New dog presents challenges

By Karl Terry: CNJ columnist

The Terrys are once again a two-dog family.

After last summer’s death of a dog we’d lived with for 13 years, we had been a single-dog family. But I knew it wouldn’t last. We’ve had more than one pet for most of the 27 years my wife and I’ve been married.

My wife had been dropping hints all fall. I left specific instructions with my sister, mother and niece not to aid and abet in a trip to the animal shelter while I was in the woods hunting this fall. The holidays arrived with just one dog in the house and all seemed well as far as I was concerned. The lady of the house was a little sore that she didn’t receive a new dog for Christmas, though.

It hadn’t helped matters any that in the interim my sister and niece each got new dogs. The deck was stacked against me.

I dragged my feet and made it clear that the first thing she needed to do was make sure the resident dog would tolerate a new canine in the casa. A new dog had to be young enough to be trainable but hopefully not a puppy and all the extra effort that would require.

I had scarcely laid down the ground rules when adoption opportunity appeared out of nowhere. A local service business owner was in our home doing some work and told my wife about another customer of his who had a dog that needed a new home. He gave her the woman’s phone and before I was ever apprised, the dog had a play date tryout at our house on New Year’s Day.

The meeting went well. The two dogs ran around the back yard together. The young dog was contrite and rolled quickly if the other dog got irritated so they got along. Both had a snack and water inside and the resident dog taught the new dog how to use the dog door.

The new dog was cute and we agreed to keep him if things continued smoothly between the two.

Naming the new dog was the first chore. I nixed my wife’s first suggestion of New Year. Another idea was Tiger since his brindle coat is striped. Lately the name Tiger has gotten a bad rap and my wife already has a childhood stuffed toy Tigger so she put the kibosh on that moniker.

My sister named her new dog after her watch — Seiko — so I figured I could name mine after one of my vehicles. Accord wouldn’t cut it and Camry was better but not great, Ranger, however, was a winner. After all it’s a traditional dog name. I told my wife that when the older dog dies, the new one can become Lone Ranger. She wasn’t amused.

So far Ranger has chewed up one TV remote, a half-cord of firewood, a couple pair of my wife’s shoes, a phone book, three Christmas ornaments and a roll of Christmas wrap.

I purchased the little varmint a package of the biggest rawhide chews I could find. Still, when I sat down at the computer to write the other night he sat under my office chair and gnawed the wheels.

Ranger thinks the dog door is pretty cool but the ground rules of this canine convenience haven’t sunk in yet. He has brought one dead bird inside and somehow managed to pull his dog bed and a pillow outside.

My next move in his training is to rent the movie Marley and Me and point out to him the scenes where Marley is being bad. If that doesn’t work I’ll tune in a Dog Whisperer marathon and lock him in the office in front of the TV.