What Our Family Dogs Mean to Us

The family, but me, with all of the dogs Jan. 2012

I did an About Us section for our blog awhile back, and I decided I needed to introduce you to more of our family members. Today, I’ll start with the dogs.

It all began with Skipper. He’s our miniature dachshund that we have had the pleasure of being owned by for 13.5 years, yep he owns us…have you ever met a mini doxie?. It all started with dogsitting…we had some great friends in Texas who had a miniature dachshund, Buster, that was so sweet to watch; he would just curl up with you and nap. He was smart and would bark like he was a big dog (albeit he was barking at butterflies at times), he made me laugh. As a young couple, we didn’t have any pets and were really thinking about a getting a dog, but knew the commitment and expense that would be. Our daughter was only 1 year old and we wanted to have a dog with a great temperament around children too. When Buster had puppies with our other good friend’s mini dachshund, Sammie, we got the awesome privilege and gift to pick our first puppy…what a special gift Skipper has been to us. We picked Skipper out of the rest of the litter, because he ran to us and was so loving; he “skipped” he was so happy. Being a huge perfectionist (which isn’t a good thing a lot of times), I read lots of puppy books to try to learn the proper way to potty train him, crate train him and how to play with him to be the best puppy he could be. It sure takes a lot of patience to potty train a puppy, but Skipper and I made it through and he still comes and “tells” me with his eyes and little whine when he needs to go outside.

Skipper January 2007

Anytime you sit down, Skipper is always there to keep you company right beside you. You can’t feel lonely long if Skipper’s able to be there. He will lick you to let you know how much you are loved, if he gets any chance 🙂 I am thankful for Skipper’s clean-up duty that he took upon himself when all of my children were in highchairs….he would jump up there and clean any food particles up and of course take care of the floor for me (but he had to go on diet food to watch his waistline when he started that habit). What a great dog he is, his tail is always wagging!

Skipper is brave too…one day when walking in our suburban neighborhood, two dogs came running out of their yard toward my 4 year old daughter who was just ahead of me a ways with Skipper on the leash. Skipper jumped in between her and the dogs to protect her causing him to get bitten and scratched on his little belly that he exposed in a submissive way to the other dogs. My daughter still remembers that day and still talks about Skipper’s bravery.

2004-Skipper and the Children

Next Sammy came into our lives. I went to a little party at a friend’s house and heard about a dog that needed to find a new home. He was still only a puppy of less than a year and for some reason I just fell in love with him before even meeting him. Of course, I talked with my family and we had to talk with the landlord to see if it would be OK to have an extra dog in our rental. When we got the go ahead from the landlord (even though it would be $50 extra rent per month), I asked the owner if we could see how Sammy fit with our family for a few days before making a decision. Sammy is a cockapoo which is a lot different than our little daschund; he would need to be groomed when his hair got too long and curly. We were a little nervous about grooming and the commitment and money that would take, plus his fluffy feet did bring in more mud than Skipper’s little feet ever did. But, Sammy was so fun and full of life. Well, when he wasn’t sleeping that is, he was tired at first…our busy family of six gave him a lot of excitement. He fit in well with our family, he loved to go on car rides, walks and just run around with the children while they played outside…he was sure fast! We decided to get him after talking with my mother-in-law who encouraged me that he would make a great family member. Sammy likes to stay by me most of the day, he’s my “entourage”, even sleeping at the foot of my bed most nights. He also alerts me to any noises outside, using his awesome hearing in those fluffy soft ears of his. At first, he didn’t like vacuums or blue things and would bark at them, but he is not as afraid anymore. He is a cuddly teddy bear type of dog and the grooming has been taken on by my husband. When Sammy starts looking like a sheep, we give him a haircut. Thankfully, the children love to give the dogs baths, so that has been a blessing to keep him nice and clean. We also use towels to wipe their feet at the door during muddy seasons.

Not long after getting Sammy (on the left), Grandma Mc visits with her rescue, Beau ~ 2007

Sammy was a puppy and went through a chewing stage for a long time…he liked/likes to play with the children a lot!

