puppy, risk

Living With Risk

Stories of a Nomad and Her Companions

puppy, risk
Much has happened since my last update. I finished a semester. I started another semester. And for the break between I drove Risk, Juno, Ming, and Lumie all the way down to Florida to visit my parents. Sadly, two days after arriving I was charged with taking the thirteen year old Akita mix to be put down. My mom didn't want to put him down right before Christmas, but I knew when I got there that I couldn't ask him to wait. He looked so old and fragile. I didn't mourn for him to the degree I mourned for his sister who died two and a half years (to the day) earlier. He wasn't even himself anymore, just a shadow. He hurt so much. I now have his ashes and his sister's here with me. This summer I'll take them to New York and scatter them in the wood behind the house the two of them spent the majority of their lives. They loved it over there.

Risk helped a lot with the healing. The second my old dog's systems shut down I just had this overwhelming urge to go back to my parents' house and hug my dog. He helped them too, and my younger brother, by being an annoyance. My mom and brother met Risk when he was seven weeks old, back when I first got him. They moved to Florida a couple days later, so they were shocked to see how big he got. My dad and other family members didn't meet him before the holidays. They never got to see him when he was a twenty pound little guy. Actually, I waited a day to tel my dad I even got a dog and he didn't believe me until my aunt and cousin started calling him and telling him they say pictures of this white puppy on my facebook account. Over the following weeks-months the rest of the family found out.

My mom's side of the family hasn't met Risk yet. And my aunt, cousin, and biological grandmother on my dad's side haven't met him yet. I'm very interested to see/hear about the reactions from the latter three. Especially my grandmother. She is in the AKC circuit. She show poms. She knows judges, handlers, breeders, and is frankly a purebred snob. Nothing wrong with that, I just see a dog as a dog. My dogs before Risk were mutts. My next dog may be a mutt. It may be another Dane. It doesn't make a difference. But, I was interested to see my grandmother's reaction because she's from the old school of thought where imperfections are put down. Risk being white and deaf is not to standard, therefore should be put down.

I obviously don't see anything wrong with a dog who isn't standard. Spay/neuter it and let someone have it as a pet. No big deal. And Risk, well, he changes people's thoughts on this. He has come across the old school of thought before, and leaves those people scratching their heads. Here they see a dog, an imperfect dog, who is very happy, very lovable, and extremely intelligent. Trying to come up with new things for him to do and learn is a nightmare. I'm told he has taught himself to open doors in the few weeks we've been a part. My parents and brother now have to lock the doors at all times. That's my boy.

Been a part? Yes, when it was time for me to return to school I left Risk and Juno in Florida. There is no secret about how much I hate this place, and how it is slowly driving me into my grave. I'm doing all in my power to clean this place up, leave it in better condition than when I moved it (not a hard thing to do), and get the hell out of this state. It took a couple weeks to get used to not having Juno in my bed or above my head. And it took a couple weeks to not cry every time a Great Dane was on TV, which happened a lot more than usual.

While Risk has been down there he's made friends with the neighbor's Golden. They dug a hole to get to each other but neither could fit. The Golden passed him a football under the fence before the hole was filled in. It was such a cute story. I wish I saw it first hand. Risk has also become a semi-local celebrity. He's stopped on his walks so that people can get pictures with him. People here in Indiana who have seen me walking him will stop and ask how he is.

Risk might be imperfect but he's a pretty darn good ambassator for the breed.

The Rat
puppy, risk

have had serious technical problems the last couple weeks. I apologize in advance for no visual aids to help ease the boredom of my long, drawn out post.


Risk had some adventures since the last post. My cousin got married August 14th. As a bridesmaid and as the only member of her family in her wedding party, when she freaked out I left early. I spent a week in glorious Annapolis. Risk spent a week at the vets’ kennel. He was supposed to anyhow. He was neutered then. Immediately after I returned I started work, then classes. While Juno doesn’t like me leaving her, this is the same old song and dance. For Risk, however, this was new and not at all fun. My “short” days I’m gone for four to five hours a day. He spends that time in his crate. My long days, the majority, he spends his time in an empty spare bedroom. Bored to death but he has more room to move. Once he’s finished teething I may try leaving him out in the house, but we still have a ways before then.


