Here’s the inside scoop about our dogs… Where we got them, how they got their names, and how they get along together.
Our current pets are:
- a 15-year-old male American Eskimo – “Jersey”
- a 3-year-old male with a little bit of Golden Retriever and a whole lotta Black Lab in him – “Destin”
- a 6-month-old male who looks pure Black Lab, but actually has a good deal of Great Pyrenees in him – “Tenor”
I found Jersey alone and lonely in a pet store in Albany, New York the weekend after I returned from a fun vacation on the New Jersey Shore. He was only 6 weeks old.
Feeling sorry for what looked like the runt of the litter, I drove this little white fur-ball 3 hours to his new home in Lake Placid, New York in 1991.
He’s been by my side ever since and has adjusted perfectly through 5 different moves to 3 different states.
Jersey was so easy to train. After learning basic commands as a puppy, he learned a whole slew of dog tricks and has always been well-mannered in public.
He’s an American Eskimo (aka “Spitz”).
Jim found Destin hiding under a dumpster outside of his office in 2003. He was a scrawny black pup with white paws… barely alive, yet wild with fear. He bit and clawed when Jim tried to rescue him.
The vet only gave Destin a day or two more to live, but we brought him home anyway. He also had scabies and was losing his fur in chunks. Add to that, a blood disease he got from a tick (Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever). It didn’t take him long to come back to life though, and he’s brought a new spunk to our family ever since. He’s part Black Labrador Retriever, part Golden Retriever. Regardless of the exact percentages… he definitely acts 100% Retriever! He’s mostly got the friendly face and loving eyes of a Lab, and the wavy coat and powerful tail of a Golden Retriever (that thing could take out a small child!).
As 2006 was approaching, we started to come to grips with Jersey’s advanced age and Destin’s need to have a playmate (…he’s such a social dog). So we began thinking about what type of puppy would make a good companion for Destin to grow old with.
After several months of searching & researching many different breeds, we eventually learned of a litter of puppies born near our home (Black Lab/Great Pyrenees mix). We looked up pictures of other Great Pyrenees/Black Lab dogs, and we researched the characteristics & personality traits of both breeds thoroughly. It wasn’t long before we knew that a puppy from this litter would be the perfect match for Destin. Not only would they be similar in genetic makeup, they also had similar white spots on their paws, chest and chin! It just so happened that Tenor was made available to us as a Christmas puppy.
How They Get Along Together…
Jersey was the perfect “big brother” during those first days with Destin (but not so much later). Early on, he would nose the puppy, and smell him, and be all curious about him. He didn’t try to hurt him or bug him too much. It was as if he knew we were taking care of a sick puppy.
As soon as Destin got his strength back, he wanted to play with Jersey more and more. But Jersey wasn’t so sure… he was jealous that Destin was receiving so much of our attention.
After a month in the house together, Destin finally charmed his way into Jersey’s heart — well kind of. Basically, Jersey just learned to ignore Destin. But eventually Jersey got tired of being a bump on a log and he actually started to initiate play with Destin at times.
The truth is, Jersey and Destin have battled it out many times in “mock” battles (with bare-teeth showing), where each is trying to display their utmost masculinity. And to this day, they still try to “out-pee” each other! (…If you’re not familiar with this type of Alpha dog behavior, it’s where they repeatedly pee on any given tree, and whichever pees the highest or the most recently is the winner!)
In the end, Jersey more or less tolerates Destin’s existence. Due in large part to the fact that we have always followed the trainers’ instructions to a tee (e.g. making sure that Jersey always gets petted first, gets treats first, gets baths first, etc., etc.), Jersey is content with the way things are — since he is officially the Alpha dog. And Destin is such a social creature, he’s just happy to have another four-legged playmate at times…
Fast-forward about 3 years to 2006 when we entered another puppy into the mix… Suddenly, there’s a lot to talk about. In brief, let me just say this: If you are considering adding a third dog into your family, please reconsider. Especially if all three will be sharing space inside your home (rather than outdoors). The details of the many-month ordeal (for the most part, all minor incidents) are contained in other articles here on the site.
In sum, it takes a lot of time — and the learning curve is steep — when attempting to cohabitate in peace with three dogs (all males, no less!). Most important: Whenever two or more are together at any given time, they must be closely supervised, as there is a significant amount of “jockeying for position” in the dog pack hierarchy once you introduce a third dog. It’s perfectly natural… just time-consuming. It takes a lot of “confrontation” in order for the dogs (and their owners) to figure it all out.
So far so good… We have managed to become one (BIG!) happy family: 2 adults, 0 kids, 3 dogs, 1800 SF house. ‘Nuff said.
Check out some of the dog tricks we’ve taught our dogs to do.
My Experience With Dogs
I’m a dog lover who happens to have a lot of experience raising dogs — from puppies to senior dogs.
Professionally, I’ve worked for a vet, but most of what I’ve learned has been hands-on, over the course of many years spent raising and training my own dogs.
- The first one, “Fluffy” (pictured at right), more or less raised me. He was a German Shephard that my parents got when my brother and I were tiny tots. “Fluffy” grew to a ripe old age with us.
- Once I was able to take responsibility for a dog (around the age of 9), I acquired a beagle puppy named “Tippy”. After that, came a mate for Tippy named “Peaches le Creme” (followed by a series of beagle pups including two that we kept: “Scar” and “Susie”).
- On my own in college, I chose an American Eskimo (“Kayak“) and a Siberian Husky (“Kody“) to get me through grad school.
- Married (without children) we are currently enjoying life to the fullest with a Black Lab/Golden Retriever mix (“Destin“), a Great Pyrenees/Black Lab mix (“Tenor“), and…until recently, another American Eskimo (“Jersey“).
In addition to working at a vet (where I helped care for the dogs and cats admitted into the Animal Hospital for routine check-ups, major & minor health ailments, as well as routine spays, neutering, teeth cleaning, declawing, and such), I also worked at a zoo. This was, in part, to fulfill my desire to always work with animals in some capacity.
I’m also a member of the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), and I’ve spent many years as a dog walker and a pet sitter.
As a lifelong dog owner, I am most passionate about caring for dogs and nurturing little puppies into adulthood. I am especially fond of puppyhood because every day is a benchmark, a milestone… and every single product and behavior that you introduce will inevitably shape your puppy’s life for the long-term, while at the same time, strengthen your lifelong relationship together.
After nearly 16 years together, Jersey eventually spent his last days with us. He played such a big role in my life, and he will live on forever in the photographs which appear here at this site. And Destin is playing with Jersey somewhere… as we speak. Tenor now has the run of the house.