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How to Handle a Big Dog and Small Dog at Home

Our Second Adopted Dog!

Some weeks ago, we were considering getting a small dog, a mini pin, if possible, but we specifically were looking for a watchdog. A small breed that has good hearing and bark loud. Maui can be the muscle while the watchdog will be the eyes and ears. While looking, I discovered the horror of puppy mills, and those batch of mini pins with their voice box operated on. We did eventually make contact with an actual pet shelter, that's a little far away. The lady we spoke to was happy to do a video call where I saw some pups and spotted one that caught my eye. It was a tiny pup like a terrier with a mustache or at least a growing one. I tried to confirm the breed, and according to the lady, it was some sort of mini schnauzer mixed breed. 

My ears rang when I heard the mixed breed part, then remembered that schnauzers are barky boys and girls that perfectly fit our condition of having a watchdog. When I asked if I could adopt the dog, the lady offered to have all the necessary vaccines, health checks, grooming, and certification done for a fee, so that the dog would be good to go when we go there to finalize the adoption papers. 

Even my wife was enamored by the dog's small mustache, after which she made clear that she's not hoping that I get one. To our surprise, the dog was female, and the shelter offered to have the dog neutered. We agreed because we don't want accidental puppies. We can handle kittens, even a dozen, but puppies that grow into large dogs are quite different. Plus we don't want to add more to the shelter after we take one. 

After three weeks, we got a message that the dog is ready, and we can finalize the adoption papers. Before we went, I took a clean rag and began just wiping Maui all over. The idea here was so that the adopted dog could quickly be exposed to another specific dog's smell, so it won't be much of a surprise. I am sure this dog will be used with other dogs because she spent time in a place filled with them. 

When we finally got there, I took the cloth with me and tucked it into my waist. When we went inside, one of the employees there guided us to another part of the building where they kept the dogs ready to be adopted. I saw her in one of the stacks of cages all curled up. We went to her and my wife went ahead to finish the rest of the paperwork. My daughter was more than excited to get another dog but I had to keep her from spooking the dog. I asked the helper if she already had a name, but when the dog was sent here, they didn't get any. We already thought of a name for this dog. To match Maui and Clara's names, we christen this dog, Mara. 

We still had time before we had to take Mara home, so we decided to look at the other dogs and even the other cats. There was a large variety of dogs, the majority of them seem to be hybrids, some have a likeness to good breeds like saint bernards, german shepherds, and one of them even looked like a french bulldog. I wanted to adopt one of the Siamese kittens I saw, but we need to focus on the task at hand. 

We were ready to take Mara. They opened the cage and placed the leash on her and gave me the leash. I stretched my hand towards her and let her sniff my hand. She sniffed my hand and licked it. I think that's a good sign that she, at least, is friendly. I lightly tugged the chain to urge her to follow me, and she did so, rather obediently. Surprisingly, she walked beside us as we walked out of the shelter and towards the van. She was wagging her tail, making me wonder if she understood what was about to happen. She didn't know how to hop into the van, so I carefully tried lifting her. She was used to it, maybe because the attendants in the shelter regularly do that. Inside, I took the rag out and placed it beside her as we headed home. 

According to the papers, she was approximately a year and a half old and is a mix of gray and motley brown, black and white patches. It's a bit sad to think that she was probably rejected because she wasn't a pure breed. If it was from a dog-selling business, maybe nobody wanted her. I liked her because I know the advantages of genetic variation with mixed breeds. Granted, it may reduce some of the traits breeders are trying to preserve, like behavior, looks, and temperament. I look forward to knowing Mara's personality and how she will interact with Maui. The start of which is the rag she's sitting on. 