Yesterday was a short day. I had all three of my languages and didn’t have anything I needed to do after. I went right home and brought Risk right to PetSmart for some socializing and dog food. My orange betta, Oliver, was starting to show all the signs that he wouldn’t be alive many more days. So, we went to look at the female bettas and the birds. Risk likes to look at the birds. Flying seems to amaze him. Well, on the other side of the birds are the rodents. That’s when it happened….


When I was very young, seven or eight, my parents let me spend my birthday money on a hamster. My younger sister also wanted one, but she wanted it to marry mine and have babies. Humoring my sister, when I picked out my hamster I said I wanted a boy. They gave me the fuzzball and I instantly called him Brownie. My sister’s “hamster” would be Daisy. Both named for the level we were at in Girl Scouts. Two days after Brownie came home he had nine babies. …Yeah, Brownie was a girl.


Brownie was housed in an old mouse cage my teacher gave me. She couldn’t fit through the bars but the pinkies could, and did often. And we had two cats. Let’s just say the whole hamster thing scarred me. We kept one baby, Dolly, who then killed and ate Brownie when she got bigger. I’ll never get that boney, bloody hand sticking up from the shaving out of my mind. I refused to go near the cage after that and that ends the hamster thing.


With me being gone so much I thought maybe it was time to get a hamster. I was going to get/make and elaborate cage so the hamster would be entertained, and Juno and Risk could entertain themselves by watching it. I couldn’t get over Robos. Since they’re a “see” pet more than other breeds I thought that would be the perfect way to overcome my hamster thing. Mild interaction, but mainly keep it alive. I could do that. No hamsters stuck out. So, just like with the dog, I waited.


What grabbed my attention at long last was not a hamster, but a rat. Before I got Risk I found a breeder up north. At the time I had my eye on a cute little guy named Valentino, but was more focused on getting through the semester and getting a dog. Also, my mom hates rats. It’s the tails. At the time we lived under the same roof. So, rats took a backseat. My hamster idea came some months later. I worried about leaving Risk alone for so long during the day. About Sherman’s poor sunburnt nose. Risk is getting used to me going to work/school. Oliver has passed. Juno is still bored. Rex still gluttonous. And I’m hoping Sherman’s nose is healing. I need to make a trip soon. Work sucks, but it pays. Not much, but money is money. School is school, but taking a classics course and three languages makes it slightly more entertaining. All of a sudden as I rounded the corner with my giant white dog, I found the newest addition to my nomadic band.


She fits in the palm of my hand. Her fur is so fine she was labeled a hairless, but she’s quite fuzzy. The texture of her coat and curly whiskers point to her being a rex or even double rex coat type. Her back is beige, her stomach is white. Her ears are dumbo. She chirps a lot. She’s sweet, but definitely has a little imp spark. I call her Lumie.


So far she and Risk get along very well. He watches her when she’s in the cage and wants to lick her when I’m holding her. She sniffs him and grabs his nose with her paws. She’s not afraid of Juno and Juno is amused by her. I love Juno, but I know her instincts and they’re strong. She’ll have to settle for watching Lumie from outside the cage. Since rats do better in pairs I may adopt her a friend. I want to give it a few days to a couple weeks first.


Now we are:

Sherman- dwarfed Appaloosa gelding (9)

Juno- bakeneko (7)

Rex- betta (~1)

Risk- Great Dane (5 mos)

Lumie- dumbo rat (~2-4mos?)


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The Goddess
puppy, risk

I have introduced the main focus of this blog. His name is in the title, it is the first post. Risk doesn't just live with me. As I said earlier, when I brought Risk into my home my parents' dogs, my bettas, and my creature lived here. Rocks and Angel have since moved to Florida, and Risk now doesn't find Rex and Oliver as new and interesting as he once did.

He has two favorites that move with me as he does. The first is Sherman, my nine year old Appaloosa gelding. Risk doesn't get to see him often, as he lives down the road at a stable. I'll save Sherman's story for another time. The second, the one he loves and sees everyday, is Juno.


To people, Juno looks like a cat. Just an ordinary black cat with emerald green eyes that are impossible to get pictures of. But, then the longer you look at her, the more pictures you see of her, you notice something is just a little off. It could be that her coat is very plush and extremely black. It could be her tail is longer than average.

