It’s been about three weeks now since we’ve brought home Winston - our eight month old Maltese-Terrier cross. When we first brought him home we were a little tempted to change his name, but we quickly realized it was just wrong to start calling him something else.
Not only did it seem a tad selfish to arbitrarily change his name, the name Winston seemed to fit. Winston sounds very “proper”, perhaps even a bit pompous, and his appearance seems to match. Thankfully though, his personality is anything but aloof; so in an ironic way, it is cute to call such a friendly and sweet little puppy “Winston”.
Although I don’t have the official family seal of approval, I am now calling Winston “Winston Irving Leonard” or Wil for short, named after Canadian poets Irving Layton and his good friend Leonard Cohen.
Unfortunately, there is a small chance we might not be able to keep Winston since Fin seems to be having some minor (at least) issues with allergies. Fin has a cold right now so it is hard to tell how much of his reaction is from Winston and how much from being sick but he gave us a bit of a scare last night when he coughed so much he threw up.
There has been a moment or two where we have questioned the logic of adding a puppy to our already hectic lives. Aside from the Fin-allergy thing, for me the biggest one was the second time I stepped in doggie-doo with my bare feet! (He is still a potty training work in progress). For M-Fran, it would likely be yesterday morning when, on the way out the door to deliver a talk at Petroleum Club, noticed Winston had pooped on the lapel of her jacket.
Here are a few random thoughts on being a dog owner again:
1) After you have kids, adding a dog to your family is not that big a deal - Winston has pretty much slipped into the family. Although it does require some adjustment, (and patience!), he is a welcomed addition to our lives. I think the bond is still being formed – it is not quite as instant as it is with your children, but the bond is well on it’s way. (It is too bad he came during an incredibly busy time in our lives, the start of September, with school starting, MF back at work, rental-house-new-tenant-craziness, volunteering etc. – the poor little guy has no-doubt been a little stressed with the change of pace from his original home).
2) Dogs can be embarrassing - last weekend we were getting dressed to go to a 70s party, I had my tacky beige suit on, the one with an open-necked collar, along with a wide-collared flowery shirt, when Fin opened the front door Winston bolted up the street. I thought he might stop after a house or two, but he picked up a scent and ran like a demon. I was concerned he might get hit at the intersection so I took off after him. It must have been a funny sight for the neighbours to see a John Travoltaesque guy sprinting past with no shoes shouting “Winston!”, “Winston!”
3) He doesn’t like his paws cleaned - it must tickle or hurt, because when we come in from a walk (in the rain) I try to clean him and he really doesn’t like this.
4) Some dogs lack class - we have a neighbour-dog who thinks it is cool to mount Winston. The other day this happened a few times before Winston finally growled at him. The other dog’s owner thought Winston’s reaction was funny, I said I’d growl too.
5) Owning a dog is a good way to star-gaze – I’m noticing the pace of dog walking can be exceedingly slow at times. At night, (or in the early morning) I find myself gazing skyward while he sniffs every nook and cranny of our neighbourhood. I’ve since been tempted to check out an astrological map (if that’s what you call them) to better orient myself to the stars.
6) Dog lovers should also be people lovers - since we’ve had Winston we’ve engaged with strangers like never before. Last week the boys and I walked him to the farmer’s market. While we were there (he remained outside) we must have spoke with nearly ten people who enquired about his age, breed, habits etc. Sometimes the chats extended for several minutes. Being the primary dog-walker, I’ve also spoken to several dog owners in our immediate area who I have seen many times before but have never had the occasion to chat with. This is cool and, in its way, helps build community.
7) He pulls like a husky - Although he stands about 12 inches tall, he has great 4 wheel drive. The tourque is so much that Alistair finds him tricky to walk.
8) Puppies are tiring - I’ve been up since 4:30 this am, because Winston needed out. This happens a lot, and being a not-so-great-at-falling-back-to-sleep kinda’ guy, me be getting tired.
9) Puppies are tiring – since we’ve had Winston I’m sleeping less and my short-term memory is not what it used to be.
10) Puppies are tiring – since we’ve had Rufus I find I’m getting a little tired, and my memory is not quite as sharp as it was before getting Rex.
11) Seriously, dogs rock. He is a sweetheart and we love him. Here’s hoping Fin is ok with him, another couple weeks should tell the tale. Finger crossed.