Monday, June 23, 2014

Brand New (pet) Parents...

The Facts

We adopted a dog. He’s adorable. His name is Fletcher.

His Side

The idea of having an animal live in your house with you just for fun had to be a crazy notion whenever the first person decided to do it. Now, though, if you don’t have a pet, you may be the minority. I grew up with pets. We had a cat named Honeysuckle who ended up meeting her demise via the sliding door of a van (horrific accident and very traumatic to a child no older than 5 at the time). We had a female cat named Jasper (named after one of the bad guys in “101 Dalmatians”) who, while we were living in an apartment complex, ran away and came back a few days later pregnant… like a rebellious teenage girl. Then, we kept one of her kids and named him J-Bear (it’s a long story as to why he was named that). He was an outside cat while we kept Jasper inside. His shining moment was when we watched him leap up and take down a bird IN MID-AIR via a claw to the stomach. It was impressive. Being the immoral creatures that cats are, Jasper and J-Bear ended up getting together… which led (not surprisingly) to a litter of one. This little guy was all black with just a white tip on his tail. So we named him Tippy. He also kind of tipped over when he walked. He had problems (presumably because of his family tree not branching out too far). He ran away, or go eaten, or something… but once J-Bear and Jasper passed away, we were done with cats for a little while. Until we rescued Kiwi from the beach. Kiwi looked gaunt and disheveled so we would give her food while we were on vacation at Edisto Beach, SC one summer. Like a college kid does to free food, Kiwi kept coming around. We started to really like her so we convinced my dad to take her home. We got her checked up, got her shots, got her fixed, and she has found a loving home with my parents.

I say all that to say I have always been a cat person. I know I could have said it more succinctly, but what’s the fun in that, right? So, being a cat person, naturally I would marry a woman who is allergic to cats. It’s not horrible allergies, but it’s more than she would want to deal with on a day-to-day basis. So, we were not going to get a cat and she isn’t willing to get anything out of the ordinary like a rabbit, lizard, scorpion, or gerbil… so we decided we wanted a dog. I had a bad experience with a big dog when I was very little so I am not a fan of big dogs. The one dog we had growing up was named Hobo and he stayed chained up in the back yard. He was bigger than me and all he would do is bark and scare the living daylights out of me (at least that’s how I remember it). Also, big dogs could just snap one day and eat your face… so that’s not cool. We really need a completely fenced in back yard before we get a dog, but you can’t control when fate puts the dog you want in front of you. 

One night, Kristi was telling me how it doesn’t make financial sense to get a dog right now. The next day, Kristi was looking at dogs… naturally. And she found the cutest little puppy ever. A black and tan Yorkie that was 10 weeks old. His picture was to die for so we just had to see him. We discussed everything and decided that we could get a dog right now so we drove an hour to meet him. As soon as the lady brought him out and Kristi saw him, I knew I was going to be writing a check. Okay, so I couldn’t say no either. He was adorable. The problem, though, was that we were going on vacation in 2 weeks and we didn’t want to take him home, then leave him for a week. The lady said we could leave him with her until we get back then come get him. That’s what we had to do (we thought). It was so hard, though, to leave without him.

My parents, who were with us, could tell how badly we wanted to be able to bring him home, so they offered to house sit/dog sit for us while on vacation. It meant so much to us that they were willing to do that and, of course, we took them up on it. So we drove an hour again to go get him. The hour home was rough on him, though. He had never ridden in a car before and an hour is a long first ride. The combination of nerves and carsickness led to him puking… three times… twice on Kristi. We got him home, though, and he has been adjusting well. It took us forever to name him but, after going around and around, we chose Fletcher. He just looks like a Fletcher!

We are working on paper-training Fletcher so he doesn’t just pee and poop wherever he pleases. That’s going to be a long road but he does well sleeping in his crate. He only whines a little, then passes out. And, of course, he’s the most adorable little puppy you’ve ever seen. He’s very playful and loving. He even plays extremely well with my brother-in-law’s dogs. We have a lot of years of fun with him to look forward to!

Her Side

When Nolan and I began dating, I knew instantly I would have to change one thing about him… I would have to convert him from a cat person to a dog person. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t like cats. In fact, we had one when I was growing up. My problem is that over the years I have grown allergic to most cats. Also, the most recent family pet we have had is a dog, so I’m partial. If any of you know the family dog, Winston, then you know he’s probably not the best dog to use as an example of why you should like dogs more than cats. Winston is 10 years old and with that age has come a much more ornery, stubborn, and sometimes antisocial personality. Despite Winston sometimes being mean, I somehow convinced Nolan that, if we were to get a pet, it should definitely be a dog.

So, this is how the story of our new puppy goes…

One night the other week Nolan and I were having a discussion about getting a pet. He was all for it and I was actually trying to talk him out of it. I mentioned how expensive pets are and how they tie you down a bit more. Despite all of this talk, Nolan still seemed convinced we should get a dog (I surmise it might have something to do with biding himself some time before we delve into having a kid… this would be practice, if you will). Previously, we had perused the internet in search of a cute dog, but nothing quite ticked off everything on our checklist. We even took a trip to Pawmetto Lifeline (a local shelter) to check out the dogs available for adoption. Still, none of them tugged at our heartstrings.

