The House of Dog

Vizsla Puppy

As a boy, I owned a red dog. Red, I called him.

Creative? Not really, but the name was direct and to the heart of things.

I carried Red everywhere I went and slept with him nightly. He was my pal.

Of course, the little guy was stuffed.

After a time, I outgrew the dog and put him away. I never got rid of him, though. Even when I abandoned my childhood toys, I never parted with Red. For many years, he remained safely tucked away in a chest of drawers.

I’d see him occasionally and smile. Ol’ Red, I’d think nostalgically.

Then I would shut the door on my childhood and go about my business.

My Big Red Dog

In the summer of 2018, we bought a red dog.

Rose, we called her. It was slightly more creative than Red as we named her after the flower. The ten-year-old in our house picked it and we all agreed it was a fine choice.

We selected the puppy’s name before we brought her home.

She’s a Vizsla and I believe the name is Hungarian for high strung, but we’ll get to that part in a bit. Many dog books recommended the breed for families which was important as she was selected as part of a family negotiation—not discussion, negotiation.

You see, the boy and I wanted a big dog.

We argued for a Great Dane, a Rottweiler, or a Doberman Pinscher.

On the other hand, Mama wanted a smaller breed and argued for a Chihuahua, a hamster, or a squirrel. Okay, the last two aren’t dogs, but neither is a Chihuahua (at least as far as the boy and I were concerned).

As a family, we couldn’t agree on which type of dog to get. This was one of the rare times that the men in the house held their ground. We weren’t going to be outvoted by mom since her vote usually carried more weight than ours.

(On a side note—I’m not sure how her vote outweighs the rest of the family, but she assures me it’s the law. I’ve asked her for proof, but she says I’m colluding with the boy and that any challenge to her office is fake news.)

Anyway, mama did some research and suggested a Vizsla as a compromise between the big and small dog breed. A female Vizsla can get upwards of fifty-five pounds.

The boy and I quickly fell in line. We knew we couldn’t fight this war forever (she feeds us, for God’s sake) and the breed looked big enough for us.

All books described the Vizsla as high energy, but we shrugged off that description. A boy is in the house and as a family we go outside and do backyard things. Occasionally, we even go for walks and mild hikes. Yeah, she’d be no match for us, we naively thought.

When the happy day finally arrived, we drove three hours to pick up the newest member of our family.

As the runt of the litter, Rose was adorably small. She was going to be perfect.

The First Day with a Vizsla

Vizsla Puppy

When we got her home, Rose sat and stared at me.

I thought I was looking into the eyes of a real-life Red. I ran to the chest of drawers where I hid my nostalgia away and pulled out my old, worn toy. Sitting next to the new puppy, my childhood had come full circle.

Now, in full disclosure, I had argued against getting the dog.

Mama and the boy wanted to fill the hole in their hearts that was created after a family cat had gone missing. They were full-speed-ahead for getting a dog.

I’ve had dogs throughout my life and several as an adult. I had to put down the best dog-friend I’d ever had, and it broke my heart. I even cried in a public speech once when talking about him. I never wanted to feel that again.

Man + feelings = no bueno.

Also, even though the boy and mama both promised to help, I knew I would be the one picking up the poop. Getting a dog meant ten or more years of constantly picking up dog mess. Ugh. Even a kid eventually gets out of diapers.

But I digress.

Initially, mama wasn’t much of a dog person, hence her arguing for a small one. She liked cats which is one reason she was attracted to the Vizsla. They aren’t supposed to smell.

Mama fawned over that puppy like a mother with a newborn child. She followed her around, smiling, giggling, and occasionally clapping her hands in delight. It was really something to see.

Then night came, ending our first day.

Vizsla puppy sleepingMama fixed up a cardboard box for the puppy so she could sleep near us. Before we brought her home, the law was laid down.

“That dog,” Mama said, “will not sleep with us.”

“Okay,” I said.

“Because you wouldn’t let the cat do the same.”

“I know,” I said.

I rolled over, content to have a puppy.

A moment later, she said, “I can’t.”

“Can’t what?”

“Leave her in that box for the night. I want her to sleep with us.”

I pushed up onto an elbow and stared at her. “If you let that dog in the bed tonight, she’ll never sleep alone.”

“Just for the night,” mama said. “Tomorrow, she can sleep in the crate. I promise.”

