July first marked the first anniversary of our life with Finnegan, a beautiful golden retriever. With the new website and this milestone I find myself reflecting back on all the things that have happened in the past year and all the things I have learned. There were the hours spent lounging on the couch or playing fetch, buying toys at the pet store only to see them ripped apart in mere minutes, exciting trips to dog parks and hikes and countless other experiences that I treasure. In an attempt to explain what a whirlwind at has been, and all the things I have learned I have complied a list of the ten most memorable moments, some fun and some worrisome, from the first year of pet ownership. Because some of them involve full stories I’ll be posting them serially over the course of the month. If you are a pet owner feel free to chime in and let me know how you dealt with some of these issues or what your favorite memories were from your first year of having a pet.
#1 The First Night of Owning a Dog -Day 1
We had discussed getting a dog for a few months and after much deliberation we decided on a breed, the golden retriever. The research was extensive, including books on ownership, tons of informative websites and plenty of google image searches (on the part of Finn’s mom who could oogle baby puppies for days on end). We tried to register with rescue organizations, filling out forms at three separate organizations but unfortunately the response was not as timely as we would have hoped. I had a month and a half before I would start my job so in an effort to use the time to acclimate ourselves to the life with a dog we turned to the classified ads. There were a few listings for golden litters and we set up visits on a Sunday morning.
The first stop we made was to Finn’s breeders. We got to meet his mom and dad, both of whom were beautiful well mannered pets that were in great health and generally seemed like the type of dog we were searching for. At the time Finn’s name was "Orange" (each of the litter had a different color ribbon used to identify them and save the breeders from growing too attached). He was 15 weeks old, a bundle of energy and looked simply adorable. The breeder’s told us how great his parents were and all about his litter. His father was 12 and was clearly a part of their family, his mother a 4 year old was also a great family pet. From the litter of eight, five already had new homes. A sixth was leaving that day which left "Orange" and Bella. Bella, who was staying with the family, had a close call when she was caught under her sleeping mother and had to be revived via CPR. After such a harrowing experience the breeder’s could not bear to part with her. Once our meeting with "Orange" and friends was over we set off to fulfill our obligation to the other breeder with whom we had set up a meeting. We had a great feeling about "Orange" and almost made the decision right there but decided since we had already set up the second meeting it was the least we could do to show up. At the other breeder our minds were made up in a matter of minutes, we played with the litter for a little bit, chatted with the breeder and left telling them "we’ll think about it and give you a call when we make a decision".
Back in the car the discussion went something like this:
Me: "Ummm… so what do you think"
Finn’s Mom: "I liked Orange, he was just…"
Me: "Let’s go pick up Finn!" (we had decided on his name previously)
Finn’s Mom: "YAYYY!!!!"
We called Finn’s first family and gave them the news. On the way back to their place we stopped at a Petco to get Finn’s first toy, a ball he would NEVER play with. Twenty minutes later we arrived at the breeder’s and set to filling out the paperwork; AKC registration, health history, and transfer of ownership, as well as collecting a large packet that included immunization and breed information that the breeder’s thought we would enjoy (we did). As we left, loading Finn into a small crate we had brought with us, it was apparent he was going to be missed. The teary eyes further convinced us that he had been raised properly and reiterated that this little pooch’s life and well being was now in our hands.
The trip home was a nervous drive well below the speed limit. Finn piddled a little while poking his head out the top of the carrier we used to secure him, but his demeanor was one of excitement and not fear. Finn’s Mom sat in back with him, making sure that he knew he had someone to watch over him. Back at the house we let Finn out to romp in his new yard and introduced him to his room, complete with couches he could jump on, his water dish and food bowl and a spot for his crate. For the rest of the day we played with Finn, gave him treats and did everything possible to make the transition an exciting and pleasant one.
Night one started by putting Finn into the carrier we had brought him home in, but that did not last. The carrier we had was part of our planning for a puppy but because Finn, at 15 weeks, was older then the puppy we anticipated he didn’t seem to fit. The small size coupled with the fact that it was his first night alone forced us to make the decision that it would be less traumatic if we let him roam, and we resolved to get a suitable crate the next day. Equipped with a piddle pad the small room, the size of a single garage port, had all the amenities a puppy needs. We heard the golden nugget whimper for only a few minutes before the excitement of the day took over and he curled into a ball and got busy sleeping.
Our first day as pet owners was an exciting and memorable one, but it was only the beginning of all the wonderful things to come…
Memories 2-10 to come. Have a memorable tale of your first experience as a dog owner? Love to hear it, share in the comments or e-mail it along.