“Look how cute he is!” “Are you sure you want to do this?” “Look at his little face!” “This is a big responsibility that will impact our lives for the next 12 to 15 years.” “He licked me!”
That conversation ended with us forking over a couple large bills in exchange for a little ball of black fur. Don’t let our conversation fool you. This wasn’t an impulse decision. We had been fantasizing about stealing other people’s dogs while walking around Green Lake for a couple of months. We scoured humane society websites and Craigslist looking for a puppy or a dog to adopt. We even read books written by monks who raise German Shepherds in upstate New York.*
The Sunday before we moved, we picked up Salish from the breeder we found on Craigslist. He didn’t speak a lot of English and his heavy Russian accent sounded more sinister than he looked. All of David’s questions about the puppies, their parents, and their dog raising technique were answered with a short, “He’s very good dog.” As we drove away with a tiny 8-week-old puppy falling asleep at my feet, we gave each other the “what have we done?” look.
We spent the next four days attempting to hide Salish in our No-Pets-Allowed apartment. We snuck him out the backdoor for potty breaks and gave in to his every wish to avoid any yelping. Although we were eventually caught and fined (David is currently engaged in an ugly legal battle**), the manager admitted that he couldn’t find any damage caused by the puppy – surprising since we only spent every waking and sleeping moment with him.
Salish is a Labrador retriever and Australian cattle dog mix (specifically blue heeler). While his coloring would make you think black lab, the shape of his face, the cowlicks on his neck, and his rebellious personality screams heeler. He tends to be stubborn and fights back if I clamp my hand around his muzzle for being too mouthy. He will often chase me when I run and this usually involves him nipping at my legs. When he and Buddy (my in-laws’ rat terrier mix) play, no matter how much Buddy beats up on him, Salish always comes back for more. He even has the audacity to growl and bark at my in-laws’ Rhodesian ridgeback who is at least ten times his size and possesses no sense of humor.
Initially I was convinced he descended from velociraptors due to his love of tasting everything. But he seems to be learning very quickly. “No Biting. No Barking. No Peeing.” Consistency is key. Now, most of the time he will stop when we tell him “no”. When I walk around the yard with him, he will wander around and do his own thing, but if I get too far away, he’ll come racing after me. The sight of his little ears bouncing as he blazes a trail toward me makes up for any frustrations. And while he isn’t super cuddly at this stage, as I write this, he is sleeping under my chair.
Since I haven’t started working yet, Salish has pretty much become my life. As a result, I’ve become one of those dog parents that creates an Instagram account for their pet. Sad, I know. But I am so convinced of his objective cuteness that I believe he will get a big enough following that he will get free treats from companies who want to use him in their advertising. If you’re interested in helping us achieve that goal, you can follow Salish on Insta at @salishseaborne.
*If you’re considering adopting a puppy or dog, I recommend you read one or both of these books by the monks of New Skete Monastery. They will change your life.
The Art of Raising a Puppy revised edition
How to Be Your Dogs Best Friend: The classic training manual for dog owners