Murcielago – Boxer
Murcie is the first dog I owned as an adult. I got Murcie from my boyfriend, Ronnie’s, aunt. She bred boxers for many years and when we started talking about getting a dog, it seemed like a good option. Ronnie had always been fond of the breed and all I knew was that I wanted a “big” dog. It turned out pretty optimal. We got Murcie when I had just graduated school and started my first job as a true Registered Veterinary Technician. It was an optimal time for me to exercise some of the skills that I had learned. I was determined to have a well-behaved, socialized, perfect puppy. Ha. Murcie was as cute as you can imagine a tiny fawn boxer can be. However, she was also as determined as any dog you’ve ever seen in shedding behind her canine ancestors and firmly planting herself into her new human family (or maybe that’s my anthropomorphism at work).
I blame her lack of crate training on myself. This is something that I regret even to this day. Murcie’s intolerance of the crate has done nothing but give me grief at every stage of her life. However, I’ve used it as a learning experience. It was almost impossible to puppy-proof a house against a raging, bored boxer puppy. I can remember one instance specifically where I tried to sequester her in our bathroom while I went to work. I thought I did a good job picking up the trash can and closing the toilet lid. I put her water bowl in there, a couple of toys and something for her to lay on. I thought this was the perfect solution. When I came home from work a short time later, she told me exactly what she thought of my bright idea. The shower curtain had been ripped from the post and lay in tatters around the bathroom. She had found an impossible weakness in the wall-paper and proceeded to tear it away from the wall. The cabinet under the sink was missing some wood off of one of the doors. As if to add insult to injury, she pottied and proceeded to paint her filth all over the walls and floor in delicate little paw prints. I was lucky that she did not swallow anything that might have caused her harm.
End result? Crate training is the way to go! To explain a little further, I did try to crate train. I did not do it in the proper manner, nor was I persistent enough. She would tear up any blanket that we put in there, spill her water, stress and proceed to chew the bars until her teeth bled. At some point I had to make the decision for an alternative.
It wasn’t too long before Murcie started developing some health issues. Mainly soft stool, occasional vomiting and poor body condition (still a puppy, she would not gain weight regardless of how much she ate). Plenty of money and heartache later we found that she had a condition called Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. We did everything short of a biopsy. She was on special diets, antibiotics and other therapies to try and make her feel better. The result of this was that we had to wait to socialize her. While this condition isn’t contagious to other dogs, it took a while for a diagnosis and since we weren’t sure what was causing her problems, we did not want to take any chances with her contracting something from another dog. When she was a close to two years old, we finally found a diet that she could be on that helped her gain some weight and could be given without concurrent medications. It took this long to get her regulated enough so that she was a consistently happy and healthy boxer. Unfortunately, the product of this was an intolerance to other dogs. There were occasional (family/friend) dogs that she would consent to be around, but anything remotely social was out of the question.
It was after her health issues resolved that we decided to get another dog. If anyone knows anything about boxers it is that they possess boundless energy. Unless you are able to devote a significant amount of time to them, it is a pity when these dogs are in single-dog households. We contacted a rescue first, filled out an application, went through the process of a home visit and like any eager parents, went through pictures of potential new dogs. We wanted a dog a little over a year (having another puppy would have been exhausting) that was a male. We were drawn to the white boxers, but any would do. After selected a couple of hopefuls, we took Murcie on a trip to meet them. Much to our horror, embarrassment and sadness, she rejected each and every dog that we flashed in front of her. We tried one-year old jaunty males of differing temperaments and slightly older males. By reject, I mean – did not want to have anything to do with. We tried me in the yard (not my yard, a neutral meeting place) with her, my boyfriend in the yard with her, both of us there and neither one of us there. I was just convinced that if she found a dog that she could relax around, she would love him.* After about an hour of trial and error, all three of us exhausted, we took a break. I did not think her dislike of unknown dogs would extend to a controlled environment where we were picking out a potential sibling for her. As we were taking a break, someone was unloading a crate out of the back of a truck. It had about five fawn puppies squirming over each other to get out. As the door was opened and they tumbled out over each other, there was a distinct change in Murcie. Instead of being indifferent or combative, she stood erect and stared straight at them. They, seeing a potential friend, bounded over. Murcie immediately sunk onto her belly, stretching her neck out to contact the first one. Her little non-existent nub going crazy, she let those puppies crawl all over her, tug on her ears and play with her jowls. This was a clear sign if there ever was one. Unfortunately, the rescue had no available puppies at that time.
We went home empty-handed but with a clear plan. The local mall had a puppy store. I hate puppy stores. I hate what they stand for and how they operate. I always feel so sorry for the puppies staring out from the stacked cages. I’m sure that’s the point. I know I am a complete and total hypocrite, but I like to think that we rescued Enzo from that place.
She acted the same way when we brought him home as she did with the fawn puppies at the rescue. They are the best of friends.
Currently, Murcie’s GI health problems have seemed to settle out. For the longest time I was afraid to change anything for fear that she would start losing weight again. At 7 years old, she looks like a dog half her age. Aside from osteo-arthritis in one of her knees, you can scarcely slow her down. We’ve switched her to a prescription joint diet and as much as I’ve held my breath that she would not tolerate it, she’s doing well and able to gain the therapeutic benefits it has to offer. She still says impolite things about other dogs, and as much as we’d love to change this, no one is perfect.
Due to a cancerous tumor found in her nasal passages, we released Murcie to the rainbow bridge in March of 2013.
In general, she liked to be the center of attention but it was always on her terms. When she liked you, she would let you pet her belly. Otherwise, if she was weary or was still warming up she would grace you with a nose-sniff. When she loved you, she would jump into your lap where the real snuggle time could commence. She was extremely treat motivated and executed her commands with crisp efficiency when there was one to be had. The only time we really saw weakness in her was a Thunderstorm Anxiety she developed when we moved to this house. Her body would quiver and she would huddle by you as though the entire house could come down at any moment. As much as she disliked other dogs, she loved people. Her little non-existent nub would start wagging whenever she saw one that might be inclined to come see her. She was high maintenance, and I loved every minute of the enrichment that she brought to my life.