Rose has never slept alone since.

Vizsla Separation Anxiety

The Vizsla is known as the Velcro breed. Because of this, they experience separation anxiety. I’m here to tell you that this claim is not hyperbole.

Vizsla bed torn upOne of several shredded dog beds. No match for Vizsla anxiety.

We bought Rose a large crate for her to stay in while we were gone. There was plenty of room for her to stand and move about. There was even a large comfy bed for her to sleep on. Plenty of toys and treats were put in the crate to occupy her.

The dog panted and drooled the entirety of her lock up. When we returned, her paws were soaking wet, the bottom of the crate needed mopping, and the poor girl was dehydrated. She ran to her bowl and lapped up water until it was empty.

Blankets and dog beds were often shredded inside the crate. No joke. We bought a $45.00 dog bed for her, put it inside the crate, and went to the movies.

When we returned home, the dog bed had vanished. The only thing the remained was stuffing and shredded material. The dog bed literally lasted less than one trip to the movies. That’s two hours, people!

We tried a Thundershirt anxiety jacket for her. Just typing that makes me feel silly.

The jacket wrapped tightly around her with the intent of calming her. We even sprayed the jacket with the recommended anti-anxiety spray. All of which was no match for Vizsla nervousness.

Drool and shaking greeted us whenever we returned.

Thundershirt? More like dunderhead. I need my head examined for buying my dog an anxiety jacket.

But it broke my heart to see my red dog mentally tortured every time we left.

I finally decided to let her run free the next time we went to the store.

What’s the worst that could happen? I figured.

Actually, nothing happened.

She slept on the couch and was a perfect little girl. Aww.

Had we made a break-through? I thought I finally made a connection with the Vizsla.

Dana Perino Let Me Tell You About JasperExcept the next time we left she chewed up one of mama’s shoes, the boy’s headphones, and Dana Perino’s book, Let Me Tell You about Jasper – How My Best Friend Became America’s Dog.

Jasper was Mrs. Perino’s Vizsla and she got a book deal out of how well behaved her boy was.

We’d left that hardback sitting on the coffee table.

There were bits of book and headphones everywhere.

Rose probably had enough of hearing about Mrs. Perino’s perfect Jasper and decided to do something about it.  

She’s a puppy, we said. What can we do?

It was time to call in the experts. We signed her up for puppy training.

Who's a good dog?Three other puppies attended the obedience school.

Rose was clearly the least behaved of the group. She pulled and yanked on her leash as she wanted to play with the other dogs. Even though she wasn’t much bigger than any of them, they were clearly intimidated by her enthusiasm.

“She has poor social skills,” we said.

The teacher knowingly looked at us. The other dog-parents stared at us if we came from the wrong side of the tracks and had brought a mentally deranged cougar with us.

The trainer, a nice young woman who clearly liked dogs, was patient with her teachings. We took what we learned and practiced daily. But it was always the same disaster with Rose. Perform a task, earn a treat, see something shiny, and watch the wheels of the bus come off.

Whenever we returned to class, our puppy reverted to week-one-Rose. She lost her mind, pulled on the leash, and went bonkers. The dog did not know how to act in polite company. Mama and I smiled sheepishly at each other.

At the end of the course, we gratefully took our graduation certificate.

Now, whenever we’re on a walk we confidently apologize every time Rose yanks and pulls on her leash.

“We’re sorry,” one of us says, “She doesn’t have any manners.”

I’ve seriously started to wonder if she was dropped on her head when she was born.

Emergency #1

In the span of four months, Rose went to the emergency room three times.

The first was after she ate something horrible from the inside of an arborvitae tree.

I’m not sure what she consumed, but she barfed some of it up in our backyard. When she came inside, she was lethargic and wobbly. Her eyes wouldn’t focus when we spoke to her. It was as if she’d been to a Grateful Dead concert.

While we rushed the dog to pet emergency, the boy clung to her.

After the examination, the doctor called poison control to find that consuming arborvitae could be potentially harmful. During this process, we were there for a couple hours and Rose started to act closer to normal. The doctor sent her home with instructions for us to observe her for signs of abnormal behavior.

That’s what we’d been doing for almost a year!

Emergency #2

A few weeks later, mama found Rose laying on the living room floor. She’d left the sliding glass door open due to a nice summer day. As mama reached down to pet the dog, Rose bit the hand that feeds her.

