Friday, May 20, 2011

Peanut, M&M

by Miranda

We had long been talking about getting a puppy since our stay here has been extended another four years. A dog seemed like a good idea to keep us busy, comfort us, and add a little joy to our house. Initially though, we were very hesitant to bring a dog into our home. Pets are members of our family, and with no vet on island we worry about what would happen if it became ill or was injured. Also, after our good friends Ray and Cihan’s puppy died suddenly and tragically in February from the pavro virus we worried it would happen to our dog if we got one.

On Thursday March 10, I was on my way to their house for our weekly coffee get together. Cihan called another friend who was with me and made sure we were coming. She said she had a surprise. Now, when Cihan tells us there is a surprise it is usually some yummy treat she has made in the kitchen. When we got to her house, she insisted on leading us into the house with our eyes closed. We weren’t sure what to expect. We definitely didn’t expect to open our eyes and see two TINY and precious puppies! She quickly told me that there were a few left from the litter belonging to a coworker of hers.

I called Mike and he came over and saw the puppies. They sure were cute, but we were leaving for our trip to southeast Asia in just 6 short days, we couldn’t possibly get a puppy then leave for a month! But Cihan, being the awesome and ever-giving friend that she is, offered that if Mike and I were to get a puppy she would take care of it while we were gone. Her famous last words being “We already have two, what’s one more?” Words she would later regret when she had three crazy puppies ruling her life for a month!

But within an hour of me first laying eyes on Ray and Cihan’s puppies we were driving away from picking up one of our own! At the house of some family with too many puppies, we were told that there was only one left which hadn’t yet been claimed, and that it was a girl. We had wanted a boy, hoping to avoid the problem of having to get rid of puppies ourselves. But we knew that if we didn’t take this tiny little puppy it may not survive. We scooped “her” up into an old flat rate priority mail box and took “her” home.

It took us three days to discover “she” was actually a he. When they are that young it is hard to tell, and we sure couldn’t! I was shocked, when one day I took our new puppy over to visit his brother and sister at Ray and Cihan’s house. A friend of hers was over, and insisted that our dog was a boy, and that the owner who gave him to us quickly realized this after we had left with the pup.

We were relieved that we had named him Peanut, and that Mike had insisted we didn’t name him Daisy, as I had wanted to, because how his coloring looks like a spotted cow. We decided on Peanut not only because of his size, but also because it seemed so fitting. Since Mike and I began dating some people refer to us as M&M, so naming our puppy Peanut really made him a part of our family. Now we are Peanut, M&M.  We should have thought about how quickly he would grow.

Here’s baby Peanut enjoying his most favorite thing in the world: chewing on things. This time, it’s Mike.

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Here he is the day we brought him home. So tiny!

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And here he is with his brother Zatan (Turkish for “Olive”) in April shortly after we returned from our trip. Note the broken flip-flop that’s become a favorite chew-toy!

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We barely recognized him when we got back from our trip! He was at least four times bigger than when we left him. Yet he continues to grow! Here he is on May 19.

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We recently learned that his birthday is January 14, so this last weekend he was four months old. His coloring has begun to change, with more spots coming through. He looks a little bit like a cross between a Jack Russell terrier, a beagle, and maybe a Labrador. Mike likes to imagine that one of his doggie ancestors came to the island on board Capt. O’Keefe’s sailing ship in the 1700’s. Whatever he is, he is a Yap dog through and through.

He quickly taught himself how to play fetch, bringing back anything we would throw. He is pretty good at returning when we call him, unless he is busy scratching, or playing with his brother and sister. He is still working on sitting, staying off of the furniture and out of the kitchen. He has also learned that if he barks at the door we will let him inside. However, he has not learned that if he barks by the door we will let him outside. Instead he often shows us he needs to go out by peeing by the door. We are still working on house training him, but he is getting better. Now we just need to get him to not pee a little, out of excitement, anytime anyone, including us, comes in the house. He’s often referred to as “pee-bag” or “wee-nut” because of his many little, and sometimes not so little, accidents. Thankfully, our trusty mop and bucket are always close at hand. 

He really has changed our lives.

At lunch time I rush home to let him out of his “puppy prison”, one of our unused bedrooms which is now where he spends his nights and while we are at work, with a pile of toys and a bowl of water. When he is inside with us, he is constantly under our feet and in our faces. He loves to play and will bark for attention if he is feeling neglected. He chews on anything that is within reach. Our flip flops now must be put up high or we suffer the consequences of wearing them while missing chunks or having teeth holes covering them.

We do feel bad about locking him away so much, but we have known a few people who have had their dogs killed by locals for one reason or another and we aren’t taking any risks. There are so many wild dogs on Yap, many locals consider them a nuisance. We’ve heard that some dogs are even eaten! We had to get him a red collar, because by law it is required. We sometimes joke we should order him a dog tag that says “someone loves me” or “please don’t eat me” just to help avoid any unfortunate incidents.

As part of my daily routine, when I get home from school in the afternoon, I let him outside. He almost always immediately runs over to Ray and Cihan’s house to find his brother Zatan and sister Lemon. He plays with them for several hours and returns home to eat and collapse on the floor, exhausted. Some nights we have to literally drag him home to go to bed.

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Getting a dog here is very different than having a dog back in the States. Dog food is scarce, and we usually wind up giving him scraps and leftovers. We’ve also found that the local hardware store sells big, expensive bags of cat food. Don’t ask why they sell it, but thankfully they do, as Peanut really seems to enjoy it. He’s not picky, and will eat anything he finds.

Like taking care of anything, having a dog is a big responsibility. He also brings a lot of joy into our lives. But for all the work he causes us, he’s definitely worth it. How can you not smile when you look at that goofy face?

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