Warning: this is a long post. Definitely get a cup of coffee while reading this! 🙂
So to be honest, I didnt see myself as a puppy owner. The only animals I was potentially interested in getting were animal statues for the garden.
I definitely did not want a puppy. Between my daughters and myself there’s a lot of hair to be vacuumed up as is. I also wanted to avoid this specific situation. I mean my money is in my shoes!
But my husband who never asks for anything wanted a dog. And of course so did the kids. I caved about a year ago and did some research what type of dog would be a good fit for us. There’s tests you can take online, they ask what your living situation is and how active you are etc. Apparently my ideal dog would be one of the tiny puppies that Paris Hilton etc carried around in their purses. Um, no thanks. I want a dog that looks like a dog damn it. Also I’d like a dog that is healthy, medium sized, good tempered and loyal, doesn’t shed, good guard dog and lives a long life. The internet suggested a breed I had never even heard of – Black Mouth Cur, a title character from “Old Yeller.” Dependable and hardy, Curs were used by pioneers down South to herd cattle, hunt wild boar and guard property.
All right. Let’s do it. I wanted to adopt rather than buy and I wanted to get a puppy as I knew how hard it would be to retrain an older dog more set in its ways. I also wanted a puppy so he or she wouldn’t die when girls leave for college.
I found a puppy we all loved, submitted an application along with references and sort of expected a dog to be ready for pick up in a week or so. Wrong. A month later I was told that puppy had been given to someone else. We were sad and upset. I tried again, several weeks later, after multiple inquires, I finally got a call saying our cat was ready. Cat? And so it went. I learned that most if not all rescues are run by volunteers and attention to details is a little lacking. Our papers got misplaced, dogs were promised to others – whoever had submitted an application earlier gets first dibs so to say. It was really really frustrating. I filed one application after another, set up a vet account without actually having had an animal, and my poor friends had to testify a few times whether or not we would be good dog owners. I took a break and few months later decided to try one last time. Rescue Dogs Rock NYC had a litter of black mouth curs in. I sent in my application and promptly got a call back. This is how it went down and it was not easy.
– initial phone interview: Lindsay from Rescue Dogs was very sweet and patiently listened to my complaints about the process. After our interview, she called both the vet and my references.
– virtual home tour: we Facetimed with the lady who wanted to meet the entire family and then I had to walk her through our entire house including the unfinished part of the basement and garden. I said something like this is overkill but she said they see it all the time that people lie about their property.
– we were approved! I was given foster’s contact info who was the sweetest woman but sort of interviewed me on her own. What I didnt realize what that this family in Connecticut had taken in mom Sadie, only surviving daughter from first litter Rosie and ten 5 week puppies! And she had grown attached to all these puppies and wanted to make sure they go to good homes.
– we drive to meet the puppies and pick ours out. Normally you pick before but since there were several still available, I asked if we could go see which one we love the most. I liked the one called Storm, huge puppy who promptly tore into my UGG boots, so he was out. Melanie loved Sailor, the shiest and most timid one who wanted to get as far away from us. We picked Sailor of course and ironically he loves to shred the same UGG boots.
– in person home visit: since they expedited our process so we wouldnt miss out on the puppies, we were told in person home interview will take place post adoption. All family had to be present, she checked most rooms, talked to children, made sure the dog had suitable sleeping arrangement etc and that was that. I also talk to a woman from adoption agency called Stephanie who offers online support and sort of keeps an eye on things. All her family work as cops in NYC so you want to say all the right things. 🙂
I had researched this to death and thought I was pretty knowledgeable. I wasn’t. Everyone gave well meaning advice but lot of it was contradictory and it was confusing. I received handouts from the rescue but it wasn’t puppy specific. For example, it said to take the dog out for a 10 min walk before taking him in the house when we arrive. Sailor was terrified and at 3 months not quite able to walk 10 min.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Puppies are like newborns, super cute but will need to be potty trained. They will need to sleep in the same room with you and be taken out to potty a few times through the night. That part was rough. We got him at Thanksgiving and by Christmas he was sleeping in the living room crate and slept through the night.
2. They will eat SO much in the beginning as they are growing rapidly. It slows down from 3 to 2 meals after the first 6 months.
3. Puppies have super sharp teeth and love to bite and chew. Your children shouldn’t lay down with puppies face to face or cuddle with them unsupervised. Puppies will view them as litter mates and they will bite because that’s how they play.
4. Puppy shouldn’t have free rein in the house, only when supervised and other times need to be in the playpen (like babies) or crate. They can’t be left alone longer than 2 hours at first and when you leave they must be securely in the crate not the pen.
5. Yelling or punishing doesn’t work. The corrective behavior should be redirecting (don’t chew on this, here’s your chew toy), crate and treat training. I highly highly recommend enrolling in the puppy training class. The earlier the better. 6 weeks to 6 months is the age where any bad experience (fear imprint) will leave a mark but they also take in all the training. 6-9 months are the teenage years for puppies, so it’ll be much challenging to start training then.
6. Educate your family and friends that the right way to pet a pet is not by shoving your hand in his face and it is definitely not touching his head! You need to ask if you may pet the puppy and then pet the body of a dog, NOT the face. I can’t tell you how many times I have had kids jump over and quickly touch his face. Startles me let alone the dog.
7. Most adoptees get returned in the first few months when the cute puppy stage wears off and they start barking and chewing etc. Be aware that there’ll be some challenging times like with children and you need to properly train your dog and it’s no fun. For a dog to retain a command, it must be repeated 2000 times. Again, exactly like with children.
I am glad we adopted. Sailor was extremely skittish and nervous, he has come a long way but it’s been a lot of work. As a herding dog he needs a lot of exercise, much more than I would prefer! Especially when it’s cold. I feel safer in the house as no-one can get near without him knowing about it. I love seeing girls cuddle with him and my husband play tug of war after work. And if deer stay away from my roses because of Sailor – awesome. Of course, I need to get Sailor to stay away from roses also. 🙂