Naturally, the day after trying to convince Nolan we didn’t need a dog, I searched for one and found the perfect one while browsing the internet. He was small (something we both wanted), he was a puppy (something that was a must for Nolan), he was a breed that doesn’t tend to shed much (something that I desperately wanted… I didn’t want to have pet hair all over me constantly), and his little face stole our hearts immediately. The little guy was located in North Augusta, which is a quick hour trip from our home. There was not one thing about him that either of us had reservations about. So, I quickly e-mailed the rescue organization that had him to make sure he was still available and we rushed our application through. We initially saw him online on Wednesday and were set to meet the little guy three days later on Saturday.

Nolan and I had some long talks about what would be deciding factors on whether or not we adopt the puppy. I was proud of us because it seemed like we were thinking of all possible factors and questions and were taking the process extremely seriously… after all a dog it a lifetime commitment. As we drove to North Augusta on that Saturday, I know both of us had silly grins on our faces. I can’t speak for Nolan, but I definitely had some butterflies in my stomach, too. I would almost equate it to going on a date for the first time. Questions fluttered through my head:  “Is he going to like us?” “Will we like him?” “Is he going to be everything we thought he would be?”

We arrived at our destination to meet this little puppy that may or may not become part of our family. The lady who had him is a foster mother to a ton of dogs (that’s not even an exaggeration; she had at least 15 dogs that came running out of the house when we got there). As the dogs ran out, I kept looking for the beloved puppy and the smallest dog that came running out wasn’t quite what we had in mind… I was concerned. Then the lady walked out and asked which puppy we came to see and she went back inside to get him. As she walked out the door with him in her arms, Nolan and I were immediately in love. He was so tiny and he almost looked like a stuffed animal. He is exactly what we have been wanting. We tried to contain our excitement and ask questions about him and his care (you know, so we could seem like responsible pet parents); but, inside, we both knew he was meant to be ours without any further questions.

The only problem was our vacation that is coming up. I had already cleared it with the lady fostering him and she agreed to keep him for 3 weeks until we got back from vacation since it would be better to have consistency for him rather than uproot him for 2 weeks and then have to uproot him while we are on vacation as well. So, we went through with the adoption and went on our way, leaving our sweet puppy behind. That night, Nolan and I were lying in bed and both agreed that it broke our hearts to not have our puppy with us. I think Nolan’s parents (who were in town) could tell that we desperately wanted to bring the puppy home, because they so graciously offered to fix our vacation issue. They offered to house/dog sit while we are on vacation! What a blessing! So, the day after we adopted him, we drove back to North Augusta to pick up our precious pup.

We were ecstatic and our puppy seemed excited to be with us. Now, I don’t know if it’s because he hasn’t been in a car much or if the excitement of the day got to him; but, when our journey home was almost complete, he threw up down the front of my dress… and threw up on me again as we pulled into our driveway. It’s funny because that sort of thing would have completely grossed me out before but I took it so graciously and even told him that I couldn’t be mad at him for it.

Since we weren’t prepared to bring a puppy home that weekend, we had to rush around to get the appropriate accoutrement and quickly began our search for the perfect name! After much discussion and many suggestions, we settled on the name Fletcher. It is the perfect name for our perfect little dog.

We have had him for just over a week, and we are already enamored. We decided even before we got a dog that one would never sleep in the bed with us, so we have been crating him at night. I was very skeptical of this process since I had gone through it with Winston and it lasted for only a night or two. But, I am elated to say that little Fletcher has slept great in his crate. He might whimper for a minute or two and then he’s out like a light! Our next big thing is to get him to potty where he is supposed to and not all over our floors. But, he’s a puppy so we just have to be consistent with him.

So far, I can tell you that Fletcher LOVES attention and affection. He also loves chewing on things… especially things he isn’t supposed to chew on (we’re working on that). He loves playing with my brother’s dogs and he loves playing with Winston (my mom’s dog… although the feeling isn’t quite mutual). He’s an energetic little fellow which I’ll admit I’m quite envious of.

It’s a great feeling to walk into a room and see him run toward you with such excitement! Although I’ve never had a child of the human variety, I can’t help but notice how much having a puppy seems to be like having a child. You have a love for them that you can’t explain and you can’t say “no” to their cute little faces (if only that would work for me with Nolan… haha). Having another living being relying on you to survive is quite a task, but I’m so glad that Nolan and I have entered this wonderful adventure together. We have found ourselves just sitting on the couch watching Fletcher play or sleep and it’s better than any television program we could dream of watching. Go ahead and make fun of us if you want, but when you stare into Fletcher’s little puppy eyes I think you’ll understand how and why we’ve turned to mush over him!

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