Tuesday, May 4, 2010

How much is that doggie in the window?

Two years ago I generally detested dogs. The best dogs, my friends' dogs that left me alone, were tolerable. The rest - meh.

But something softened my heart over the past few years. Part of it is being so long from having little ones around. Part of it is turning fifty and wondering about some of the things I've not done in my life.

Every one of my best friends has been or is a dog owner. My life long friend Sherri had two dachshunds when we were in high school. My friend Tami had, until old age took her last year, a yellow lab. My friend Sherrie has her family dog who is her husband's hunting buddy. My friend Sally was absolutely nuts over her two cats and dog, spending thousands of dollars and tons of time nursing her dog through old age. He had to be put down shortly after Sally died.

If all these people, who I love and admire, like dogs, then there must be something special about having a dog. Did I want to try it, at least once?

These were the thoughts swirling in my brain, privately, in December, 2008. I tentatively mentioned the idea of getting a dog to my younger son, the only child still living at home. When he was little and wanted a dog, we always told him we would get him a dog when his brother and sisters were gone and he was home alone. So did he want a dog now? I asked him to think about it and, of course, hounded him for an answer.

He didn't seem particularly enthusiastic about the idea. I kept at him, wanting him to make a decision for me. A friend's dog was having puppies around Christmas time and that would give us plenty of time to prepare and educate ourselves for dog ownership in February. I showed him pictures of what the puppy would look like - a cross between a poodle and a cocker spaniel. The bottom line? My son said "meh." He was neutral about getting a dog, particularly a girly "cockapoo." If he was choosing a dog, he preferred a dog that looked like a husky.

But husky type dogs are big and shed a lot. Cockapoos are smaller, don't shed, are friendly, easily trained and good for people with allergies. What else matters?

Finally he said, "Mom, it's okay to get a dog if you want to get a dog. I don't really care." But how could I want a dog? I'd always disliked dogs. Was I crazy to want to get a dog when no one else in the family was that interested? It's not like any of us were just sitting around twiddling our thumbs.

Talking it over with my husband, he said go ahead, don't worry about it. So in a matter of days I went from detesting dogs to determined to own a dog. (I usually don't waste time on decisions.)

On the Friday before Christmas I went to the local pet store. They happened to have an older cockapoo puppy that I could show Wiley in order to get him more interested in the upcoming litter. Then I noticed an unlabeled puppy in the window. It looked just like a husky. I visited with each puppy. They were both unbelievably cute and friendly. The husky type puppy, I learned, was a shiba inu. In all my internet research, I had not run across mention of a shiba inu.

Back at the house I researched. Shiba inus are small, fastidious, cat-like, spirited, loyal to their owners, smart and sassy. That sounded good. They don't drool and don't have an odor. That sounded very good. They shed heavily twice a year. Okay, that's manageable. I conveniently glossed over the reports that shiba inus are not recommended for first time dog owners and shiba puppies are often described as "feisty little furballs from hell."

I emailed shiba inu information to Ricky at school. I picked Wiley up from school, the last day of school before the two week Christmas break, and took him immediately to the pet store. He loved the shiba inu. Ricky came home, exhausted and ready to relax after dealing with hyper teenagers all day. "You have to come to the pet store and see this dog." He rolled his eyes, but he went with me to check it out.

With everything happening for the Christmas holidays, there was no way I could bring home that dog that day. And there was no way I would leave a dog at the pet store that was going to be mine. (That particular puppy did get purchased by a family the next week.)

Back at the internet I found a shiba inu puppy, just sixty miles from my parents' house, that would be ready for us to pick up when we were there the next weekend. By Saturday I had purchased a puppy.

The next Sunday we picked up our new puppy and brought her home. Her first night with us our devil cat Addie hissed at her when she wouldn't shut up and so the puppy went right to sleep in her crate. The second night the puppy cried the entire night, in the crate in our bedroom, like all the books said would be best. By the third night we discovered our puppy did just fine with her crate in the kitchen, under the desk. With kids home from college, there was someone around to soothe her even in the middle of the night, and she quickly settled in.

Not too long after, she got sick. Taking her to the emergency vet on a Sunday night, we found out she had the parvo virus, often deadly for little puppies particularly. The next five days were horrible, with the vet recommending at one point that we let her go. But we did everything money and love and prayers could buy, and brought her home on the sixth day. She still had to go back a couple of times a day the next few days for breathing treatments since she had developed a little pneumonia, but she survived.

Three days after her homecoming I knocked a basket of books off a stool while she was underfoot. A cat would have jumped out of the way. The basket landed on her leg and I heard my first shiba scream. We scrambled to the vet again and came out with pain medicine and a splint on her leg. The x-ray was inconclusive. So that required a trip across town to a dog orthopedic specialist, who determined ultimately that her leg was okay.

I joke now that we have a golden dog.

Since then we've learned a lot about dog food, dog treats, leashes, crates and poop scooping. We've also learned about tail wagging, yodeling, tug of war, head tossing, following commands and cat chasing.

How much is our doggie in the window? Priceless.

For everything else.......
Cost of the dog $XXX
Animal hospital $XXXX
Vet specialist $XXX
Regular vet bill $XXX
Monthly dog stuff $XX
Cost of a playmate $XXX

It's just money.

Three more days 'till the new puppy.

p.s. During the Christmas holidays in 2008 my husband told our new son-in-law......"One of the great things about being married - you can live with someone for thirty years and they can still surprise you. I never thought I would ever hear the words 'I want a dog' from my wife's mouth. An alien has arrived and taken over my wife's body."

I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

will you be bringing your new bundle of joy to the soccer tourney?