Been awhile since I dropped in here. My work has kept me crazy busy. I spoke at Evo Conference – spreading my love of all things WordPress. And… this past weekend we had to bring our puppy back to the breeder we got him from.
I hadn’t posted much about him – we were dealing with a lot. Aside from the normal craziness that is raising and housebreaking a puppy – he was not healthy from the beginning. He had an EXTREMELY sensitive stomach, and after several hundreds of dollars of various tests – no one could determine exactly why or what was wrong with him. We fed him plenty, but he remained skinny and the food he ate practically flew through one end and out the other so quickly.We finally found a food that he would somewhat tolerate – but it didn’t make things perfect. It was a grain and gluten free, single protein food that had to be rehydrated. Then he had a massive flare up and even that stopped working as well as it once did.
If that wasn’t enough to deal with, the real killer was his aggression. Within the first week of having him here, he growled and snapped at me at a way I’ve never seen a *normal puppy* do. It was bizarre. And no one really believed me that a PUPPY would show aggression like this. They said it was “posturing” not aggression. Ok… so we paid top dollar for a great trainer who whipped us into shape about how to behave and treat the puppy so that he would know we were alpha. We did this for months. The problem began to get worse, not better. He would be sitting in a room – no “triggers” near by (no food, no toys) – he wasn’t sleeping, he’d be wide awake – just hanging out – and my daughter who has always been very gentle with him and respectful of him, would come up to pet him – and for no reason at all he would growl at her. Then my husband – who SURELY he must see as ALPHA in our pack – would come up to him – and again, he would growl at him.
I spoke to another trainer, and they said with all his problems – since we had the option of bringing him back to the breeder – we should take it. This is not the right dog for our family.
Who knows, maybe he needed to be in a bigger house – or a bigger back yard – or he needs other dogs with him to keep him in line. Whatever it is – he didn’t belong with us. It broke our hearts – it wasn’t for lack of love that we brought him back. But I have a responsibility to my family and I have a responsibility to him. However, my family comes first and I was worried about the direction this was headed. I was worried that growl would very soon turn into something more disastrous. I’m glad he’s with the breeder – she’ll take good care of him. Maybe she’ll be able to determine the source of his issues – and then place him in a home that’s more appropriate.
In the meantime – we are once again trying to heal from the loss of a dog. Bad timing too. So close to my daughter’s birthday again when last year we had to say goodbye to our other dog after 12 happy years. And I am on the hunt again for a dog. This time I think we’re going to go with the same breed we had last time and that we are so in love with: a Cairn Terrier or Westie (West Highland Terrier).
I can’t tell you how close we were these last few days to deciding to take home TWO puppies instead of one. I had a whole long list of reasons why two dogs are better than one. The idea had even originally been my husband’s – but once I started to go along with the idea – he changed his mind. He did a bunch of research online and showed me what people were saying. It’s not that having two puppies can’t be done – it’s just that the work involved is exponentially harder. In order to have the pups mental stability right, you have to separate them often. (otherwise when one needs to go somewhere and the other can’t come too – it will freak out). You have to train them separately. You have to crate them separately. Everything in my mind that was “fun” about having two dogs – with two puppies it spells disaster. So…. one it is. (at least for now) The general recommendation is – if you want two dogs, that’s fine – but space them out by a good couple of months – even better if it’s a year. The older dog can help keep the younger one in line at that point – rather than egging each other on to do mischief as puppies!
I’ve become even more aware of how much I *need* to have a dog in my life these past few months. Sure, our old dog wasn’t playing much the last few years of his life, but he was always by my side. It’s been hard not having him around – and I miss the companionship.
Ok, enough bad stuff… I can’t just leave you with my last post up. I have to post something good. We decided to get a labradoodle puppy. The litter was born on Jan 20th. We still have to meet him to be sure (going to meet him in February – and they’ll be ready to come home at the end of March) but we’re strongly leaning towards this guy:
It’s going to be a hard decision though – ALL of those puppies from that litter are just ADORABLE.
know it sounds impossible – but I actually pulled this off. You know how half the time, well ok for me it feels like most of the time, I feel like I strike out more often than I hit a home run. I hear myself saying more often than I care to admit “Well, that didn’t go as well as planned.” But this time? This time I hit it out of the park.
It began when my mother told me about an exhibit going on in San Francisco: Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne, and beyond at the de Young Museum. I rushed right over to my computer and bought tickets for Sam, the kids, my parents, and me before I even thought twice about it. Then of course it dawned on me that spending the afternoon in a crowded museum, looking at old pictures on the wall probably wasn’t going to be the most fun the kids ever had. So I came up with a plan. I would make it into a game.
As luck would have it, my parents had plans to go to this exhibit two weeks before. So I asked her, as she went through, to make notes of a few of the paintings in each room, so we could later develop a “scavenger hunt” – age appropriate for a 5 year old and another for a 10 year old. (Ok, yeah, my mom did a good part of the hard work here – I still think this was a huge success).
The day of our tickets to see the exhibit, we came armed with two clipboards and two pencils. For Zach, the questions were basic enough: Find a painting with a golden vase. Find a painting of a cow. etc. It was challenging enough and he really enjoyed it. The only difficulty we had was really thanks to the crowd.
(On a side note: I’m a bit frustrated and annoyed with the museum. They’re very clear that they don’t want people bringing sketchpads, because to have people standing there sketching the pictures would “slow the flow of traffic throughout the exhibit” – and yet, they push the purchase of these audio tours that has everyone walking around the rooms like drones at a snails pace (or rather standing there FOREVER listening to the audio tour) rather than actually moving on through. I really would have preferred a time when NO ONE was using an audio tour – I think it would have gotten people moving more so I could have actually gotten within a few feet of a painting, instead of standing on my tip toes trying to get a peek from behind twenty people.)
Anyway, thankfully the kids were small, and my goal had shifted from wanting to see the paintings to wanting my kids to enjoy the experience. So I stood way in the back and sent Zach down underneath to sneak up to the front (all grownups who could easily see over him) so he could get a close look at the painting.
Can I tell you how proud I was to see him go up to the painting – point at it excitedly and tell me he found the painting of =whatever we were looking for=. People looked amazed that this little kid was actually excited to be there. Excited to be looking at the paintings. (Between you and me, so was I! LOL!)
Scattered within the scavenger hunt were a few “Which is your favorite painting in the room? Why is this your favorite?” or “How does this painting make you feel?”
Rachel’s was a little harder “Find a painting that shows 6 smoke stacks? Who painted it?” “Who painted a picture of a circus in this room” “Name 3 paintings by Henri Seurat (in this room)”
Rachel, who thought the whole scavenger hunt thing was beneath her before we started, really got into it once we were there. I came to find out that she had very specific and sometimes surprising opinions about the paintings.
Now here’s the best part. Aside from the fact that we got through the entire exhibit without a single meltdown – I considered it enough of a win. But then something happened tonight that just totally sealed the deal. My mother had bought a coloring book that had paintings from the museum in it for you to color. Zachary was playing with it after dinner – found one of the paintings and said “I remember this one! This one was on my checklist!… This one too! This is the one of the man fishing!”
It’s out of the park! 😀