Adding to the family
Regular readers of this column may remember that I adopted a dog and cat, Ivy and Mago, a few months ago.
Mago was a stray cat in the neighborhood where I bought a home last October. I took him in, in fact, before I even moved in myself. I named him after my favorite baseball player, Chicago Cubs shortstop Javier “El Mago” Baez.
Ivy joined us a few weeks later from the Good Shepherd Humane Society adoption center outside Eureka Springs. She’s named for the ivy that grows on the outfield wall at the Cubs’ Wrigley Field. Of course.
Sadly, Mago is no longer a resident of the Loftis household. He ran out the back door to freedom one afternoon when I let Ivy out for a bathroom break in the back yard. The privacy fence keeps Ivy in the yard, but it was no obstacle for Mago. I’ve seen him once since then, but he simply glared at me when I called him and my cat-chasing days are long past.
Ivy has been a wonderful pet. There were a few housebreaking issues early, but she’s been perfect in that regard for months. Other than a shedding issue that she can’t help and a tendency to sit on me rather than beside me, she has presented exactly zero problems.
Still, I worried that she spends a lot of time at home alone while I’m at work and I wasn’t sure she was getting enough exercise.
For weeks, I’d look at Good Shepherd’s “Pet of the Week” feature and have to talk myself out of adding another pet. Of course, that only worked for so long.
A few weeks ago, the Pet of the Week was a dog named Midas. His picture was simply irresistible. It just so happened I was scheduled to be in Eureka Springs the following morning and I decided to have an early lunch and visit the adoption center when it opened at noon.
I don’t know how many of you have ever gone to look at a dog and not immediately fallen in love with it, but I have never been able to pull it off. Midas was a little bigger than I expected but still adorable. There was no other option but to adopt and take him home. The folks at Good Shepherd were kind enough to let me fill out the paperwork and then leave him at the center until the end of the workday so I wouldn’t have to take him home and immediately crate him. I wanted him to have some time to meet Ivy with direct supervision.
As it turned out, their first meeting didn’t go well at all. Midas lunged at Ivy and I ended up having to separate them. For the next couple of days, I kept them apart except for some carefully supervised time with both of them on leashes looking at each other from across the living room. Midas — renamed “Rizzo” after Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo — spent his first three nights in a crate in the home office and was surprisingly quiet. By the way, he was answering to his new name in less than an hour.
On the fourth day, our reporter Robert Cox and my son Ryan helped me get the two dogs a little closer. We started by letting them sniff each other while still leashed so we could separate them quickly if a fight broke out. Then we moved to dropping the leashes and giving them a little more freedom and finally we unleashed them altogether. They got along just fine, alternating between wrestling around and resting. So far they’ve only lost their tempers once, over a chew toy. Realizing I couldn’t reach them quickly, I solved that dispute by throwing an oversized pillow from the couch at them. They both stopped immediately to try and figure out what was wrong with this crazy human. They haven’t fought since but I have figured out that if their play-fighting starts to get a little carried away, I can stop it by knocking on the wall or the coffee table to divert their attention.
The dogs’ peaceful coexistence paid an extra dividend for Rizzo, who now sleeps on my bed rather than in the crate. Ivy typically starts the night at the foot of my bed but eventually migrates to sleep in my walk-in closet but Rizzo is a snuggler. He’s like an extra pillow — albeit a warm, heavy one.
I’ve discovered that having two dogs does not mean twice the work or trouble, especially when both are fairly well-behaved. It does mean twice as much companionship and affection, though, and that is worth the extra food bill and even worth sharing my blanket with Rizzo.
Thanks to Good Shepherd for the important work they do in our community and for my two canine companions.