Puppies are fun, full of love and LOTS AND LOTS OF WORK.
Just ask Bethany, a Golden Retriever breeder who has just had a litter of nine, how much work there is to taking care of puppies. Our Fancy Girl was one of this litter. After the death of our beloved, Gracie, that we had for fourteen years, we decided it was time to have a new puppy. I have recently written a blog story about finding our puppy, Fancy, and her departure from an adorable little boy and his family here in Virginia.
We knew getting a puppy would be challenging and she would be the last one because we are now at retirement age. This blog is written to all those who are considering the same thing that we decided to do…find another puppy, especially after the death of a longtime family dog. We would not recommend it if you and your spouse are working full-time and the children are at school. A Golden Retriever is a people dog and needs a close relationship. They will not adjust well if left alone for hours and hours.
Here are some of the cold, hard facts about being the new “parents” of a tiny puppy. You can decide if it will be the best decision you have made in this century! (You probably have figured out now that there will be a great deal of tongue in cheek in this blog.)
First of all, I will start by saying that we love our Fancy, or I should say I love our little Fancy perhaps a little more than her new “Dad”. At least my patience level is much higher. My husband has had his doubts and wondered if he should have seen a psychiatrist before taking the plunge. Well, his brother in law has a strong psychiatric background, but I don’t think he’s taking any new patients. All kidding aside, my husband does like her a lot when she is quiet and calm, which is rarely at almost 13 weeks old.
You may also see why I am writing this as I begin by telling you about the first week Fancy came to our house. (I think writing is therapeutic.) Little Fancy had just left everything she knew…her Golden Retriever Mother, eight other puppy brothers and sisters, a loving family and a big, secure yard. Now, she was with two people she had only seen twice and that was when she was partially asleep.
Her new house was a place that smelled differently, big and strange. She had every reason to cry most of the 200 miles to this new place. She also had every reason to get a case of diarrhea and poop in her crate every two hours the first week or so. Her new “dad” was taking her outside in the dark to be certain that she had finished it all and wouldn’t go anymore in her once again nice, clean crate. He was also carrying a powerful flashlight in order to look for the bear that had roamed our neighborhood. Fancy continued her outside business as needed and we all tried to get back to sleep once again.
After a trip to the vet for some medicine, the nights expanded to being awakened a little longer to about every four hours. A return email from her breeder had a good suggestion to “shorten the crate with a divider”. This helped and Fancy got the idea that if she was not to stand or sit in the poop, she had to tell her new “Mom and Dad” that she had to go out again…and again…and again. This continued through the night as she woke up with a little whine and her new “Mom” was very appreciative since she had been rinsing the towels out in the commode and keeping the washing machine running almost 24 hours a day. The words of a very special vet assistant now rang in her ears on the day she announced that a new puppy was joining her household, “You’ll say ‘WHAT IN THE WORLD WAS I THINKING?”
Life began to get better, however, when Fancy decided that standing next to the door and whimpering was a good way to attract attention to the need for going outside. We thought she was very smart to do this at such a young age. Her vet agreed and liked how she “responded” to everyone in his clinic.
“RESPONDED!” Oh, yes, that is a great word for a tiny puppy who is finally getting to know the new Mom and Dad and jumps on everyone else! The first visitors that came to see us Fancy responded with a greeting that was overwhelming. Even we could not hold her as she wiggled practically out of our arms to get to this new person who had just walked in the door. We had never seen such energy and it was always the same with someone new. To this puppy mind, it was the most exciting thing in the entire world…a real, live human!!!!
This is when “Mom” ran to the computer and looked up everything imaginable under “dog socialization”. She learned that there is a window of between 12-18 weeks when getting a puppy socialized is critical…or they may have trouble learning this skill. Our vet told us to use a training leash…pull back on it until it is uncomfortable and say “down” or “off”. Well, the training leash did no good for we think Fancy would have choked herself deliberately before relaxing with a new person. Oh, my goodness, what to do? Would we no longer be able to have friends in? Once again I called our dear dog breeder, who encouraged me with words of “…in about a year you will see a big difference as you let her know what is acceptable.” A YEAR! My dear husband may not last that long.
Because we enjoy people, we decided to try my cousin and his wife for dinner. After many times of saying “no” to jumping up on our guests who were eating, we decided the crate back in the bedroom was the best option. That was when the howling began. One would think we had “killed her.” In about 15 minutes, it got quieter…for I think she gave up.
Goldens are social animals and want to be with the humans in their lives. That is why they are called “velcro dogs”. They will stick to you…if not ON you. One thing that Fancy’s breeder had noticed was that Fancy liked to lay near or around one’s feet and felt that she would be one of the calmest dogs in her litter. (Oh my, I’m wondering about the other eight pups.) However, this is what Fancy liked to do when we had a meal…being sleepy, quiet and relaxed under our feet. All of this went out the window with any guests. Perhaps we would try to bring in someone who would understand that she needed to get to know someone besides her new family and would be willing to “endure”. We invited our back neighbors this weekend, telling them the need. They did not come for some reason, but who could blame them. They surely were busy.
We also noticed that at certain times of the evening, she would race around the house or yard like she was in the Daytona 500. Finally, she would come in front of me, who fixes her meals and give a little bark. I began to wonder if she was still hungry, so off to the kitchen I would go with the little thing following close behind. After eating some more dinner, she settled down and usually went off to sleep. It really didn’t matter how she slept…upside down was just fine. That was when my husband would also crash in his easy chair for the early morning hours of outside, puppy potty breaks were getting the best of him. When he snored and the house was quiet from little feet running here and there, I thanked God literally.
After placing a barrier screen so Fancy would not jump on the driver, we found a little more peace when riding with her in our truck. She had outgrown the travel carrier. Bill, my husband, occasionally moans, “Oh, it is going to be REALLY FUN traveling to Florida.” Maybe he will cheer up before October or November. I have to give him credit though. He is a trooper outside with Fancy and a possible bear. I’m not going out there!
So again we scan the internet to see how others have handled the growing pains of new”parents” of puppies. Some were encouraging, saying that time, growth, and maturity would change things. Others said, “NEVER!” Oh, I hope they are wrong for this beautiful, dark-eyed beauty is worthy of all the love we can give her. If only my husband would move his bed from the garage back into the house! (Just kidding.)
We’ve never had a dog that did not wrap herself around our hearts. Given time, this adorable little pup will settle into her new life and ours…we hope. If you do think of getting a new pup, be prepared to work at it and take your naps when you can!
One thing I have learned is the person that feeds a dog is not always the one to whom the dog has the strongest attachment. To whom do you think Fancy has the greatest attachment?
You guessed it…her “DAD”…even after all the loads of wash I did.
UPDATES ON FANCY TO FOLLOW IN ABOUT 3 MONTHS