Wow, it's been a long time! A lot has happened since my last update and I'll really quickly go over everything but the main gist of this post is to show my appreciation to Stitch. He's so adorable and what's great about this particular little alien is that he starts off as a total jerk and then he becomes a much better person/alien/dog.
But Stitch (our dog)'s story is pretty similar to Disney Stitch. Alex and I wanted to adopt a dog so we were checking listings at shelters and adoption centres around the area including our local SPCA (even though I'm not crazy about going there, I find it highly depressing) and we came across a young Labrador x Burnese Mountain Dog. She was friendly and walked very well on a leash and we decided to adopt her. My parents brought their dogs over to see if they'd get along with and it went very well (she was just a little too eager but that's normal). We filled out the paper work, paid and would pick her up the following day since she hadn't been neutered yet and they'd perform the operation that evening.
The following day, I received a call from the SPCA. They informed me that during her operation, the vet noticed that her hind legs were very stiff and they believe she may have hip dysplasia. It's not confirmed but since she's so young (6 months) and there's already noticeable signs, it could lead to very restricted mobility for her and she may die at a very young age. Alex and I currently live on the second level of a duplex so all the stairs at least twice a day wouldn't help her either. After much emotional discussions with Alex, we decided not to adopt her. We don't have the time to properly care for her but I still felt horrible. She was our dog, even if it was for 24 hours, she was our dog and I felt like we let her down. It was horrible and I was very emotional.
The following week, Alex wanted to go back to the SPCA to see if they had any new dogs for adoption. I didn't want to go in case our first dog was there but my dad assured me that she's been adopted since he initially saw her listing on their website but it's gone now. I made Alex go into the shelter and check before agreeing to go in. She was indeed adopted and I was really happy for her. I hope her new family will be able to properly care for her.
We toured the cages and I noticed him. He was very ugly for one thing and he looked extremely sad. He just sat quietly in his cage and looked at us. I pointed him out to Alex who wasn't very enthused so we continued walking. The second time we passed by, I stopped again. Alex wasn't entirely sure but he said if I wanted to see him, we would.
In the private room, he immediately changed from sad doggy to a very happy, affectionate and friendly dog. He seemed to especially like the SPCA volunteer, climbing on him and licking his face. He was friendly with us too but spent most of his time showering the volunteer with affection. Alex made sure the dog licked him to make sure he's not allergic (he is to some dogs). When there was no reaction, we agreed that we'd take him home.
Say, "Hello" to Stitch
It took us hardly any time to name him Stitch. He reminded me a lot of Stitch from the Disney movie particularly that scene where Lilo goes to the local shelter to get a dog and Nani and the employee are repulsed by her choice in dog.
But it's also because we think he looks like several dogs stitched together. We're really mean, I know, but he isn't a looker that's for sure. Plus Stitch (our dog) can lick his nose too just like Disney Stitch.
The Most Photogenic Dog Ever
Those two photos were the morning after we got him. He looked extremely sad. The shelter said he was a transfer from another one so they have no idea what his story his. I actually think he was a stray. He does some things that only stray dogs would do. Whenever there's a puddle on the street, he'll run to it and start drinking. Or even if the street is wet, he'll lick it. He's also an amazing thief, he can open the garbage can even if we turned it around to face the wall and he'll eat anything, including rocks and pebbles he finds on the sidewalk.
It was very tough at the beginning. He seemed to have no manners and did anything he wanted. I had to constantly monitor him and correct him every time he did something wrong (which was all the time). It was tiring and I wasn't able to go downstairs and spend time with my family any more because Stitch really didn't get along with other dogs. I felt like a prisoner.
For a while, every time we'd come home or even wake up from the night before, we'd find some kind of mess. Whether it was him going through the garbage or him pooing and peeing in the house. It got to a point where we'd be really apprehensive about what we'd find when we got home.
Then I got sick, violently so. I had excruciating abdominal pains and couldn't keep anything down for a month. It was the same thing I had last year but much worse. I couldn't keep solids or liquids down and even ground up Gravol mixed with water came back up. I went to the ER 3 or 4 times to get nutrients via IVs.
During this time, Stitch was left home alone for most of the day as Alex worked and I would even be immobile downstairs where my mom and siblings could take care of me or at the hospital. He got bored and just started causing trouble all around the house. He did his business everywhere and all the training we did with him went back to square one...probably even further back than that because he was mostly potty trained when we got him.
