A couple years ago our dog, Shady, passed away. She was 13 or 14 years old (she was adopted and the vet wasn’t sure how old Shady was when she was found). Shady was hubby’s dog and if Shady was a human being, he’d have married her long before he met me. Hubby and Shady, when possible, went everywhere together. When we’re lounging about or on the bed, Shady would lay as close as possible to hubby. Shady loved me but it wasn’t the same. Remember the Annie scene where she called Sandy’s name for the first time? If that was hubby and me, Shady would undoubtedly run over to the hubs. Max the Lhasa loved Shady and the feeling was mutual. The kids… she was kind to them but wouldn’t care less if they existed or not. The kids though adored her and we were a family.
Obviously, it took awhile to heal from Shady’s passing and we contemplated whether or not it was best to get a dog now in England or later when we return to the US. But, we couldn’t wait, and who knows where we’d go after England. So last summer, we all thought that it was a good time to find another fur baby.
We wanted to adopt again and I found a few animal rescues around us. Unlike the US, we found that it’s really hard for a family with young children and another dog to adopt. Many dogs could only go to a home that doesn’t have any other dog, a home with no children or a home with older children (13yrs-old and up), or a home with folks that are home most of the time (and I’m not even sure if this includes work at home folks, I think they meant older retired folks). We saw many dogs online that we’d love to meet but they either eat children or anti-social. When we do find the perfect dog, three other families are already on the list to meet this dog and being number four put us on the “will never get the dog but we’ll put your name down anyway just because.” Oh yes, to see the dog, you best make an appointment. If the dog is already reserved, basically means a family/somebody is interested, they wouldn’t let you visit the dog. One rescue interviewed me so hard over the phone that I was doubting whether or not I was a dog parent!
After a few months and many fails I resorted to looking online. I wasn’t looking at buying a puppy from a breeder (this was tough since all of us were melting in front of the monitor from all the cuteness), I was looking to find that family who couldn’t care for their dog anymore for whatever reason. I was looking for that family who’s one step away from taking their dog to a rescue or a possible one off. This wasn’t an easy task either but every day I felt like we were getting closer to meeting our new family member.
Then one day we saw this ad for an older puppy. It was an odd mix. A Border Collie and a Boxer. An odd mix I thought. I messaged them and found out that it was an accidental pregnancy between their dog and a Boxer puppy they were babysitting. There were only two puppies, a boy and a girl (the boy looked like a Border Collie), and initially they wanted to keep them but their Chihuahua disagreed. They told me that another family was coming to see the pups that day but we were welcome to come after to see both or just the one – whichever was left.
Hubby, Jovie, Max and I arrived at the home and was greeted by the Chihuahua (Emma was at a sleepover). A gorgeous Chihuahua but from that day on, Jovie (who absolutely wanted a Chihuahua because they’re so cute and small) decided that she’ll never ever get a Chihuahua.
Only the female was there. We were told that she didn’t care to even come near the people who came to look and that’s why she’s still available. When I saw the pup I thought that she’s going to need a lot of socialising despite being super cute. She’s very shy and hadn’t been taken outside the home much. I wasn’t so sure about this one, way pass the important socialising period (she was 13/14-weeks-old) and she barked at me, but hubby fell in love with her at the first cuddle.
We stayed there for a while and the pup came and sniffed us. She backed away when we wanted to pet her but once she was petted, she was fine. Hmm… After hubby walked her and Max, and he said she was really good (ha!!), we decided to take her home. Hubby was smitten and I had hope.
Poppy was what we named her. It was June 21st and the Poppies were blooming everywhere. Poppy was great in the car and she’s a very smart dog. But that was about it. I took her to the pet shop the next day and she was scared of everything. EVERYTHING! We got out of the car and she about jumped out of her skin when she saw the car parked next to us. At the store she was fine exploring but when she saw the shopkeeper, she tried to hide behind me. I did get a great tip from that lady though and slowly but surely Poppy got braver. There’s a sign of more hope and the lady gave me the number for a reputable local puppy school.
She was scared of me when we were home. I had to chase her all around the garden after a pee break. I only got a hold of her because she was cornered behind the big recycle bin. After that, she was always on a long leash.
I’m no Cesar Millan but researching and learning is my specialty (it’s why I knew Poppy wasn’t going to be easy from the first meeting). I enrolled in puppy school. I got a clicker (you can buy from most local dog store for under $5/£5) and watched a few YouTube videos on how to use it. I love Victoria Stilwell and Kikopup’s videos. And I took Poppy everywhere. I took her to the market, the cafe, the pub, the playground and everywhere where there are humans and happenings.
Poppy was off the long leash the next day. Her and I were besties after a few training and a lot of treats. After a few weeks and one puppy class she was more trusting to humans. After weeks of puppy class and clicker training at home Poppy knows all the basic commands. Despite the beautiful first walk with hubby, Poppy is still shit at walking on a leash. Poppy pulls and wants to get ahead. BUT, from a few weeks after we got her (after she can “come” beautifully) she was fantastic at walking off lead. She’d wait when I ask her to, come when told, and only at about the five or six months when she got a bit stubborn and didn’t want to be done from walking or playing at the park. We’re working on getting her to walk like a little lady on the leash but this one is slow coming. Puppy school said that some dogs are just better off lead than on. Humph.
Poppy loves her family. Of all the dogs we’ve had, she’s the only one who truly loves the girls. She’ll watch them, beg them to play with her, listen and follow their commands and would lay with them. Poppy loves to sit in between hubby and me. She’ll lay on hubby if I’m on the computer but if we have another Annie calling Sandy scene, I would be Annie this time around. Poppy loves her daddy but she is a momma’s girl 🙂
Poppy has come a long way in about seven months time and she’ll only get better. We, or I at least, knew what to expect from Poppy. I saw all the signs when we first met her. But if you’re looking to get your first puppy or want a dog who will be easier to train and blend with your family, do try to do a lot of reading on what to look for when choosing a puppy. If you’re not experienced or up to the challenges, look for a good temperament dog from the get go. Shady was an abused dog and hubby had to work with her quite a bit to gain her trust. But Shady wasn’t a shy dog. She just needed a loving environment. Max wasn’t an easy dog. He is a purebred but he was given up to a rescue in Kansas City by the puppy mill because he had issues. We have worked so hard and he’s blossomed so much. Max was also scared of many things, mostly noises and (new) big things, but he’s also not shy. He loves a good pet and comes over for attention.
In the future we’d love to adopt another dog, maybe a retired guide lab dog. I’d love to be able to take the lab to hospitals to cheer sick children. While we did pay an individual to have ownership of Poppy, we feel like we somewhat saved her. We saved her from a mean old Chihuahua 😀