Posts Tagged ‘puppy’

2021.January 1

My word for 2020 was “Discover” and it lasted for about two months before we found ourselves starting a two-week “lock down” that lasted through the end of the year, ten months later. I didn’t do much “discovering”.

It is now the first day of 2021. I have no word for the year. The only resolution I have is to be kinder and to be quicker to reach out to someone when they are hurting, sick, or bereaved. I probably could lose 25 pounds, too.

Today, I worked through grief by deep cleaning the bathroom. I have already rearranged the kitchen cupboards. Two days in a row, I have been out in the garden cutting the deadheads I didn’t get to in the fall because it’s currently warmer now than it was in October and November when I normally do those things. I closed the door when I worked in the bathroom, but I had help in the garden. Too much help.

His name is Ruger. Ruger Buhl’s Fall Surprise, per AKC records. He’s a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, born the 24th of September and hauled home to Oregon mid-November. He chews on all my plants which is not a good thing. I don’t know what is poisonous to puppies and what isn’t. I’m guessing peonies, primroses, asters, different salvias, and irises are not. I dug out all the foxglove in November. I know we have some arum in the corner flower bed that I will need to dig out because this dog is so mouthy – and because it is starting to show green shoots.

I have a stack of paperwork to filter through but no desire to. There’s a stack of sympathy cards, Christmas cards, and Christmas-cards-as-sympathy-cards to go through. I need to call my cousin in Montana back because the last time I spoke to her, I blubbered the entire two minutes. We have received so much support from Seventh Group Special Forces (Airborne) and I need to preserve all those commendations sent to us, specifically.

I need ideas to send gifts to my grandchildren who not only lost their father but who were taken from his home to live with their mother in Texas. She didn’t have custody when our son was living; he did. But she is the birth mother, and the law recognizes her first and the widow, second. I did decide I should put together three memory books of photos on Shutterfly. Monthly letters and cards. My daughter bought a subscription to Highlights Magazine for one of them. Is there a Pokémon magazine club? (Note to self: do the research).

I am not the only person grieving right now. I need to focus on taking care of myself, but also on helping my loved ones walk through their grief.

I don’t have a word for 2021. I have a sentence. LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Disney World 2020, Levi in the middle with all of his children. ♥

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Tonight is my short night. I get the morning shift with Ruger, who seems to think six in the morning is an acceptable time to get out of bed and eat. Ruger is not retired.My husband and I switch early morning shifts because we are retired and six o’clock in the morning is… way too early for either of us. What were we thinking when we got a puppy?

Oh, hell, what were we thinking when we had children? They didn’t sleep in, either. But we got revenge on them when they became parents. And then we got a puppy.

Today was a big day for our ten-week old guy. The governor (bless her heart, said in the sweetest Southern drawl I can manage) loosened restrictions on pubs and restaurants once again. I won’t go into the whole mask debate (I’m pro-mask & safety precautions) but COVID is killing small businesses. This is just a reality. The loosened restrictions mean we can once again go to our favorite small breweries and drink a few pints – as long as we are outside in the elements. That’s excellent news for one of our favorite places to go as it is entirely an outdoor setting. We don’t usually go out there in the winter because of the one word people in the Willamette Valley and north into Seattle know well: RAIN. Rain is colder than just cold and sunny days. Rain permeates, even when you are huddled under a canopy with a propane heater. Rain drips, is cold, and often comes sideways.

But we’re in a dry stretch. And that means sunshine on picnic tables because we’re far enough north that the sun comes at a slant through the surrounding Douglas fir trees and warms the tables. I also dress in layers: stretch pants, jeans, a blouse, a sweater, a vest, a down jacket, a huge and warm winter scarf. I wear a hat. Double up the socks. And I carry a fuzzy blanket. I wear fingerless gloves.

Then there’s the puppy. He’s only been in the car to ride here from Idaho. He’s lived with us for three weeks and has had zero chance to meet other dogs and has only met a couple neighbors. He’s met two of our friends, but no other house guests. We’re all on lock down number something or other and we’re all cautious about going out. We have different opinions about all of this but we still wear masks, use hand sanitizer, and try to stay six feet apart.

If you asked me about children and socialization (the “S” word in homeschooling circles) I would tell you to just take your children places. Let them meet people, young and old and from as many cultures as you can expose them to. They don’t need school to socialize: they need social gatherings with a variety of people, customs, and manners. They need real life.

Puppies do, too. I used to take my English Setter rescue (Harvey) to Home Depot to just walk around the store. He had to take in all the noises, all the people, and he had to accept little children running up to him to ask if they could pet him. In return, I have spent a few dollars at Home Depot. They allow dogs, I don’t care what else you have to say about them. Harvey was also excellent on a leash (not at first, mind you, he had to learn to heel).

Ruger has never ridden in a dog carrier and he threw a fit about it today. He also puked. Like my English Setter, Ruger gets car sick. All bedding we purchase is washable. I have sudden empathy with my parents who had three children, only one of which puked often in the car. Me. I never ride in the back of the van. (See how I made that about me?)

