The end of May was an anxious time for me. There was awful (read: tragic!) news about the litter from which I was adopting my new puppy, and the potential for an extended delay in receiving my new little bundle of mischief and mayhem. I was anxious for the breeder having to deal with such wretched issues, afraid for my potential puppy, and worried about missing those vital weeks for bonding and socialising.
Ultimately all these anxieties proved unnecessary – as they so often do. Buddy arrived on time, as pre-arranged in the weeks leading up to the last Sunday of May.
I drove in with my mother as co-pilot, since it was a long, long drive to the airport for a new Provisional driver, and because I was likely to be very distracted the second I collected my new baby.
Which, of course, proved to be the case! There was no way I could have safely driven home with my new puppy, even if he was tucked safely away in a crate! I sat in the back with him, cuddled him up in a warm blanket and comforted him after the awfully long travel from Queensland to Tasmania. Poor little mite was tired and stressed, and promptly fell asleep (albeit fitfully) in my lap. The above is as good a picture as I could take while I was cuddling a puppy and melting.
He settled in and met the cats, and has since developed developed entirely different relationships with each of them. Smudge loves to play and has taken a fancy to teasing Buddy into giving chase down the hall, at the end of which Smudge can escape through a crack in a door or climb up his climbing fort. Buddy is, of course, only too happy to lope after him, then grump when he gets away. The two of them remind me so much of how my old cat, Monster, and my first Malamute, Kulan, used to play that I caught myself more than once calling them Monster and Kulan.
Unfortunately, Buddy is a mouthy puppy who likes to wrap his teeth around Smudge. His behaviour is generally encouraging, since it’s obvious Buddy thinks of Smudge as a puppy, and is trying to play with him as he would one of his litter mates. But Smudge is not a puppy, and is quite a light-framed little cat who wouldn’t survive a good bite, even from a puppy. So, much interference needs to be run between them to make sure play time doesn’t turn into a blood bath. So far so good! Training Buddy to be distracted by me if necessary, and always at the ready to swoop in and either pull him away or scoop Smudge out of reach – often to Smudge’s chagrin!
EnormousCat is terribly mean and hissy-spits and swipes at Buddy whenever he gets close. Buddy would really like to be friends with him, and often play bows and even goes belly-up to that end, but EnormousCat no more understands puppy play language than Buddy understands why EnormousCat is such a crankypants.
For the first few nights I kept him close and slept with him in the bed, reinforcing bonding through shared sleeping space. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep during this time, but he bonded with me really quickly as a result.
Of course, Smudge had to snuggle up too, and see what’s going on with this new wriggling creature sleeping in his usual spot. This probably helped bond these two as well. :)
Unfortunately, he arrived just before a busy marking cycle at work, so I didn’t get a lot of pictures for the next few weeks, but made up for it (I hope) with a couple of short videos:
For the first 3-ish weeks, I pretty much had a constant dose of puppy-induced anxiety. My perfectionism had me so determined to get all the things right, all the time, and if Buddy ever got something wrong or was ‘bad’, it was entirely my own fault and the self-flagellation was epic. Epic.
But we’ve fallen into a lovely routine now, including exercise on my parents’ property (because I can’t take him most places until he’s done with his vaccinations), tricks for treats, and acclimating him to crates. He has a house crate in the living room I can cover when he sleeps during the day, or leave open to see what’s going on when it’s necessary he be crated (or he just wants to be in there). There’s a night-time crate beside my bed, and a crate in the car. With all his crates, he’s now very comfortable being secured in one – which is exactly what I wanted. His crate is his little safe-cave.
Before each meal he has to sit/drop/tummy a few times, then meet my eyes before I let him access his bowl, which is an awesome Slo-Bowl in the shape of a spiral to make him work out how to get at his kibble. No wolfing it down too fast and getting a tummy ache!
Though he did get an awful dose of diarrhoea a week ago, and had to go on a course of antibiotics. Now mixing some meat into his dinner with a probiotic to help restore his gut flora – I hate antibiotics. :(
We’ve had a few temper tantrums, but we’ve nipped them in the bud and I haven’t had one for a while now (touch wood). I realised a few days after the fact that his tantrums tended to coincide with times I’d skipped the training session at meal times. See? My bad! Staying to the task of training sessions has made the difference.
The other day, he actually volunteered cuddles with me – the first time we sat down together for a serious bout of cuddling without getting mouthed/chewed. It was glorious. :)
Due to having to wait for his vaccinations to introduce him to other dogs, he hasn’t really had much socialising with people, either. I’ve been trying lately to get him to meet lots of people, getting total strangers to get him to sit and give him a treat in an effort to make him realise people are good. But… I think I’m coming around to the idea that Buddy is going to be a one-person dog, and I’m okay as that one person. Spirit was an every-person dog, and Kulan was a no-person-at-all dog, so.. I think this will work out for me. I like the idea of a dog who is close with me, but doesn’t licky-face up to everyone. As long as he doesn’t have fear for people, or fear-aggression for people, I think we’ll be okay – and he’s doing well now that people are showing him they mean treats!
We’ve had some great positive experience with the few dogs I have introduced him to, but it’s still limited for the moment. Looking forward to taking him to puppy school when he’s fully vaccinated!
Anyway, I’ve stopped and picked-up this entry a half-dozen times today, and completely lost the threads of everything I wanted to say. This will give me an excuse to write a follow-up (or three) in the near future.
I shall end, however, with sharing some lovely pictures my good friend Ben Short took when he visited.