Meet Althea, four months old, and completely full of herself. She’s a Meigs County pound puppy we rescued on June 9, 2021, when she was 8 weeks old. She’s mostly house trained at this point, and since I had her nails clipped over the weekend she’s much less lethal, giving the cuts and slashes on my arms a chance to heal.
She’s allegedly a mix of Rottweiler, German shepherd, and lab, but I don’t think she’s going to be a very big dog. When I weighed her last week she was about 23 pounds, twice the size she was when I got her, and the vet estimates she’ll clock in around 50, give or take, which is actually an ideal size. She and Sydney the Ornery Cockatoo are mostly getting along, though he’s unimpressed with her impulsive darting around and she has a hard time not obsessing over the white fluttery thing that sometimes tries to steal her squeaky toys. As Sydney likes to remind her, “I’ve out-lived 11 of your kind so far, and I’ll out-live you.” I keep a baby gate on the Forest Room, where Syd’s cage is, to give him a break and ensure their encounters are closely supervised.
I’ve been working on socializing her and that’s going well. She’s a gregarious little bugger, loving everyone and every dog she encounters. I’m trying to train her with a clicker, which is only going so-so, but that’s due more to my shortcomings than hers. She’s smart and picks things up quickly. I’m just not being consistent and frequent enough to take the training to the next level. I do have her more or less coming when I call her, assuming the dog next door isn’t around, and each evening we walk through the forest, with her ricocheting from one scent to the next, chasing moths, chewing sticks, and zooming through the leaf litter in search of excitement. I love that she stays with me and never goes out of sight. She pauses constantly to look back, ensuring I’m still there, and as often as not she ends up behind me, investigating something while I move to my next mushroom foraging spot.
While I worry a bit about her coming across a copperhead, the only real danger she’s found thus far is a yellow jacket nest in the ground near the creek. Being Althea, she stuck her head in there to investigate and was stung, apparently several times. I came up behind her and realized what was happening and barked at her to run, and she was smart enough to take off after me as I crashed through downed branches and over moss covered logs trying to escape the angry yellow jackets. I suffered a few bites. I’m not sure how many she incurred. But once we got to the old logging road, she looked a little dopey, sat down, and refused to continue walking. Then she lay down and passed out as if she’d been drugged. Fortunately, I’d seen this happen before when a Mully, a tiny Maltese we had, was bitten by a bee and experienced the same reaction. I picked Althea up and started carrying her back up the logging road toward Innisfree. I had to stop a few times. It’s steep, and she’s heavier than she looks. But by the time we got back she was on her feet and walking, though a bit unsteadily. She spent the rest of the day dazed and calm, making me wonder if yellow jacket venom might be for sale somewhere. It could come in handy when she’s being crazy and won’t settle down at night …