Juno's origins are a mystery, but I am in a position to get you as close as possible to them.

In 2003 I was only fifteen, but was already hard at work. For the last year or so I had been taking care of kittens the local shelter sent me. This spring there was a boom, and an outbreak of FIV and bordetella. Cats were dropping like flies. I was given some freedom, and the first cat I chose was a nursing mother, Daisy, and her litter of three. One kitten died before they reached the house, but the other two lived.

I went back the next day and saw a cat had come in. She had just given birth and was quickly making it clear she had no idea what she was doing. She smothered one kitten just in the hours we were busy cleaning cages. I decided to take Nadia, and another nursing mother, Delia. We needed to prepare the house first.

I went back the next day to pick up Nadia and Delia, and this is where Juno comes in. I went to Nadia's cage to check her litter. She was down another two, but now had something new. Nestled in with her tortie littler was a very large, blacker than black, kitten. With all my experiance, it was easy for me to place this kitten at a week old, older than Nadia's litter but the same age as Delia's.

That morning a person had brought the creature in. They had stepped outside to go to work and nearly stepped on it. That is all we know of Juno's origin, she just appeared one morning. But this is just the start of her story.

Nadia was so absorbed in this new creature that she started forgetting about her own kittens. One died as we made rounds to feed the other animals. The shelter workers also found the black kitten entrancing. They kept calling it "Hercules" due to the large size, because even for a week old kitten it was large.

I had been working with tiny kittens for a while at this point. I knew better. Hercules means 'pride of Hera' or 'wrath of Hera' depending on which story you pick. I always hated Hera. After informing the workers the kitten was female, I called her Juno with the modern spelling of a 'J' instead of an 'I'. I then moved her from Nadia's litter to Delia's. She was still larger than Delia's kittens, but Delia had experiance and handled all four fine.

Nadia's kittens never recovered, and soon all died. I was still having litter after litter come to me, directly since the shelter was still losing cats like crazy. Nadia did very well with older, larger kittens. Daisy weaned her two girls and took a few litters. Delia still had her three and Juno, while I fed everyone and handled all the in-betweens. Very soon though, I became aware that something was wrong.

Delia had two boys and a girl. The girl was white, but looked like she was going to have points like a Siamese. She was called Kaden. There was also Danny, a silver kitten, and Rian, who was black but looked charcoal next to Juno. I noticed Kaden wasn't eating well. I took over for Delia, but soon Kaden died. Danny was next. By the time the problem was apparent it was too late to save Rian. The litter had bordetella.

I took over feeding and caring for Juno. Daisy and Nadia both had litters, and Delia was put on antiboitics. She recovered and was soon spayed and adopted out. Still too young for antibiotics, her eyes barely opened, I watched Juno carefully but she never showed any signs.

After a week or so, Juno was allowed to interact with other kittens. Nadia and Daisy loved having her around. Due to Nadia's eagerness to keep kittens warm, she wasn't allowed to be alone with Juno. She was watched by Daisy when I needed sleep, and Daisy was excellent with her.
We had another bordetella scare at the house. Juno had been interacting with those kittens, so again, I watched her closely while I tried to keep the litter alive. The litter died, but Juno survived. She kept growing larger and stronger. It was a little baffling, but I was just grateful. When I had gotten Delia and her litter, I had become attached to Kaden very quickly. I planned to keep her. I had been trying not to get attached that way to Juno, but it wasn't working.

There was something odd, and it wasn't just Juno's apparent immunity to bordetella. Juno was mute. She had been developing normally, but never made a sound. When she was hungry you just knew she was hungry, she never vocalized it. She squirmed during baths, but never cried. She didn't even open her mouth to try.

I was required to help with donation booths and spay/neuter awareness. I brought Juno along once. Nadia had suffered an injury at the mouths of her teething litter. I had limited her load, meaning more for Daisy. She couldn't take Juno, and with the mutilation Nadia suffered at their mouths I didn't want such a young kitten near that litter. What was supposed to be Juno's only appearance turned out to be the first of many. The workers, shelter and business a like, saw her muteness as a positive thing. She wasn't like other kittens or puppies brought out in public. She caused no disruptions to shoppers. She didn't get overly excited or scared. She was just there, sometimes in my arms others on my shoulder. She quickly became the poster child for fostering.