This was completely unlike the dog and something that played into mama’s fears. She called me about the incident as she drove the grocery store. I arrived home a few minutes later to find the house quiet.

Rose always greeted me at the door with boundless energy and a wagging tail. She often stole my lunchbox from my hand and ran around the house with it. I’d pretend to be annoyed but she always relinquishes it in exchange for a treat.

Was I reinforcing a bad behavior? Admittedly, but the dog is adorable.

I wandered through the house, calling her name, but she never came. Eventually, I found her in the master bedroom, lying on my bed. I figured she was hiding out, afraid of being in trouble for biting mama’s hand.

As I approached, her tail wagged but she didn’t move. When I reached to pet her, she squealed. I yanked my hand back. I hadn’t touched her. Quickly, I scanned the dog and discovered a terrible problem.

The entire left side of her face was swollen to the size of a softball. It looked as if she had been clubbed with a baseball bat. I cooed soft words to her, and her tail thumped on the bed.

Afraid she would bite me, I carefully lifted her. She hung in my arms as I hurried out to my car. Mama returned home just as walked outside. Together, we raced to the vet.

After an examination, the doctor determined a bee had stung her inside her big floppy ear. They tend to flip backwards when she runs around the yard. The resulting sting swelled the side of her face.

The doctor treated her but kept her several hours for observation. When we returned later that evening, a sack of water had formed below her ear under the skin.

The poor girl looked like she’d been put through the wringer.

In the morning, after a good night’s sleep, she was back to normal, running around the yard, ears flopped back, not paying attention to what she was doing.

We were supposed to observe her, doctor’s orders, but how do you observe a runaway train?

You get out of its way until it runs out of steam.

(On a side note—mama just informed me that trains no longer run on steam, but hopefully you get the metaphor)

Emergency #3

The most recent trip to the emergency room involved a bottle of Gorilla Glue.

We’d been working on project and left a bottle out. I returned home to find white residue on Rose’s snout and paws. It looked like she had eaten a powder donut.

Vizsla with glueWhen Rose saw me, she knew she was in trouble. Her head hung low and her tail didn’t wag. I laughed for a moment until I saw the exploded bottle of Gorilla Glue. There was also a trail of glue across the carpet as if she walked around with the dripping bottle dangling from her mouth.

Of course, my first thought was “Oh God! She’s glued her mouth shut!”

I tried to pry her mouth open. Thinking she was in trouble, the dog clamped down, refusing to let me see inside.

I ran to the computer and looked up Gorilla Glue and dogs. I watched a scary video on what happens when they eat the stuff.

Supposedly, it expands and turns hard inside a dog’s stomach. They can’t pass the large mass which requires them to have invasive surgery to survive. The reported surgeries were several thousand dollars.

My heart raced as I hurried back to my dog.Dog who ate glue

Rose yawned, unimpressed by my newfound concern.

Okay, so her mouth wasn’t glued together, but I still didn’t know how much of the stuff she might have eaten. I packed up the dog, drove her to the vet, who immediately got me in.

One of the women working at the vet’s office said, “What did Rose do this time?”

Another called my puppy a “frequent flyer.”

It’s a bad thing for your dog to have a reputation among the veterinary community.

The doctor ran X-rays but couldn’t determine if the mass inside her stomach was from a recent meal or from the hardening of glue. Rose had stay under observation for a few hours until they could see if the mass moved or if it stayed put.

I went home afraid that my dog was going to need invasive surgery.

Finally, we got a call that said everything was all right. She was okay to come home.

In a Nutshell

In her first year, Rose failed doggy training.

She went to the emergency room three times.

She’s chewed up more things than we can count.

But we love this red dog and hope she’s with us for a long time. She quickly became a member of our family and we couldn’t imagine life without her.

Everything seemed perfect.

Until mama said, “I think Rose needs a friend.”

“She’s got plenty of friends,” I argued. “She’s got you, the boy, and me. She’s got all the love in the world.”

“I mean,” mama said, speaking to me as if I were dense, “I want another dog.”

“Another dog? No. No way. Not going to happen.”

The boy chimed in. “No way, mom. We don’t need another dog. Rose is plenty.”

Mama considered both of our positions and, just like that, we settled things as a family.

She outvoted us. 1-2.

She claims it’s the law, but I’m still waiting for the proof.

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