It's Diamond's Homeday!
Updated: Jan 22, 2019
One and a half years married and Blake and I felt like we needed a dog, so we drove to the El Centro Humane Society, you know, just to look (added bonus: it was Tiny Dog Tuesday so the little ones were half off). This sad scraggly looking black and white dog was the only thing not making noise in a sea of Chihuahuas and that caught my attention. We took her to a fenced open area for a test drive and she perked up and started running. You could see freedom in her eyes and she clearly didn’t trust anybody. She wouldn’t let us closer than 5 feet, but at least she wasn’t aggressive or making annoying whiny sounds. A week later, January 15, 2015, we were signing papers to bring her home.
Our wiry haired dog needed a name and Type A Autumn had to keep with my pet naming scheme. My plan was to number my pets by name so after a cat named Penny, we needed a number two. Blake shot down all my ideas: Duet, Deuce, Twin, and Twoodle. He thought my naming scheme was lame, but nevertheless came home the next day with a huge grin on his face because he’d come up with something. Diamond. Like Carbon di oxcide; CO2…get it? I liked how subtle it was, so it stuck and I ordered a dog tag from Etsy.
Blake and I had heard that dogs were the gateway drug to kids, and yeah, two months later we were expecting.
I read Cesar Millan’s Cesar’s Rules: Your Way to Train a Well-Behaved Dog and started applying his dog training tips religiously. I learned a lot about the psychology of alpha males and the power of consistency. Side note: I apply most of Cesar’s dog training rules to child rearing under the reasoning that kids are basically animals. So if you catch me barking “EH! EH!” every time Blythe gets close to something hot or sharp, don’t worry about her. If she listens, she’ll get Positive Reinforcement. Side note to the side note: When I told my mom this, she said, “nothing wrong with that; I applied horse training on you kids” and now I understand why I love sugar cubes.
To practice the Dog Whisperer's methods, we walked Diamond 5 to 6 times a week. This also helped us stay active during pregnancy, spend time with each other, get to know our neighbors, expend bad energy after rough work days, and feel like real dog people. But even with all of these walks, she still had some obvious walls up. The vet told us she was likely 4 years old and mothered puppies at some point, which might be the reason for her trust issues. I’m sure she missed the independence of her street life plus her timidness likely stemmed from past abuse.
We were investing so much time with her, but Diamond continued to be independent and stubborn to a fault. She eventually learned to follow our rules, but never really respected us. She sat, rolled over, stayed, and even lifted her paw on command. She stayed off the couch, sat patiently next to the dinner table (but never begged), and eventually let us brush her hair, but really she was just waiting for the right moment to escape.
Diamond saw her opportunity for freedom the day we took her to the desert. I was feeling sick at 7 weeks pregnant and Blake was feeling confident that Diamond actually loved us. He let her off the leash and she bolted! Blake started running, jumping through piles of tumbleweeds trying to catch her. He got within arms reach and a jackrabbit jumped out of a bush and she was off again. I ran at an angle for a quarter mile trying to hone in and when that worked we alpha-rolled her so fast I was afraid we’d hurt her. Blake’s legs were bleeding, I felt like throwing up and Diamond had the biggest smile on her face. She’s crazy! Blake and I looked at each other panting and chose to laugh. Also we’ve never trusted her off a leash since.
Then the dang dog tried it again! Three months before Crosley was born the gardener left the gate open and Diamond took off. Blake and I both left work and drove up and down every street in our neighborhood trying to find her. Have you ever driven around yelling "DI!" out your window? I don't recommend it. It was over 110 degrees when I spotted her sitting on a stranger’s doorstep. She saw me, stood up, and attempted to walk to me. It was the first time I felt her trust, and maybe the first time she'd felt my compassion. I started to cry when she stumbled towards me with a terrible limp in every leg. I picked her up and set her in my lap to drive home and honestly thought she might die from heat exhaustion. She was massively dehydrated and all four paws were bleeding because the hot concrete had literally burned off the pad of her feet. We nursed her back to health and I think she realized that we loved her and that was a big turning point! But we still weren’t sure how she’d respond to a child that would no doubt flippantly cross her boundaries.
Crosley was born and Diamond was curious if not annoyed at why this baby kept crying. She gave us looks like “aren’t you going to handle this?” and she found her voice, whining next to the bassinet whenever Cros seemed upset. We kept the two a safe distance apart until Crosley started walking and wanted to play with Diamond’s ball. Dog toys are the only thing Diamond gets aggressive about (aside from birds. And cats too, she doesn’t like cats). She wants to rip them to shreds until the squeakers are gone and Crosley even looking at them made Diamond antsy. Cros innocently picked up the ball and I got nervous. She walked to Diamond and I moved closer, ready to respond to whatever was about to happen, and then Crosley slowly offered the ball to Diamond, like a total sweetheart! Diamond took it, being noticeably careful not to bite Crosley’s little fingers and a new relationship was born. Not a man’s best friend kind of bond, but an “I’ll let you touch this” kinda bond, and that’s a big deal coming from Diamond!
Generally, Diamond will only let you touch her if it’s to scratch her head, but if it’s Crosley or Blythe, they get to pull her tail and ears, step on her toes, or lay on her. They can take her ball, play with her food, chase her around and splash water on her. Diamond doesn’t look happy, but she allows it. Nature or nurture, I don’t know, but her RBF and love for these two little girls really fits in around here and we’re so happy she finally adopted us.
Happy 4th Homeday, Diamond!
P.S. To be clear, the book I referenced above was an incredible guide to dog training that I do in fact apply to raising my kids. With that said, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases when using the links in this blog, and with no additional cost to you! Pretty cool huh?