Now that Juno was bigger, Nadia eagerly took her back when I was busy. She had been crying over her lack of kittens. With her old litter old enough to be weaned, and no hints at another wave of kittens, I decided it was time for Daisy and Nadia to both be spayed. All the spares I could handle.

Nadia and her adopted litter were returned to the shelter. Nadia was spayed and quickly adopted due to her goofy personality. Her litter was soon gone too, but it wasn't long before all their owners were calling the shelter. Those kittens had FIV. Nadia's new owner had her tested. It came back positive. Her owner decided to keep her and have her put down themselves rather than return her and have the clinic do it. The shelter didn't tell us this for two weeks.

Around the same time Daisy had become very dehydrated very suddenly. She was brought to our vet and tested positive of FIV. I was petting her and holding Juno when I got the news. It was a week or so after Daisy was put down that we found out about Nadia and her adopted litter. Both she and Daisy had acted as mothers to that litter, but to many other litters in-between.They could have gotten it form anyone. They both nursed Juno during that litter, and Juno had played with them.

Juno was still used as a poster child, but the workers now told people she was very frightened so not to touch her. I kept her away from the kittens coming in after her. She was only allowed to watch them from a distance. Many that came after her died from FIV or bordetella. Juno still showed no signs and she still hadn't made a noise.

Finally, she had reached ten weeks. Due to all the sickness and death around her, I was allowed to keep her an extra two weeks, but now the shelter called for her return. Like every single pet, she would be placed for adoption under the orders to take her to a vet. The shelter was too poor to afford tests done.

I prepared to leave, to bring her back. That's when she walked over to me, looked up, and started purring. I called back and said I wasn't giving her up. I brought her to my vet for shots, and the dreaded test. Negative. Everything came back negative.

I am a scientist. I function on reason, but I am also big enough to admit there are still things we don't understand. There's a much bigger picture going on that we can't comprehend. Juno is something that we don't understand. Mute for ten weeks, immuned to terrible cat-killing illnesses, and never so much as a weepy eye; I don't know what to make of her.

She's just Juno.

Hot Spots
puppy, risk
I know about "hot spots" from my eleven years with Millie. She had them her whole life. With her double coat we didn't notice them until long after she started chewing, and back then when we asked the vet if we could do anything the answer was always to treat t when it was an open wound and prevent her from chewing.

Risk is very white, so it was easy to see that some patches of skin were starting to get inflamed. I needed to go to the vet to pick up shot records for Angel and Rocks, to mail them to Florida. Risk came along. He's starting to like car rides, but I guess after two ten hour rides any shorter ride would be pleasant.

The free advice I got was Benedryl. If he ever gets around to taking a nap I know what I'm doing.

It had been a couple weeks since Risk was actually given a proper bath. Ever since I bought the hose I just gave him a quick rinse if he got into the pond. With these hot spots developing I decided that he needed a real bath. He's very good at following me, so it was easy getting him upstairs to the bathroom. It's always easy getting him to the bathroom, into the bath is a different story. Now that he's around fifty-five pounds it's a little more difficult to pick him up.

He's not bad when it comes to baths. When he was under ten weeks he used to scream, but lots of petting and a couple treats during the bath stopped that. I held his nose to my throat a couple times so he could feel me talking to him. Of course, he doesn't know what talking is, but it seemed to calm him down. Perhaps it was the steadiness of the vibrations or something? Whatever the case, he no longer screams, and thrashing has gone down a lot. In fact he really doesn't thrash at all. He may try to bolt, but not thrash.

I know if I gave him baths more often he'd probably just sit there. People are actually surprised that I only wash him once a week, if that. Alright, he's a giant white dog, but he's also a little boy. It's good for boys to get a little dirty. Heck, when I was a little girl I used to roll in the dirt, and on occasion I do have to army crawl through what I hope is dirt and mud if I'm tracking something. So, Risk only gets baths when I feel he needs them. I can rub the small splotches out with a face cloth.

