A fter I retired, I didn’t expect I’d go from one job right to another.
Kane is an Italian Mastiff. This is Kane at 10 weeks old, on one of his first days home last January.
I had no idea what I was in for as a new dog owner. He was a Christmas gift last year from my fiancée, whose family had Mastiffs growing up. I’ve never owned a pet in my life.
Don’t be fooled by his eyes. In his first few weeks home, Kane would look up at me with this suspicious face, like he was trying to say, “Why should I listen to you?”
He was right to be suspicious: I’ve been scared of dogs almost my entire life.
I blame Cujo.
Remember that movie? The one about the killer dog? I watched it when I was young and, man, it terrified me. After that movie, I was not messing with dogs at all. Big dogs, medium dogs, little dogs — it didn’t matter. I saw them all as threats.
I just wasn’t comfortable around animals. My family didn’t have pets when I was growing up and neither did my friends.
During my playing career, I was on the road too often for the idea of owning a dog ever to be realistic. So all I had was my imagination — and when I thought of a dog, all I could think about was being attacked by a St. Bernard.
When I first got Kane, I panicked a little. I’m lying. Actually, I panicked a lot. We had some epic standoffs at the beginning. He was energetic, thought he was king of the house, and I was a nervous owner. Kane would bite and nip and not pay attention to anything I said. My panicking was probably making him panic.
This month, he turns one, and now weighs over 100 pounds. But despite his size, he still tries to sit on my lap. Over the last year, the more we get used to each other, the calmer we’ve both become.
There’s a lot to learn as a new dog owner. As I train him, I’ve also had to be trained. I’ve learned that dogs thrive on routine: regular walks, chasing a ball and lots of sleep. He probably loves to sleep more than anything, which is ironic because I’m getting less sleep than I ever did before.
Discipline is proving difficult. I’m getting better at enforcing his boundaries in the house — where he can and can’t go. He’s mastering most of his commands, but it wasn’t that long ago when he completely ignored me.
When I got Kane, I had just retired from baseball. Now Kane has more of a routine than I do.
Being a “dog owner” is still new to me. A little challenge is probably good. I guess it’s possible to learn new tricks.