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Border Terrier: My Dax

Updated on December 31, 2014

My Bunny Puppy

Dogs are like babies in that everyone thinks theirs is the cutest and no one else cares. I don't care that you don't care. Just look at that face and tell me you don't want to scoop him up and snuggle him. Come with me and I'll introduce you to Dax, a Border Terrier (as in Scotland Borders) that went from the local Santa Cruz animal shelter and into our family.

Even as I sit here typing this out to share my bunny with you he is curled up on my lap softly licking my arm as he drifts off to sleep.

There are few things more glorious than bringing a new baby into the house for the first time; Introducing him to his new atmosphere. Settling where the food and water will always be. Seeing what he likes to eat and what he's afraid of.

Unless you get a shelter dog that's been abused; Then you get a whole other string of drama to deal with.

All Photos by Gina Blanchard, All Rights Reserved.

Coming Home

The unfortunate loss of our last community pet (tumor) left our hearts empty and pained for six months before we decided it was time to bring someone else into the family.

We went to the local Santa Cruz Animal Shelter and the SPCA every day, racing there after work to squeeze in just a moment with all of the puppies. We went to Watsonville and San Jose and attended dog fairs and Pet-A-Thons to no avail. We weren't certain what we were looking for but we were just sure we'd know it when we saw it.

Phillip was the name on his tag when we found him.

"That one. We want to see him play." The shelter had a playpen in the back to see how the dogs interacted with people. We pointed at him and oh! he looked so afraid it was heartbreaking. He skittered to the back of his metal and concrete cage, cornering himself with a whimper and a growl. We were not deterred.

Once outside we felt the first tinges of apprehension; This dog was afraid of us and wouldn't come over. He ran across the yard as far from us as possible and ignored our pleas to interact. We watched. On the other side of the gate someone let a German Shepherd out into the pen. The two dogs ran at each other and were stopped by the partition between. Nonetheless they ran side-by-side and little Phillip hopped excitedly up and down like a bunny.

Watching the way he interacted with the other dog gave us some semblance of hope. It was possible he could be worked on to be made less afraid.. He was, after all, only six months old.

"We will take him home." With those words the decision had been made and the bugger would go home with us. Unfortunately they could not retrieve him; Thing is he had become afraid of everyone except me, nipping and growling at any other fingertips. I scooped him up and held him close, whispering reassurances all the way down the hall towards the front desk.

While they filled out paperwork I made a quick phone call to the other roommate:

"We got a dog."

"Oh yeah? Found one?"

"Yup. He hates guys."


We were two males and one female to the house, after all.

When we got out to the car I opened the door and told Dax to "Hop in". To my amazement he did exactly as I told him to! He curled up in my lap and slept the entire way.

Toys for Babies

Like any good parents of pups we spoil the baby as much as we can. We create reasons to give him things if it's not his birthday or Christmas just so we can see him get excited all over again.

We even take him to the store so that he can choose his own toys. He still has the first toy he picked out - a Squirrel with a replaceable squeaker and a tail that feels uncomfortably like my hair.

These are the toys in Dax's Toy Box

PetSafe Pogo shapes/cages come in small and large. We got the spider in both sizes; we named the large one Charlotte and she is one of his favorites. Nellie is the other one. The white PogoPlus puff we couldn't name anything other than big fluffy white thing but he likes it just as well.

Though we could get away with just the plushes we break routine with things like small tennis balls and HuggleHounds Knotties (but he always goes back to the Pogo).

In our household the term "Go get Charlotte" inspires our rescue puppy to tear eagerly across the carpet, diving for wherever he has hidden this Spider toy. Like Justin (see below), Charlotte is a favorite toy for not only him but for his human parents as well.

It has no stuffing. This is the most important part of choosing toys; our dog is neurotic and has to eat balls of hair from time to time so a toy loaded with cotton or otherwise is simply a dangerous buffet for his gut. We wouldn't come home to a mess; we would come home to a sick dog.

He cannot PULVERIZE the squeaker in the first few minutes. You know what I mean. Squeak, squeak, sq-click, click, click. As many of you likely know, the loss of sound is usually the loss of interest in a toy that would have otherwise lasted. This squeaker is protected by a rubber cage that resists the bite down just enough to save the noisemaker while still letting him make that joyous sound!

