Editor’s Note: This column originally published Dec. 15, 2016.
One month ago, if someone would have asked me to define the term “zoomies,” I would have said it must be chain of restaurants exclusive to NASCAR-owned motor speedways or the new name of the re-branded Dodge/Chrysler company.
But it turns out, this is a term used by dog owners to describe the crazy sprints around the living room by an overstimulated puppy who just came inside from a 20-minute walk.
Yes, in November, Betsy and I became the proud puppy parents of a Lab/Vizsla-mix named Jovie. As my family and friends can attest, we love that little ball of crazy (not so little after a month of growth).
We met Jovie through friends who have a large family of youngsters and just didn’t have the time to care for such an active 7-month-old dog. They did the right thing and found Jovie a home they knew would be full of love and attention.
After a month of teaching her the basics — stay, lay down, come and sit (which she was already learning before we got her) — and making her follow the strict and vengeful rules of not tearing around the apartment like a no-holds-barred NFL game, we think Jovie is finally starting to love us too. Or, perhaps, just tolerate us as her food- and shelter-giving parents.
But Jovie is sweet. Every morning when we let her out into the open apartment, she hops in bed and cuddles. She lays on her side and stretches, waiting for her morning belly rubs. This is when you can see her true smile.
At 45 pounds, we have to continually to remind ourselves that, despite her size, she is still a puppy. When she gets overly excited, she nips. They’re not bites, but she often confuses our forearms as chew toys. When her plush penguin or squeaky bone falls out of her mouth, she continues to lightly chew on what ever is next to her — usually my leg.
When we take her for walks, Jovie will march proudly in front of us with her tail wagging as if to say, “this is my family, and I’ll protect them.” But if another dog comes around the corner, she sees a rabbit hopping along or a bird perched overhead, nothing else around her matters. She’s not aggressive, but Jovie will start a little whine followed by a 360 degree jump/spin move until the other animal is out of sight and out of mind.
There have been some things about pet ownership I expected and others which have taken me by surprise. I used to roll my eyes at other animal lovers who called their pet every name other than the official title on their tags. Some don’t even sound remotely similar to the actual name. But Jovie is now known by several aliases: Peaches, Red Hot, Jovie-Joves and, Betsy’s personal favorite, Jovie-Beans.
Having a pet has helped us in more ways than we thought possible. Jovie gets us out of the house to exercise, we’re more aware of our surrounding neighborhood (there is a serious littering problem in Des Moines) and we’re quickly developing a consistent routine.
Jovie is becoming one of the most important parts of our lives, and I applaud any responsible pet owner who has taken the time to adopt or rescue a pet in their local area. It’s a tough but rewarding experience.
Contact Mike Mendenhallat mmendenhall@ myprairiecitynews.com