Opinion

First Impressions of Dexter

When Wyatt and I returned home from the Houlton Humane Society, we excitedly told my husband, Matthew, and Wyatt’s two older siblings, Anna and Walker, all about Dexter. I showed them a video of Dexter that I had taken while Wyatt was petting him through the fence and shared what CJ had told us about him. 

Naturally they were concerned that the dog was known to “eat small animals,” but I assured them that since our cats were indoor cats and the dog wouldn’t be allowed inside the house, there wouldn’t be a problem. They could tell by my voice that I had made up my mind to bring this dog home, and there wasn’t a whole lot they could say to change my mind. 

The following day I contacted a dog trainer, Tyler Jones of Purpose Pups, and he told me he had time in his schedule to begin training with Dexter on Monday of the following week. Soon after our conversation, I made arrangements with CJ to pick up Dexter on Friday afternoon. I made a mental list of the supplies I needed to prepare for Dexter’s arrival and even bought a 12 by 12 dog pen with a canvas roof, so he would have a safe place to stay whenever the family was outside working around the yard.

Wyatt and I could barely contain ourselves by the time we drove to the Houlton Humane Society on a Friday afternoon. After filling out paperwork, CJ went out to the pen to help us load Dexter into the truck. He jumped right into the backseat and gave CJ one last lick on the face while she told him to “be a good dog for your new family.” As I scooted into the driver’s seat, a couple of tears trickled down my cheeks. I knew at that moment that I had committed my heart to another dog, and there would be no turning back. 

When we arrived home, I attached the leash to Dexter’s collar and let him out of the truck. Matthew, Anna, and Walker had come outside to see this new family member. Dexter was so excited that he jumped three feet in the air and did 360’s on the end of the leash. He looked like a whirling dervish, and no one could get near him because he was so wild. 

“That dog is crazy!” Walker exclaimed before going back inside. Matthew just shook his head as if to say, “What have you gotten yourself into?” I did the only thing I could think of and took him for a walk to try to expend some of his pent up energy. 

On our first official walk together, I learned quickly that Dexter’s chase instinct was extremely strong. At the end of the driveway, he saw a bird and went after it so fast and hard that I ended up on my stomach still holding onto the leash determined not to lose my dog on the first day. It was as if I was standing on shore with waterskis and the boat took off before I yelled “Hit it!” 

One minute I was upright and the next moment, I was sprawled out on the ground growling at the dog not to do that again! The “pull power” of this 80-pound dog was mind-boggling. I had visions of him pulling a dog sled across Alaska’s frozen tundra. From then on, I paid special attention to my surroundings so I would be better prepared to hang on tight and stay upright the next time Dexter saw an animal he wanted to chase. 

Three miles later, I brought him back home, and he had settled down enough to let everyone near him. It didn’t take long to discover he loved having his belly rubbed. He’d sink down onto the floor, roll over on his back, and let us pet his belly for as long as we wanted. This seemed to be his way of saying, “I’m willing to trust you. Please love me.” My family’s first impression of Dexter was that he was wild and out of control, but every time he’d flop onto his back begging for affection, he sank his hook into our hearts.

Lee-Rae Jordan-Oliver is an educator and author who lives in Hodgdon with her husband Matt and children Wyatt, Anna and Walker. Her column will appear on a semi-regular basis in The Houlton Pioneer Times.

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