Now that he's bigger, I thought I'd use the shower to rinse off the shampoo/conditioner. Let's just say that Risk got clean...so did I, and the walls, and the floor. The end result was that he does sit still for baths, but you need to always have a hand on him reminding him that it's not over.


Puppy-Sitter, Or Not
narelle, regnavi, duck

I'm over with Emma and Blue for the last time. I'm going to kind of miss these guys. I think Blue is the one throwing up. I think he misses his owner. They'll be happy to see her tomorrow.

The house had a special hour long showing today. I did extra cleaning for the occasion, and found out Risk hates the smell of cleaning products as much as I do. I used a bleach cleaner in the bathrooms and laundry room, and like usual, Risk was following me around the house. He barked and backed away whenever I sprayed it. At least I won't have to worry about him wanting to eat the stuff.

Since I needed to vacuum and wash the kitchen floor, I took Risk over to my sister's. That way I could clean without him chasing the vacuum or swiffer, and he could play with Ellie and Izzy. They don't really like him anymore now that he's so much bigger and has better coodination. He still has fun. There's always Kevin for him to fall back on, but since Kevin's still a kitten I'm worried Risk will crush him.

I dropped Risk off at 12:30. I was supposed to clean, come here to take care of the cats, and pick him up. I didn't want him to be left in the car as I ran in and out of offices, so I decided to leave him with my sister. She had watched him before, so I didn't see much harm in it. Of course, she watched him before he started teething. Risk is sixteen weeks old, so he's been teething long enough for me to be used to it. Since my sister went through teething with Ellie back in January/Febuary, I just asumed she could handle him.


Well, I was taking care of Emma and Blue, running to the doctor's to pick up shot records, and fixing up a house for a showing. I'm not sure what happened, but I was told that Risk would be going with my sister to her boyfriend's. When I picked him up his leash was soaked and my sister was cursing his name. She seemed to exasperated to clearly tell me what her hour and a half with my dog was like. The most I could make out was that he knocked over all the water they tried giving him.

I don't think he was that bad, but I could be wrong. I'm positive I've been through much worse when it comes to this dog. I remember when we were still trying to sort out who was in charge. I thought it'd be nice to take him to the pond to sit. After a few minutes I decided it was time to go back inside. He wouldn't budge. Of course he was only eight-nine weeks at the time, still pretty easy to pick up, so that's what I did. He screamed his head off, causing all the neighbors to come out to see what was going on. To top it off, he grabbed a mouthful of my hair and started yanking as he screamed. I'm glad his little defiance act is over.

Even so, he is still a puppy. We had rain the other day, and this was our first rain in a long time. We got a rainbow after. It was Risk's first rainbow so I took him out to see if I could get some pictures of him with the rainbow as a backdrop. Since they were on my phone I have no idea if they came out, and since he'd been really good since our trip back from New York, he wasn't wearing his leash. We went down to the pond so he could watch the frogs. After they all jumped, I signalled him to follow and headed back to the house. Instead of following like normally, he sticks his face in the pond and grabs a mouthful of scum. I don't say that a white dog and a pond don't mix. The second I turn to take it from him he bolts. As I'm chasing him around the bench, fully aware the house next-door is watching, I hear a really young girl start babbling on about the cute doggy. He's a silly doggie, running all over the place like that.

Risk is really good with kids. He loves little kids, but he's also large and very strong. I could easily see him knocking over a kid and not letting them up. He's be too busy licking them, and he wouldn't know if he was hurting or scaring them since he can't hear them. So, now that I see a mom and her two young kids coming towards us, I'm trying even harder to grab my leashless, collarless dog before he notices them and plows them over. Finally, I manage to grab all that extra skin he has on his neck. I pull the scum from his mouth and stand there, panting, as I wait for the family to pass. The little girl who thought Risk was adorable when he was running circles around me stops, gives me the weirdest look, and says "How do you do that?" My out of breath reply was that he had a lot of skin. Good thing he was faced the opposite direction or the little girl would've quickly realized holding Risk by his scruff is not an effective restraint.

Getting back to the main point; I think I just lost my puppy-sitter. Maybe I shouldn't have told my easily spooked sister that my dog had a poltergist attached to him?


