Fair Game

Upon bringing home our newly adopted husky named Dexter, we had planned that his “dog house” would be the garage attached to the house.

The shelter manager at the Houlton Humane Society had warned us that Dexter chewed up shoes, so I stowed any valuable footwear into a heavy duty tailgate tool box. That first night, I laid out his dog bed, made sure he had ample food, water, and chew toys and went to bed not knowing what to expect.

Early the next morning, I opened the door to the garage to find him looking innocently at me with his caramel-colored eyes. 

During the night, he had wreaked havoc in the garage. He had ripped open his dog bed, and there was white stuffing strewed everywhere. He had found a muck boot and chewed it beyond repair. Anna’s favorite L.L.Bean jacket was on the floor with a ripped sleeve. The black diamond headlamp that I used everyday to do morning and night horse chores throughout the winter months was in pieces, and when I went to put on my sneakers that I thought I’d placed safely into the tool box, the shoe laces were missing.

Apparently Dexter found the shoelaces dangling outside of the box and decided they were fair game. Breathing deeply, I attached the leash to his collar and took him for a morning walk and thought about what could be repaired, what needed to be replaced, and how I could better “dog-proof” the garage. 

For the rest of the weekend, Dexter remained attached to my side as I showed him around his new home. He only escaped from me twice. The first time he got loose he ran around in large circles at full speed, flat out on his stomach going at least thirty miles an hour. I told Matthew if he’d been going in a straight line, he’d been a mile down the road in a heartbeat. This worried me because I wondered how in the world I would ever be able to contain or channel that kind of explosive energy. 

The second time he found freedom from his leash constraint, he saw my two horses and sprinted across the field to introduce himself. In the past, my horse Jazz, who is a Haflinger and built like a small draft horse, would not tolerate having our former dog, Blackie, enter her pasture. Everytime he would try to follow me there, Jazz would drive him out with heels flying. Blackie learned to stay out of the pasture and would patiently wait for me outside the fence. 

Now here was this white dog who looked like a wolf barreling into her space. I held my breath and watched to see what would happen next. As I expected, she put her head down with ears back and told him to “GET OUT OF HERE!” Dexter deftly avoided her advancement and without fear went back for more.

Like two basketball players on opposing teams playing offense and defense, Dexter and Jazz, tried to outmaneuver each other. When Jazz had enough of this superfluous play, she bent her head down to eat grass. Dexter dropped down on his belly about 10 feet away and watched her out of the corner of his eye. Meanwhile, my miniature horse, Fenway, watched this spectacle from afar nonplussed by all of the confusion. 

By the end of the weekend, I was exhausted and accumulated a million questions to ask the dog trainer on Monday. My biggest question was would I be enough for this dog? Could I give him what he needed, so he would settle down and be the loyal, faithful companion my other two dogs had been? Only time would tell.

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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