We spoil our dog to absolutely rotten. We let him go to the store and choose his own toys (not even kidding), but these ones were chosen based on what we thought he should have instead of what he kept going back for.

In the beginning of his stay with us we couldn't keep a toy for more than a few days without needing a replacement. Once we switched to these Pet Safe Pogo Plush products, we had toys that would last our terrier six months and no less (he gets one for his birthday and one for Christmas to replace the old one.).

Now Charlotte, Justin and White Poof are his three favorite toys! For some reason, these also inspire tossing (I thought it was only our dog but others have said the same!) so expect to see your dog hurl his toy into the air and catch it without your help!

Second thoughts...

While Dax and I were the very best of friends from the get-go my roommate who was his daddy was starting to think this was all a bad choice. You see, when he walked Dax the puppy would run from him thinking he was chasing him but he could not escape because of the leash. He'd yelp and scream and tremble and growl. Oh how he hated men!

We did what anyone would do when they've just brought home a clearly traumatized puppy from the shelter - we overwhelmed him with love. He would curl up in the corner and tremble or hide in the strands of my hair, buried deep and trying to burrow deeper. He would stand up on my shoulders and bark past me towards anyone in the vicinity. It did good things for my ego but it wasn't going to work for the household.

We started a strict routine - Only daddy (the roomy) could give him treats when he took him places or when he did a trick. Only daddy walked him and brought him home toys and put food in his bowl. Needless to say the 'don't bite the hand that feeds you' trick also worked on this babe; Oh, and serious amounts of patience. Shelter dogs are sketchy to say the least.

We're certain the bugger was abused by a guy from the way he behaved. When first we brought him home he also sought out leaves to eat - something that has really only fixed itself in the last year or so.

Obviously things worked out because now we have a roomful of toys and he sleeps in Daddy's bed with him.

In fact, over time Dax has become perhaps too comfortable in our place. Although we knew he had a bit of an aggressive side from the get-go we weren't ready for it. At some point we realized if we invited people over to our house there was about a 50% chance they were going to leave with a torn pants-leg and a bit of blood or a bruise at best.

We were lucky he wasn't taken away from us

Instead of actually fixing it (we tried so much!) we ended up settling at this is just the way he is and we will just not invite people over. Sort of an Enter at your own Risk thing only allotted to good friends that we plan on keeping around.

In the meantime we have the memory of him leaping mouth first from over the top of the couch and right into a friends girlfriends breast (oh he drew blood) as we were MEETING HER. Really it's not just the humiliation of seeing her exposed in front of all of us before knowing her name but the fear that someone might report us if he crosses the line.

He also has bitten a camera man, a food truck operator, a sleazebag and a vent cleaner.



Petsafe Pogo Plush Beaver Dog Toy, Small
Petsafe Pogo Plush Beaver Dog Toy, Small

Justin Beaver he thrusts about the room wildly tearing and growling. This guy gets hidden a lot by Dax; He's a favorite in the realm of aggressive.


Friends of Dogs

Days at the beach with Patton are his favorite, though Jez coming over and snuggling after play time comes in at a close second. For all of the dogs in the world he wouldn't trade them in for his people though!

He's Allergic to Everything Except Chocolate

"Why is he rubbing his face on the carpet?"

"Maybe he's picking up or rubbing off a scent..."

"He's been doing it between licking the carpet for some time."

The conversation was between Tod (roommate) and I while we watched the dog alternate between biting himself, licking his back right at the top of his tail and licking long strokes into the carpet.

"I dunno. Maybe he just likes the way it feels..."

There didn't seem to be any reason to be concerned at the time. We were already used to dealing with the erratic behavior and leaf eating and boob-biting. We were used to him biting the groomer ("We can't do it. He bites. Here's your money back.") and growling under the porch at the neighbor and climbing as high as possible to be angry at things.

What was one more thing?

We gave him a bath thinking it would help. Maybe he just had dry skin.

It got worse!

In fact one morning we came out and he had stripped the hair from the base of his tail and left scab in its place. Poor baby!

So we took him to the vet.

Turns out our dog is allergic to everything. Not in the "can't give him that" sort of way regarding one or two items; He is allergic to dust, eggs, most meats and whatever he was being shampooed with. We cannot give him human food at all (thismakesmesosad!) which is probably better in the world of dogs anyway.