I took a pig’s ear with us (American made), his puppy bed (he’s outgrown it), and a fuzzy blanket just for Ruger. I took doggie treats for Ruger, jerky & crackers for us. My husband has never been much for walking dogs on a leash but he took Ruger for the first potty run out in the huge dog field out beyond the brewery. Ruger, who has been a pill on the leash to date, was extraordinarily well behaved the first couple of hours. It was all new and chewing on a pig’s ear gave him time to digest the noise (highway and cars and Harley-Davidson motorcycles). Friends arrived and he remembered them.

Strangers stopped and asked to meet him. He met other dogs, some interested in him and some not so interested (but not aggressive). He met men and women. He met little kids. I took him for a late walk in the grassy off-leash area and he did his duty like a good boy. He was proud and started to get bold. He never once barked at a person or another dog. He got into his dog carrier and rode home without a peep. The only people he jumped up on were my husband and I and we quickly pushed him down.

In short, Ruger had an amazing and exhausting day. He sacked out on the way home. He played hard a couple more times (most recently in the loft with me) and then crashed just as hard. He’s learning to fetch, which none of our prior dogs ever managed to do. He still eats socks, shoes, scarfs, and cardboard. He loves playing soccer with the big blue ball our grandson, Eli, picked out. He’s neither aggressive or too shy with other dogs. He likes people.

Best of all, he’s brought laughter back into our home.

This is really more of a testimonial of Ruger’s first socialization outing, but I want to throw in a tip: if you have a puppy please do it a favor and find a way to socialize it even with all the COVID restrictions. Go to an outdoor pub (order a soda if you don’t drink alcohol) that is dog friendly. Find a reason to shop at Home Depot (don’t just go there to walk your dog and DO NOT take your dog there to piddle and poo). Dog parks are Okay but I don’t really trust the other dog owners – that’s at your own risk.

Pick up your dog’s poo. This has nothing to do with the post above but some people really need this in their face. Pick up your dog’s poo.

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WE have been waiting two years to get a puppy from the same breeder we got Murphy from. Murphy died just over two years ago, and our other dog, Harvey, died a short time later. It has been a long time with NO pets. I promised I wouldn’t look for a cat until we had a new dog. All we have had are the backyard birds (and squirrels), so when we learned a new litter had been whelped back in September, we were thrilled and begand to make plans for Puppy’s arrival.

Only our plan was to pick him up when he turned 8 weeks old the week before Thanksgiving. We would make a leisurely drive over to La Grande, Oregon, where my husband’s family still lives and spend a couple nights with them. Then a marathon drive to (almost) Twin Falls, Idaho, to pick out the pup and drive back to La Grande the same day – weather permitting. Finally, a leisurely drive home after seeing family again and resting up.

Don had First Pick of all the males, of which there were five.

Last Tuesday, the 10th, the breeder called to see where we were. Somehow, he had us coming for Puppy a week early. There were probably several reasons for the mixup: he had local buyers who were itching to pick out a pup, he was going on a Black Powder hunt the weekend of the 14-15, outdoor temperatures were dropping below freezing, and the nine puppies were getting far too active for a working man to keep up with. They were getting to be a pain in the ass.

Not wanting to lose our First Pick option and wanting to appease the breeder, we decided to go a week early. As in RIGHT NOW. We were late getting on the road (mid-morning) and I had just a smidgeon of time to request travel prayers. We hydroplaned through the Columbia River Gorge and sailed over the mountain passes to La Grande and Grandma’s house, where we holed up over night. Darn Grandma reminded us we were dealing with a Time Change between Oregon and Idaho, and it wasn’t in our favor.

We were up at zero-dark-thirty on Veteran’s Day so we could make out Idaho Time appointment. Snow, snow plows, snow packed roads, rain, and sun glare. We zipped through Boise unhindered (that’s like zipping through Seattle unhindered: a huge accomplishment given Boise’s growing pains). Forgot our Idaho map, but I was beyond certain that we needed to take the second exit into Bliss in order to reach our destination (Filer) on US Highway 30.

I love this stretch of road. You go through a bunch of small Idaho towns, follow the Snake River through the scenic Thousand Springs canyon, and avoid Twin Falls entirely. I haven’t been through Twin Falls in over 50 years but I know Highway 30 like the back of my hand. Only our breeder moved and we had to enter his address into my cell phone: gotta love those Idaho country addresses.

We arrived within our window of time.

Meeting puppies is a crazy business. We have always been last on the list for puppies and got the last pup to leave home. That doesn’t mean we got the runty or the stupid one (well, in Sadie’s case, it did mean we got the stupid one), just that we didn’t have choice in which dog we got to bring home. They’ve all been good dogs (even Sadie who helped raise our kids).

This time, however, we were the first to pick out a pup. And, yes, we took the Pick of the Litter. the big guy. First born. Boldest. Friendliest (although . that was a tie with a smaller sibling). The other three males just weren’t as interested in us and one was more interested in going his own way than in people. I could see him being a replica of our last Griffon, Murphy. Five roly poly busy puppies chewing on something.

