It's been 16 years since we've lived with a puppy.
Savannah was our last one. After she disappeared in a blowing snow on her final adventure Jan. 8 and we never located her, we began looking for a shaggy, small dog to adopt as a companion for our 12-year-old Lhasa Apso, Hairy Dawg, who is blind.
Skippy came home with us two weeks ago. He's a black-and-white "Goodview terrier," whose daddy was a Shih Tzu and whose mother was a Cairn terrier. Think "Toto," Dorothy's dog in "The Wizard of Oz." This pup who definitely tends toward the terrier side of his family came from Goodview in Bedford County, and he's 3 months old.
We weren't looking for a puppy. Even though we had looked into adopting adult dogs at just about every shelter, checked with rescue groups, adoption websites and Craigslist postings within a 100-mile radius, almost all of them available in January and early February were big, were hounds or had a healthy "re-homing fee."
Skippy – whose original name was Billy – was the last of four puppies and his human mama, Delores, just wanted a good home for him. We set off with Hairy in the car one Sunday afternoon for a meet-and-sniff. (The dogs did the sniffing, not us.)
My husband wanted to name the pup Skippy after his first dog, a Spitz mix. Billy-Skippy doesn't seem to mind the change. He was ecstatic to have a friend to lie next to on the dog pillow in the back of the car, to sleep with in the crate for the first two nights, and to roll all over in general.
Skippy didn't know about leashes, walking on lead, housebreaking or stairs. But he didn't whimper when we put him to bed, as his original mama told us to do, "every night at 9 when I give him a hug and kiss him on the nose."
That worked the first night, once I put Hairy in with him, and might have after that if Hairy, who isn't used to being crated, hadn't decided enough was enough. Hairy started barking in the wee hours of the morning and wouldn't stop voicing his discontent over being confined with a youngun who thought he was the greatest thing since sliced bread.
OK, so I'm a wimp. After that, we turned the two of them loose in the kitchen with a puppy gate confining them, and plenty of puppy pee pads, food, water and toys.
Hairy didn't think much of that, either. He's used to sleeping on carpet next to our bed.
His domain upstairs was puppy proof for a brief while. But Skippy, who's definitely not an alpha dog and isn't used to being alone, started barking in the middle of the night in the kitchen.
He solved that himself. Over the weekend Skippy – who was raised in a single-story mobile home – taught himself to climb stairs and scamper down again. No more crates, no more puppy gates. Still plenty of pee pads, but it's a lot easier to open the upstairs door and let the dogs outside in the fenced yard in the dark instead of trying to walk the pair of them in the middle of the night. The full moon was gorgeous, though.
Our devilishly clever plan is working. Skippy plays with Hairy's toys, lies close to him on the dog bed, and gives him somebody to follow up the stairs and out the door. The three cats have adjusted much easier than I expected, and tolerate the newcomer.
Hairy is moving around better. Maybe it's having a youngster in the house. Maybe it's the glucosamine sulfate-chondroitin I grind up and put in his food.
I think Savannah would approve of Skippy. She would be licking him.