Sunday, February 10, 2013

A New Puppy!

I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. 
For me they are the role model for being alive. 
~ Gilda Radner ~

On January 12th, our almost-five year old dog, Gretel, passed away. We were devastated by her unexpected death.

In Memory of Gretel - January 23, 2008-January 12, 2013
Photos from Gretel's life with us.
She was a wonderful dog and loving companion.

Shortly after her death, I let Northwoods Humane Society (where we adopted Gretel from) know about what happened.

I had debated about whether to do this because I didn't want them to think that I had somehow failed my commitment to provide Gretel with a long life in a loving home. Yet, the veterinarian said that her death was not my fault or something that I could control. (Gretel either suffered from a heart attack or brain aneurysm - most likely the former).

So, I was touched when the executive director, Brenda Zelinka, extended her sympathies and said it would be her personal mission to find us a new companion.

Surprisingly, on January 22nd, I received an email about a six-month old puppy named Deacon. Brenda didn't share the puppy's name with me in her initial email because I had made monthly contributions through our 12 in 12 challenge during 2012 to Northwoods Humane Society in memory of my Dad (who was ordained as a Deacon in 1991; and who had passed away on January 5, 2012). She didn't want the puppy's name to affect my decision.

The first puppy we visited: Deacon.

Sophia, Olivia, and I went to Northwoods immediately to see if Deacon would be a good fit for us and with Montague. When he was brought to the visiting room, he initially seemed interested in us, but it was short-lived. He seemed to want to be somewhere else and with someone else...not us.

Reluctantly, I told Brenda that Deacon seemed to be waiting for another family. In fact, as we were standing in the lobby another woman came out and Deacon excitedly responded to her. I knew, in my heart, that Deacon was waiting for someone else.

I also told her that this visit made us aware that a puppy - a much younger one - would be a better fit with our family...especially with Montague.

As I turned around to leave, Deacon was sitting so nicely next to Brenda. I said and waved "goodbye." I repeated in my mind, "Goodbye, Deacon," and then immediately a wave of sadness came over to me as I thought about my Dad.

In a way, it reminded me of the many and difficult "goodbyes" I said to my Dad. So many times, I would say and wave "goodbye" to him while he was in the depths of Alzheimer's - both at home and then at the nursing home...and I would walk away questioning if I was doing enough...or if I had done the right thing (especially after having to make the decision to place him at a nursing home).

So many emotions...unexpected choosing a puppy.

She had no particular breed in mind, no unusual requirements. 
Except the special sense of mutual recognition 
that tells dog and human 
they have both come to the right place.
~ Lloyd Alexander ~

Then, on February 7th, I received another email from Brenda to let me know that a puppy named Cooper was at Northwoods. She wrote, "Cooper is about 12 weeks old, the lady who surrendered him said Golden mix, he is however black. I don’t see the golden but…"

Cooper's referral picture.

My initial reaction to the photograph of Cooper that Brenda attached to her email was, "His eyes look sad."  Then I wondered why he was available.

Brenda said the woman who surrendered him "just wasn’t up for a puppy. She continued, "I think she just did not realize how much work puppies are." (The previous owner had Cooper for only three days and then brought him to Northwoods.)

Sophia, Olivia, and I drove to Northwoods and arrived there within 1 1/2 hours of receiving her email. As we were ready to turn into the Northwoods driveway, another car turned in ahead of us.

"I hope they're not here to see Cooper," Sophia said.

I parked the car and Sophia practically jumped out and began walking to the front door. She was going to get there before the person in the other car got to the building.

As we opened the door, there stood Cooper being held on a leash by a young couple. My heart sank. I could not believe that in such a short period of time there would be someone else ready to leave with him.

But wait...they were debating about it. They weren't quite sure if they could adopt him for some reason.

Brenda came out, listened to what they were saying, and then took Cooper's leash and led us to the visiting room.

Cooper was excited, happy, and seemed thrilled to see us.

Cooper hugging Olivia.

It was like he had been waiting for us...and we for him.

Puppies are nature's remedy for feeling unloved...
plus numerous other ailments of life. 
~ Richard Allen Palm ~

We spent time playing together in the visiting room, took him outside to go to the bathroom, and then had Brenda bring in a cat to see how he did with a cat. This was very important since we have five cats and need to have dogs who aren't aggressive towards them. Cooper was curious and respectful of the cat.

Brenda gave us more time alone with Cooper. Sophia, Olivia, and I discussed how we felt about Cooper and if we thought he'd be a good fit with Montague. We knew he was already a great fit with us.

We decided to adopt Cooper. After picking out a few chew toys and anti-chew spray, I completed the paperwork. They made an identification tag for him which is on his collar.

We had Brenda take a picture of us outside as we did with Gretel in 2008. And then we were headed home.

Cooper made himself comfortable on Olivia's jacket in the backseat. Within five minutes, he was fast asleep, and slept almost the entire way home.

Cooper on the ride home.
This was minutes before he fell asleep.

About 3 minutes from home, I noticed an eagle flying from the west towards our car. "Girls, look! It's an eagle!" I said. We watched it soar overhead almost right over our car. It was breathtaking.

It seems like I've seen eagles at times in my life - particularly in the past year or so - when there's a major life change (both positive and challenging), I need some reassurance, or I've been in the depths of grief.

True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, 
the zest of creating things new.
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery ~

When we came home, we had to carefully introduce Cooper to Montague. I went inside the home first and pet Montague and told him we had a new friend for him. I let him smell my hands, jacket, and pants since they were covered with Cooper's smell.

