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. :)


Chelc said...

I wish we lived closer so we could come and visit your new little one. From the pictures, I just want to hug her and squeeze her and name her George (OK maybe not that last part!). So excited to hear about your adventures - with the cats and just puppy-rearing in general. Growing up we got our dog at 6 yrs old, so she was pretty set in her ways. I always dreaded potty training - if we were to ever get a puppy! I think you'll be a great puppy mama!

vivzan said...

As I was readying things this afternoon, I thought about how I wish we all were closer as well. You, Andrew and Sue were on my mind today.

It's going to be an interesting adventure, that's for sure! Oh, I gotta go clip the kitty's nails! Almost forgot!

I hope I'll be a great puppy mama. I've been a good kitty mama. :)

Neets said...

LOL! Do *not* fool yourself. You are about to become a crazy dog lady. I never thought I would be, but I'm the person who tells stupid stories about a cute thing my dog did, just like parents talk about their child! Ugh! It cannot be helped, trust me. But it's really OK -- just embrace it. : ) Can't wait to hear the name -- good luck with your doggie!

Clau said...

You WILL start to sing stupid, made-up songs to your dog about pooping, walking and dinner.

Oh wait... is that just me?