Silly Sammy playing with Gladiolus, probably trying to chew her footie feet. He was a chew-er. 2007
Sammy has mellowed a bit in is middle age…he doesn’t chew everything, yay! He still loves to run and have fun, especially on the sledhill with the children. 2012

Our Great Pyrenees, Anna, came into our lives a year after we moved to our house out here. We realized we needed help to watch our goats, chickens and ducks and protect them from marauding foxes, coyotes and roaming dogs. Anna is our awesome livestock guardian dog who allows us to rest easy at night knowing that she is watching out for our animals as they sleep in their beds at night. It is Anna who allows us to come home a little later than dark when our chickens are sleeping on their roosts trusting that no predators are coming to get them; Anna has deterred those predators from even trying with her vigilant barks and patrolling runs around the pasture. Anna grew up with some friends of ours until they realized that she needed more work to do to be happy as they were busy building a house and there weren’t many animals on their farm at the time to watch over for Anna to feel useful; she wanted to work. A mutual friend had heard that I was looking for a guardian, because our goats had just had a big scare from a random dog running them around in the pasture; it was frightening how quick the goats could have been killed had we not been home and scared the dog away.

When we first introduced Anna to her new home, Nov 2008. She’s beautiful.

When we brought Anna home at the end of 2008, she fit in with us right away; she is very good around our goats, chickens, ducks, cats and Skipper and Sammy. I seriously love her and appreciate her work that she does for us on a daily basis. She usually takes the night shift and sleeps in the sun during the daytime. If its raining, she will sleep in the barn on the straw and the goats respect her space. The goats don’t respect her food; however, so we have to feed her away from them or she will let them eat all of her food out of deference to them as her charge (even though it would be bad for her and them, she is that sweet, so we have to protect her food from those silly, greedy goats).

Anna is very smart and instinctively protective. Our first winter she was here was the first winter it got snowy enough to sled down our hill. My son, Cactus Jack, had just turned 5 and we had explained that he wasn’t to go on the pond as it wasn’t safe to walk on or around. I stepped into the barn to watch a hen laying an egg and came back out to the pasture hill. My son had walked on the pond telling by his little footprints on the snow covered ice, but he hadn’t been alone; Anna’s footprints were right beside his. Thankfully, they were light enough that they hadn’t fallen through the ice. I am still thankful for Anna’s watchful eyes when mine weren’t there, yes I have mom-guilt for those few minutes I was in the barn and I am still grateful that there isn’t more to that story to tell. I just love Anna and her love and care to all of us.

Anna and Petunia Fall 2011

August 2011 brought Marmaduke into our lives. On our way home from church, we found him walking down the center of a country road. He was very skinny and staggering a bit, we didn’t even know what he was, he was so large we thought he might of been a small horse who was loose on the road. We drove up beside him and talked to him, he looked so skinny. I jumped out of the truck’s passenger seat and opened the back gate and told him to jump in if he wanted to come with us, he hopped right in. We drove to neighboring houses to see if he belonged to them; he didn’t want to get out and they didn’t open their doors. We decided he needed some food, water and rest so we brought him home for a respite. He had sores on his feet from traveling, open sores on his hips from being so skinny, scratches on various parts of his body and he was very thin. My children named him Marmaduke right then, cautioned by us that we didn’t know if he had an owner that was missing him somewhere. We didn’t even know what kind of dog he was, because his hair looked too long to be a greyhound’s…they are supposed to have slick, short hair like Skipper’s. We took him to the vet after letting him rest for a day at our house and after checking him for tattoos and chips, the vet agreed he was a sighthound, a greyhound. Marmaduke had no chips or tattoos and we held our breath standing in the vet’s office that we may have a new family member. We had done some research and learned a bit about greyhounds and knew that they needed to be indoor dogs because of their short hair, plus we learned other characteristics that we were able and willing to adjust to if/when we found out that he didn’t belong to anyone else. The vet called the greyhound rescue nearby to ask if he belonged to them, since we had found him close to their home; he didn’t belong to them, but they would be happy to take him, if we didn’t want him. My children and I all exclaimed that we wanted him, we had already fallen in love with his sweetness and we wanted to take care of him. He was ours and we were happy to nurse him back to health.

