Puppies And Toddlers…Basically The Same Experience

It’s been a while since I cared for a young child. Tonight, though, I was reminded of that long since past experience courtesy of our newest family member.

We decided to try the puppy on a short walk not long after dark. He has made it most of the way around our block on leash once already, so we figured it would be good to try again. I should have known our endeavor would not go as well this time because, as I was working to put his harness on, he wrestled and squirmed like a toddler recognizing that his pajamas mean bedtime is imminent. Once we had him outfitted for the walk, we went out the front door and he sat down, bit the leash, and refused to move. Undeterred, I picked him up and walked him down to our yard, where he walked into the grass, and threw himself down in a pouty, dramatic sploot, belly down with feet splayed out behind him, chin on the ground. Still, I thought since Ruby was walking ahead of him, he might perk up so I picked him up and walked on. Along the way, I several times tried again to see if he would follow Ruby’s lead and walk. Each time, he dramatically flung himself onto the grass in a petulant, defiant show of stubbornness. I gave up and carried him the rest of the way so at least Ruby would enjoy the walk.

One of Loki’s corgi toddler tantrums

When we got close to home, Ruby and Steve went ahead. Loki started whimpering. I know that sound might mean he needed to use the grassy facilities, so I set him down in our neighbor’s yard. He walked a couple steps forward and, sure enough, started doing his business. I praised him for his effort, pulled out my iPhone so I could train the flashlight on his deposit, and waited for Steve to come back out. I was afraid if I didn’t mark the spot, we would forget where it was, and I didn’t want to leave our new neighbors (whom we just met last night) an unwelcome puppy prize. While I was waiting for Steve to return with a poop bag, I set our mail on the ground. There was a bag from J Crew. Loki amused himself by gnawing on it. He was dragging it around and as the bag got closer to his mess, I panicked. I tried to grab the bag from him and he resisted, backing up onto his fresh pile, squishing it between his little white feet. Dammit. I’d saved the bag, but now the dog would need a bath.

Oh…the indignity

Steve put the dog in the utility sink while I dug around for the mildest soap I could find. I knew we didn’t have any puppy soap, so I settled for a mild castille soap since we would targeting his feet. It was only his second bath and we quickly discovered bathing is not his favorite. We got his feet washed, both of us working to get the wriggling ball of fur through the ordeal as quickly as possible. We wrapped him in a towel, and tried to dry him as best as we could. He flipped and flopped and gnawed at the towel, little puppy growls of annoyance coming from underneath as if he was cursing us, which he probably was.

When we’d decided he was dry enough, we set him loose. Clean, invigorated, and freed from his unpleasant experience, he started running around the laundry room with increased fervor. He’d gotten his second wind. He went straight for the door stopper, bit at it several times, and barked at it for mocking him. Then he turned around and started chewing on my shirt. It seemed like it might be witching hour and I was out of energy for this, so off to puppy jail he went. Once inside his pen, he crawled up onto his new bed, collapsed, dropped his chin onto the edge, and began to close his eyes. He was done. And so were we. All three off us exhausted and ready for sleep.

Then Ruby pushed her stuffed candy corn toy at me. The rest of us might be out of energy, but this one isn’t. I can’t remember how I survived these nights when our sons were 2 and 4. Earlier today, those days would have seemed like a million years ago. After tonight, they feel like yesterday.

Fetcha Day

Today was Fetcha Day for our new furry baby. After spending the night in Vernal, Utah, we drove into Duchesne and met the breeder at 9 am. She was wonderful, and Loki (whose full AKC name shall be Happy Go Loki Seven) was perfect from the get go. He played with a kitten, ran around the grass, and then settled into our arms like he had always belonged with us.

The drive from Duchesne to our house is approximately seven hours, and with a new pup we wanted to get home as quickly as possible. Along the way, we stopped several times at parks to let Loki use the grassy facilities and stretch his three-inch long corgi legs. By the time we hit Interstate 70, a point where we should have been a little over three hours from home, traffic came to a dead stop and then proceeded at a snail’s pace. That was about 1:30 pm. We got home at 7:30 pm. You do the math. At least it was a gorgeous Colorado fall day with plenty of color on the mountains to make the sluggish day bearable.

