For years I have wanted a dog, you could say I was one of those kids who had wanted a dog her whole life; but as is the case for so many families, due to commitments, restrictive landlords and financial concerns (A pet insurance costs HOW much?) we did not get one.
Fast forward 2 decades, past countless cases of dog walking, minding and sitting (as in watching someone else’s dog, not learning to sit like one 😉 ), my parents having eventually caved and gotten a dog of their own too and *drumroll* … Derek and I finally found ourselves in an apartment where, due to the fact that we own all our own furniture, we were finally allowed to have a (small – medium sized) dog. 😀
There were so many things to think about, such as what breed would suit us best, could we reconcile our busy work schedules to properly care for a wee dog, how much would it cost per month to have him… well normally I am the “write it all down and do the math” kind of gal, but in this case I was just too excited and dove head first into trying to find ur perfect furry match!
I started sending my hubby an excessive amount of Gumtree advertisements of dogs I fancied, (primarily of pugs, who are a) really expensive and b) brachiocephalic meaning their health would be even more expensive in the future) and he kept giving me the non-committal “uh-huh”, “that’s nice” and “mhm” responses … however, to keep a long story short I eventually found this guy:
He is a Puaglier; he has the features of a pug that I adore (extra skin rolls, squishy forehead, short coat, faun coloured and a curly tail) but he has the height and long snout (read: good breathing) of a Cavalier. Derek saw this picture and the response I got was: “Now THAT’s a dog.”
(I took that as a “yes honey, we can buy him” and contacted his owner without further discussion. 😉 )
I met the very lovely lady and her husband a few days later, at a park in Belfast (you don’t want to invite strangers you met on the internet to your home, even if you are buying/selling a dog). Since then I have been in semi-regular contact with them, since they wanted to know how he was settling in. I thought this was really sweet, and it actually made me really happy that they got back in touch, because it proved to me that he came from a loving home and that the circumstances of his rehoming were indeed as genuine as they seemed.
They had named him Gus, which is really cute, but I had my heart set on Riker (yes, like Commander Riker, from STTNG). All the dog training books said to rename your dog as quickly as possible, so as to create a permanent association to the name, so I started calling him Riker right away, on that first walk home.
Every time we stopped at a light, I praised him, wanted him to stop or was just talking to him, I called him Riker. It took us an hour to get home, so he got loads of practise and it worked really well. (Also, my friend Taryn of Kawaii Candy Couture made us a custom dog tag for him, to cement his place in Puppy Star Fleet. 😉 )
By the time I got him home and Derek came home from work to meet him (yes, he knew that Riker was coming home that day), he was already responding to that name. ❤
Now, when “they “say that getting a dog is a lot of work… believe them, and trust me that every dog owner you have ever talked to downplays just how much work it really is. 😉 He is inquisitive, clever and crafty. He wants to get to know the world (and to my dismay usually explores it with his teeth) but also knows who his pack his, and is wonderfully affectionate and sweet.
To be perfectly honest, the first couple of weeks were rough; he seemed not to know how to sleep on his own (we’ve a bed area set up for him in the hallway outside our room), so he cried ALOT at bed time. Even though he was already 7 months old and housetrained when we got him, he didn’t know how to “mouth” gently, so instead of playing gently his nips and bites really hurt, and he was humping anything with upholstery – which was exhausting. Walking him was also a touch tricky, since he thought the nice extending lead that I bought for him (8m to give him lots of play room without being off-leash) was a chew toy and don’t get me started on my fear for my Disney Stuffies! *sweating just thinking about it* (He has also destroyed the leg of my new dining room table… I thought he was lying underneath it chewing on his bone, and I was waaaaay too late to notice that he was actually chewing on the table! Alas… my fault.)
However, he is an incredibly fast learner. He learned to walk on leash very quickly and we were even able to upgrade him to the extendable leash within just a few weeks. 🙂 He (almost) walks at heel now (hopefully that will get better with time), does not bark at strange dogs when walking, is incredibly gentle and patient with strangers, good with children, and knows to not bring his treats onto the sofa… he has (almost) learned not to touch my stuffies and that he has his own toys, is getting really good at a doggie food puzzle toy that we bought him and has excellent dinner manners (he sits pretty and waits as I prepare his food).
There are still a few things we need to iron out, such as his incredible curiosity for anything edible (eating on the sofa is really hard for us these days) and he still does not know the different types of human/dog interaction. Whenever we go to touch him, he thinks its play time, so he doesn’t really know yet how to just let us pet him, brush him or scratch his belly without him trying to “catch” our hands with his teeth, since they’re playthings in that instance. *sigh* But we’ll get there. 😀
Coming home to him at the end of the working day is priceless. He is affectionate and excitable, gets us making better choices (we are sooooo much more active now)… we still get to be ourselves, be social and play our video games as well, but we also spend a lot more time in the here and now, with him. He loves to play, cuddle and just generally be around us – which is oddly, magical.
Even though I always wanted a dog, I never understood why people called them “fur-babies”… they’re animals after all, not people. But now that I have Riker I am starting to understand: I love his goofy puppy grin, how he licks me all over and jumps like a kangaroo in excitement when I come home, how he curls up at my feet to keep them warm when I watch a movie and how he has brought out the very best in Derek. (I could write a whole separate post about how having Riker has positively affected him.)
Now I can’t help but admit that he is indeed my fur baby, and I have – at long last – become a Puppy Momma!