Saturday, July 02, 2005

Settling In

Hi everyone,

The chronicles with Wyatt continue as we both settle in. It's been an experience learning about the responsibility of (pet) parenthood.

I'm now fully steeped in parental anxiety from the common realization that my beloved child is constantly trying to kill itself. A straw is no longer a straw, but a choking hazard. A bar of soap is no longer a bar of soap, but a poison hazard. Any mysterious noise is a potential catastrophe. The energy and curiosity of huskies is especially troublesome as they inspect every nook in their environment and approach even clearly dangerous things, like moving cars, with excitement. 

The list of destroyed things has been modest so far and only include a styrofoam cup, a sheet of paper, and half a roast beef sandwich. (The destruction is so thorough that I'm sure there's a business opportunity merging dogs and waste management.) My room also often has the faint smell of dog poop, though I haven't found any evidence and am fairly sure I don't emit that naturally. I thought having a dog would help me relax but I think its anxieties make its relaxation factor a push (though the overall experience has definitely been positive).

I've planned but not yet taken obedience classes so I've been winging Wyatt's education. There have been fewer presents around the house but I'm finding it difficult to house-train unless I catch him in the act. He now handles the house stairs up and down with ease, though some new stairs still scare him. Siberians are notoriously intelligent but stubborn, like cats. It's not that they don't understand; it's that they hold out for different terms.

I am amazed at how much joy Wyatt spreads. Walking through downtown Palo Alto, we'll pass maybe 500 people; at least half smile when they see him, at least one in twenty say something about him, and about one in forty stop to pet him. The pride of owning an attractive dog is nice, but seeing the joy he brings complete strangers just by his presence is wonderful. 

The response is even universal across demographics, differing only in how it's expressed, from the elderly woman ("what a cutie!") to the punk teenager ("that dog is fucking stoked!"). My only complaint is that if we're competing for a co-ed's attention, we all know who wins that contest hands down and going away.

He even gets supermodel treatment at the dog park where other dogs seem to prefer playing with him, some quite aggressively...

Wyatt's reaction to all types of people is just as impressive. He approaches the business professional, the beautiful co-ed, and the homeless person with equal interest and affection. To him, they are all just potential friends.

A friend of mine said that dogs are the only true Buddhists because they are constantly content with the present. Seeing how much Wyatt craves anything I'm eating, I'm not sure I agree, but seeing his undiscriminating compassion for everyone he meets, excepting pigeons and small animals, is inspiring. I plan to sign up Wyatt for a program at Lytton Gardens senior community where people bring their pets to play with the many elderly residents who have few visitors.
When I was mulling whether to get Wyatt or a different breed, I was concerned about how independent siberians can be. I wanted a dog that I could really bond with and other breeds like retrievers or shepherds are known for their loyalty (and neediness). The past week has reassured me that I made the right choice. Wyatt likes affection and often happily returns it, but he's also happy gnawing a bone or exploring the world, allowing me to get work done. The balance seems just right.

However, I do think I've fallen behind on helping Wyatt expend his copious energy. Siberians were bred to pull sleds for hours so even two half-hour walks a day are not enough to prevent him from often bouncing off the walls (which is both amusing and troubling). I use an ellipitical almost every day but hate the feel of running outdoors. It's a habit I'm going to try starting for Wyatt's sake.

Finally, I'm starting to notice the idiosyncracies that come with friendship. Wyatt will jog at normal pace on concrete but zigzag madly on grass (maybe it's a foot massage?). After drinking from a bowl, he'll often splash in it and spill water everywhere. If a treat is tossed in the air, he'll let it happily boink off his head and onto the floor where it's quickly hoovered. He likes apples but not oranges, rawhide but not tennis balls, being brushed but not being bathed. With no common language, finding the patterns of like and dislike has been challenging and rewarding.


At 4:45 PM, Blogger Andi! said...

Hi! first time on your blog, i dont speake/write nglish very well, so this will be short. I had once a dog like wyatt, but he died years ago. ii still miss him (Vlad was his name) so i got emotional by seing wyatts photos.
take care of him, give him tons of love.

At 9:54 PM, Anonymous Bobby Grouver said...

Your love for dogs ... (???!!!)

At 8:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you need to get a girlfriend.

At 10:26 PM, Blogger ladyfrog44657 said...

hey leave the guy alone. animals are awesome. i have 7 dogs 1 of which is 1/2 husky 1/2 wolf. ur dog is beautiful!

At 10:29 PM, Blogger ladyfrog44657 said...

hey leave the guy alone.animals are aweosome. abviously you need a girl to anonymous or u wouldn't be reading it. that and u must be a coward cuz you can't leave your name! beautiful dog!!


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