Thumbs up, Marmaduke gets to stay with us! Aug 2011

Marmaduke slowly regrew his hair (his hair was long since he hadn’t had any new growth in awhile due to his body being under stress) and his sores got better. He also had a case of whipworms and hookworms which took about 8 weeks to get rid of, about 4 trips to the vet every other week for worming meds and collecting and disposing of each of his bowel movements to keep the worms from spreading to us or our other animals; parasites are a constant battle around a farm and I didn’t want to add to their population.

Marmaduke after one of his many vet visits to deworm him, he is happy here, I think he’s smiling.

Marmaduke is better now, healthy and very energetic, he’s our morning alarm clock…we haven’t had to use one since he started sleeping in our room at night, he wants to get up and GO!. He loves to go on trail walks with Pat in the morning and he even gets to play with Anna sometimes too, before the goats wake up, he kind of finds them fun to run with, so he isn’t trusted with the farm animals off the leash. He likes to show off how fast he can run to Anna, he’s funny.

Marmaduke looking better and loving Pat

Marmaduke gets afraid of lightning and thunderstorms, but we have started tying a towel around him like a cape and it makes him feel safer…I want to make him a cape with an “M” on it, so he can look like Super-Marmaduke. He likes to sleep on his cozy bed cushion and he loves to give hugs, he’s such a loving dog, it makes me wonder where he came from and if they miss him. He’s a sweet boy and we are so glad that he is in our lives.

Charlie on the first night here after almost hitting him on the road. He was flea bitten and ridden and had sick eyes that needed cleaning.

At the end of October 2011, I almost hit little Charlie with the truck within inches of his life. I swerved to miss the little guy in the middle of the dark road and I still remember his eyes looking back at me that moment before it could have been a horrible outcome, still makes me shudder. Fortunately, I missed him and ended up picking him up out of the road while making traffic slow down. I called our neighbor to see if she knew whose dog it was, she didn’t but had seen a dog like that a few miles away a few days before I found him. We put up signs and took him in, the children decided his name would be Charlie, I just heard the other name in contention was “Swerve”…Charlie fits him better. He was flea bitten pretty bad and the vet gave him his shots and thinks he is around 2 years old. He was “fixed”, so we figured someone was missing him. We called around and drove to ask if he belonged to people who had advertised missing dogs. We decided to give it a month until we could officially welcome him into the family. It was right around Thanksgiving when we made the announcement; he was in the McCartney family.

Marmaduke and Charlie hang out on Marmaduke’s bed

Charlie loves helping Pat in the morning chores around the farm. He is good around the chickens, ducks and goats. He took a while to warm up, but now he zooms out the door for his morning chores and walk with Pat and Marmaduke. Charlie doesn’t need a leash, he runs around and then comes back to check on Pat and starts sounding like a snorting little piggie when he gets really worked up and energized; he’s so funny and cute. Charlie doesn’t like lots of commotion and likes to go in his crate for security. After he was here for 2 months, he got brave enough to come out to be with us on Christmas day and sit on our laps…he doesn’t like floor threshold changes, I don’t know if he had ever been inside before.

The first time Charlie came out of the kitchen himself, he doesn’t like changes in floor texture and is working up his courage. Dec 2011

He still doesn’t trust our son, although Cactus Jack hasn’t done anything to cause Charlie’s distrust. I wonder if Charlie was around a boy that wasn’t very gentle? I hope that one day Charlie feels safe around all of us here. He is a happy, bouncy joyful reminder that going outside to take care of our outside animals is fun and exciting every day! Charlie is our chore cheerleader!

I read someone write that having a dog is expensive and I agree, having 5 dogs is also expensive. It may seem that we have it easy and that’s why we have these 5 dogs, but we have to budget just like most families, it’s not easy. These dogs are in our family and we take that commitment to them seriously and pray that we can always provide for them until theirs, or our, dying day. Yes, it costs money and time to keep these dogs healthy and happy, but what they contribute is great too and I believe they make all our family’s lives fuller for their being a part of it.