Wednesday, May 29, 2024

There's No Biting on Tuesdays - Part 5 (The Anniversary)

A mini series about losing my beloved dog and getting a new puppy.

Willow at 22 weeks

Tomorrow will be one year since I lost Hadley and I've had a chance to gather my thoughts. She was my first dog so everything about the process, including losing her and getting another, is new for me. The decision was not an easy one and I passed up several opportunities during the year to have another dog. But I felt like I would know when it was right and I needed time to make sense of all my feelings.

I missed Hadley so damn much. But I also missed having a dog. Having Willow does not help with the first part at all, no matter what I hoped. But she does fix the second part. Before getting her, I had gone out of my way to pet every dog I met but it didn't fill the void. The first time I held Willow in my arms, though, knowing she was mine, I sobbed.

I debated different breeds, colors, etc. But none of them moved my heart and I knew I wouldn't be happy without another Cavalier. I had some concerns about choosing another Blenheim colored girl like Hadley but in the end it was not an issue. While I appreciate that to everyone else in the world they probably look identical, the two look totally different to me. They also do not act the same. Cavvies are sweet and friendly and both were and are. But apart from that, they have quite different personalities. I have had to get to know Willow the way I once got to know Hadley.

I still think about Hadley almost every day. And I still cry over her. Time and the need to chase after a rambunctious young puppy have lessened the tears but they still come.

Puppyhood is hard. I'd wondered if raising my second would be easier now that I had some experience. Possibly, in the sense that I have timelines down a little better. But in the end, puppies are hard. I had suggested to my vet, who has taken both these journeys with me, that Hadley was an easier puppy. He assured me that 15 years have erased my memory of how terrible she was as a pup. And I know he's right. But it was worth it then and it will be worth it now.

One of the last photos I have of Hadley, taken a couple of weeks after her 14th birthday and about 6 weeks before she passed. Her sweet face was so gray.

So, in the end am I happy I did it again? Yes, absolutely. Willow is a sweet, happy, affectionate puppy and she will grow up to be a wonderful companion. I can sense it. And for all the times I've been frustrated that she keeps peeing on the floor, when she climbs into my lap, puts her paws around my neck and her head on my shoulder, it fills my heart again.

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Thursday, May 23, 2024

There's No Biting on Tuesdays - Part 4 (The Land Shark)

A mini series about losing my beloved dog and getting a new puppy.

Part 4: The Land Shark

Although I knew that a 9 week old Cavalier puppy would weigh between 4 and 5 lbs., the photos made Willow look somewhat substantial. But the baby I took out of the carrier when I got her home was tiny and precious. She couldn't have been 5" tall at the shoulders and looked like a stuffed toy.

But this innocent baby was a land shark. She couldn't move an inch without sinking her puppy fangs into fingers, toes, shoes, furniture and anything else that was in her path of destruction. My first puppy nipped, as all puppies do. But was otherwise not a particularly destructive dog. Willow was pure chaos right from the start. I couldn't take my eyes off her for a second because she was capable of doing a lot of damage in a remarkably short period of time. She didn't nip, she bit. Hard. She even drew blood. And when I put her in her pen, as trainers advise, she destroyed it. She'd shred her pee pads, rip her bed and turn over her food and water bowls. My nickname for her was Jaws. Holy hell, what have I gotten myself into?

I provided teething rings, stuffed toys, Kongs and bully sticks to no avail. They distracted her for a short while but then she'd go right back to chewing the stuffing out of the sofa. I sprayed bitter apple on everything but it didn't slow her down at all. It took me 2 months to teach her soft mouth so that at least my fingers and toes were safe. Nothing else is safe yet but she's learned not to use those razor blade baby teeth on me. The sofa still gets bites but I get kisses.

And the name of this series - there's no biting on Tuesdays? To keep myself sane, as I was redirecting her bites, withholding my attention to her when she bit and rewarding her for kisses, I would tell her, there is no biting on Mondays (or Tuesday or Wednesdays, etc.) Now, when she sometimes forgets and I feel her teeth graze me, I tell her, there's no biting on Tuesdays, and she immediately licks instead of bites.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2024

There's No Biting on Tuesdays - Part 3 (The Journey)

A mini series about losing my beloved dog and getting a new puppy.

Part 3: The Journey

The logistics of getting Willow here nearly broke my faith that this was meant to be. Hadley's breeder was located only about 2 hours away from us. Willow's breeder would not have been much further except for the move to South Carolina. They're in a small town, not close to a major airport. That would mean both flights and car rentals and I am a New York City girl who is not comfortable driving. I asked around and was referred to a flight nanny who flies that route and was asking a reasonable price to transport Willow. Done. Except suddenly not done. She had to work and then booked a vacation and her new schedule meant a month delay.

Thus began an odyssey into the world of pet transports. There are plenty of them and almost all gave me the ick. The few that didn't, wanted way more money than my initial budget. I began planning early and spent many hours on it. And I spent a lot of sleepless nights worrying that this was ill fated, that this level of difficulty was an omen that it was not meant to be at all.

And then a friend who lives in Florida suggested that her adult daughter might be up for this adventure. We spoke and, sure enough, Kady was happy to transport Willow. She said she preferred to drive and asked for approximately the same amount I'd already planned on with the original flight nanny. The giant boulder sitting on my chest rolled off.

At 9:00 am on the morning of the pickup, my phone dinged. Kady had turned on her location tracker and I watched her pull into the breeder's address. I literally cried. About 30 minutes later her car began heading north and shortly after I began receiving photos of Willow making the journey to her new home.

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Tuesday, May 7, 2024

There's No Biting on Tuesdays - Part 2 (The Waiting)

A mini series about losing my beloved dog and getting a new puppy.

Part 2: The Waiting

I had imagined that I would be a much calmer future puppy mom as I was expecting my second. The constant worry and check-ins of the first would not be me anymore. HA! Panic would set in quickly over literally everything.

I signed the breeder's contract and did a bank transfer of the deposit. They said they would co-sign and put the contract in the mail. Two weeks went by and I hadn't received it so panic began. Were they legit? Was I being scammed? But a few days later, the contract I signed online along with the breeder's signature and all the information we discussed were in my mailbox.

Another few days and I begin to worry that I hadn't actually spoken to the breeder in a while. Was there something they were not telling me?? The following weekend an email arrived detailing the pickup arrangements and offering helpful tips to prepare for a new puppy. A couple of days later they called to chat, see how I was feeling, wanting to be sure I knew how difficult puppies can be. I assured them I am now an experienced puppy mom and was looking forward to the work. I'm an idiot, by the way.

A week before pickup, Willow now 8 weeks old, I wondered if I would even recognize the pretty 4 week old I'd chosen. Would it even be the same puppy? What if something happened to that particular puppy? Some of you are thinking I should be medicated at this point and I can't disagree.  And then an email arrived with updated photos and I recognized her immediately by the shape of her brown markings. My pretty 4 week old turned into a pretty 8 week old. I was in love.

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