He did get into an entire bag of Snickers and a 8oz Dark-Dark-Dark chocolate bar. I'll tell you, reader, I stayed up half the night holding him and being convinced his heart was beating faster. He played, fell asleep and woke up in just as good a mood the next day. I was convinced I had killed him by leaving the chocolate out.

Phew. Talk about getting LUCKY.

Virbac Allergroom Shampoo 16-Ounce
Virbac Allergroom Shampoo 16-Ounce

This stuff is evil for the sheer fact that you have to put it on for 10 minutes while they stand there trembling and soaked. Then when you feel like a total monster - you have to repeat that!


He's A Lazy Dog

Sometimes Dax doesn't roll out of bed until almost 11am. Sometimes it's because we're dragging his butt out to pee. He likes the warmth of the covers. He burrows into things (including clothing) to make himself a puppy nest.

Age old argument

Cats or Dogs? Dogs or Cats?

See results

A Stinky Adventure

"What's wrong with Dax?" I asked.

He had just leapt from the car and dove into the bushes only to return by dragging his face along the asphalt. It looked painful! He ran from us towards the house, up the stairs and into the livingroom.

"Smells like a skunk just sprayed outside..." The roommate said it as he walked in, jerking his thumb over his shoulder. Dax continued to rub his face into the carpet for a good fifteen seconds before we realized the truth...

"DAX got Sprayed. It's HIM that smell is coming from!"

Him and our carpet. Our house. Everything seemed to suddenly be emanating the eye-burning toxins in a wave. I ripped my laptop open and googled:


As it turns out it doesn't actually stop a dog from messing with them; Lots of people had stories of multiple dog-skunkings.

It took us two baths of dishwashing soap, peroxide and baking soda to even start to remove the smell. We saged the house with vinegar to remove the scent of skunk (don't forget you then get left with the smell of vinegar instead).

The smell was out of the inside of his ears two weeks later. So far so good on the skunk frontier - we've yet to get skunked again.

Racoons on the other hand....

More Puppy Pictures

He's very tolerant of my mildly annoying him, following him around to tickle his belly and take pictures and videos of him.

Sometimes I accidentally leave the flash on and feel like a total jerk.

How to De Skunk your dog

For all of the fancy skunk-scent removers I've seen and used in this world the tried and true test came down to these fellows right here. Most of you even already have them in your cabinet.

Pour it on, rub it in, rinse it off and your dog should be sparkling and sent free (get inside those ears!).

Hydrogen Peroxide Antiseptic Solution 16 Oz (Pack of 3)
Hydrogen Peroxide Antiseptic Solution 16 Oz (Pack of 3)

That's a QUART of hydrogen peroxide, a teaspoon of dawn dishwashing liquid, and a quarter cup of baking soda!


Got some puppy news?

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    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 4 years ago from New York City

      Great expression of animal love. Thanks for sharing.

    • darkflowers profile image

      Anja Toetenel 4 years ago from The Hague, the Netherlands

      I have a Border Terrier too! They have a strong will and a mind of their own! Be careful with chocolate, this can be poison to dogs, lots of dogs died from eating chocolate. My Border Terrier (Shiva) loves it too and was already rushed to the Vet a few years ago... Make sure your Dax gets enough exercise, especially Terrier dogs need a LOT of it! If they don't they can become so frustrated which results in dominant behaviour, biting issues, etc. These type of dogs need a 'job' :) I wish you a lot of more happy years with Dax!

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      Nope, but I certainly enjoyed yours:)

    • AntonioM23 profile image

      AntonioM23 4 years ago

      Great lens I enjoyed reading through

    • LauraHofman profile image

      Laura Hofman 4 years ago from Naperville, IL

      Dax is so cute! Thanks for sharing your story. He's lucky to have found you.

    • profile image

      jennabeezer 4 years ago

      Our German Shepherd dog never learns...She stirs up skunks on purpose and then sulks in her doghouse looking incredulous. If we open the front door or a window after this whole fiasco, we can smell that skunk-stink in the basement for hours. It's that potent! Thanks for the tips on removing the smell. Enjoyed this!

    • FrancesWrites profile image

      FrancesWrites 4 years ago

      I cannot begin to imagine how bad a skunked dog would smell! It's a funny story, but not if it's your dog, I guess!