28 November 2013

Meet Harley

I've been searching for a second dog for a while now, but didn't want to rush into it for just any cute dog. 

We had a few things we were looking for in a dog this time: of course we needed a dog that would be good with kids and would get along well with Brax, but besides that we were looking for a black or brown dog (we love Brax, but his light colored fur all over the dark wood floors in our house is kind of a pain), we also wanted to find a dog with shorter fur than a lab if possible. I liked the idea of a dog a bit larger than Brax (he's 75 lbs), but Michael did not want a big dog. I was considering a mix of two or more of these breeds: lab, greater Swiss mountain dog, great dane, mastiff, rottweiler, German short haired pointer, or maybe weimaraner. 

So the last few weeks I have been scouring the websites of animal shelters in the area, adoptapet.com, and Craigslist looking for the right dog. I found one a few weeks ago that appeared to be perfect -- she was a tri-colored lab mixed with some other breed (from the colors, maybe a Swiss mountain dog or part rottweiler) named Raven. And the description on the rescue group's website made it sound like a very well behaved dog. But then I read further and found out that that dog was already in the process of being adopted. I emailed about it, but they confirmed she wasn't available anymore. 

I was disappointed, but kept searching. I contacted rescue groups about a few other dogs. One was an adorable dog named Sally that Michael and I were both interested in, but when we found out she was only 35 lbs we decided against it since neither of us are really into smaller dogs. (That was probably a good thing, though, because even though she was an adorable dog she was black and white (and we were trying to avoid light-colored dogs), and she was pretty fluffy looking in the picture, so it wasn't really what we were looking for in the first place. 

Last week, on Friday morning, I checked my email, and saw an email from adoptapet.com (because I had set it to automatically send me an email when any new large or extra large dogs were posted online from animal shelter websites). The email showed one photo of the face of a brown dog named Klondike. 

I took a look at the animal shelter's website, and there wasn't a lot of info about the dog. It said he was a male 60 lb Great Dane - Basenji mix with an estimated date of birth of October 1st, 2012 (so they were guessing he was about 1 year and 1 month old). All the website said about him was "Hello!  I am a young and high spirited dog who loves to play with toys. I am smart and fun loving and just need a great friend to teach me how to be the best dog ever!"  All I could get from that description was that it was possibly a high-energy dog, and it didn't sound like it had much training. 

I liked the idea of a Great Dane mix, but didn't know anything about a Basenji. 

I like the look of the beautiful, regal Great Danes you can see online. 
(And this dog at the shelter was a Great Dane mix, but was about a year old and still didn't weigh as much as our lab, so Michael would like that). Plus, even though Great Danes can be very beautiful dogs, you also see a lot of purebred Danes that have very goofy looking faces
(and sometimes they're just downright ugly), and this dog at the shelter looked like it had a decent face. 

I looked up Basenjis, and it looks like they are small white and tan dogs with pointy ears, squinty eyes, and curly-cue tails. I didn't see any Basenji in that shelter dog. 

Anyway, I texted Michael the picture of the dog, and decided to take Courtland and go take a look at the dog at the shelter after I played volleyball that morning, even though I figured it might not be the right dog for us. We went and snaked through and around all the dog pens at the Helen Woodward Animal Center, passing lots of barking and yapping dogs, and one pen with 6 adorable little lab-weimaraner puppies, before we found "Klondike."  He was way cuter than he looked in the photo on the website. He was tall and thin (maybe an inch or two taller than Brax, and a lot thinner than him).  And he was brindle colored (which is a black and brown pattern that can almost look striped sometimes).  He had a half-length tail -- not a long tail like a lab, but not a short docked tail either. And he's got big paws. 

I decided I wanted to see how he acted, so we filled out the application and then they went to get him from his pen. It started pouring outside, and there was even hail coming down for a while, so instead of letting us "meet" him in an outdoor area, they brought him into the lobby. Courtland pet him and I walked him on the leash (or rather, he pulled me) around the room for a minute, then they went and put him back in his pen. 

I decided he obviously needed some training, but so did Brax when we got him at a shelter a few years ago and he's a great dog now. I thought he was a beautiful dog, he seemed friendly, and he was dark with short fur like we'd wanted. And he has the big dog build (for me), but isn't actually that big (for Michael). I talked to Michael and he said go for it. So we decided to keep him. 

I asked them if they knew anything about his history, and they said they didn't -- they get most of their animals from other shelters around the country and they don't usually get much info about them. I asked if the breeds of Great Dane and Basenji were just a guess, and they said yes. (You can clearly see Great Dane in him, but I don't know what anyone was thinking when they guessed Basenji). They told me they had only had him at their shelter for one day. And I saw on the paperwork that his name was Klondike at the shelter, and that it was Teeter before that.  So that's all we know about him. 

So we brought him home, and I named him Harley. Harley and Brax get along great -- they are sometimes restful together, and they also play great together (which helps them both get their energy out). Michael likes him a lot too, so that's great. 

We've had Harley almost a week now, and we feel like it was a pretty good decision to get him. He is good with kids and friendly to people and dogs, he and Brax get along great, he house trained quickly and hasn't had a single accident in the house, he likes to go on walks (and doesn't even pull on the leash as much as Brax does - he's been a great walker ever since we put the training collar on him the first day), he and Brax love to play together, he doesn't shed much at all compared to a lab, he is friendly and social with the other dogs at the dog park, he seems to have no interest in tennis balls (so he's kind of the opposite of Brax), and he's a quick learner -- he learned to use the dog door immediately (both Brax and my parents' dog, Makai, took a little while to get used to the dog door), and at first he whined and was very noisy in the crate but Michael trained him to be quiet in the crate after just one night. He doesn't like the crate (luckily he's not a full sized Great Dane, because I just pick him up and put him in the crate for the night). Oh, and sometimes he comes over rests his head on my lap -- I just love that!  The biggest thing we need to work on with his training is recall -- he doesn't try to run away from us, but if he gets outside without a leash on he just wants to run and bound around and play, and he's not perfect about coming whenever we call him. So when we get back to town after Thanksgiving I'm going to really work on training him to come whenever we call. Then he should be a pretty well-behaved dog. 

As for what kind of dog he is, we may never know for sure. He's definitely part Great Dane -- he's tall, has thin legs and big paws, is brindle (which is an accepted Great Dane color), and has the ears and jowls of a Great Dane. By this face is not Dane around the eyes, and he doesn't have the really long thin face that many Danes have. And he's got a funny tail -- could someone have docked it at that half length, or did it grow that length?  He is taller than a lab, but even thinner than a Dane (we actually wondered after bringing him home if maybe he is younger than they guessed at the shelter, and maybe he still has some growing to do?). With him being a mix, we don't know what his ideal weight should be -- he is obviously thin, but it's not like his ribs are sticking way out like our poor Brax was when he had been malnourished before we brought him home from the shelter.  He has a very similar build to my parents' Rhodesian Ridgeback when she was a juvenile -- very thin and sleek looking.  So maybe that's just his build.  I guess we'll just feed him a good amount and see if he bulks up at all or if that's how he stays. 

So, anyway, my best guess is Great Dane & Boxer mix (although those two breeds still don't explain how thin he is). But I think he looks mostly like a smaller Dane, but I think he looks like Boxer just through the eyes and cheeks, and brindle with some white is also an accepted color in Boxers (he's almost all brindle, with two patches of white on his chest, and a few small white areas on some of his paws). 
Brindle Great Dane, Brindle & White Boxer

Anyway, here are some pictures of our sweet Harley-boy:

(Brax taking Harley on a walk). 

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