Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Healing Continues

Yesterday, after arriving home from work to see Sofie playing happily with the babysitter, I thought just maybe she was starting to forgive and forget. I couldn't be further from the truth. After the sitter left, literally after she walked out the door, Sofie says, "I'm still mad at you for getting rid of Scout!" The she started crying. I just listened for awhile and assured her that I was sad, too. To which she counters, "How can you be sad! You're the one who gave him back!!" Wow, she asks some very pointed questions.

After explaining to her just how that was possible, we talked about future dogs. I told her when we're ready...not anytime soon...we'll look for a good match that's an adult dog with the help of a trainer who specializes in that type of work. She said,
"They don't get to live with you as long!" I clarified, not an old dog, just a dog, not a puppy. Maybe a year or two old and house trained. Then comes the stab to the heart, "Can't we get Scout back after someone trains him?" My heart shattered right there.

After that comment, I explained that probably couldn't happen because if someone takes the time to train him, they're probably not going to give him up. She cried some more, but after cuddles, laughing and reading she fell asleep normally. Actually I fell asleep mid sentence while reading to her! "Mom, why aren't you reading?" she says as I snore lightly in her ear! We laughed, then both fell asleep. It wasn't until I woke up wide-eyed at 1a did I even realize I'd fallen asleep at 830p and completely missed Obama! Guess I'll have to read the text.

On the way to school this morning she said the van smelled like puppy. She wasn't sad, just a matter-of-fact observation. Maybe she's starting to forgive...and forget.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Morning After...

Thinking I would get a good nights sleep last night was a ridiculous notion. After the departure of Scout(to be known as Donner from now on) last night, I had to write about it...process the previous 72 hours(plus the weeks leading up to all this.) How did I let this happen? What was my motivation behind choosing a puppy? Why did I give up so easily? How am I going to tell Sofie? What am I going to tell Sofie? And so many other thoughts occurred. My brain churned and churned all night. If it were made of cream, it would be a big blob of butter about now!

After blogging last night, I got into bed and thought about reading. Apparently, that's all I did because the next thing I know, Sofie is in my room asking me why I was still up. (I wasn't, but lights on meant I was awake!) She curled up next to me and we fell asleep...with the light on. At some point she woke up and asked me to turn my light off after she got some water. I did and for whatever reason, I blurted out, "Scout's gone back to Jackie's. He's going to live there now." Breaking the news like that was not quite what I would have chosen. As the news streamed out of my mouth I realized I had some 'splaining to do, Lucy. Let me just say, the realization that you've just ripped the heart out of your child will wake you out of the deadest of sleeps! She burst into tears. I explained, in the most coherent way I could in the middle of the night, I had had made a big mistake. It wasn't about her, it wasn't about the puppy, it was about me just plain and simple. She sobbed like I'd never seen her sob before. Oddly, it was more intense than she cried after Debra died. (I think she was overwhelmed with the whole death thing...and the tears lasted for a long time.) She finally feel asleep, weeping in my arms.

Gracie, the cat, was back in bed with us this morning...finally emerging from the guest room. I wondered if that would make Sofie feel better. She was glad to see Gracie, but still remained teary during much of the morning routine. Feeling a tad guilty, I offered her breakfast at Elmo's before school. She seemed skeptical, like it couldn't happen since they "take a long time to cook." (Her words, not mine.) Often on Tuesday's I go in late, so I knew the timing wouldn't be difficult for me. We had a lovely breakfast out, then off to school she went.

I'm not sure how the day went for her. I know I'll hear all about it. She's really upset, but I think she knows I was stressed and not being a nice Mom to her. I just worry that this is another loss in her life. She's been through so much. As resilient as she is, she's still heartbroken.

One thing I offered as a future possibility was getting an adult dog. Not now, later, after we've healed from this. She's open to that. I just better be damned sure this time that I can take care of the dog and maintain sanity!!!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Lessons learned - my initial thoughts

Tonight, after much deliberation and loving discussions with Jackie, the foster mom to all the pups, Donner/Scout/Donner again is now back in their loving home. She and her husband came in the dark of the night to retrieve the world's sweetest pup and all the accoutrement. I'll now get a good night's sleep and won't be the evil mom I had become tonight. Sofie doesn't know, but we talked about it tonight and I was bitch mom from hell, so after initial sadness she'll be okay. We do have visitation rights if we choose to exercise them. I hope Sofie chooses to visit him on occasion.

There are a few key lessons I've learned. The biggest is TRUST YOUR matter how deeply buried that feeling is, it's there for a reason. Listen to the whispers. Sanity could be preserved and all would be well in the world. I had puppy dreams that should have clued me in. I thought I was doing the right thing. Simply put, I was wrong. Jackie and I had an honest, loving discussion tonight. What a kind, kind woman she is. No judgment was passed and only loving thoughts were expressed.

Lesson number two...DON'T BEAT YOURSELF UP!! This was a life lesson. A hard one, but definitely not as difficult as others I've learned. This is a lesson that I won't soon forget, but I won't let it weigh me down. I have to figure out how I'm going to let my darling daughter know that the puppy is back at his other home. It will help that we can visit Donner.

