Gunner, The New Guy

A few weeks ago, I welcomed yet another Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet foster pup into my home. Gunner, a 6 year old Pit Bull, has a Navy family in flux right now and needs a place to stay.

With a new job, Deycon (my first foster: a 130# Greater Swiss Mountain Dog and his not so little sister coming at regular intervals), and my boys moving out, I guess I didn’t have quite enough chaos in my life!

I was a little leery because my own Rottie, Bear2. He hasn’t had a friend living with us for a while. We did have Deycon, Mulligan and McKenzie, Guardian Angels alumni which we adopted and with whom Bear was familiar. However, Gunner would be smaller in stature than Bear and just as active. Little did I know how accurate that phrase would be!

Gunner’s mom and I chatted on the phone after she liked the email I had written about my foster experiences. The fact I live only about 20 miles from where they would be staying didn’t hurt either! I had requested that I take Gunner alone to meet Bear2. I knew the usual initial male huffing, barking and snarling would take place and that can be disturbing for someone who hasn’t seen it or doesn’t understand it, especially when one of them is your baby.

I picked Gunner up on a Sunday afternoon (an hour late because I hadn’t changed my clock!) and met the powerful and excited boy his mom had described. He couldn’t keep still and I knew he’d be a great match for Bear as soon as they got settled. What I wasn’t sure about was if my house would survive!

I became part of Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet because of my daughter. She had to give away her cats before I knew about the organization. Because of that I knew Gunner’s mom and dad would be a little depressed about letting him go but I know that he’ll be back. Dad loaded Gunner’s crate into the back seat of my car and Mom walked him to the front. He jumped right in and made himself at home. Of course Mom cried and Dad looked mournful, but I know when they come to get him, it will be great.

Gunner and I took the long way home to get to know each other. He had his head out the window most of the time and his tail was wagging constantly. He finally did settle down and curled up on the front seat.

As I pulled into the driveway, I could see Bear jumping up at the front window. I took Gunner’s crate out and set it up. First I let Bear sniff the new pup through the front car window. Predictably, Gunner snapped and Bear, much to my surprise, backed down, sat and cocked his head. Aren’t Rottie’s supposed to be fierce? Guess no one ever told Bear! The new pup ran to the other side of the car and so did Bear. The window was opened, they sniffed and Gunner jumped into the back seat. I brought Bear into the house and went back to notice that poor Gunner was shaking with fear in the back seat. (Sorry, Mom, I know this is the first you’re hearing about this, but don’t worry, it turns out okay!)

I snuggled Gunner for a bit and then put him in his crate. I let Bear out of the house and they sniffed barked and …. well this might not sound too hygienic, but I knew it was a good sign: they each raised their leg on the same side of the crate. Bear back in the house, Gunner on a lead and a good hosing down of the crate was next in order.

Then the bigger move: I brought Gunner’s crate into the house, put Gunner in it and let Bear go to him. The whining, crying and yap-like barking was an improvement. Finally, I let the two of them together and I’m kind of sorry I did…. Let me explain.

My boys moved out about 3 months ago and took most of the furniture with them. My stored furniture was in the basement and fell victim, mostly, to Hurricane Irene. These two strong, STRONG…. Did I mention that they’re strong? boys ran through the house, tumbling over one another, sliding on wood floors, jumping and running, knocked off the few pictures I had left on the walls and shook the house. The echoes are incredible!

They played for over 4 hours. My guess was that they get along! Gunner’s mom and I made contact to ease her concerns and she’s thrilled that’s he’s okay. Sure! He’s okay, but I’m never going to be the same: Dogs sliding into the kitchen table, through the mud room, into the empty living room and dining room, barking, and panting with flying doggie hair all over the place. Truth be told, I LOVE it! Deycon, my first foster, and his best friend, my grandson, haven’t been around since December and I know Bear has missed playing like this.

After the second hour had past, the boys collapsed: tails wagging and tongues lolling out of their mouths. Some rest, dinner and water and they were off again.

Bear is a bit of a clown and loves to watch my television. It’s up on top of a cabinet (good thing) and he spends ages jumping up and down in front of it, barking, snapping and whining at whatever is on. Designing Women is the only show he is quiet for. Well, now we have the new guy in on it. There is a dog barking on the TV, Bear barking at the dog barking on the TV and now Gunner barking at Bear barking at the dog barking on the TV. I dare not watch anything that has running or fighting in it. The house shakes!

Gunner’s mom gave me a lot of information about him and one piece in particular that I wish I had really listened to. She said he should stay on a lead when he’s in the yard, and even gave me one, because he can jump fences. Late the first night, rather I should say very early the next morning, both boys were doing the pee-pee dance at my bedroom doors. I just opened the doors and let them out. They ran around the yard, did their business and quick as a whip, Gunner went over the fence. In his defense, that kitty was a little snippy! So here I was at 3 in the morning, pj’s and slippers, chasing Gunner around my neighbor’s yard. He obviously thought it was a game. Then quick as he went over, he jumped back, ran up onto the deck with Bear and the two of them sat there looking at me like I was the crazy one. Needless to say, Gunner now stays on the lead!

This guy’s a real joker too. Bear knows exactly how far Gunner’s lead will let him go and manages to run just outside of it. Welllllll, not to be outdone, Gunner lurks under the deck and as Bear runs across the yard, he times it perfectly to pounce on the Rottie with the precision of an NFL linebacker. Everyone tumble in the dirt, Bear runs out of reach and Gunner retreats under the deck for the next run!

One piece of information that Mom did not give me is that Gunner likes to sleep under the covers. One night I almost had a heart attack when I rolled over and something starting licking my leg! After that, it became quite amusing. My real problem is that even in a king sized bed, there doesn’t seem to be enough room for all three of us. I have waken up on the very edge of the bed, legs numb because Gunner likes to sleep on them and I’m unable to move because Bear is sleeping, and snoring I might add, laying back to back with me with his head on my pillow! I’ve been eying the futon in the sitting room, but I’m not so sure they’d leave me alone there. I’m wondering if there will be enough room when Deycon and his little sister, Dakota, come to visit in May! Luckily they have their own beds….. but come to think of it, so do Bear and Gunner! Better hold off on buying furniture until after the summer!

Last Saturday, March 17, was Gunners 6nth birthday and Mom sent a box of treats. One was a bag of doggie bacon treats that came in a zip lock pouch. Two nights ago, a pint of Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream was calling me from the freezer and I decided to answer. My imagination had the bowl filled with the green treat covered in the sliced almonds from a bag in the kitchen cabinet. Guess I should have turned on the light. The bacon treats did NOT go well with the ice cream. Frankly, they don’t taste like bacon at all – in case you were wondering.

Good thing I’m used to living in a circus!

– Written by Eileen, Foster Mom in New York.