Gambler's Risk
dog, millie

That is a seven week old Great Dane. That is my Great Dane on May 21st, 2010. This was taken in the car on the way back from the breeders'. He's adorable, isn't he? He's cute, bratty, a bit mouthy, and can be very loud. He's a puppy alright.

Before I tell you about my Great Dane, I guess it only makes sense to introduce myself a little.
I was that little girl who sat in the dirt and looked for worms. I was the one who had wild robins and pigeons in the house before I ever got my hands on a puppy or kitty. I was the toddler picking horses at the local track, and then tried to out-run them. I was the little kid who told the difference between Asian and African elephants to other zoo guests, and who tried to climb into the pen of the visiting white lion cubs. I was the girl who moved around so often it was like the wind was calling my name. I was the girl who all the other girls hated because I never gained weight, and still don't. I cheer for sports like American football, ice hockey, and UFC. I watch martial art competitions and a slew of cartoons. Batman is my comic book hero, and I don't care if that labels me a geek. I got a bull's eye my first time shooting a bow, and my first time shooting a gun. I've held a bear cub, played with raptors, pet a koala, and rode a camel. I was the little kid who climbed to the top of the jungle-gym and jumped, but caught others when they fell. I've seen the face of death and came close to it more than once, each time I walked away feeling invincible. I'm a gambler, a Dragon Gemini. My family calls me the Pied Piper.

Blackjack is like life, and I'm notorious for winning by an ace.


Two years, one month, and one day ago my faithful dog of eleven years died from bone cancer. The next day I left Indiana for New York, staying there until the end of August. I then went to California until the end of October. I returned to Indiana and started college up again. A week into my semester I signed up to go to Australia. It was during the months I was in Australia, the months seeing people running on the beach with their dogs, that I knew it was time for another dog. Due to a stop in New Zealand, almost a fatal stop, I couldn't get a dog until I got back to the States. My next semester was harrowing. I took all science courses, and with me moving into a new place and my family moving to Florida at the same time, I had to wait for another few months.

While I was waiting, and failing my courses, I looked at Great Dane puppies. Great Danes fitted my more relaxed life. They were big, but did well in an apartment. An added plus was that Bruce Wayne has a Great Dane mix in the Batman Beyond series. That was my goal. I wanted a solid black male. I was going to call him Ace of Jokers, or Ace for short. I quickly saw black Great Danes cost a lot. I only paid $500 for my horse and refused to pay more for a dog. But I never stopped looking.

As the semester came to an end things were...messy. I was having arguments with my family. They were stressed about moving, and I was stressed because I knew I failed the entire semester, something that never happened before. I'm usually an 'A' or 'B' student, despite my hatred for anything academic related. The only good thing about the semester ending was I was told I would get the house after my family moved out. I no longer would be staying in my apartment with the drug dealling-dog fighting neighbors. Perhaps this was a trick my parents used to get me to stay put? It wasn't a secret that I didn't like Indiana. I had been looking for a way out all semester. Regardless, it was after an argument that I bit the bullet and shot an e-mail to a breeder nearby. The response was that the puppy I asked about already had a deposit. I shrugged this off and kept looking.

I never contacted any other breeders. Maybe I somehow knew it was going to be this way? A little over a week later I got another e-mail saying the buyer backed out. I instantly replied. Then came the part where I had to break the news to my mom. I decided not to tell my dad until after I brought the puppy home. I did manage to talk my mom into driving me over, that way I could sit with my new puppy on the ride back. The moment I saw him, and how he carried himself, I knew I'd have my hands full. I couldn't resist that face.

Growing up with a paternal grandmother who used to show/breed German Shepherds, I knew a great deal about the AKC and registered names. I decided months ago that all my dogs would be under the heading: Gambler's. The dog I planned to get, Ace, would be known as Gambler's Ace of Jokers. I had a couple names picked out for my dogs, and a couple picked out if I ever got a special needs one. I wanted Gambler's Luck for a boy, Gambler's Chance for a girl. Luck and Chance didn't fit my new puppy. After I saw him I knew his name. Gambler's Risk.

