Dogs, like people, have unique personalities. Some are “chill” and lay around, some are active but content to relax when they have the chance, and some are a bundle of energy from sunup to sundown.
My daughter, Ellen’s golden retriever, Rosebud, is the former, and her other Golden, Casey, 5, fits the second personality profile. My dog, Nova, 1, is the latter.
The first year with Nova — my husband, Brian, Ellen, and I picked her up from the breeder on Sept. 15, 2020 – has been alternately exhausting, exciting, frustrating and full of felicitous moments.
Fortunately, because Nova has such a sunny disposition, I tend to remember the happy moments I’ve spent with her during the past 12 months more than the negative. Whatever naughty things she does that try my patience to the maximum are forgotten when she greets me, tongue hanging out and eyes sparkling, after I’ve been away from her for a few minutes. She absolutely loves people and can’t get enough of human interaction.
I also must credit to Nova my fitness, which has been buoyed by daily walks. If I ever think about skipping taking her for a walk on the leash, then letting her off and monitoring her as she dashes about chasing birds in the fields and ditches along our route, all I have to do is consider what the evening will be like if Nova doesn’t get exercise.
That’s because Nova is incorrigible if she doesn’t find a positive way to channel her energy. (Full disclosure: Sometimes she’s that way even if she does channel her energy.)
Unfortunately for me, Nova does most of her acting out in the evening when I’m reading a book.
The evening scenario goes something like this: Nova sits beside me with her chew toy for a few seconds. Then she burrows her head into my side, asking to be petted. I oblige, which encourages her to start playing with me, turning over on her belly and barking. I tell her firmly, “Off, Nova,” and she happily barks some more. I tell her, “Off, Nova,” again, and she barks at me louder. Finally, I put her in her kennel for a time-out so we can both relax.
Besides harassing me when I’m reading, another one of Nova’s favorite pastimes is chewing. She chews on sticks she finds in the yard. She chews on corn cobs she finds in the field. She chews on pieces of dead animals in the ditch (which I have to reach in her mouth to retrieve before she swallows them.)
Inside, she chews on dish towels. She chews on dog chews. She chews on paper that was accidentally dropped on the floor. The other day, she grabbed Brian’s wallet off of the counter and found a few $1 bills and a $10, and shredded them into pieces. She also ripped up and ate most of the cover of a book I had just started reading. Fortunately, I caught her before she destroyed the rest of it.
Still, I love my “Little" — the nickname we gave her when she was a puppy.
When I feel like I’m reaching the end of my patience, I remind myself that Nova is still a youngster and will grow out of her annoying ways. Though, it may be hard to believe from reading this column, her behavior has greatly improved during the past several months. By next year, she may not be a model doggy citizen, but I’m betting she’ll be much improved.
Even, if she’s not, I’ll still love her for who she is: a happy, loving, canine companion.