HEAL THYSELF BEFORE SPREADING THE LOVE TOO THIN. Jackie helped me realize that both Sofie and I are still healing and although the love of a dog wasn't wrong, the timing can. We aren't emotionally equipped to handle puppy duties. At some point down the road I do believe we will have a great dog in our life...just not now and just not a puppy.

I'm emotionally drained and physically tired so off to bed I go. There will more to write about tomorrow.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Our journey into puppyhood...a first night perspective

Apparently my regular life is too boring to write about anymore, so now that we have a puppy the excitement is back?!?! Kick me, pinch me, send me a scathing email if I become a person who ONLY talks about their puppy(and the puppy's bowel habits.) I still have a very spunky girl to write that will include her adventures in puppyness, too. Currently he's curled up at my feet, sleeping while I cute is that?!?!

Scout had a very successful first day and night home. He was neutered yesterday afternoon, so we picked him up around 230p from the vet's office. His bother Winston was being picked up at the same time by our friends S and J, and their daughter's E and K. After signing tons of paperwork, getting instructions for post-op care and saying good by to their foster mom, we were off to the new home. Scout wasn't quite interested in leaving the vet, but since he's food oriented all it took was a treat or two! The 5 minute ride home was uneventful...a little whining, but encouraged Sofie to speak quietly and lovingly and reassure him.

We arrived home and our lives into puppyness started. He explored his new surroundings, well the limited version of his new surroundings. He was starving so I filled up a Kong with kibble and fed him. Feeding a puppy in his Kong is a way to encourage chewing on his chewy and discourage chewing on anything else! He's still learning that there is actual kibble IN the Kong, but he's smart and I'm sure he'll figure it out. Below, you can see that he is a bit perplexed!

I purchased a baby gate for the stairs to keep him in and give the cats a refuge from him. Our friend Matt came over to help install it. It looked pretty simple because the manufacturer included a template to use for wall placement...only after he installed both sides and tried to hang the gate did we realize they included the WRONG template!! Matt is a great guy so while his son was playing with Sofie, he undid what he had installed, then we just did our own measuring and replacing of mounts. It's installed beautifully! All thanks to Matt!

Sofie and I took Scout on little jaunts to encourage outdoor toileting. He didn't go and didn't go and didn't go, so we put him in his crate and headed to dinner at our favorite Chinese place. We were gone a couple of hours and upon our return took him on another jaunt. This time he was successful on both accounts! We threw a party each time, with treats. Want to give him all the positive reinforcement possible!

After coming back inside, we played a bit with his tug toy. I encouraged Sofie to play, but unfortunately he likes to chew and climb on her and it's a little hard to deal with. We're going to work with a trainer, so I hope she can work with Sofie and Scout to develop a good relationship. I'm a little worried that Sofie is going to have a hard time with Scout. He doesn't jump on me at all, so I'm not even sure what that's about with her! Maybe he thinks kids taste better!!

Sleeping was very much like a newborn last night...except newborns aren't in crates...well, now that I think about it, cribs are very crate-like! Each time he went into his crate there was initial whining, which evolved into the cutest howling. Eventually he'd just plop down, sigh and fall asleep. I was up at 1a, 4am-ish and 7a. When he whined at those times, it never subsided so I assumed there was a reason. I assumed correctly. Every time we went out, he used the potty. Smart dog!! At the 1a outing he got a little play reward for peeing and pooing within 3 minutes! Here's a picture of that play time.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Our new addition to the family

Introducing Scout!

He’ll be joining our family this coming Saturday after he’s neutered. Scout (formerly known as Donner) found his way into our hearts a few weeks ago after friends who are adopting Comet told me their story. If you’re interested, please check out the blog that the foster family kept during their time with them.

There are lots of pictures from birth on, and each pup has a page describing their personalities. Check out Donner’s page. He’s a big softy. (And I thing big is an accurate description…take a look at his paws!!) Breed is, well, ½ German Shepherd(his mother)…his father is an unknown, but highly suspected to be Australian Shepherd due to the fact that 3 of the 8 puppies have stub tails(Scout included!!) His mother is a beauty and very smart…she literally broke away(collar and chain included) from her previous keeper(who wasn’t taking good care of her) and found her way to a Vet’s office the day before she dropped those 8 beauties!

We’re adopting through Independent Animal Rescue, a Durham based organization. Through this adoption he will come to us micro-chipped, neutered with first round of shots and Frontline treatment. The foster family has also done a great job with crate training so that will make the transition to a crate at our house easier. Also included with the adoption are 3 free one-on-one sessions with a local trainer. We’ve also signed up for a 6 week puppy course that is built on trust and respect between puppy and his people. Both Sofie and I will attend the class.

Before you all start offering advice or concerns, just know that we’re not entering this blindly. I know it’s like having a baby. I know it’s going to take time to build a good relationship between Scout and all the other inhabitants of the family home. Interestingly, for the past few weeks I’ve been waking up between 4a-5a every morning…getting in the habit before he arrives! I’ve also had numerous talks with Sofie regarding responsibilities (good and bad.) This is a great age for a kid to get a dog, too.

Of course my biggest concern is introducing to the cats, but everyone I’ve spoken with and every book I’ve read says it’s much easier to introduce a puppy to cats than dogs to cats! So here we go on our next adventure. Fingers crossed it’s a good one!!

I'm sure there will be more posts in the near future on our adventures in puppy training with lot's of pictures, too.