Welcome to the Crew, Caesar!
We got a Christmas puppy.
Not your typical peeing, chewing, sharp-nailed fluffy squish with puppy breath, but a mature dog. I’ve been wanting a dog/puppy/pet (owl?!?) for a while now, so this wasn’t a quick decision, even though it happened over night. The kids have been trying to catch and keep wild baby animals, so we have been considering a pet anyways.
I am not a fan of caged birds (aside from potentially an owl because they are so cool, but Knick says no and to stop researching it). I don’t really get the point of small rodent pets or reptiles that can’t really love you back or listen to commands (am I wrong on this?). And I’ve had fish, but not only do they not care about you, they tend to die very easily. Knick hates cats and swears he’s allergic (I think that’s an excuse). And, unfortunately, we don’t have space for a horse (yet).
We also want chickens, but our city ordinances consider them livestock and so far the Fort Wayne city council hasn’t been willing to see the benefit of allowing 2-4 chickens (no rooster). Indianapolis allows them in the city limits—but that’s another rant for another post. So, it pretty much came down to a dog.
Choosing the Right Kind of Dog
There aren’t a lot of pets we are willing to consider. And when it comes to dogs, there aren’t a lot of those we would consider either. We like working dogs that are strong and moderately active (nothing hyper though). We aren’t fans of small dogs. We need something good with kids and good with training. We prefer no (or little) shedding.
We’ve had pit bull terriers in the past, and that’s one of the breeds we like. We also like Airedale Terriers and Staffordshire Terriers. There are a lot of dog breeds we disagree on. I wanted to look for a shelter dog, but my husband is leery of unknown backgrounds and unknown mixes. He had a dog turn crazy growing up and it’s altered his view on what he feels okay with bringing into the house. I had one dog growing up that we rescued at age 2 and lived to be 18. Neither one of us want a champion bred dog (too expensive to just be a home dog) and yet we also don’t want puppy mills/backyard breeders. We prefer families that take care to breed two healthy dogs in a limited fashion just to continue good dog genes.
Not asking too much, right?
But we also aren’t ready for a puppy. We still have a kid in diapers, and training a dog well takes a LOT of time, patience and consistency. Our first dog was a puppy (back before kids). He was a great dog, but those first couple of years take a lot off time and patience.
So we had an idea of what we were looking for, but we knew the right dog had to come up or we would have to wait for the right puppy opportunity in a few years.
Rehoming a Dog
The ideal situation kind of fell into our laps when Knick’s parents decided they needed to rehome a dog. Caesar is a beautiful, 5-year-old American Pit Bull Terrier. He has been trained, but they just didn’t have time to spend with him between work schedules. A few months ago we joked about Pappi sending the dog home with Kaleb (he has been really wanting a dog for over a year). But then a couple weeks ago it was serious.
Since they really wanted to rehome him and we were pretty serious about getting one at some point, it suddenly seemed like a good fit. We made sure he was comfortable with us and the kids, pushed down one of the bucket seats into the van floor (man, that was a workout!) and brought him home with us Christmas day in his XL crate.
He was so excited to explore his new home. The very first thing I did was give him a shower (I love the smell of a clean dog once dry). I’ve decided the dog will be “Curly Girl” too. That means unless he really gets into something crazy, I will only be cleansing his hair with conditioner. It makes his coat really soft and keeps his skin healthier than stripping it with a harsh shampoo.
Learning New Boundaries
I started by gently teaching him certain areas were off limits. He isn’t allowed in our bedrooms, office or upstairs. Unless we call him into the bathroom, he’s not supposed to be in there either. Setting the boundaries is helpful for keeping him out of trouble and creating areas where we can have a little respite if needed.
Introducing the Kids to the New Dog
At 60+ lbs, you just can’t have a dog that jumps on small kids or accidentally grabs their hands with teeth. So there is a real responsibility that comes with making sure the two parties can coexist. I knew I could keep the kids from being too rough—pulling, kicking, teasing—but I didn’t know how much I could trust Caesar to understand his limitations with them.
But, as a mature dog, Caesar was really good about reading the kids. We introduced them one at a time the next morning after he had the whole night to calm down and get adjusted. I expected to do some refereeing, but he did a kind of hit-and-dodge style introduction—giving them just enough to get nervous before dipping away. As they got comfortable, he gave them less space (but not ever aggressively).
Kniya was comfortable pretty quickly. Kaleb and Kamden took a while to get warmed up. Klay jumped right into bossing him around and owning him from the second his feet touched the ground. I couldn’t get over how well Caesar did with reading their emotions and backing off if they got nervous.
He has been a great addition and the kids are completely loving it.