It’s time for a fluff post, so I’m going to regale you with stories and pictures of my dumb dog. Now when I say dumb, I mean it with the utmost love and respect, but how else can you describe a dog who sleeps like this:
And yes, he is sleeping in every single one of those pictures, even if his eyes are open. You don’t know how many times I’ve checked his breathing to make sure he wasn’t dead…
After about six months of struggling with some medical problems, Jack is finally healthy, getting some energy (although he still lacks coordination), and is starting to do some of the things normal dogs do. He still doesn’t bark, for which I’m pretty grateful, but the other day I almost fell over in shock when he jumped up on a visitor. He’s never jumped on anyone before because a genetic back condition has prevented it. So when I saw him do it I thought, “Oh wow, he feels good enough to jump!” and then immediately followed the thought with “Oh crap, I’m going to have to train him not to jump on people!”
Such is our life with Jack. It’s mostly snuggles, love, and continuous training. Now that he’s healthy enough for surgery, he’ll be getting neutered soon, and then as soon as he’s recovered he’ll start formal training to get his Canine Good Citizen’s Certificate. After that, I’d like to start him in therapy training, but we’ll have to see how everything goes.
Now, despite my pretty vocal advocacy for Jack, and Pit Bulls in general, I still get asked a lot if I worry about having him in a house with a smallish child. The truth is, I don’t worry about Jack hurting Jenna anymore than I would if we had any other breed of dog in the house. I mostly worry that Jenna, with her craziness, might hurt or threaten Jack in some way that would make him lash out and bite her.
If an accident ever were to happen though, it wouldn’t be his fault; it would be mine, for not catching the cues he gives us to let us know he’s not comfortable with his surroundings, that he’s scared or hurt, and that he’s reaching his limits. Dogs almost always tell us when they’re getting ready to snap, the problems happen when the humans in the room don’t understand the language.
(Note: We don’t normally allow too much Jack hugging because dogs, in general, are not fans of having their heads held immobile. So when you hug, you’re putting your face right next to a bunch of sharp teeth attached to a potentially stressed out dog.)
Pit Bulls used to be ‘Nanny Dogs’ though, trusted with looking after the smallest members of the house. It’s really not a surprise that Jack is so good with our own pygmy house ape. Babysitting is in his blood.
I often tell people who ask about our scary pit bull, all about Jenna’s undiagnosed stomach problem. She’s seen a few doctors for it, has had a different diagnosis with each one, and so far nothing has helped. Every few months though, Jenna gets sick for no reason, and for two to three days suffers with severe stomach cramps and vomiting. We often have no warning when these episodes are coming on, except for the stomach cramps which start up about ten minutes before the vomiting does.
Jack knows though, and will start following her around before the cramps even hit. He becomes a bramble that’s impossibly stuck to her, and no amount of coaxing will convince him to leave her alone.
Then, when it hits, and she gets really sick, too sick to leave the couch without help, he curls up next to her and stays until she’s better. He gets up only to eat and go potty, and even those activities decrease in frequency.
During these times when she’s miserable, and understandably grouchy, she can lay on him…
and he will not budge, whine, or make any protest whatsoever. He stays, until his pygmy house ape is feeling better.
And then he stays a little longer just to be sure.
The best indicator that she’s on the road to recovery, is when Jack goes back to his regularly scheduled activities.
So no, I don’t really worry much at all.