"Not My Dog": Tales from Puppy Raising

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Missing having a pup around...

It has been just one of those months, and I have so keenly felt the edge of not having a pup around to distract me from some of it, even though I know it would be a big struggle right now to handle one and its training.

Some may know that I'm an editor at a newspaper, which is not exactly a great career position to be in right now! Actually, I oversee our website/online operations, which I am thankful for, because that's the way the media world is going. Anyway, this month has involved many cutbacks and some staff layoffs; it has been just an awful, agonizing process, having to be involved in making those kinds of decisions that have such impact on people's lives.

As soon as the dust settled from that, our paper's owners announced abruptly that they are putting it up for sale. Basically, it means we have no idea what might happen. Any new owner can come in and get rid of anyone they choose, or tell us that we're all making much less money and we can take it or leave it, etc. It's very unnerving about the future, that's for sure. I'm trying to stay positive, but can't help but worry.

Then, as if I wasn't having enough fun, I got slammed by the flu. The flu is especially not fun when you are 9 months pregnant, because for one thing, you can't take anything decent medicine-wise! I did really miss Nettie and her company while I was lying around in bed or on the couch (even though I knew intellectually that I would have been hating myself for not being able to take care of her properly!) However, my cat Squeegee did try to fill the role and essentially attached himself to me like Velcro for the duration -- although he may have just seen me as captive petter.

At any rate, all of this would have been more bearable, I think, with a Lab in the house.

But, literally any day now, there will be a human baby here, and I keep telling myself that we are going to raise another GEB pup someday. Something to look forward to no matter how everything else turns out, I guess.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

They have her pegged ...

Nettie's first training report came last week. It's pretty brief, as she only is beginning training. Most of it deals with her health and kennel behavior, which was all rated good. She is just starting out on Colonial Drive (the first area where they work), so instead of a "report card" on training phases, it's just her trainer's observation.

But, I must say, the trainer has Miss Nettie pegged.

Nettie and I met for the first time this week. We are working on basic obedience and proper collar response. Initially Nettie was very difficult to focus. She has shown a high energy level, but is able to come down a bit and focus with time. She can get extremeley distracted in new environments, but again, will settle and focus with repeated expsoure.

Nettie is a sweet, soft girl. She has a great energy about her once she can settle and relax in her environment.

Nettie will begin her 'forward' training next week on Colonial Street. She has demonstrated a lovely obedience routine.

Nettie is currently living with Razzle YLF and Nate GLABYM.

That's so typical of Nettie. In new places, she always had a hard time focusing at first, but I keep reminding myself that once she settled, she was calm and could work. So, we'll see if they can help her reduce that settling phase.

I'm sure I would be panicking if this were my first pup's report, but at least they like her obedience!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Dreaming of Murphy

I had the oddest dream last night about Murphy. There was some kind of ceremony or event at Guiding Eyes, and we went there to see Murphy and his owner, who were attending. But when we got there, they kept telling us that this dog that looked very much like an English springer spaniel was Murphy. Even his owner was with this other dog. Meanwhile, we kept trying to explain to people that Murphy is a black Lab and this dog wasn't even a Lab! In my dream, my husband kept repeating, "I would remember if Murphy had spots!"

Weird, huh? Why I dreamed about Murphy last night, I don't know. Perhaps it was because we (Andrew and I) had gone to a puppy playdate at our regional coordinator's house that afternoon for a dog fix .. it is a fun sight to see eight Lab pups of varying ages and a 6-year-old boy racing around delightedly in the snow! It did make me miss having a dog around, although logically, one would think I should have dreamed about Nettie instead.

Maybe it was because, I have to admit, I have been feeling somewhat melancholy lately about Murphy. When we met his owner at graduation, he was very friendly and said repeatedly that he would keep in touch. We got a very long, nice letter in August, but since then, have not heard a word, even though he said in the letter, for instance, that he would send us the article his hometown paper did about them.

I don't expect him to keep up constant contact, but I had really been hoping for a Christmas card or some word just to assure us that Murphy is doing well. I know that I'd probably hear if he wasn't, and I feel somewhat selfish for even voicing this. We sent Murphy's owner a holiday card and I hope that he doesn't think we overstepped bounds. As I said, I feel somewhat selfish for even mentioning it. I know plenty of raisers who never have heard anything from the dog's owner again after graduation, and that is totally the owner's prerogative. We raisers know these dogs aren't ours, and we're doing this because we want to, not because we expect something at the end. (at least I hope that's why we are.)

But it's also hard when you did have a lot invested, and you do wonder how the dogs are. I think if his owner didn't wish to keep in touch, I just wish he wouldn't have said he wanted to. Every now and then, my son even asks when Murphy's family will write... Of course, I dont' know what's going on in his life, and he may have something going on that's just left him too busy or unable to drop a line. I was tempted to call his local newspaper and just order a reprint of the story myself, but he lives in a small town and I'm half afraid they'd tell him some crazy woman from Maine wanted to get the story about him!