By David Kaufer
Because life wasn’t chaotic enough raising 5-year-old twin boys (with one on the autism spectrum) while working full-time, my wife Renee and I decided to add a puppy to the mix last December. Yes, we ARE gluttons for punishment. I blogged earlier about Brodie joining our family, as well as our experience with our first two dogs. And now we’re six months into the transition and while it’s gone mostly smooth, it’s definitely been an adjustment for all involved.
Stone and Brodie have bonded especially well – here they’re hanging out in our bedroom while Ty takes a bath
Now Brodie is getting BIG! Because he was a rescue as a puppy, we really have no idea just how big he’s going to be by the time he’s finished growing. We think he is a Taiwan Formosan Mountain Dog but he’s already bigger – and weighs more – than a typical dog of this breed (at least according to Wikipedia). Being the good parents we are, we took him to the vet and had him neutered two weeks ago – and he weighed in at 38 pounds.
What’s been most interesting is watching the relationships build between Brodie and the twins – especially Stone. Because Ty can be a bit passive, Brodie has unfortunately taken advantage of that personality trait and has wreaked havoc with him at times with his playful (and not-so-playful) biting and jumping. We’re continuously working with Ty to try to get him to be more assertive with Brodie and he has improved dramatically from the early days. And despite their daily battles, Ty has bonded with Brodie and enjoys playing with him. And truth be told, probably 50 percent of the time we find Brodie “attacking” Ty, it’s because Ty has instigated it somehow.
Brodie has a completely different relationship with Stone. From the beginning, Stone had no problem putting (and keeping) Brodie in his place. If Brodie tried to jump on Stone, he simply pushed him down and off. There was no fuss, no yelling or crying, he just dealt with him on his own. And Brodie quickly learned to respect Stone – so he (mostly) stopped jumping on and biting him. As the weather has gradually improved, the two of them have been spending a lot of time together in our backyard. Stone has always loved playing back there by himself – no matter the weather. But with fewer soggy days and longer evenings, we’ve let him play back there more – and Brodie is his constant companion.
One of the characteristics common with autism is the lack of interaction with others. But what’s interesting is we’ve seen Stone really improve in this area – and I think Brodie has helped. The two of them play and hang out together a lot – sometimes chasing each other. Brodie loves to bite Stone’s pants and try to pull them off. He’s been successful a few times and it’s actually bothered Renee and I more than Stone. He has even started throwing the ball for Brodie with me when we’ve played fetch. It’s really fun and encouraging to see him having fun with his own buddy.
There is still lots of work we need to do to train Brodie (and the twins), but having a dog in our lives again has been very rewarding. At least that’s what I keep reminding Renee whenever we find Brodie chewing up and destroying yet another toy.
David Kaufer is a fun-loving Super Dad of 5-year-old twin sons, an insane Oregon Ducks fanatic (follow him on Twitter @DavidKaufer), advocate for green/sustainability and autism issues, and connoisseur of Northwest microbrews. He and his wife Renee moved to Edmonds in 2005 to raise their family (and enjoy the gorgeous views).