Thursday, February 25, 2010

There goes the puppy

Well, Elke's back with the breeder.

I had to be realistic: It's just not the right time in my life for a puppy. Right now, I need to focus on getting a job, I'm stressed out about that and, despite what I thought, I couldn't go through puppyhood alone and I had to be realistic about my not having a support system to help with her (it does take a village, people).

The breeder has a waiting list a mile long, so I made someone on that waiting list very happy. In the meantime, Elke's rolling around with her littermates again and I got to cuddle with a sweet puppy for a few days (and stand in the rain a lot).

When things are more settled, I'll reconsider, but frankly, I'll consider an older dog next time.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Road to Ruin!

Well this is it. Tomorrow I pick up my puppy and bring her to her new home.

Back in October, I decided that since I had all this free time and spending so much of it inside my home, perhaps I should revisit the idea of getting a dog.

As a kid, I was really into dogs - there's this story my grandmother used to tell me about me and the dogs when we all lived in Jackson Heights. I was an incredibly friendly child, saying hello to everyone, a huge smile always on my face. (I have bits of memory, holding my grandmother's hand while walking down the sidewalk, tilting my head up, saying hello to strangers. Some of whom would smile and say hello back, some of whom would keep on walking, and I'd puzzle on that, asking my grandmother why they didn't reciprocate.)

The building in which we lived in until I was seven years old was a large seven story apartment building with three "wings." My parents and I lived in the A wing and my grandparents in the B wing (each wing had it's own elevator bank). I was always going in between their apartments, out to the pool area, out to the play area or just out in general. And it was a building filled with dogs. I remember a husky that I loved and a doberman.

So, the story about me and dogs in our building goes something like this, and in this story I'm between the ages 3-7: Just as I would walk down the street and say hello to all the strangers walking by, I did the exact same thing with the dogs and would often go pet them and then put my arms around them. The dogs in my building were, according to my grandma, of the "scary" variety: dobermans, huskies, shepherds and other dogs that were larger than I was and I would go ahead and hug them. Everyone knew me in the building and so did all the dogs.

The one piece of the story that my grandmother left out for years was that when I was two years old and visiting Brazil, a chihuahua bit my mouth after I tried to pet it, resulting in a few stitches on my lips (I still have the scars). I never liked small dogs and wouldn't go near them but had no idea why. Finally one day I asked my grandmother and she casually tells me about it. She said the bite didn't change my exuberance for dogs one bit, just that I stopped wanting to pet and hug small dogs, so she didn't think much of it.

Growing up, I wanted either a husky, a doberman or a german shepherd, the types of dogs that I saw and loved as a kid. My parents were immovable, despite that fact that my mom grew up with a boxer and my dad loved dogs. However, there was a strange incident: When I was sixteen, I opened the front door of my house and there was a cocker spaniel puppy running around. I looked around and saw that my father had his video camera set up on the tripod, trained to the front door and right at me. I was not happy. I did not and do not like cocker spaniels, but there was my father, excited. My mother, who was right behind me, was excited. They looked at me expectantly. And, there was a camera trained at me. I knew what I needed to do. I still cringe when I think of it how much I faked my emotion that day. A few years ago I saw the video and it made me cry.

The puppy didn't last long, about a month. He was very sweet, but I wasn't consulted and he wasn't "my" dog. It all felt weird and unnatural. Then, I came home one day and he was gone which actually made the situation a whole lot worse somehow. A few months later, my mom asked my father for a divorce, just to give this whole thing some context.

Once I graduated high school and entered college, the idea of a dog was pushed to the side. And, once I graduated college, I had already been made to understand that "a dog was not for single people. " I needed to either be in a committed relationship or married in order to have a dog. And, I just accepted that as a fact of life.

So, back in October, when I decided that I had all this free time and spending so much of it inside my apartment, I revisited this mindset. And I decided it was a bunch of crap. I most certainly could go ahead and have a dog as a single person, and with my current situation, I could even get a puppy. I could get a dogwalker once I was employed. It most certainly is doable for a single person to have a dog.

Also at this point, while I still loved huskies, dobermans and shepherds, I decided upon a Samoyed, a sweet, fluffy white dog that looks like it's smiling all the time. I began my search, starting at the rescue sites. Samoyeds aren't really common dogs like labs or goldens, but I kept a watch. Both of my cats were rescues, and I very much believe in adopting animals. But, this was the breed of dog I wanted, so I also started researching local breeders. Again, not a common dog, but I found a few breeders, spoke to them and decided to visit a breeder in Connecticut that I ended up choosing and got on a waiting list.

