I really didn’t want a puppy. I wasn’t ready yet. It had been two months since we lost Rayven and just the thought of training and teething and chewing was more unappealing than I could imagine.
The compromise: we’d find a rescue Doberman a few years old.
We applied again and again and were turned down, which pissed me off because we are an amazing forever home. We weren’t afraid of the work it might take to bring a dog that had issues into our family. We were open to whatever came to us. But after numerous prospects and some really high hopes, it wasn’t happening. It just wasn’t meant to be.
Then Lee found a breeder, Janice, in Surrey, BC. She had one 12 week old puppy. After a rigorous questioning process, by the end of the day, the pup was ours. We later learned that Janice hadn’t wanted to give the puppy up. At all. She told us that several times, but as soon as she met us she knew it was a perfect match. We named her Scarlett.
Over the last few months, Scarlett’s reminded me of some important lessons.
1) Feel the fear and do it anyway. You never know what’s on the other side. New home, new experiences, new surroundings. Stairs. Creeks. Cats. Loud trains. Scary stuff, especially when you’re a foot from the ground. Approach things with caution, but try it, there’s always something better on the other side. Treats.
2) Patience and persistence. You need both. Lots of it. Pulling the leash. Stealing shoes. Jumping up. Digging. Standing there, looking at you instead of coming when they’re called. If you yell, they suddenly become deaf. I swear she thought for a while her name was “No. Down. Drop it.” I felt like a broken record. But if you’re persistent, one day you notice…hey, I don’t have paw prints on my new jeans. Scarlett’s perspective: if I keep trying to get on the couch, I’ll make it eventually and maybe I’ll tire my Mom out and I’ll get my way. Which brings me to the next lesson…
3) Pick your battles. So she’s allowed on the couch and the bed. But, she’s great on the leash and you can stick your hand in her dish as she’s eating with no issues. Hmmm. Would I rather have blankets on the couch or a dog I can take anywhere that people don’t fear.
4) Live In the Moment. Run through the grass. Stop and smell the roses before you bite their heads off. Lick everything you can; cats, exposed skin, computer keyboards.
5) Exercise is vital. Puppies need daily walks or they’re bad. Plain and simple. She’s an awesome running partner. Well, I call it running. I laugh at myself cause I’m slow and my form isn’t pretty (have you ever seen that episode of Friends when Phoebe and Rachel run, kinda like that) but who cares. I’m doing it and isn’t that a lesson in itself?
6) Even if your heart is broken, love anyway. I never thought I’d love this little monster as much as I do. I worried about bonding with her. And even though my grief ebbs and flows, she makes me laugh and when she snuggles up to me, it makes my heart swell.
Lessons from puppies…who’da thought?