Did anyone catch that "special needs"? I guess that's a sugar coated way of saying it. I never use that term for him. Risk is deaf. I knew he was deaf before I even asked about him, and his breeders never danced around it. They listed him as deaf right from the start. Risk was born deaf. When you breed two harlequins you have a risk of getting white puppies. White Great Danes are like white Dalmatians, deaf.

When people meet Risk, they have no idea he can't hear their baby-talk. He acts like a puppy. He still gets all excited and throws his weight around for attention. I only say something if it comes up. When I took him to the vet after I got him, I let the techs play with him while I filled out the paperwork. They were trying to get a picture for his profile, but he wouldn't look at the toy they were squeaking above his head. I said something then.

When I took him around the neighborhood for the first time some of the neighbors stopped us to pet him. They asked how training was going. It came up during that conversation since his training is slightly different from other dogs I've worked with. It was surprising that it wasn't drastically different. The most drastic thing was "no". Everyone who has ever had a puppy knows what a powerful and useful word that command is. They know to make your tone hard when you say it so that the puppy gets it. I didn't have tone at my disposal. I, basically, became a dog. "No" was a point of my finger, but to make him understand what that signal meant I threw my own weight around much like pack-mates do. Grabs at the neck, a little shoving, and worst case scenario...the roll.

Risk caught on quickly. He knew his signals by the time he was eight weeks, and he was nearly housebroken. The biggest challenge was his ego. People, like my mother, think that because he's deaf his littermates picked on him. After getting to know my puppy I know that he got himself in trouble because he was attempting to be the dominate dog.

Risk moved into my home, which at the time was changing from my parents' hands to mine. My dad was already in Florida at his new job, but my mom, brother, and their two dogs were still around. My creature, Juno, and two bettas were also in the house. This made things both easy and difficult. Like all babies, Risk didn't sleep through the night yet. That added to being in a new place without his parents and littermates made the first couple nights very rough. It was unhelpful that one of the two dogs, Angel, was dog aggressive. She's also always been skittish. She wasn't happy at being woken up all night by the un-godly noise this puppy made. The helpful part came from my mom. I woke up with Risk all through the night, and I was the one you fed him at 6:00AM, but she would watch him for a couple hours after so I could sleep.
This was only the first couple days. Soon everyone left for Florida, and it was just me, Risk, Juno, and the fish (Rex and Oliver). Often times when Risk woke up in the middle of the night I'd collapse on the living room floor afterwards, just too tired to make it back upstairs. A few times I fell asleep with my back against the wall of his pen. For the first week or so he was so scared about being left alone that you had to sit with him until he fell asleep.

Luckily, he's grown out of that. Putting him in a crate instead of a pen was helpful. The instant I cleaned the crate up and brought it into the house he was housebroken. It was around this point when the rest of my family became aware that I had a puppy, and they started to become aware that he was deaf.

I started getting phone calls from relatives, and I've rarely gotten phone calls from them. They worried that I was alone. They wondered why I wouldn't go out. They wondered why I got a puppy who would turn into a huge dog, and why I got one that couldn't hear.

Let me jump back to me for a second. I am not a drinker or partier. I'm content with hanging out at home either reading, or writing, or watching a movie. I have never been interested in going out to a club; in fact, I have been to clubs and hated it. I'll climb a mountain, but I won't twitch to music I most likely don't even like. For my family to suddenly find it shocking and troubling that I wasn't going out and doing these things was nothing short of stupid.

Secondly, I wasn't exactly alone. My sister lives fifteen minutes away. And if that wasn't good enough, then let me be blunter. I am twenty-two. I am capable of taking care of myself, and I have. I have flown alone when I was ten. I used to fly twice a year when I was eighteen and nineteen. I moved out to California and lived outside of L.A. alone when I was twenty. I flew to Australia and stayed there for three months when I was twenty-one. From there I flew to Tasmania and stayed for over a week, completely alone. I was in New Zealand without any family, and I navigated us around it without trouble. I do extremely well without my family around. I'm more productive and have better grades.

Now, back to my puppy. People wondered why I "tied myself down" with a big, deaf dog. I didn't see it that way, and it is because I knew there would be people who looked at it like that that made me keep it quiet initially. Risk is going to be big, and he can't hear, that's true. To say he tied me down is wrong. The only thing that can tie me down is me.

As I continue to travel through life Risk will be present.


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