I got a Puppy for my 24th Birthday
Now I realize that I have been a little silent on my blog, and I wanted to explain myself. Meet Austin, my 10-week old birthday puppy. If you don't have a dog, or don't care too much, just scan the pics. Otherwise enjoy my rather detailed dog-servations.
For me, getting a puppy is no small thing. I've never raised a puppy. I grew up in a home with dogs, but none of them were solely my responsibility. While living on my own, I did care for an adult Malamute/Husky Saber
before he died, but never a puppy. I had to come to terms with some pretty sobering facts: I will probably have this dog until I'm 36! I will probably get married and have children while owning this dog. The freedom to travel through Europe for the summer is greatly hindered by owning a dog. After I'd exhausted my own, my mom offered her share of fears too, like liability if the dog bites someone, trainability and whether I have enough time to properly commit to rearing an animal. But after weighing the options, and dealing with my reservations, I decided to make the commitment.
After deciding to get a dog, then there were the breed considerations; pedigree, pound, or puppy-mill rescue, and the age possibilities of between 8 weeks to one year. After Googling (they call me "The Google-izer because I google everything) I visited Wayside Waifs
, the local Humane Society for animal adoptions, and came across Austin (named after Jill, not Jane). The moment I saw him, I knew he was "the one." After playing with him, doing some additional breed research and bracing myself for a big change, I signed the papers, he had surgery, and I took him home.
I've had Austin for a couple weeks now, and after four years of living alone, it has been quite an adjustment to my lifestyle (and my sleep schedule with those 4 am puppy bathroom breaks). But it's been 3 weeks and things are going pretty good. House training is going great, basic commands, socialization and temperament, shots, finding a vet, etc. are proceeding along just fine. I'm not saying it's not hard, but it's also definitely rewarding.
My list of things that make owning a dog a little easier
1. Midwest Select Triple Door Dog Crate.
How could you ever house train without a crate? Things have been going great since I picked this one up at Petmart
. Austin only had accidents in it for the first few days, now he's clean and dry, loves his bed, takes naps in it every afternoon voluntarily, and I've been able to expand his sleeping area to half the kennel size. Good dog.
2. Zuke's Dog Treats
: Thanks to the Brookside Barkery
, home of all things natural and delightfully expensive for your pets, I came across these all-natural dog treats and teeth cleaners, which my dog absolutely loves (unfortunately due to the price tag). Now I'm buying him the gourmet treats online (sorry Brookside, but they're a lot cheaper). I'll make a snob out of him yet. I also really like the NOW! Puppy Chow
, but there's quite a hefty price to that as well so for now he's on Eukanuba
. I'm sticking with natural treats except for...
3. Rachel Ray's Hamburger Dog Treats.
They are $1 a bag at Wal-Mart, and the dog loves them.
4. Puppy classes at Wayside Waifs.
Austin loves puppy classes and he's learning so fast! There's only 4 or 5 puppies in each class, and you get one-on-one attention. Through the moral support of the class, Austin is learning bite inhibition, conquered his fear of the stairs, socializes with puppies every week, and is learning sit, down, stay and come. (He's incredible at sit, impressive at stay, tolerable at down and terrible with come. Glad we've still got some more classes.) Thanks to our instructor, Skip Daiger
5. Shawnee Mission Dog Park
The dog park is a 53-acre off-leash area features a dog swim beach and wood chip and natural surface trails through grassland and wooded areas. The area also includes paved parking and portable toilets. Austin gets to meet lots of new friends, puppies, grown-up dogs, children and people. He's so cute, he always gets attention. One note: Shawnee Mission Park is chock full of deer so make sure you and your pup have appropriate tick repellent. Neither of you want to get lyme disease :(
6. Kong Chew Toys
Austin's gonna be a chewer, this much I've figured out. To get him started chewing on the right things, I got him a Puppy Kong Chew toy. I spent literally hours at different times and different places looking at puppy toys. Most of them were just ridiculous and cheap. I took one look at the "stuffed Christmas themed bear" and went, "yep that'll get ripped apart and swallowed before dinner." Or those cheap squeaker chew toys? Annoying. So I did some research. I figured if I could find 5-10 durable, healthy toys that would last for a while and I didn't have to worry about him ingesting them while he's bored in the middle of the night, it would probably be worth spending a few more dollars. All my friends agree on the Puppy Kong.
7. Petsmart Grooming
: With a puppy like Austin, he likes to get wet, dirty and have lots of fun. I'm not in the confident place of washing (and drying) him myself, especially in the cold weather, so it was a lifesaver when I discovered Petsmart Grooming gives puppies under 6 months a bath for $10.99. Yep, can't beat that with a stick, and he gets some more socialization time. They always say he's a little angel, and he gets to say "hey!" to some 5-10 other people in the store on the way in and out, while I get to go shopping.
8. The Stuffed Duck
. In the world of dog toys, nothing so far compared to the stuffed mallard duck. It's got a not-so-annoying, somewhat believable quack, and Austin LOVES it. He sleeps with his duck, plays puppy ATTACK! with his duck, and drags it around the house.
9. Dr. Lyle at Crest Animal Hospital.
Finding a vet can be a little difficult. When Saber was sick, we went to Banfield, which is the clinic our of Petsmart. To be honest, it just felt a little commercial to me - like they see way too many animals. Growing up, we went to a vet in Richmond Missouri who was the nicest lady - she was also a farm vet, so it wasn't unusual to see horse trailers parked outside her office. There is something special about that small-town practice, and the personal care provide. Vets are like dentists, and recommendations are always a good place to start. Wayside recommended Dr. Lyle, and I couldn't be happier AND he's my neighbor.
I know I'm learning a lot about dogs, but I'm also learning a lot about me. I have to tell you, it's been great coming home and not thinking and worrying about work, coming up with some new "strategies" or internally rehashing my relationships, or over-analyzing my future. Right now, everything is... "Do you need to go outside?" And that's okay.
Read more about Austin by following his