Meet Penny! – Oh My Dog!

Meet Penny, this pretty girl:

In the foreground, a white arm with a black watch band reaches forward to stroke the chin of Penny, a white Catahoula leopard dog with a pink and brown freckled nose, one open blue eye, and one closed eye. Her ears hang down along her head and both have injuries on the tips. The background is blurred to obscure the permanent mess of the kitchen shelves behind Penny.

If we’re connected on Instagram, you’ve already briefly met this lovely lady. But, I’d like to formally introduce her and share her story with you!

But, first, a truth: I did not expect to be introducing a dog to you today. In fact, I planned–and still do plan–to write two posts about pet loss and grief, one specific to kids losing a pet and one specific to a cat losing a dog best friend. Those posts will still come because I think they’re valuable. And, also, I didn’t expect to adopt a new dog until the spring.

Why the spring? Well, I thought housetraining in the winter would be a giant pain. Also, John tore his labrum (shoulder cartilage… I think?) and needed to have a pretty significant surgery the week between Christmas and New Year’s. I figured on top of our regular crazy life, plus his recovery (no driving for him for a month!!!), it wasn’t the right time for a dog.

And the universe laughed.

And delivered us Penny.

Penny, the Catahoula leopard dog, with a mostly white coat and a smattering of brown spots on her hind end, reclines on a gray poof with a cream, red, and green knit blanket on top.

10 facts about Penny:

  1. She had a LONG journey to our house. Confiscated from a hoarding situation in Alabama, she was bumped to an overcrowded shelter. Then, a private rescue picked her (and one of her puppies) up, then she was moved to a foster who wasn’t able to care for her, so she was sent to another rescue and another foster, and then–finally–to our family.
  2. Because of her background, she’s a timid and fearful lady. We have a LOT of skill-building to work on with her!
  3. Penny is bilaterally deaf (deaf in both ears) and unilaterally blind (blind in her right eye).
  4. She cannot get enough affection. Like, if you stop patting her to take a sip of our coffee, she nuzzles you until you get back to it. She wants to climb all the way into your lap or push against your hip or lean on your shoulder at. all. times.
  5. Penny is scared of Newt and Ripley and gives them a WIDE berth. Which is good. It will help them trust her faster, I think.
  6. At her first visit to our vet, she was the most popular girl in the place! She soaked up all the attention, and ended up with a mostly-clean bill of health. She has hookworms (blech) and a piece of debris in her side the vet thinks is a bb (grrr) but otherwise she’s in great shape.
  7. Sweet Penny doesn’t have the ability to walk from room to room yet. Why? No idea! She’s too scared to enter the kitchen at all, and she absolutely will not walk upstairs. We had a HUGE win when she started walking from the bedroom to the living room on her own. Still, she presses up against the wall and skitters between those rooms. In the meantime, I just carry her everywhere. She’ll get it, and luckily I have tons of patience (for animals)! 🙂
  8. After her first week with us, Penny became confident enough to run around the yard, and she is now a professional at zoomies! She has yet to play with a toy, though, so we’re slowly helping her learn how to dog.
  9. She’s listed as a Catahoula leopard dog–a breed I know nothing about but am enjoying learning! That said, I’m going to DNA test her. Has anyone done one recently? Is there a preferred brand these days? I haven’t done one since I did the Wisdom Panel with Cooper and Lucas so would love any insights!
  10. She’s mostly white with a smattering of brown spots, including one heart-shaped spot on her hip.
A closeup of the back right hip of Penny, the Catahoula leopard dog. Her coat is mostly white except a scattering of brown spots across her back end. This closeup shows one large heart-shaped spot in the middle of several brown splotches.

As you may already know, our family is learning ASL already–our daughter, Astrid, was born hard-of-hearing and attends a sign-immersive preschool program at our state’s Deaf school, so we already have a solid background. That said, this is a whole new challenge for me as a lifelong clicker trainer! I need to build new skills as I help Penny along! I got a great referral for a local trainer to work with, and I’m following these videos on YouTube.

I’ll have much more to share, of course, as we get to know Penny and go on this new journey together. I’ve always written about topics related to what I’m going through with my own dogs. That’s what started this blog and how I plan to continue. So, while I covered therapy dog work with Emmett, reactive dog training with Lucas and Cooper, pit bull advocacy, and so much more specific to them, with pretty Penny, I have so much more to learn and share. Some topics off the top of my head that I’ll be covering: the double merle gene that causes these dogs to be deaf or blind, training a deaf dog, training a partially-sighted dog, her breed info, and more.

What would YOU like to know about Penny or what general dog topics would you like to chat about in 2024? I’d love to know what you’re thinking about and what you’d like to discuss!

In the meantime, let’s connect on Instagram! I’m sharing gobs and gobs of Penny pics there and will chronicle her journey more regularly in that space!

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