Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Loss of Sanity or.... We Got a Puppy

After raising our Golden Retriever, Chardonnay, I promised myself that I would never get another puppy.  The next dog would arrive in adult form, housebroken and with all its brain cells in gear.  This is what I told my fifteen-year-old Kelsey repeatedly last year when she started asking for her own dog.  She wanted a small dog, one she could carry. She loves teacup-size Pomeranians.  Jay and I don't regard anything smaller than our cats as "real dogs".  I can't stand yippy dogs.  We compromised.  We could get a puppy as long as it wasn't a small breed. 

One of the major reasons I opened up to the idea of adding a second canine to the family has been the realization that our beloved Chardonnay is getting older.  Even though she's pretty healthy, her hips are starting to bother her, she's already had a benign tumor removed and her sire died at the age of eleven.  Chardonnay is ten.  The thought of losing my precious Golden Goof eventually makes my eyes tear up every time.  I prefer the idea of having an overlap, hoping that perhaps Chardonnay can teach a new dog how to behave in our household; no excessive barking, chasing cats or chickens and a tolerance for small children. 

Thinking we'd save money and a life by not going to a breeder, Kelsey looked on Pet Finders for a rescue and found a litter of Shar Pei mix puppies.  We ended up going through Help Save One based in Rhode Island.  After completing an application and putting down a deposit, we got very little feedback other than being told we were approved.  During the process of waiting to hear about our selection, getting auto replies to my email enquiries, being told originally to pick her up from transport at 3 AM in a McDonald's parking lot, then finding out the puppy we'd reserved was not a girl as promised, but a boy....I was tempted to back out many times, but was afraid I wouldn't get a refund.  

I had reservations at the idea of getting a puppy whose mother was a registered Shar Pei.  Although they are adorable with their wrinkly faces, the breed can be aggressive if not trained properly.  I rationalized that most Pit Bulls and Rotweilers I've met have been very friendly, sweet dogs so the breed is not always a determining factor. I also have a personal aversion to a dog whose natural tail carriage is over its back, exposing what I don't want to see every time it walks in front of me.

Nevertheless, we started recording the Dog Whisperer show and bought Cesar Milan's book, How to Raise the Perfect Dog.  I was mentally preparing myself to be a pack leader.

This was to be Kelsey's 16th birthday present a month early.  She agreed, as most kids do who have to beg, to be responsible for the puppy's care, training, save money to pay for the spay surgery, etc.  Kelsey picked out the solid black puppy on the website named "Believe".  She had this image of opening a wrapped box with a puppy inside and being surprised.  Kind of silly, but I went along.  I wrapped a copy paper box, top separately from the bottom, handle holes punched out for air, complete with a ribbon.  I took it with me, along with a regular carrier, and met Pam from Help Save One at the Mystic Friendly's around 11 AM.  Still a seedy process compared to going to a breeder's home, but much better than 3 AM over an hour away. 

As I mentioned, the black puppy turned out to be a male, a fact determined only after Pam took the puppies out as she had no idea which one was ours.  I can sex kittens with 98% accuracy at birth, 100% by two weeks.  Most vets can't claim that level of accuracy with kittens, but puppies have pretty obvious gender differences from the beginning.  Since these puppies were raised at a veterinarian's office in West Virginia, I don't blame the rescue organization for the error as they didn't even see them.  If someone wrote it down wrong, it should have been corrected.  Only two of the litter in the back of Pam's SUV were girls.  I'm glad that I at least got to see the whole litter as it made it easier to narrow down the breed of the father.  Judging by the heads and high white with brown freckles on some of the puppies, I'd say Dad was a hound, perhaps a Pointer.  I had to call Kelsey and tell her the dilemma.  The question was, was it more important to get a girl, or to get a solid black, more Shar Pei looking dog?  Kelsey chose the dark girl, a mushroom colored puppy with white on her chest and toes and a long, straight non-Shar Pei tail.  The puppies smelled like urine (they'd been in a car for over 24 hours) and complained loudly.  Although odoriferous, Kelsey's choice was happy to be held and gave me a bunch of kisses.

When I arrived at our driveway, I stopped and took the stinky, yelping puppy from the the carrier and put her in the gift-wrapped box.  Then I continued on to the house (our driveway is a quarter-mile long).  I called Tyler and instructed him to bring his sister outside.  I tried to present my daughter with her gift and sing Happy Birthday, but I became verklempt.  Figures....dogs make me emotional.  Kelsey's expectations were low after my phone call, but fortunately she loved the puppy at first sight.  "She's so cute!"  My birthday song failed, but cuteness prevailed.

After offering food and bathing her new baby, Kelsey finally settled on the name Coraline, "Cory" for short.  Kelsey has had two sleepless nights and I've gotten out of bed more than my share, but it's getting markedly better every day.  Cory only barks when she's crated and realizes she's alone.  She's quickly learning to settle in quietly when going into the crate.  She's not yippy at all.  Chardonnay loves her, but tires of the puppy exuberance at times.  The cats vary in their degrees of welcome as Cory's method of play is a big rough for them.

Cassie is ready to move into Cory's crate

If we survive Coraline's puppy hood to ever look at another dog in the future, unfortunately my preference  won't be to go through a rescue organization.  I know they're trying to do the honorable thing and it's a lot of thankless work, but I need more reassurances and guarantees.  Still, we'll make it work for the new family member.

Don't wake the baby!


  1. I trust I will not have to share a bed with Cory when I visit you!?

  2. No Dad, as long as you don't mind sleeping with a few cats instead.

  3. I prefer the idea of having an overlap, hoping that perhaps Chardonnay can teach a new dog how to behave in our household; no excessive barking, chasing cats or chickens and a tolerance for small children.

    After Chardonnay is finished with Cory, perhaps she could have a few sessions with Jay.