We’ve had our new dog Haley for almost 2 weeks now, and as you can tell from the heading of this post, we like her. A lot.
We brought her home after she graduated from the Freedom Tails program at the Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Aberdeen on June 24.
Freedom Tails takes dogs that would most likely be euthanized in animal shelters and gives them “a second chance at life” by pairing them with offenders who improve the dogs’ chances of adoption by teaching them “socialization, house training, and much needed obedience skills.”
I thought she might be a bit freaked out when I took her from the offenders who trained and lived with her 24/7 for the 10 weeks she was at Stafford Creek, but she was fine as we left the facility for the 2+ hour ride, and she hopped in my car with no hesitation (in the passenger seat, of course).
Exhausted from the graduation ceremony and the general excitement of the day, she immediately fell asleep and hardly moved during the ride home.
WHEN HALEY MET MIGUEL
The initial (and biggest) hurdle we had was introducing Haley to our dog Miguel. We’ve had him for almost 10 years now, and due to his prickly personality he’s usually not particularly friendly when he meets a new dog.
When we brought him back from Mexico he got along fine with our other dog Dylan, but because he was an adolescent dog thrown into a completely new living environment, he acted submissively and didn’t try to challenge Dylan’s status in the house.
Eventually he appointed himself Vice President of House Protection, and on the few occasions that other people brought dogs to our house, he made it clear they weren’t welcome.
That’s why we put some thought into what type of dog we should adopt and met with a dog trainer to figure out the best way to introduce him to Haley.
Due to Miguel’s dominant personality we thought that adopting a submissive female would might make him less inclined to view her as a threat.
The dog trainer we used was Danette Johnston from Dog’s Day Out Seattle. She helped us train Miguel when we first got him, and our previous dog Dylan went to daycare there for several years.
Danette told us that when Haley arrived we should introduce the dogs outside and take them for a walk before we took them in the house because it would allow the dogs to meet in a neutral environment, provide some diversion so they wouldn’t focus solely on each other, and burn off some their energy.
So that’s what we did when Haley arrived and it worked like a charm. Here they are about 10 minutes after they were introduced:
When we brought the dogs inside, Miguel virtually ignored Haley while she explored her new home, and since then they have continued to get along well. Miguel does snarl at Haley periodically, especially when she comes near his food, but he did the same thing with Dylan so we aren’t concerned. And since we know what triggers his growling, we can difuse Miguel’s growling episodes before they can escalate.
HALEY FITS IN OUR FAMILY SEAMLESSLY
OK, now that I’ve explained we successfully introduced Haley and Miguel, I need get back to my reason for writing this post: kvelling about Haley.
Quite simply, Haley is a dream. Her trainers at Stafford Creek Correction Center did a fantastic job with her. She sits. She lays down. She stays. She heels. She leaves it when you say “leave it.” She’s housebroken. She sleeps in a crate.
She’s also a quick learner. We have a specific “bathroom area” in our backyard for our dogs, and it only took her a couple of days to learn that was the spot for her to pee and poop. And she already knows how to let us know when she needs to go. She does it by walking back and forth from us to the doorway in whatever room we are in.
She’s also learned how to steal Miguel’s treats. He isn’t food motivated, and he often leaves treats laying around the house. When we get ready for bed, she asks to go downstairs so she can search for stray treats and scarf up all the ones Miguel left behind.
But the best thing about Haley is her personality. I have never met a happier dog. Every moment of her day deserves a butt-wriggling, tail-wagging celebration. And that tail – she wags it so fast and hard it’s like a metronome on crack.
Here are some of her other painfully cute attributes:
- She makes little grunting noises if you scratch her in the right spot.
- The ends of her mouth turn up slightly so it looks like she’s always smiling.
- When we ask her to do something she doesn’t want to do (like laying down while we’re eating) she wags her tail and wriggles her body furiously while turning slightly away from us. She then turns her head back towards us and licks the air.
- She thinks getting a treat is the best thing EVER. I’ve never seen a dog that can simultaneously sit and wiggle its body while waiting for a treat.
- She closes her eyes in ecstasy if you scratch her chest.
- She sits on one hip so she looks like she’s casually sitting in a chair.
- She has a funny little cowlick at the end of her tail.
- She’s an excellent snuggler. I know lots of people have dogs that snuggle but we’ve never had one. It’s delightful.
- If she gets really excited while I pet her she will gently take my forearm in her mouth (we’re working to break her of this habit).
I could be really obnoxious and list a few dozen more of these but I’ll stop now.
Needless to say, we love Haley. Even Miguel is warming up to her. I’m sure that she’ll have some behavioral glitches that we’ll have to address at some point, but I can’t imagine they’ll be that serious.
In the meantime we’ll enjoy this scrumptious new addition to our family. Now if you excuse me I’m going to snuggle with our new dog.
Haley didn’t take long to get comfortable in her new home.