Puppy practice

Last week I got to spend a day caring for a puppy. Since I’ve wanted a puppy for months and months it was a good chance to experience the reality and remember what raising a puppy is like. It was also a good test to see how Pax and Aslan would handle having a youngster around.

On Wednesday, an e-mail went out to the neighborhood: Lorelie had found a black puppy and was looking for the owner. On Thursday morning she followed up. The puppy, she thought, was a young Newfie puppy, and they still had not found an owner.

The idea that this might be a Newfie intrigued me — especially since I had been looking at Newfie puppies on the Web on Wednesday! I e-mailed her and told her if she didn’t find the owner, I’d be happy to take him off her hands. By Thursday afternoon, she had exhausted her resources and asked if I wanted to take over the baby-sitting job.

Is this not the cutest thing you’ve ever seen:

When I first saw him, I guessed, based primarily on size, that he was probably about eight weeks old. But once I got him home, I changed my guess to about ten weeks. He was small for a Newf — about 18 lbs. — but sure looked like one otherwise. And he was ADORABLE.

I brought him home and introduced him to Pax and Aslan. Pax was immediately miffed at me. Both dogs were excited by the puppy though, and it took lots of reminders to be gentle before they were interacting appropriately with him. Pax was actually a little snarky with him at first, and he was definitely unhappy about the prospect of sharing his toys! