Friday, August 24, 2007

The Quest for a Puppy

(We've bought a puppy. He's the grey/brown runt in the middle.)

We’ve been thinking about getting a puppy. Kind of a “hole in the head” deal, I know, but my daughter has been asking for a pet. We have a cat, and cats are great, but they do their own things and do not enjoy being dressed up in pretty bows and sweaters. Ever since my sister got a Maltese for her family, my little one has been begging and we have continued to deny.

We’ve not good luck with dogs. The first time we rescued a stray Basset. He had been tied up to a tree in a field on a farm. His skin felt like sandpaper from all the ticks. He needed an immediate home and we gave it a shot. Why not? Good G … oh my … for the Love of Pete that dog stunk. We gave him oatmeal baths and he smelled like fresh stink. It was awful. You could hardly pet him without having to wash. He wasn’t a good fit. So we gave him to the Basset Rescue.

We did some research and filled out some breed selectors on the Internet. A Whippet continued to land high on the list of breeds for us. We called the Whippet Rescue and they had a dog ready. He was a perfect dog, they assured us. The lied. He urinated everywhere, especially on my daughter’s toys. I took him outside and he would hold it, then come back in and pee on her toys.

We are inexperienced dog people. The rescue knew that. We are not used to training any dog, especially a dog with a serious emotional disorder. We called them about his urinating and asked for help. They mailed me a potty band. If you have a dog that insists on going in the house, then you put a woman’s maxi pad on the band and wrap the band around his belly, covering his digit. When he urinates, it wets the maxi and keeps him wet. They assured me that he would not like it and would soon stop going. Again, they lied.

This dog would pee in his band and not care a bit. I was at a loss of what to do. We figured our next step was doggy school. Remember that he was an adult by the time we got him. Then it happened. One day he attacked my daughter, pushed her to the floor, got on top of her and bit her on the chest, drawing blood. My wife saw the entire incident and she states that it was an unprovoked attack. Had she ran over his tail or something like that, we would have felt different.

That was it for me. I was done. You can’t pin my daughter down and draw blood. Had I been an experienced dog trainer, I may have known what to do and been able to help this poor beast. I wasn’t. I called the rescue and they came to get him. Here’s the kicker: When they picked him up they told us that we were his third family. The last family threatened to put a bullet in his head if the rescue didn’t pick him back up that same day! That would have been helpful information before we agreed to take him.

That’s when we got a cat and put all this dog business behind us. Then my damned sister had to go and get a toy dog. This Maltese is the runt of her litter and weighs about three pounds. She is a tiny thing. They take her everywhere and dress her up. It’s like a living, breathing doll. You can see why my 7-year-old is frothing at the mouth for one of her own.

We’ve been back on the dog search. This time we searched for toy dogs using various breed selectors on the Internet. There are some really cute and cuddlies out there my friends: Maltese, Bichon, Yorkshire Terriers, Havanese, Japanese Chin and the like. What is a fella to do? Some of these dogs are really – really – expensive. Then you run into the problems of puppy mills and bad breeders and that kind of stuff. Some folks, like my buds Paul and Linda, prefer to get animals from sources other than breeders. Me, I’ve had my fill of the Division of Family Services (DFS) for dogs. Not had good luck there.

Then we found the right little guy. This Bishonki, a mixture of a Bishon and a Yorki, he is the runt of the litter weighing in at a whopping two pounds. He is adorable and a bit spunky. We went to the breeder’s home and met him and his parents. He and all the other dogs are well cared for. Despite the fact that there are two dozen or so dogs in the home, it did not smell of dog. I don’t know how, but it did not (and I have a pretty sensitive sniffer.)

He turned and spun, chewed and played then went to sleep in my baby’s lap. The best part of it all, the thing that really makes us feel sure, is that the breeder has offered to help train us in dog speak and to teach us how to help raise a good citizen-dog. She even demonstrated some techniques that night. If we run into problems with him, bad behaviors and such, all it takes is one call and we can send the pup back to her for boot camp to break the bad habit. And I guess we also get our own train-the-trainer boot camp, which is good for new dog owners.

It’s a done deal. We bought him and he is ready to come home. The breeder won’t let him come home until our kitchen remodel is finished. We have food in boxes in the family room so we can eat while the kitchen is being worked on. I can just imagine what a puppy would do with all that food. Hopefully he will come home late next week. All that is left is for us to go to the pet store and make our home puppy-ready.

We’ve been working on names. We’ve decided to let the 7-year-old name him. She did a great job naming the cat. So far she’s come up with several names, Harley being one of them. She came up with that one all on her own, I promise. We’ll see what she comes up with.


Sky Girl said...

I'm trying to convince Mr. Mary Helen that the boys need a puppy for Christmas. It's an uphill battle.

admin said...

Children have a hard time with emotions. Animals help children express their emotions safely. They won't be criticized or rejected by a dog for their feelings.