Look Out Hedgehog, There’s a New Hedgehog in Town

Our dog Ellie playing with her baby hedgehog toy in the backyard of our house in Portland, Oregon on August 31, 2009. Original: _MG_6280.cr2

We bought first one hedgehog, then another, but never bothered to check if they were male or female. And so it came to pass that we now have four hedgehogs, the two adults plus two new babies.

One of the babies is stretched out like a dachshund, which is not so much a natural condition in hedgehogs as much as a result of what happens when a 70 lb. dog is constantly chomping down on you. The other hedgehog is normally shaped, just smaller than the adults, and is Ellie’s new favorite to the point that she won’t play with the others. The baby hedgehog fits more easily in her mouth, allowing her to squeak it mercilessly without interrupting her play.

A Question for You Ellie

Our dog Ellie rests her head on her stuffed hedgehog dog toy

Ellie you say that hedgehog loves you as evidenced by how often it stays with you, but would it stay if you weren’t chomping on its head?

Our dog Ellie looks at me with seemingly sad puppy dog eyes as she plays with her stuffed hedgehog dog toy

I’m sorry Ellie, I’m sorry! Of course hedgehog loves you, it does it does. Please don’t look at me with those sad puppy-dog eyes!

Our dog Ellie plays with her stuffed hedgehog dog toy as it falls across her front leg

There’s my happy girl! That’s better … wait, Ellie, why is hedgehog running away?

Free Range Ellies

Our dog Ellie lays on the hardwood floor while squeaking her hedgehog

We’ve made some big progress on the Ellie front over the past couple of weeks — we’ve started giving her occasional free reign in the off-leash section of the park just a hop-skip-and-jump from our home. We leave her leash attached to make it easier to corral her when necessary, as she sometimes gets rather excited and her ears stop working. For a dog her size, she runs really fast and can overwhelm smaller dogs or run into stationary dogs or people.

But it’s still a big step forward, it wasn’t that long ago that we weren’t sure she’d ever be allowed off-leash, even for a moment. She got loose once in the early days and had no concept of the danger of streets or cars, and wasn’t coming back when called. We’ve been working hard on her stopping and waiting for permission to cross the street, and on her learning to heel and to come. She’s gotten good enough (when treats are proffered, of course) that we let her have some play time when we’re comfortable with the other dogs (and owners) who are around.

Trouble, 12 O’Clock High

Our dog Ellie looks up while playing with her stuffed hedgehog dog toy

“I see you up there little hawk and I’m sure you’re mighty hungry, but know this: you come for my hedgehog, you come for me. My name is Ellie!”

This picture is for my wife who loves Ellie’s soft, floppy ears. I forget what drew Ellie to attention, probably a bird outside or little Sam jumping onto the windowsill, but for a split second she raised her head (and ears) before resuming the serious business of squeaking her hedgehog.

I love this dog.