Papers were signed, vaccination records passed over to us, and the first puppy to leave home was loaded into the car. He was too little to put in the big dog crate, so he curled up on Don’s lap for the ride home.

And ralphed on Don’s lap before we were back on I-84 West.

He was fine with the four point five hour drive back to La Grande on an empty stomach. Slept most of the way. The snow, ice, rain, and wind disappeared. We were back at Grandma’s in daylight hours some ten hours after we’d left in the morning. Puppy was a little disoriented but being the bold character he is, he was unfazed. Even the 18 year old cat didn’t faze him – too much. She did land a swat on the face that warned him not to mess with her. She’s raised a number of German Shepherd pups in her life and has no qualms about setting a puppy to rights about Cat Social Distancing Zones.

The honeymoon. Puppy went to sleep around 7:00PM Pacific time and slept until around 6:30AM. He whined a few times, looking for one of those eight siblings he’d just left behind, but a soft voice put him back to sleep. He curled up in the big kennel and slept. He made a few mistakes on Grandma’s carpet, but she’s raised more puppies than the cat has trained (and more kittens). Grandma spoiled puppy with a ton of toys, only a few of which we took along home.

There was a big storm threatening to move in on Thursday. Snow in the mountains, wind in the gorge, and copious amounts of rain. We decided we’d overstayed our window of time to make it back to the Portland area on good roads and left early. Over the mountains, through the passes, down Cabbage Hill, and into the fog at Boardman, we sailed at just over Oregon speed limits. No wind, dry pavement, no rain or snow. Puppy slept almost the entire way home.

He didn’t sleep through the night. Don thinks he is still on Idaho Time. He is learning how to tell us when he needs to go outside to poo and pee (some accidents have occurred). He understands the word, “NO!” He goes hard for a couple of hours then crashes for a while. He’s been on his first walk around the block on a leash. He fell in love with our yard during the first ten minutes of his life here. He thinks our house is the perfect home.

He just does not have a name. All the names we thought we would use don’t seem to fit. Don wants to use a single syllable name. Most dog names are two syllables (more is pointless, especially with a hunting dog ). Two of the grandchildren have thrown in suggestions (“Gator” – really? This came from the child whose father – our son – refers to him as “gator bait” when hiking or camping. They live in Florida).

He’s a normal puppy terror: sharp teeth and newspaper shredding. He tries to eat every plant in the back yard (not a good idea). He “talks”. He nips. He sleeps. He plays hard. He’s smart, but not in a devious way: he wants to please. He’s already picked out the pecking order: Don first, me second, him third. He doesn’t challenge me like Murphy did. His wiry hair hasn’t grown in but he promises to be a wiry dog in his adulthood. He is not afraid of anything but he’s not aggressive. He even likes rain.

He’s not my dog. I can’t initiate a dog naming contest because it will only irritate my partner and my husband of 40 years. He’s seven weeks old, born September 24th, 2020. He’s smart, independent, and – I hope – the best dog we have ever had to date. I’m in love.

You can send me your name ideas and I will try to run them past the Man In Charge. Ultimately, though, Don has to decide.

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Two years ago, we acquired (for a hefty sum of money) this wild free spirit of a dog that terrorized my life. He was willfull, stubborn, dominant/aggressive (but not mean/aggressive), and disobedient. He was strong. He chewed on everything (including my glasses). He jumped up on people. He talked back.

One year ago, I wasn’t sure he would ever be a “good” dog, but he was showing some signs of improvement. He still had boundless energy and an insatiable hunger for anything left unguarded. He became an adept thief: store receipts, lottery tickets, hair bands, underwear, boots, tools, gloves… All of which he chewed on or ate.

He’s pooped a lot of paper.

This year, he had his testosterone clipped.

I noticed a difference immediately.

The whole dominant/aggressive act disappeared.

That’s all. He still chews, steals and talks back. But he doesn’t jump up on people (too much) and he doesn’t try to be Numero Uno. He has acquiesced to the Pack Order.

He knows where he stands.

“Help me. I have to share my sofa with little people. They won’t let me sniff little people’s bottoms. I am not allowed to chew on diapers. I have to let the little people pull my tail.”

He’s been so good. Zephan has taken to following Murphy around and popping him on the head, “No! No!” or pulling his tail.

Lately, there’s been a lot more of “No, Zephan, do not hit the doggie” than there has been “No! Murphy!”

Tonight, Zephan was sitting on the sofa watching “Sponge Bob” (who dreams up this stuff??) and Murphy climbed up there with his chew toy and curled up right next to the baby. Practically in the baby’s lap. His tail was in the baby’s lap. Talk about not learning.

“No, Zephan, do not pull the doggie’s tail!”

We moved Murphy to the other side of the sofa.

<sigh>. Quarantined to the far side of the sofa, what is a dog to do but look incredibly sad?

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