Once I recovered, I started to lose my patience with him a lot quicker. I felt like all my hard work was for nothing. It didn't help that he's hardheaded and not for the first time, I regretted adopting Stitch. He was hyper, pigheaded and disobedient and I couldn't deal with him anymore. I started resenting him and felt like he was confining me to our home.
Then Alex and I went to Mexico to check out the resort where we wanted to have our wedding. He had been there with his family before but it was 9 years ago. It was blissful and relaxing. I was sad to come back to reality and to be honest, mostly because I had to take care of Stitch again.
At around the same time, I was reading a book called, "How to Win Friends and Influence People," by Dale Carnegie (I highly recommend you all read it, it's so useful). There's a piece called "Father Forgets" which Carnegie uses as an example to try and understand why people do what they do and to stop criticizing and condemning them.
That piece really resonated with me. I realized that I was expecting too much from Stitch. He's a young dog (between 8 months to a 1 year and a half) who most likely grew up and lived on the streets, had to survive on his own and was suddenly shoved into domestic life. Of course he'll act like a wild animal, he was most likely one throughout his life, a house and a leash wouldn't change that overnight. I tried to more relaxed and less uptight about how he behaved. It wasn't easy but I tried.
And guess what? He behaved a lot better! I gave him more affection instead of ignoring him and he listened to me more. He used to go crazy whenever he saw people or dogs on the street but now, he'll sometimes ignore people and I can control him. He quiets down a lot quicker and doesn't have an insane look in his eyes.
Stitch Hugging Stitch
He can play with Kami and Obi now and he's also much much calmer around them. They sleep together and he doesn't bark endlessly whenever he does something wrong and the other dogs correct him.
Once I stopped noticing all his negative qualities, a lot of his good qualities become evident to me. He's super affectionate and he's actually very eager to please. Stitch is always happy to everyone and his tail is always wagging. We actually joke that he can use it as a weapon since it's always hitting things because he's always happy.
He likes to go under tables and beds for some reason. He'll just crawl under them and stay there for a bit before coming out, along with all the dust but that saves me a lot of trouble of crouching while vacuuming.
He can also quickly transition to an adorable dog to a horrendously ugly one in a split second, as shown below.
Is that a hairy bug?
Ready for his wet walk
Stitch is also very goofy. He does the strangest things (like crawling under the bed just to get to the other side instead of walking) but doesn't think anything of it.
Like all dogs, he gets very excited when we're about to take him for a walk. We bought him a little rain coat so that he won't get too wet whenever it rains and he actually lets us put it on him without much of a fuss. He also lets us wipe his paws, belly and face now.
I know I'm making it sound like changing my state of mind made Stitch miraculously behave much better. It's not as easy as that. It still took a lot of work but he learned faster with positive enforcement and there were times where I still had to discipline him (like going through the garbage). It's just that I noticed his positive traits much more than his negative ones and stopped focusing solely on his bad habits which made me a less irritated and anxious. I'm not sure if anyone follows Cesar Millan but he talks about energy and a dog feels what you feel and is affected by it. I think my negative emotions were impacting his behaviour. It just made it a lot easier for both of us when I stopped focusing on only what he did wrong.
Falling asleep in Alex's arms
Stitch is now doing very well. He hasn't peed or pooed in the house for a month nor have we come home to find garbage all over the place. He walks alright on the leash (still tugs a lot but not tugging so much that he's dragging us) and he doesn't bark at people as much. He's still goes a little crazy when he sees other dogs but it's a work in progress. I've realized he can't completely change overnight. But he has greatly improved, way beyond my expectations actually.
Alex and I recently expressed how lucky we got with Stitch. We actually think that if we had gotten the first dog, even if she didn't have hip dysplasia, she'd be much more work seeing as she's very young and most likely not even potty trained. She's also a bigger dog hence, messier in the house (Stitch sheds like crazy and creates a trail of dust and/or water wherever he goes. His little beard catches most of the water he drinks). Stitch, although stubborn, is eager to please and a good dog. Sure, he has his quirks but what dog doesn't? There's no such thing as a perfect dog and it's their imperfections are what makes them special.
What I really want to say is thank you Stitch for drawing us into your life with your huge bulgy eyes. Thank you for making every day an interesting and fun one, for being patient with me when I was impatient with you and still loving me. Most importantly, thank you for bringing so much happiness and laughter into our home, with your silly face and funny antics. Thank you for choosing us. My initial feelings about you were right, that you were a misunderstood pup who just needed patience and love and thank you for reminding me when I forgot. I'm really looking forward to spending the next 10+ years with you as a member of our family.