Loki could not have been a better travel companion, all five pounds of him. He did all his dirty business on the stops we made and never in the car. He missed his dinner time, but never whined about it. He entered his new kennel on his own and took several naps in there unprompted. And he tolerated ten hours in a car like a seasoned pro. He is a puppy to be sure, all sharpy teeth and nails, but he loves people and could not have a sweeter disposition. I can tell he is going to give us a run for our money, though, because he is smart. He has already proven he learns quickly. We are going to have to be careful because he is sure to pick up bad habits as quickly as good ones if we are not.

When we got home, we had a plan to slowly and respectfully introduce Ruby to the new brother she did not request. We had Luke walk her before we came home to get her in a calmer mental space. We let Loki run around the yard as soon as we arrived and then we put him in his small kennel, carried him in, and set him where Ruby could see him. She came close to investigate, clearly was not thrilled, but walked away without a snarl or as much attitude as I had expected. Then we left the puppy with Luke and took her for another walk. We are going to work to keep them separate by keeping Loki in his pen or crate when he is around her and not allowing him to play around her until Ruby is ready to accept her new roommate. It might take a couple weeks, but I think our slow approach will work. Fingers crossed.

We are all exhausted now after a long day, so it’s time to settle in for the night. So far so good with the puppy, the doggy introduction, and an only mildly sassy Ruby. Life is better with a furry dog friend or two.

How You Become One Of Those Dog Owners

We don’t even have the puppy yet. We are picking him up this weekend, but I have been on Etsy looking at dog paraphernalia. I have become that person. I did not plan for this to happen. I turned on the news earlier, which was an epic mistake that sent me into a negative spiral. To claw my way out of the crevasse I slipped into, I started looking at clothing items for dogs because nothing says “I need to get out more, but we’re in a global pandemic and not everyone is willing to get vaccinated” more than a puppy in a knock-off Burberry bandana. So apparently I have stopped myself from focusing on the miasmal political nightmare our country finds herself in by losing my mind in a treasure trove of puppy merchandise.

I suppose, however, if you’re going to lose your mind, indulging in puppy Burberry is preferable to going on a murderous rampage or drowning yourself in a river, right? At this point, bandanas, Halloween costumes, and personalized toys for our new family member seem like a healthy mental escape given the alternatives. At least that is what I keep telling myself while simultaneously shaking my head at the notion that this is where I am in my life.

So when you see me walking down the street with my dog dressed to the nines and cute as a button, be nice. Just remember I haven’t lost my mind. This is how I saved it.

Photo borrowed from @hughcollinsdavis on Insta with full credit to Brian Davis

Puppies Can Cure Almost Anything

It has been a day. I’ve been all over the place mentally. So, rather than try to form coherent sentences, I shall just share this video with you of our future furry family member. Try not to die from the cuteness of six, five-week old corgi puppies running outside for the first time. When the world is going to hell, puppies still have the ability to make things better, even if temporarily.

A group of corgis is called a consort. After seeing this video, though, I’m thinking maybe it’s a chaos of corgis.

You’re welcome.

The Next Step Is A Doozy

“You don’t need to take all of the steps. Only the next one.”

For thirteen years, we’ve lived with a beautiful, anxious, determined, crazy, personality-plus border collie. We have adored her 95% of the time. The other 5% of the time we were wondering what planet she came from and pondering how to deal with her quirks. Dogs are something else. They are furry animals. Animals. And you let them live in your home and sleep in your bedroom. You buy them food and put them on ropes and walk them around outside. You travel with them. They become part of your people family, but they are still animals at the end of the day. Short-lived animals at that. It took us about ten years to understand our border collie, and now we’re on the precipice of losing our sweet baby girl. It’s been a rewarding (and now heartbreaking) journey.

