It is a warm spring day. I am in my favorite spot on the front porch, the wicker swing. Carly, our miniature American Eskimo Dog, lies on the top step surveying passersby. She looks quite regal, queen guardian of our home. People, dogs pass by-- she acknowledges them with a mere glance. We have an understanding. She stays on the porch... she can be out as much as she wants. Visitors are amazed that she doesnít run off, but Iím not. She aims to please; and I am clear with my expectations. We have a good relationship.

We adopted Carly in November 2000. At first it was not easy. She had been found wandering the streets of Manhattan. It is thought that a man abused her. Consequently, my six foot four, Type A husband didnít connect with her so well at first, though he certainly tried. We also had to deal with house-training issues such as submissive urination, and understanding that the whole house was the ďdenĒ, not just the downstairs. Fortunately, with the advice of this organization and information we found on the Internet about dog training, we worked out the glitches.

In general she transitioned much better with my two children. Sean, age ten, quickly took part in her care--for instance, letting her out of her crate after school before we come home. Aubrey, age seven, initially had trouble with Carly sometimes because Carly seemed to see the hierarchy of the family as my husband and I, then Sean, then Carly, then Aubrey. Carly would give Aubrey warnings with growls and nips. Aubrey didnít have it in her to speak firmly to Carly and assert her place. So we started having Aubrey feed Carly every night. Aubrey goes out of a door before Carly is allowed to, and this has made a big difference. Carly is a wonderful dog for children in that she loves to run and play. She also loves to be cuddled.

At this point, six months later, Carly is completely housetrained and no longer requires crating. She has plenty of chew toys so chewing our things is not a problem. The only challenge still is when we have visitors: American Eskimos are alert dogs by nature, and Carly is no exception. After barking repeatedly she will quiet down; but even frequent visitors rarely are able to pet her, unless they are children. I donít fully trust this type of situation yet so I am very cautious. I have every confidence that this issue will eventually resolve. I like being alerted to someone being at our door, but I donít want visitors to feel threatened once I allow them in.

Would we do this again? I believe we would. She is wonderful company for me when I am home alone; the children adore their new playmate; and my husband has plans to make Carly into a ďFrisbee dogĒ (directions found on the Internet!) since she is such an excellent jumper. We are now a family of five!