It is not a secret that that there is a wild animal that lives in my house. Every time a leaf blows by he howls so loud that the windows vibrate (I'm not exaggerating). He is known for swallowing entire items whole, such as socks, votive candles, Ziploc bags and small toys. He is also known for passing these various items and leaving them in the yard completely intact. He bombards house guests, and he steals toys from his sister (his canine sister). He is obsessed with food. He "surfs" on the kitchen counter and helps himself to whatever he desires, even if we are standing right there. I'm aware that we are responsible for his lack of manners, since we are not known to be the most consistent of dog trainers. My husband and I like to watch "The Dog Whisperer", feel empowered for a couple hours and then go back to letting our dogs run the show. Dan, the wild beast, does not exactly have an easy-going nature which makes things worse. He is extremely intelligent and high energy, so it is not ever easy to convince him to do anything (see Tornado Drill post). His father is a championed bear hunter by the name of Virginia Junkyard Dog, and I believe that Dan inherited his father's intelligence and energy. Dan does not hunt, so his intellect and energy is used to outwit us and howl at neighborhood cats.
It was no surprise that every single soul that visited our house while I was pregnant with Barrett said: "What are you going to do when the baby gets here?"It was as if these people didn't think that we realized that having both an infant and a hundred pound, noisy klutz in the house may be a problem. "We'll work it out" was always our response. In reality we didn't know how having both a baby and the world's craziest hound was going to work. We did know that Dan is a member of the family and there was going to have to be a solution. We weren't going to make him "an outside dog" as some suggested, nor were we going to give him up. Although Dan is noisy and obnoxious, he is a lover, a gentle giant. He had always let Jason's nieces and nephew fling themselves at him, and pet him in their awkward way. He showed an amazing ability to tone down his play when in the presence of Jason's three year-old niece. So, I wasn't totally discouraged.
When we finally brought Barrett home, Dan hardly noticed at first. He was overwhelmed to see me, since I had been gone for three days. Dan showed immense concern over the bandages on my tummy from my c-section. He tried to "clean" my wound for me, which was sweet. He is a good pack member. Then he was introduced to Barrett. Introduced meaning we let Dan smell the baby, who was snug in his car seat. I was not prepared for what happened next. Dan followed that baby every where. He would lay by Barrett's bassinet and peak at him every time he stirred. If Barrett was in his swing, Dan was laying at the foot of the swing. If we took the baby out and returned home, Dan would have to be able to see the baby before he would agree to go outside or do anything else. This behavior has continued pretty consistently for nine months now. Barrett is Dan's baby.
Dan's love is not unrequited. Barrett returns Dan's affections. Barrett smooched Dan before he ever thought of kissing us. Joy washes over Barrett when he catches a glimpse of Dan, and he releases a high-pitched squeal. They really are buddies. Dan's howling does wake Barrett up from time to time, but it's only a small inconvenience. Barrett often just realizes that it's only Dan and goes back to sleep. To everyone that questioned how having Dan would "work", I say that blind faith in Dan's good nature has payed off for our little family.