On the morning of Sunday, May 5, my husband and I were in Saugatuck, MI, having breakfast outside a charming little restaurant. We were enjoying the last day of a splendid weekend spent with my favorite photography group, when a woman from the Allegan County Animal Shelter walked by with the most adorable little white dog. The woman said it was a female Havanese mix, estimated to be about 10 – 12 months old. And she was up for adoption. I absolutely was not looking for a dog. But, for me, it was love at first sight.
My husband didn’t feel the same way. But before we finished the three-hour drive home, he was on board. In fact, he chose her name as he drove – “Hannah.” Little did we know that he would soon put “Horrible” in front of that name!
On line, I read that Havanese are difficult to housebreak (an understatement). Well, she had “accidents” in our house on a daily basis, and we’d been taking her out about every 90 minutes. She seemed to want to just sit on the sidewalk or lie in the grass and look around. Then she’d come in and poop. I’d never been so frustrated with a dog.
And the little darling had separation anxiety like nothing I’d ever seen before. During her second week with us, we left the house for about five hours. When we came back, I was horrified to see our kitchen blinds chewed into pieces on three windows and bite marks on a few of the others. We’d left her in the kitchen with three baby gates keeping her on the wood floor, but she knocked one of the gates down. So we had also potty accidents in other rooms. Since then, she’s always in her crate while we’re gone.
She has other bad habits, as well. She jumps really, really well. Like from the floor to the kitchen table with one leap (and, no, she doesn’t have long legs). She ate my sushi when I got up from the table to hug my son after a visit. And the other day, she ate some moldy cheese that I put on the island counter, intending to throw out. Yes, she’s gotten into lots of stuff in places where she never should’ve been.
Oh, and she loves to chew. She got my reading glasses and did such a good job on them that I had to guess what some of the scattered pieces were from. And while she was on the nightstand, she ate an entire container of my shea butter. She also chewed the toes off a doll I bought for our granddaughter. And imagine my horror when she chewed a disposable razor that she dug out of the trash (yes, she’s a garbage picker – we now have new waste baskets with lids). I thought what I saw on the floor was a piece of foil. But, no, it was the actual blade, all bent up and, somehow, without Hannah's blood on it.
Hannah also runs away every chance she gets. We can’t let anybody in the house until she’s been leashed, because she squeezes out the door like a little rat. The last time I chased her, I thought I’d have a heart attack. The only reason she stopped running was to sniff another dog’s poop. That’s when I tackled her and almost fell into it. She’s just plain rude in so many ways. She breaks into rooms by body-slamming the doors. Or she’ll slam into me, when I don’t let her off her leash to chase a squirrel. The papers from the animal shelter said she was turned in by a police officer. It figures - she was probably in jail, because she’s definitely a criminal.
So why is she still here? Well, she’s the most loving and loveable dog I’ve ever had. She bonded with me instantly, as if she knows I’m the one who saved her. She follows me from room to room and even stays up into the wee hours with me. And we’re making progress with her rude behavior. We found an excellent trainer, Kat Stevens (KatStevensDogTraining.com), who has us using a clicker (it really works!) to make Hannah pay attention to commands. This week, we’re working on door etiquette. No more running out the door or jumping on visitors. And we’re making progress with her potty behavior. Hopefully, we can “click” her into a perfect lady, like her sister, Maddie. (And then we can call the carpet cleaners in, even though we’re doing an admirable cleaning job on our own.)
The bottom line is we love Hannah too much to give up on her. And when I make a commitment, it’s for good. In the meantime, I’m using humor to get us through this rough patch. (Hannah has a Twitter page – it’s: twitter.com/HannahHavanese) She’s a spirited and special pup, and from the moment I saw her, I felt like she was supposed to be with us. So we’ll just keep clicking her rudeness away!