Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Substitute Dog

If you can't or don't have a dog, a rabbit is a good substitute. And if you have a rabbit like Oreo, you have a fine rabbit and a good friend.

  Having puppies is a lot like having small children around the house. Daisy and Baxter wake up at all hours of the night and you need to make sure they go potty in the right place and then try to entertain them and tire them out so they will take a nap. So far Kathy and I are handling things OK. The dogs stay in the kitchen all day and go upstairs at night. Kathy is a professional teacher and a top notch one. Both our sons knew how to read and add and multiply before preschool and she taught Ben to play chess. I taught Matt to play, but Ben beat me first despite being 3 years younger. After only 2 days, Kathy has gotten the puppies to make their pee-pee on the ‘OUT Training pad’ almost 100 percent of the time. #2 has proven to be another matter, but I think they don’t want to stand on the #1 pad so we will get another training pad today. We used newspapers with the other dogs, but the OUT training pads have worked even better than advertised, which is a rare thing in this modern world.

  The cats have quickly gotten used to the new puppies. They all joined the household when we had dogs so they are used to dogs, if not the manic activity of these new puppies. I was very worried about our rabbit Oreo. We had a small black rabbit named Buster before we had dogs. Buster used to run around our apartment in New Jersey and had a potty box he used. He moved with us to Iowa and was happy, but when we got Queenie, he was frightened of her and stayed in his cage whenever she was around. When Buster passed away, we didn’t have a rabbit for a couple of years until our neighbors were moving and gave us their brown and white Dutch rabbit, Pogo. Pogo was pretty mellow and the dogs were mature at this point so they all got along. 2 years ago, Pogo passed away and Kathy bought Oreo, a black and white Dutch rabbit. Oreo got along good with Queenie and Tuffy and when we came downstairs for our morning walk, I’d let Oreo out of his cage. I’d spend a few minutes petting the dogs and Oreo would hop over to get petted also. When I’d make my sandwiches to take to work, Queenie, Tuffy, and Sneezy the cat would scrounge for some scraps of cold cuts, and Oreo would hang out by my feet to get a piece of bread.

  When the dogs passed away, I’d still go downstairs in the morning to let Oreo out his cage and he would still come over for pets. When I’d open the refrigerator, he’d start to run around my feet, hoping for a piece of carrot. I enjoyed his attention and companionship and it made me miss my dogs a little less. He couldn’t be a replacement for my dogs, but he was an excellent substitute. I’ve even taken Oreo out to the living room to sit on my lap while I watched TV. He likes it as long as I pet him, but as soon as I stop, he’ll get bored and try to dig a nest in my stomach. Oreo likes to explore the rest of the house and will sneak out of the kitchen if the door is left open. Normally he runs upstairs and hides under our bed, but other times he found some papers or wires to chew. I’ve had to replace more than one plug because of him. I get really upset when that happens, but that’s just part of having animals. There is sometimes a little bit of bad to offset the good.

  Initially, Oreo was scared of the pups, but now if they try get too playful or nibble at him, he charges them enough to make them back off and he has pretty much claimed half of the kitchen as his territory. I’m glad to see Oreo sticking up for himself. He was a great substitute dog and he has way to much personality to live his life scared of some beagles.

Oreo in Action