We’ve never had one day in our home without a dog, so when we learned Ruby is losing kidney function we decided it was time to get a second dog that at some point will become our only dog. This is how Ruby came to us. Buddy was our senior dog who began having seizures and other problems. We saw his suffering and knew he wasn’t long for this world, so we selfishly got a puppy to ease our sadness around his transition. A funny thing happened when Ruby came along, though. Buddy (who Luke said was “on death’s doorstep”) suddenly perked up. He initially wasn’t thrilled to have Ruby around, but soon enough they settled into an arrangement. As time went on, Buddy became a bit more active. He played. It’s as if he saw the new dog and said to us, “Hey, hey, hey. I see what you’re doing here. Not so fast. I’m not done yet.” Luke said Buddy “must have drank from the Holy Grail” because he lived a year beyond the seizure we thought would be his end. I suppose now we are thinking that a new puppy might also give Ruby a new leash on life in her final months.

So today we did a thing. We made a commitment to purchase our next, greatest furry family member. Not a replacement for Ruby, as there will never be another dog like her, but a successor. We will be getting a BHT (black-headed tri-color) Corgi from an AKC breeder in Utah before the end of September. When we pick him up, he will be 8 weeks old. He will have been socialized with his five littermates and the breeder’s children, other dogs and pets, and farm animals. He will be cute but he will not look like the dog he will eventually become. He will be an energetic, active, ball of shedding fluff that will keep us awake at night for a while and keep us on our toes for years. We don’t know who this new family member will be or what role he will fill in our family unit, but we know he will bring new life into our home and shake us up. It’s scary, but it’s also exciting as hell. It’a a big commitment, but our kids are grown and we’re ready to experience some youthful energy again.

So, without further ado, meet our future family member, Loki.

He has a seven on his head, so we’re thinking he will be Loki Seven.

Looking For a Close Second

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” ~Josh Billings

Our family pet, a beautiful, smooth coat Border Collie is thirteen. We recently learned, not surprisingly because she is 13, that she is in kidney failure. We’ve got her on a special diet and have been doing all the recommended things to make sure she is healthy for as long as she can be, but we know that she is not long for this world. It’s heartbreaking, but it’s part of the great journey each living being undertakes. While losing any pet is devastating, this particular situation is even more difficult because we’ve had this puppers since the boys were 8 and 6. Our girl has grown up alongside our boys, and soon she will be leaving us the way the boys are now that they are grown. I’m grieving her already, the same way I’m grieving seeing our sons grow up and move on. It’s a bit much to pile on one momma’s heart.

Ruby is what my friend Kari calls our “heart dog.” A heart dog is the best dog you’ve ever had. It’s the one that, above all the others, was your favorite. She is very much a typical Border Collie. She is energetic, She is independent and keeps to herself until she is ready to be loved on. And she is wicked smart. When we weren’t training her, she was training us. When she was younger and we had to leave for a while, we would try to put her either outside or in her dog crate. She quickly figured out what the normal course of events were when we were leaving and she would decide for herself where she wanted to stay while we were gone. Once she had made up her mind, we were stuck with her decision. Still, I’ve never considered her stubborn. She’s simply a strong, independent woman who knows her own mind and won’t be cajoled into doing something she’s not interested in. Like I said, typical Border Collie.

As much as it breaks my heart that Ruby is in her final year and as much as I wish we could keep her forever, I know it’s time to start looking for our next pet before Ruby crosses the rainbow bridge. Steve and I have never been without a dog, not for one day since we met in 1993. So, we have been considering what comes next for us. Previously, we owned labs and lab mixes, but we have fallen in love with herding dogs. We are finished with sporting dogs who love to be wet, have no interest in toy breeds who want to be in your lap and sleep in your bed, and are not ready to take on a terrier. Hounds can be smelly and they like to run off after things. We don’t want any dog bred to have a smooshed face and breathing problems, so no pugs, French bulldogs, or Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. And we don’t want any dog that needs haircuts, so that eliminates anything with “oodle” in its name. We’re currently going back and forth between another Border Collie (since I no longer have young children to worry about, I have plenty of time to train, amuse, and exercise a smart, active dog) and a Pembroke Welsh Corgi. We’ve thought about a rescue and have rescued in the past, but we’re specifically wanting a puppy, and puppy rescues are hard to come by.

I am throwing this out into the universe. Does anyone have a dog breed we should consider that you can sell us on? Tell us about your favorite dog breed. Why are they the best? Please don’t bother suggesting a cat. My husband is highly allergic. I can’t have him and a cat, and I still want him around.

We will never be able to replace Ruby. She will forever be our heart dog. But, we’re open to finding a close second.