Then, I put the gate up between the living room and kitchen, with Montague in the living room and me in the kitchen. Meanwhile, Sophia brought Cooper into the mudroom and kept the door closed. 

The next step was for me to hold Cooper and introduce him to Montague. I did so by showing Montague Cooper's back - not face- so he wouldn't feel threatened.

Montague sniffed and barked...but didn't seem aggressive or angry. So far so good.

The next step was to take them outside to neutral territory - the street - and have them meet one another face to face. 

Sophia holding Cooper before the dogs met face-to-face.

Sophia held Cooper and walked him out to the street with Olivia; and I got Montague on his leash and walked him to the street.

Introducing the dogs to one another.

She held him while I said positive things in a very high-and-happy voice while Montague and Cooper met one another. I lavished praise on both of them and urged them forward on a walk.

Montague and Cooper on their first walk together.

They did so well together - walking next to one another, playing in the snow in the ditches, and exploring the scents along the road. I couldn't have asked for a better experience.

If it wasn't for puppies, 
some people would never go for a walk. 
~ Anonymous ~

We came back from the walk and explored the backyard together. Cooper saw Bailey for the first time and was startled that such a large animal was only a short distance from him.

Cooper meeting Bailey for the first time.
The next day, he wanted to be a helper.
So, I held him after I put hay down for the horses, and
they came galloping out to see us. 
Cooper was fascinated.

The dogs played and ran together in the backyard. 

The dogs playing in the backyard together.

When there was a new sound for Cooper, he would stop and Montague would do so as well. They would listen to the sound together, and then resume playing. 

The dogs and Olivia listening to new sound
that Cooper heard.

It was a joy to see how happy both of them were. We knew it was a perfect match!

Dogs are our link to paradise. 
They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. 
To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, 
where doing nothing was not boring - it was peace.
~ Milan Kundera ~

The first late-afternoon and evening, Cooper had a tremendous amount of energy. We thought he would never settle down. He seemed thrilled to be home.

Olivia and Sophia with Cooper.
He fell asleep on the couch in the same place that
Gretel and Casey use to sleep. 

The first full day that we had Cooper (Friday, February 8th), we were getting to know one another and establish a routine. 

Since Cooper is in the process of being housebroken, he needed to be let out during the night (12:30 p.m.) and then again in the morning (5:00 a.m.).

Once the dogs had breakfast, they played for two hours. Much of the play was each of them showing the other how wide their mouths would open. Cooper would nip at Montague, and Montague would "nip" in return. 

As a human being, this game would have gotten old after the first...oh, I don't know...two minutes. For them, the first minute was exciting as the 120th minute. 

This is the "mouth game" that went on for two hours.
They move so fast that the only pictures I have were blurry ones.

At that point, it was light out and I needed a break from listening to this "mouth game." It was time for the morning walk. This time Montague took Cooper on a different walk than yesterday. 

We were able to see about 40 turkeys resting near the tree tops next to a nearby field. On the way past them, they were roosting, but on the way back they flew off. We could hear the turkeys' wings flapping as they flew to the next cornfield.

The dogs are resting after their morning walk and 
play time in the backyard.

Friday also marked Cooper's first day of homeschooling. He sat with Montague and cats as the girls did their schoolwork.

Sophia working on math with Eenie on her lap and 
Cooper at the end of the bed.
Look at Cooper's pink tongue...someone is happy!

Cooper has quickly learned how to climb onto the bed and rest. He often sleeps next to me while I work and sleep.

Cooper resting on my arm as I make window stars.

After less than one day of being carried up and down the stairs (since he didn't know how to climb and descend steps), he learned how to walk up and down them. Having Montague walk up and down the steps throughout the day helped Cooper learn this skill. 

We have had Cooper now for 3 1/2 days. Having a routine to our days has helped Cooper calm down and feel more secure. Although there are times when he has a high amount of energy (because he's a puppy), there are equally as many times when he is relaxed and content with observing or resting.

He is learning that if he is calm, the cats will sit on the bed near him. They, in their own way, are training him about the way they want to be treated.

Montague and Cooper even play the "mouth game" outside. 
Although it looks like both dogs are about to attack one another, they are playing.
Gretel and Montague use to play this game all the time.
I'm happy to see Montague and Cooper like this game too.
(The Dog Trainer has some information about how to tell if your dog is fighting or playing.)

I am incredibly grateful to Brenda and Northwoods Humane Society for letting me know about Cooper, and providing such a valuable service to the community. Our lives were positively affected and forever changed because of Gretel; and now we are have another opportunity to share our love with a new canine friend and family member.

Cooper and Montague relaxing on the bed.

Cooper has been such a delight to have over the past 3 1/2 days; and has acclimated himself well to our family. It feels like he was meant to be here.

We are truly blessed by having Cooper as the newest member of our family!

Dogs are not our whole life, 
but they make our lives whole.
~ Roger Caras ~


What Remains Now said...

Congratulations on the new puppy! Many new adventures ahead. We do the "mouth game" here too. We call it bitey face.

c.creativity said...

What wonderful news! It is so hard to lose a dog and I'm glad that you have this fabulous new puppy--the RIGHT puppy--in your lives to help heal your hearts and bring so much joy. I'm glad that Montague seems to have taken to him right away and that Cooper is already learning how to snuggle on the bed, be respectful with the cats, go up and down the stairs, hang out with horses, be patient during homeschool time, and all the other skills that will make him the perfect companion for your family for many years to come!