And so the preparation began: I read a bunch of books (about fourteen in all so far), groomed a few Samoyeds, spent as much time as I could with both adult and puppy Samoyeds and now the day has come. The crate is set up, the apartment has been puppy-proofed and my cats definitely have a sense that something's up.

Despite all that I've read, I'm nervous. There's just no amount of preparation that would be enough for me. Look at this from Ian Dunbar's book, "Before & After Getting Your Puppy": "In fact, some puppies are well on the road to ruin by the time they are just eight weeks old." (Emphasis mine.) ROAD TO RUIN!

Day 44: This one
Look at this face. She's on the ROAD TO RUIN unless I have my shit together!

Tomorrow morning, I'll pick up the zipcar, drive to Connecticut and pick up the pup. What's her name? Well stay tuned: while I have a favorite, I need to try it out on her first and see if it fits. If you're that curious, check my twitter as I'll likely announce it there.

Oh, be prepared for future blog posts and flickr uploads regarding the dog. Rest assured I won't turn into a crazy dog lady; I never did turn into a crazy cat lady, after all. :)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What's Your Hobby?

I had a phone interview today for a job that sounds promising and interesting but I was thrown by two questions: 1) how do I deal with difficult people and 2) what are my hobbies.

The "dealing with difficult people" question was tough because I had to be honest - I don't thrive in environments where difficult people are tolerated and I only suffer fools up to a point. I see it as disrespectful and cowardly when a difficult employee or employer is allowed free reign to make the lives of others miserable. I went on some ramble about the television commercials I saw for "Kell on Earth" and how I didn't understand how her employees thought it was a thriving environment... I hope the interviewer appreciated my grasp on popular culture. (Surprisingly, this didn't seem to do me in but who knows.)

I have always grappled with the hobby question, even as a kid. I remember being asked about my hobbies in class, or staring down at some form where I was asked to fill in my hobbies. I was often confused as to what the definition was - is a hobby any activity that you do for fun? Is it something you do in your spare time? Is it just any activity you do? I don't think running or swimming are hobbies. I don't consider cooking a hobby either. Therefore, I was always on the search for an Official Hobby - the one thing I was really passionate about and dedicated to. A hobby to me had to be something like gardening, collecting, crafting, model trains, radio-related, or drawing. As a kid, my only hobbies I felt were legit were drawing, reading and science/astronomy.

However, when the interviewer asked I blurted out, "the internet." I have often said, in a self-deprecating and joking way, that the internet is my hobby but, it actually is. I spend so much time online reading, writing, researching, playing, talking, tooling around, - it's something I enjoy, especially researching. I was an amazing researcher prior to the internet - making great use of my encyclopedia and the library's reference desk. Seemed like no one my age knew that you could utilize the ref desk; Librarians often took me behind their desks to show me which books to pull and how to get the information I was looking for and I would linger for a while watching them (and no one knew you could call up and they would help you over the phone, and walk you through what they were doing). It was a great advantage, but one that I didn't put to great use grade-wise. I just liked knowing random things and looking things up - my parents were forever telling me to "look it up" (and it's why you want me on your trivia team). This little internet hobby of mine has served me well in collecting, with genealogy, with my job, and with satisfying my general thirst to look things up and get caught up in it. (Tangent: As a kid I was obsessed by science and the BBC series "Connections" and "The Day the Universe Changed." If you know these series and know of James Burke, this would explain a lot about where this passion and love for research comes from. James Burke... I still want to be like this guy.)

When the interviewer asked me what other hobbies I had my mind went blank. No, actually it went back to my childhood rigid assumption of what a hobby was and then it went back to a month ago when I was searching Hunch for a hobby and found nothing I liked so then I said "reading," my most consistent hobby. When I got off the phone, I realized I had a bunch of other hobbies like: all the trivia I've been playing on xbox live , collecting Automat memorabilia, exploring the outdoors, the 365 Project could be considered a hobby even.

I just researched hobbies and found this quiz. Surprise, my hobby is Technology. If you want to play around with finding a new hobby, I think Hunch is a great resource to get the ideas flowing (and I'm going to play around with it some more when I'm done with this post!).

So, what are your hobbies? Do you have the same ones from when you were a kid? What do you do when you want to discover a new hobby?