It’s been a really exciting week for us! I can finally tell you about the “project” mentioned in my last post – dog searching! I feel like this was a long time coming, but also happened really quickly. Just last Wednesday night I decided to fully plead my case to Greg about adding a dog to our family. It’s no secret to anybody that knows me that I LOVE dogs. I’ve dreamed since I was a kid about the day I could actually pick out a dog all for myself. A dog that would truly be mine. Until this point, the timing has never been right. We lived in apartments, we had young kids, I didn’t feel ready for the extra work that comes with dog ownership. But these past few months it’s really been weighing on me how much I want that dog and how ready I finally feel for it. We have a house, we have a yard, the boys are both in school all day and don’t need so much of my time and attention, and I have the perfect work situation where I’m home almost all day every day. It was time. It took some convincing and a big emotional rollercoaster for each of us over this past week, but Greg agreed. And the search began!
Do you know how hard it is to adopt a dog?? I had no idea. It didn’t help that our “wish list” of requirements for a dog were pretty lengthy. I really wanted a big dog. I already have two lap kitties, I didn’t need a lap dog. I love all dogs, but big dogs are my preference, especially of the lab variety. I wanted a female, though was open to males if the personality fit. I absolutely did not want a puppy and all the extra work that would come with it. I wanted a dog who would be friendly without overwhelming us with kisses and constant attention. A dog that would fit in with the whole family, but ultimately be MY companion for my days at home alone. I wanted a dog that would be able to walk with me every day, keeping me motivated to walk as well. Greg was most worried about a dog that would terrorize the cats. He needed a dog that wouldn’t bark a lot and annoy the neighbors. And the dog needed to be potty trained. Caden just wanted a dog, any dog. And Shepard only wanted a dachshund.
I immediately started searching petfinder.com and then searching through the facebook pages of all the more local rescues, shelters, and humane societies. I found a few that sounded promising, but was overwhelmed by how long the adoption process was for all of them. Applications, reference checks, interviews, and home visits, all before you can even meet the dog in person. And of course I found like one dog that sounded great at each shelter, so I had to apply to a bunch of different ones. I understand that they’re dedicated to finding the right home for each of the dogs in their care. But it was overwhelming and frustrating when I wanted to see some dogs NOW. I’m very impatient once my mind is made up about something! Anyway, I followed through on a couple of leads and all of those dogs were adopted before they had a chance to go through my application and check references. There was one young black lab I was seriously interested in, and they seemed to move a little quicker. Probably because I was being annoyingly persistent about it. I think I’ve made more phone calls in the last week than the last five years put together!
So on Sunday afternoon we finally got a call about meeting that black lab, and the family made the hour long trek up to Berlin to see her. It didn’t work out. She was only six months ago and just way too wild with very little training. The first thing she did when we walked in the door was jump up and scratch Shepard down his whole cheek and over his eye. He was crying and terrified. Caden kept shrieking and running around the foster parents’ home, while of course the dog chased him thinking it was all good fun. Greg looked shell shocked. And even though she seemed like she’d probably grow up to be a very sweet dog, I knew that she wasn’t right for us. It reiterated how much I really did want an older dog. Sadly, we went back home empty handed.
It probably sounds ridiculous to talk about how emotionally straining this week has been. Many people probably spend weeks or months searching for the perfect dog. But I had such high hopes about finding a great one right away and was so upset about how long every step took and losing out on dogs that sounded great each day I was searching. It was consuming me in a very unhealthy way! Checking petfinder and facebook is pretty much ALL I did day and night Thursday-Monday. It felt just about as stressful as when we were house hunting at this time last year. The stakes were high and the competition was fierce!
Finally, I had hope! On Monday around noon I had just gotten home from running errands and saw that the local humane society posted another dog that morning. She sounded amazing, so I drove over there as fast as I could to see her immediately. It’s a good thing I did! There was already a family visiting her when I walked in and three more couples came in while I was still there filling in the paperwork. But I got my time alone with her in the room and everything I saw and heard just made her seem perfect. She was friendly, calm, a little older, and had obvious training. I wanted her. They asked me if I was sure I wanted to go through with it before letting my family meet her. I said absolutely, there was no way I’d risk losing her just because the rest of my family was at work and school! So I filled out the papers, had a quick interview, and she was guaranteed to be mine!! I just had to wait another day to bring her home because she had a vet visit scheduled in the morning to get spayed and some vaccinations.
I was pretty nervous telling Greg I agreed to get a dog before anyone else could interact with her. He seemed a little stunned, but I think he trusted my judgment. But just to be sure I decided to go back over there after school with the boys to get their approval. And it went great! We were put in a larger room and Caden picked up a ball and they started playing fetch. The manager said that they’ve been trying to get her to engage in play with zero luck. She played fetch with the boys for over twenty minutes! They were all having the greatest time. My prayers were answered and we found our dog!
