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Life with Liz: Two-dog household

Out of all the things I expected to happen in 2021, getting another dog wasn’t one of them. But, here we are, now a two-dog household. Duncan has been such a great dog that we’d started discussing the possibility of getting another one within a matter of months of getting him; however, the idea didn’t really take root until this summer. Being on vacation with our friends and their dogs opened our eyes to how much Dunc has missed canine companionship.

We’d had Duncan for about a month before COVID-19 shut everything down, and while it was wonderful for us to spend tons and tons of quality time with him, he definitely missed out on some of the doggie socialization he should have had. As we started venturing out with him more, he reminded me of that child who spends a lot of time with adults and is comfortable interacting with them on an almost peer level but is awkward and tongue-tied when it comes to dealing with their actual peers.

After a week of playing with Copper and Penny, Dunc finally seemed to have a grasp on how to play with his friends, and when they went home a few days before us, he definitely missed them. Our long ride home gave us lots of time to talk about how much fun having a small pack of dogs had been, both for him and us.

Although I was committed to the idea of another dog, I had pictured it at least a year out on the horizon. I knew the work we’d put into finding Duncan and I expected it to take at least as long to find the second just-right dog.

Imagine my surprise when the Wonderful Husband called me and said that there was a possibility that we might have a puppy in September, and picking him up would conveniently coincide with the weekend that he was thinking about taking Duncan to Ohio for field trials. It’s rare that all the stars align so neatly, so I took it as a sign that this was meant to be our pup, and we already had him named: Henson.

Why Henson? Well, over the course of the year and a half we’ve had Duncan, I’ve joined many Airedale Facebook pages, and I’ve been struck by the number of pups named Fozzie and Gonzo. Many Airedales have the traditional cut, short hair with a defined mustache and beard. Many others, though, are left au naturel, and as the WH aptly described Duncan one day, look like giant Muppets.

Our friend, watching him lope across the beach, described him as a miniature Snuffleupagus. We didn’t really want to assign him a character name, because that seemed to assign him a personality as well, so we went with a tribute to Muppet creator Jim Henson.

The differences between the first puppy and the second one were significant. We surprised the kids with Duncan, but the whole family was in on the surprise this time. The kids looked forward to weekly updates from the breeder, and oohh-ed and ahh-ed over videos of puppy playtime, eagerly trying to pinpoint our guy.

For the first dog, I’d spent hours on the internet reading about various brands of food, picking out a cute collar, buying special food dishes. For the second one, I quickly dashed back into the house after the car was all packed up and grabbed a handful of collars off the rack, hoping that one of the puppy ones was in the pile.

For his food, we just decided to get whatever puppy food the brand that Duncan eats makes. And, for the first week, he ate out of one of my Fiesta ware bowls because I couldn’t remember where I’d stashed the puppy bowls.

Dunc and Henson met for the first time in the parking lot outside our hotel. Dunc was curious, and Hens was playful. Everything seemed to go very well. Hens spent one more night with his sibling and Dunc came back to our hotel room for a good night’s sleep before his field day. The next night, however, the little one came back to our room with us, and Duncan wasn’t quite sure what to think. Henson, on the other hand, helped himself to my sandals and happily sat on top of the shoe pile gnawing away at them. We were off to an interesting start.

Later that night, or much earlier the next morning, Henson finally realized that he wasn’t going to get to snuggle in with his siblings, and he wasn’t too happy about it. Since we were in a hotel that I had no desire to get thrown out of at 2 a.m., I broke my cardinal rule and snuggled the new pup in with me to quiet him down. We spend the next few hours getting to know each other, and he heard my entire stance on why him snuggling in bed with me was NEVER going to happen again, so he shouldn’t get used to it. When he finally fell asleep around 5 a.m., it was time for me to get up and start my day.

Watching the two dogs get to know each other, and watching that moment when Dunc realized he was actually coming home with us, reminded me so much of when I brought both G and E home from the hospital to both the curiosity and dismay of their older sibling(s). The first few days were a little trepidatious, a lot of warily eying each other up and down, and then suddenly, during one carefully monitored tour of the backyard, they started playing and roughhousing, and just like that, it was like Henson had always been there. And that’s when the WH mentioned No. 3. …

Liz Pinkey is a contributing writer to the Times News. Her column appears weekly in our Saturday feature section.