She was quiet the whole ride, but she was wagging her tail a lot. When we got home, I went ahead and leashed Maui as my wife carefully carried Mara inside. I let Maui have a look at Mara and he wanted to rush to her. I decided to let them have first contact since I think Mara is already used to being around other dogs. Slowly we have them near each other, and to my delight, Mara was wagging her tail. I hope that rag helped Mara familiarize herself with Maui's scent, and as soon as they met noses, I let the leash loose and had Mara be placed on the floor. Their size difference was so great. Mara was probably 80% smaller than Maui, but at least is bigger than Mars. 

Then, I saw a heartwarming canine behavior. Mara bounced her front legs, which was body language for "Let's play!" I released Maui from the leash and let them know each other. 

As I watched them chase each other around, I start to wonder if some dogs just "look" friendly, just as we humans can sometimes tell if someone isn't friendly with just one look. It could just be that Maui and Mara are friendly dogs, to begin with, mostly basing it on Clara's reaction, as that small dog was somewhat wary of Maui. 

Sure enough, a small thing running around catches the attention of the true lord of the lawn. The large grey striped cat that oversees from the walls jumped down. The action suddenly caused Mara to bark, and I quickly asked my wife to get the treats. I need to reward Mara, but not for barking. To my surprise yet again, Maui rushed towards Mars and started pushing the cat with his nose, as if asking Mars to scurry along. What was that? Did Maui understand that Mara was scared? Or was he riled up by Mara's barking and wanted to charge at Mars? Either way, this is amazing, and just as Mara stopped barking, I praised her and gave her a small dog biscuit. As early as now, I need her to learn that stopping her barking nets her a reward. If I want her to be a watchdog, I want her to bark but as soon as I say stop, she has to stop. I don't want to wake up to her barking in the middle of the night, but I already expect that to happen. 

Based on how much Mara is trying to reach for my hand, she hasn't had any tasty treats for a while, but she has to earn it. Mars is still adamant about investigating the creature that's slightly bigger than him. Mara had a vigilant form and began barking again as Mars approached. Maui kept trying to push his nose on Mars but soon enough, the cat whacked Maui with his paw. It went sour from there but whenever I hear Mara stop barking, I praised her and gave her special treats. This was turning out well, despite Maui also trying to paw Mars in the face, albeit with far less force. I bet Maui wants to take a bite out of Mars, but couldn't find it in himself to do so, resorting then to this slap fight. 

I called Maui to end this silly fight so I can start introducing Mara to the indoor area. This is where some of the challenges begin. I already have a second food bowl for her, and a small crate for her to sleep in. I need to have these two eat in separate bowls without encroaching on each other, and potty train her accordingly. We have to train her with basic commands eventually, and I hope Maui will be my training partner in all of this. The first task was to introduce her to where she will be eating. I opened some of the dry food and with Maui following closely, I placed some on both bowls. Maui went to his bowl but was rushing to eat, likely wanting to eat in the other bowl, but I quickly placed Mara on the other bowl and she quickly snarfed her meal. If there was going to be any food fighting, I need it stomped out now, so I'll start with giving them small meals they can finish quickly, so they aren't tempted to eat each other's meals. I noticed that Mara was showing slight signs of aggressive behavior when Maui was looking at her bowl. I don't exactly know how to stop this, but I resorted to scolding Maui right now. If this worsens, I'll find some way to remove this unwanted behavior. They don't seem to mind sharing the water bowl though. 

After the meal, I quickly led Mara outside and placed a leash on her. I led her to one of the drainages in my garden, fired up a good video to watch, and waited. After a few minutes, she went potty, and as soon as she finished, I praised her and rewarded her, although she wasn't as excited about the treat. I'll cook up a batch of liver soon and see how she likes it. If I don't want my house to start smelling like dog doo-doo, I need to keep this up. I am prepared, and this effort of mine will pay off in the future. 

I let Mara explore her new living space for the rest of the evening and introduced her to her crate. I lured her into it with a treat and praised her as soon as she stepped in. She curled around a little, then settled, I guess she likes the dog bed we made with old clothes. 

Mara will begin her training soon, and the first thing she needs to learn is her name. I also hope she can be a great companion to Maui. 

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