• Elijah Ricks

Year of the Dog

This week was full of some hectic preparation for the arrival of our dog, and then all the aftermath of his coming. Hannah also had a busy week completing some comprehensive tests of her strengths. 

Monday was pretty normal, except that I added onto my work day by hunting down a good dog crate for the drive to get the boy, and Hannah and the boys came along with me to get some bowls and toys for him before we got the crate. 

Tuesday was the first day of Hannah’s testing, which was to take place in Chicago, several blocks north of my building. I rode the early train with her to make sure she made it safely, and then walked to work. She went back home when she was finished with the multiple cognitive and memory tasks.

Wednesday was packed to the rim. Kira needed the car for Hakan to get to and from preschool, so I worked from home until she was done. It was Hannah’s second day of testing, so she took the train by herself after Kira drove her to the station, then when Kira brought Hakan home from preschool I took the car to pick Hannah up on my way to Schaumburg, so she could help me get the dog after I finished teaching that day. Aside from all of the driving, I had a faculty meeting scheduled during the drive up, so I was on the phone, listening in, while we drove. Hannah and I then went straight to Costco to pick up a few grocery items and dog supplies (like food), and then she holed up in my temporary office until I was done teaching.

It took about an hour to then drive to where the dog was kept, but when we walked in, there was nobody at the desk, while he was sitting back there waiting for us. We completed the paperwork, got some handouts and such, and then we took him with us. He played with a few of the toys in the car, but then pretty quickly fell asleep and that was it for the whole drive. Hannah and I were both so tired from the busy day, that we just tried to stay awake, tossing around a few more ideas for a good name.

Hannah realized that April 10th was special in that it was also the 10-year anniversary of when they had to put down her dog, Penny after she had several health problems that were causing her pain. It was an amazing coincidence that our dog was to join us that same day, all these years later.

We got home just after the boys’ bedtime, but Merritt has been on a streak where he won’t go to bed with his older brothers, insisting that it is not yet nighttime. He got to know the dog for a while, as he explored the house and sniffed everything we own.

After several minutes, we got Merritt down and then settled in to watch something and relax on the couch, when the dog peed on our hard floor. It was an easy cleanup, but a good reminder that we still have a lot of work to do with him. He then pooped a few minutes later on the upstairs carpet, just to punctuate the lesson.

He’s had one accident inside per day since Wednesday, so we’re really working on getting the timing right and rewarding him when he does it outside. We also settled on a name on Thursday: we all agreed that “Apollo” was fitting. Not only does it make a nice little joke because my brother’s dog is named “Rocky,” but Apollo also has a favorite practice of basking in the sunlight that comes in through the windows, hence the sun god.

The rest of the week was spent really wearing Apollo out. Kira went into the city with Hannah on Friday when Hannah got the results of her tests. We still have not unpacked all of it, as there is quite a bit of information there, but reach out to her for any details that interest you. While the other two adults were away, I got Hakan to preschool, Merritt to library class, and then we all played with Apollo. We took him on a long walk around the neighborhood on the very blustery day, and Hakan was a champ on the leash. He held onto it tight, and kept Apollo out of trouble.

When we got home, Apollo saw a lawn care guy servicing our yard, and did the guard dog thing by barking at him. He calmed down as soon as I started to talk to the guy, though, so that’s a good sign. I want him to warn us of intruders, but to know the difference.

He’s had a very awkward relationship with our neighbor’s dogs. One of our neighbors has 3 dogs, and two of them are very large. They are not very well behaved, and barked mercilessly at Apollo when they first saw him. They were very threatening. I was impressed that Apollo did not bark back, but just stared at them, wholly unimpressed and unmoved. He then squatted down and pooped right there in front of their faces. In fact, his favorite place to “mark his territory” is over by their fence. I respect that.

He seems pretty shy of the younger boys, like he hasn’t really seen children much. He’s well behaved, but just not sure what to do. He likes their chase games, but is working on not pouncing playfully, as that really makes Merritt uncomfortable. The boys are a little nervous around Apollo, too, but still like him. He seems to mostly enjoy Hannah, Avey, and me, as we play with him the most and give him treats. Kira is still keeping him under a microscope, wary of messes.

Things are likely to get better as we all get to know each other, but it’s been an adventure so far.

In other news of the week, Avey had tried out for some solos in her school choir, and she found out this week that her teacher made one a duet for Avey and a classmate, and Avey got the other solo! We’re so proud of her for having the courage to try, and can’t wait to hear her!


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