Sometimes, life gets a little too comfortable and things need a little shaking up. The best remedy for the mundane is the occasional proverbial curve-ball and life seems to provide those at the perfect time, whether we think we need it or not.
That’s where this guy comes in. Meet Gimli. I reaaallyy didn’t want a third dog. We had 2 already and things were going well. They were both over the 2-year mark and starting to settle into doggie maturity. We had a calm and distinguished older gent and his younger and slightly energetic lady friend, but all-in-all our family was complete. Even our human children were past their toddler years. Life was calm. Chaos was at a minimum. Mischief was managed.
. . . Or at last it was until my 15 year-old daughter started to experience some anxiety and insomnia. She had been asking for a dog of her own and, in a moment of desperation and worry, I began to wonder if some canine therapy might be in order. I reluctantly agreed to consider a third dog. (Pro tip: if you tell your kid that you are considering something, YOU should consider it a done deal.)
Who owns 3 dogs? Crazy people, that’s who. And what do people with an already tenuous grip on their sanity do? They adopt herding breeds, like, for instance, a corgi-English shepherd mix. Like a been-a-stray-for-a-year-and-completely-untrained herding dog mix. They let their struggling child fall in love with him at first sight so that there’s no going back, that’s what they do.
In many ways, Gimli has been a blessing. He’s spunky, he can leap 3 feet in the air from a dead standstill, and his one-ear-up-and-the-other-drooping head tilt could turn even the iciest heart to mush. Best of all, my daughter’s anxiety has improved dramatically and, with her trusted protector at her side, she now sleeps peacefully at night. You might be inclined to think at this point that Gilmli is an angel sent from heaven, but don’t let that face fool you.
When Gimli gets bored, he likes to entertain himself by completely destroying things such as newly knitted baby blankets, especially those with fancy newly-learned stitches that took hours to make with nice, soft, expensive, alpaca wool. He also likes pencils and, apparently, the wreckage from chewed pencils means sudden death for a vacuum cleaner. (Who knew?) If you’ve had a herding breed pooch as a companion, you get it. These breeds were not developed for a life of leisure and idle paws can quickly become the devil’s playthings.
The mischief in my life is by no means managed with Gimili around, but I have learned a thing or two about happily coexisting with a herding dog. They need a job to do and, like most people, I don’t happen to own a flock of sheep. Their minds and bodies were both meant to be active for a good portion of the day and, if they aren’t provided with appropriate stimulation, they will find it in the most chaotic way possible. They need toys that dispense treats that can only be obtained with a little chewing and James Bond-style problem solving. Think of it as of diffusing a bomb and being rewarded with a cookie at the end for your hard work. These doggie toys are perfect for dogs like Gimli.
While I am grateful for the curveball Gimli has thrown into the midst of our family, I am equally grateful to have some of the former calm restored as well. It’s nice to have an intact pencil when you need it, not to mention a lovingly knit blanket for that shower gift. I am happy to report that most of Gimli’s mischief has been managed!