is a perfect gentleman, quiet, very affectionate, and obedient—and a definite leaner.
His only real fault is that he sheds like there's no tomorrow. I had to get a Dyson animal vacuum cleaner and his fur even clogs that, but he is so sweet we forgive him. The heat here is hard on him, but when it's cold he loves to be outside.
The other thing is he kills rabbits. He catches them by the neck and it's all over in one shake. Of course he brings his trophy into the house and lays it on the oriental rug in the living room for all to see. He's gotten three in the time we've had him. I don't like to kill anything, but it's in his nature.
My dog, Meeka, is a rescue, too. I'm told that she's a German Shepherd and Shar Pei cross. She looks a lot more shepherd, though. She has chased a few rabbits but is especially interested in mice and has actually caught and killed one since we got her (adopted her last April). She was more than a year old when we got her so we decided to keep the name with which she came, since she was already used to it.
The dog we had before her was a pedigreed pug and he was a great companion but the health problems he had as a consequence of being a purebred convinced me to go for mixed breeds from now on. He died at the age of 11. Most small breeds live longer than large dogs but pugs, because of the way their face is built, typically live for only 10 or 12 years. So, his death at 11 was very painful for us but not a surprise.
Meeka is about 18 months old. Her first year or so of life consisted of being confined to a back porch on a short line, so she's got some issues but we can work on that. She's beautiful, she's affectionate, and she's full of energy. The latter provides me with motivation to get away from the computer at least twice a day and get some exercise.
There are trails in the bush nearby where I can let her off the leash and she'll run beside my mountain bike for miles (I love cats but let's see a cat do that!), obviously having a great time while satisfying various instincts and burning off excess energy, allowing her to be comfortable and appropriate inside our home afterward. Good for me, good for her, good for the family.
What a beautiful dog! I've had several shepherds and shepherd mixes over the years—Michael, Jette, Weierstrass, and Bandit—and they were all intelligent companions. They learn quickly. You're right to exercise her as much as you can. That will calm her down.
I like large breeds even though they don't live as long. When Baxter's predecessor (Bandit) died at the animal oncology center here, fifteen family members and friends came to see him off. The vet said that when she dies she wants to come back as our dog—she had never seen a dog with so many people attached.
Bandit even made the newspapers once. A teenager took him to her girls softball game at the high school while I was traveling. He sat patiently with her team while she pitched, but when someone hit a grounder, Bandit fielded it. The umpire was at a loss how to call the play. "Too many men" didn't seem to quite suit the situation.
Hee! That ball was too much temptation. I use a ball chucker and two tennis balls with Meeka. As soon as she's back with one ball, the next one is launched. It tires her relatively quickly and she loves it.
Reading about saving Baxter brought tears to my eyes.
I wish more people would rescue dogs. Shelters have time limit for keeping animals before they euthanize them. There are so many who need homes.
One of my friends, an older gentleman, waited too long. He went to the shelter and had his eye on a dog, but couldn't make up his mind. When he went back to get her she was gone.
Everyone told me to wait six months before getting another dog, but I got Baxter three weeks after Bandit died and have never regretted it.
Wylie lived in a barn with a breeder for a year and wasn't used to people. When we got him home and flushed the toilet he hightailed it behind the TV/Entertainment setup and got entangled in all the wires. He was very paranoid and if I took him for a walk and people were behind us, he would walk backwards to see what they were doing. I'd have to stop and let them pass so he could walk normally. His safest spot in the house is halfway up the stairs - huge dog barely fitting on a step. We have gotten used to stepping over him.
With us he is very loving and playful and after three years he has lost most of his paranoia of other people.
Meeka spent most of her first year on a short line on a back porch and so had very limited experience of the world. The first time I brought her home, she was fearful of everything. I had to coax her up the steps to our living room, literally one step at a time. Then, when she got to the top, she saw that the TV was on, tucked her tail, and ran back down.
She's much more relaxed now and, although we're still working on some issues, she seems to be a happy dog.
It looks as though she knows how to make herself comfortable.
It takes time, but they do respond to loving treatment. He looks very nice in this picture—a good coat on him.
The pug, Rocky, that we had before Meeka, was almost fearless. When there was thunder, he had a territorial response. He would face the direction it was coming from and bark at it, advancing a step with each bark.
When we had our first major thunderstorm of the year last month, I was curious to see how Meeka would react. She barely seemed to notice it at all, which was nice to see.