This is our new baby, Max. He’s a Siberian Husky, around 11 months old, and we adopted him from a local animal shelter, Wayside Waifs.
Alex and I met him Saturday without telling the kids. Max has juvenile cataracts, which means his vision is impaired, and he wasn’t recommended for a home with small children. We were concerned about taking on a dog with a vision problem, so we wanted to check him out on our own. While we visited with him, we could see that he has adapted quite well to his vision, and he had no problem seeing us, the treats in our hand, or the ball we threw for him.
The vet at the shelter said he didn’t think Max would ever need cataract surgery, though it was something we could opt for if we thought it necessary, which supported the research I had done. Huskies are prone to eye problems, especially cataracts, but juvenile cataracts are different in that they often don’t progress over time and the dog can live quite happily as he is. That eliminated my concern about his health, and I was excited for him to meet the kids.
We made sure to talk to the kids beforehand about his vision, stressing that they would have to make sure not to startle him or come up to him from behind. We were told he had food aggression, so we talked about that too, and how we’d have to keep him separate during meals and have an adult feed him. We talked about his “mouthiness”, which is just him wanting to latch onto things with his jaw and play. As a result, our son, who is smaller and only 10, was a little tentative and hesitant, but couldn’t help but be charmed by Max. Our daughter was in love at first sight. The meeting was smooth sailing, and before long we were all smooshed in the car heading home. I sat in the backseat with my son and Max, and Max had no qualms about sitting, leaning, and laying on me. We also learned that he gives doggie kisses.
It took very little time for Max to adjust. His vision seems to be keeping him from going upstairs inside, but the stairs leading to the yard are no problem at all. A quick trip to the store meant he had new toys, and his favorites are the tennis balls. He’s perfectly content to throw it around and chase it all by himself, though the kids like it when he lets them play too. He’s got a nice backyard with plenty of room, and seemed thrilled when he caught the scent of a mole in the dirt!
Dinnertime was a sweet surprise: we put his food out while we had dinner, and he displayed no aggression whatsoever. He nibbled at his food, then came and watched us intently, but didn’t try to steal any bites and remained calm and civil. He’s more of a beggar than some people might like, but I can work with it, especially since it’s so much better than I expected.
We took him for a walk after dinner, hoping to make sure he was worn out for his first night in a new home, and again he behaved better than expected. He didn’t pull excessively and he didn’t bolt after the squirrels or bark at the other dogs. It’s really amazing how quickly he’s adjusted to being with us, and vice versa. He seems so happy to have a yard, and kids to play with, and people to love. I think he was just waiting for a family who understood him, and I’m so glad we’re that family.