Features December 2008 Issue

Training Your Newly Adopted Dog

My first attempt at full joint legal and physical custody . . . of a dog.

I have had a number of dogs over the years, but Otto is actually the very first dog that I’ve gotten as a co-owner. A former boyfriend paid the $40 or $50 that a Bodega, California, sheep rancher wanted for my heart/soul dog, Rupert, way back in 1989, but the puppy was a birthday present for me; Rupe was always my dog. He stuck close by my side through the breakup of that relationship and the next few, too. When Brian (the man who later became my husband) came on the scene, he and Rupert formed a bond, but still, Rupe was mine. Later, a summer of dog-sitting my sister Sue’s long-haired Chihuahua, Mokie, turned into a several-year stay. Mokie has since gone on to live with my sister Pam, who won’t ever give him up; Brian was more than happy when I did so. He tolerated Mokie, but never fully embraced the idea of a yappy little house-dog, no matter how smart and cute. So, while Brian and I have shared a home since 1996, we have never truly shared full ownership of a dog, like we do now. I selected Otto from a shelter, but Brian was the one who gave the signal that it was time for us to get a dog. When Brian and I got married, I kept my own last name, but Brian wanted to be sure that Otto took his surname, and even made sure the dog’s full name (“Otto Maddock”) was engraved on his ID tag. And Brian has been a real champ about sharing dog-care duties with me.

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