Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Looking back and moving forward...

Reading over my last post "Hiatus", I realized it probably came across as rather negative. I admit, I've done a lot of complaining since March, when our new pup came home, but truth be told, our new little family addition is a gem. New pup was a choice. We bought her from a breeder who really cares about her dogs. The problem, and it is my problem, I'm just out of practice with puppy tending. 

Actually, I've never had experience with a puppy living inside the house with us where it's every need is met by me or my husband. This is all new to me. I still stand by my thoughts that puppies are harder than human babies, although thinking about that, I'm probably exaggerating a tad. However, raising a puppy does take dedication and attention. You can't just feed them, play with them (Hubby is the playmate, I'm the teacher), let them wander around unattended. You have to make sure they are potty trained. They have to learn boundaries AND manners. I'm a stickler for manners. I really hate it when I go to someone's house and the dog has not been trained to not jump on guests. There's really no excuse for not teaching your dog manners. In retrospect, our little Nina has done quite well. She'll be five months old this week. I can now see all the training, tears (mine) and frustration (mine again) are paying off. I don't expect perfection, although I was wearing myself out thinking she must do this she must do that. I do expect focus and attention, which she's growing into. I started paying less attention to all the "voices" on the online forums and in puppy raising articles. There is great help in those, but sometimes overwhelming. I started working with common sense. Works better all around. Of course, if one lacks common sense where training is concerned, I think you're out of luck and begging for more frustration.

Over our thirty years of marriage, we just celebrated our anniversary, we've had numerous dogs and cats show up on our rural property. A gray cat and her five kittens one summer. We couldn't figure out why she chose us. At that time we lived up on a hill away from the road. I think she lived at the house down the road and for whatever reason decided to move her brood to our house. Ms. Kitty was a sweet cat. I hadn't been able to have a cat during the first years of our marriage because of my father-in-law's German Shepherds. He lived down the hill from us and those dogs had never been desensitized to cats. They ran the property and then some. Since Ms. Kitty decided to stay I did my best to accommodate her with her family of five kittens.

We had several dogs show up over the years. One dog my husband found under a discarded mattress at the side of the road. We'd been taking a leisurely bike ride on our rural road that afternoon. He carried her back to our house on his bicycle, a two mile ride. We named her Sandy. She was probably a hound/lab mix. Blonde in color, about medium size. She lived with us a a short time until she mysteriously died. We were never sure but it seemed like a possible poisoning. Our Humane Society adoptee, Brandi, a hound/shepherd mix, died as well, which lead to our theory of poison. Brandi was probably about seven at the time. We were never sure how old Sandy was but she was young, maybe a year when we found her.

Buddy was a tough one. He showed up one day out in our field. Looked like some kind of terrier mix. He kept watch but wouldn't come close to the house. I started walking slowly toward him getting closer each day putting food down. After about a week I won him over and he came to me. He stayed with us for a short time then just disappeared. Same thing happened to a dog I named Max. He was a smart one but didn't care for my husband, just me. Must have been part shepherd, medium size. There were rumors flying up and down our road that someone was picking up dogs and selling them to labs. A reminder that you should keep your dogs close to home and have a fenced yard. Back in those years dogs ran free out here in the country. That's just the way it was. All of these animals came to us between 1985-1992 or there about. 

Then our German Shepherd, Xena showed up by way of a gift from a grandmother to her grandsons.Xena had also been discarded. Her backyard breeder wasn't happy she didn't come out all white. That was OK by us, we loved her silver/black coloring. Over the years, people often asked if she was a wolf hybrid because of her coloring and her size. Honestly, I wasn't happy with her arrival at first, basically because I don't like those kinds of surprises. I like to prepare. But it all worked out and Xena was our longest lived dog. She died in 2008 at the age of twelve.

Our recent two "rescues", Maggie and Lucy, have been with us since '05 & '07. My oldest son found Maggie at the state park where he worked,. She'd been abandoned. The park manager was going to call the dog warden to pick her up so our son brought her home instead. He never asked, just showed up with her. Maggie appears to have a lot of Blue Heeler in her. She has one blue eye and one brown eye. People either think she's ugly or pretty. I think she's pretty. No, I wasn't happy with the surprise, at first. At that time we had Xena, who was nine by then. I was worried about conflict but the two of them worked it out without much fuss. Lucy was dumped on our road Thanksgiving of '05. After watching her watch the comings and goings of our house, I encouraged her to come into our pack. She is a beagle/hound mix, reddish in color and apparently much older than we first thought. She started graying around her face last year.

So now we have a pure bred German Shepherd pup we chose, and paid for. For some reason it feels kind of strange. I look at her differently. I wonder if that's normal? She wasn't saved from a bad situation. She wasn't abandoned. She's never been mistreated. She is trusting to a fault. Xena was raised to be an outside dog, and she never knew any of those things either since she came to us at six weeks...but with Nina, it's just different. I'm sure it's in my own perception. At first I wanted to do everything right, now, I just want to have a good dog and I think we're getting there.



                                             Nina @ 4 months.

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