It turned out to be really nice that we had 24 hours before we could pick her up. We had time to go to the store and pick out a dog bed, buy food and toys. Then I had a chance to set everything up and feel more prepared on Tuesday. After a chaotic afternoon of taking the boys to the dentist in Madison, making a dinner I wasn’t prepared to make because the appointment wasn’t supposed to be done so early, and then driving back the other direction, I finally made Annie mine! The adoption was official and after 20+ years of dreaming about having my own dog, it finally happened!
I was so happy driving back home with her! She seems like she rides very well in cars, though she was also extremely sleepy and out of it from her procedure in the morning.
Homecoming! Everyone was on the driveway waiting when we got home.
Caden picked up her first poop!
Our first evening went pretty well. She was very tired and mostly just laid in the same spot on the living room floor. The boys both sat and pet her and brushed her until it was time for them to go to bed. Annie took one lap around the whole house to check everything out, but seemed to feel most comfortable just laying in her bed.
I had the bed in this little unused corner of the family room, but moved it out in front of the couch where she kept laying down. I slept downstairs with her to keep an eye on things. We really didn’t know where she was with potty training or how the night would go. But we survived! She was wearing her cone and every time it knocked the floor the noise woke me up. But she really seemed to just lay in different positions on the bed the entire night. I don’t think we’ll have a problem with her holding her bladder or quietly sticking on the animal side of the house at night. I might stay with her again tonight just to be sure, but she’s pretty laid back.
She was so excited when Caden got up this morning! Kids seem to be her favorite! She showed way more enthusiasm when they got home from school today than I saw during the day!
When I took them to school she found her way to the couch. 🙂 We both pretty much just hung out on the couch together all day today. It feels like having a baby again, just wanting to sit and settle into our new life together. She definitely seems to be feeling better as the day goes on. She’s not sleeping as much, following me everywhere I go, constantly wagging her tail, and very enthusiastic about our walks around the yard.
Knowing she’d need a cone for awhile, I ordered a different e-collar the other night that came today. It bugged her for a few minutes, but I think she appreciates that she can actually see now! The shelter people told me I could take it off at home when I can keep an eye on her, but every time I take them off she immediately goes at her stitches. So I think she’ll pretty much need to wear this nonstop until her stitches are removed next week. At least it’s like having a pillow at all times now!
So, FINALLY, just a little bit about Annie and what I know of her. The humane society doesn’t assign breeds to their dogs anymore because many people were turning dogs down based entirely on that. But I was reading through her paperwork and their vet listed that she’s a German Shepherd mix. I’d say the coloring and the looks fit, though she’s much smaller than a regular Shepherd. With the long hair and lighter colored paws and tail, we’re thinking maybe mixed with a collie. She’s only 38 pounds, but a very strong 38 pounds when we’re outside on a leash! She isn’t exactly my dream “big dog,” but she’s big enough. And she’s small enough that Shepard doesn’t feel intimidated or scared of her.
Annie’s personality seems pretty much perfect. They estimated she’s about three years old, so she doesn’t have that puppy energy we were avoiding. She’s been sleeping a lot, though I assume because she doesn’t feel the greatest yet after being spayed. She wags her tail all the time and has been following me around and laying down wherever I go. She’s incredibly quiet. I didn’t hear her make a single noise at either visit Monday, yesterday when we brought her home, all night, or all day – until we went out after school and the neighbors let their dog out at the same time. That dog started barking crazily and Annie barked a couple of times back. But a few barks in three days? I think it’s safe to say she’s a quiet dog! She seems amazing with the boys. They were touching all parts of her last night and she wasn’t at all phased. Caden even accidentally rolled off the couch on top of her and all she did was jump up and walk away. She knows how to sit, shake, and stay. She takes treats very daintily.
I’d say the only downside so far is that she doesn’t seem like she’s had a lot of training on a leash. She’s not terrible by any means, but she does pull a lot and gets very excited when she sees a bird or critter. Still no barking, she just tries to run off in that direction. I’m waiting for a harness I ordered before we try longer walks, but I’m hoping with a lot of practice she’ll get better at staying with me and ignoring distractions. I’m not sure I’ll be trusting the boys to walk her or put her on the tie out for a long time, though. I was hoping to have the kind of dog that would trail me around outside whether she was on a leash or not. I don’t think Annie will be that trustworthy.
And finally…the cats. The awesome news is that Annie pretty much ignores them. We walked by the cat cages at the humane society and she sniffed them and moved on. She seems to have the same attitude at home. When she first saw them she took a slow bound toward them and then stopped. Jack has been very curious, sneaking peaks at her around the corner and puffing up his body. He’s spent most of the day up in our bedroom. Rory has been hiding in the basement. He did come up earlier and made some growling noises and then went back down. I feel terrible that they might adjust to this more poorly than I thought. Rory has seemed SO happy lately and is basically my constant companion. I hate to think that I’ve ruined that forever. But if Annie ignores them, I’m really hoping in a few days they’ll all learn to coexist peacefully.
So that’s the story of Annie! Sorry it went on way longer than necessary! It’s been an exciting and stressful and overwhelming week. But I think we made the right decision and definitely found the right dog. I’m so happy it happened quickly and we can get right in to settling into our new family pet dynamic!