Getting Norman was probably one of the stupidest decisions I have ever made. But it turned out to be one of the best. I say it was stupid because I live in a studio apartment with little income and most of all because Kaya was at her worst. She would leap and pounce off every person she met, she would pull my arm out of the socket when I walked her as she whined, yelped and howled so loud that people would stare at us everywhere we went. She'd get into arguments with other dogs at the dog park, she had terrible recall when I'd let her off leash on hikes, she was getting possessive of toys, she'd dominate any play session, she'd make a beeline towards trouble and would generally annoy the crap out of every dog she met, mostly by sticking her tongue in their mouth repeatedly and not stop for anything or she'd try relentlessly to steal their toy and then run away from me when I'd try to get it back. It would take me up to half an hour to leash her in a small fenced in dog park. She'd run in place on the slippery floors at pet stores and drag the table away if I tried to sit outside with her at coffee shops. At home she was my easy going girl, never hyper or destructive, she loved to cuddle and hang out with the cats, but if someone came over, she'd be a full-fledged hooligan and I dreaded taking her out in public.
And so I doubled my training efforts, restricted her freedoms, stopped going to the dog park and googled advice for hours every night. But nothing was working. I couldn't get her to engage or respond to me, we were both frustrated. On many occasions, I'd come home in tears and wondered if she was the wrong dog for me and if she would be happier with someone else. So for my sanity and hers, like any irrational person would do in that situation, I decided to get another dog. Not just any dog. I needed a dog that would indulge Kaya in her games, but not instigate or elevate them. I needed a dog that would follow my lead and not hers. I needed a dog that would not mind when she'd lick, steal, tackle and chase them. I needed a dog that would not mind having its space invaded for every second of the day and night. And for myself, I needed a somewhat-calm dog, one that was easy-going, would listen to commands, that I could take anywhere and would ease my mind at the end of the day.
In a million years, I never dreamed I would end up with a dog who fit the bill as well as Norman. And I couldn't have imagined how instantly the change in Kaya's behavior would be. She learned to share her toys and let him have his turn, she learned to stick with us off leash, she became much calmer and less intense with other dogs and people, she had a constant cuddle-partner and play-mate in one. And I, had my night-in-shining-armor dog that I could always count on. And so Kaya became that rad older sister that any kid would want. She shows him all the coolest places to investigate on our hikes, she cuddles him when he's cold, she grabs a toy and entices him to play with her and now that her recall far surpasses his, I can call her name and expect him to come jogging along behind her. He gave me the greatest gift by helping me form the bond with Kaya that I always wanted.
I love each day with Norman. I love his endless cuddles, his bemused looks, I love how he wiggles with glee when I talk to him, I love his cat-like kisses and I love how pleased he gets over the little things like a random toy he might find on a walk.
I often get compliments on Norman's great manners and calm demeanor. When people tell me I've done a great job with him, I always admit I had nothing to do with it. He is not the sharpest knife in the drawer when it comes to new tricks or his crappy recall, but he knows exactly how to act around any person, dog or other animal. He'll sit like a statue when a tiny baby comes crawling up to him, he'll calmly approach a nervous dog, turning himself into their new best friend in an instant, he'll turn his head and walk away at the first sign of aggression, he'll lie patiently as Gina nurses from his lips and he'll follow her around for hours as she explores the yard and if he spots a stranger sitting for a rest, he plants himself next to them, gives them a kiss and acts like he's known them for years.
I've confidently handed the other end of his leash over to tiny children, my elderly grandparents, first time dog walkers and those who have an admitted fear of pit bulls. He'll stand easily by their side and follow wherever they lead him. I always tell him he is the nicest guy I know.
But more than any of that, he is our best friend and I hope he is in my life for a long as dogily possible:)
Norman's Adoption Story
Norman is Now a Certified Therapy Dog!
Kaya's Adoption Story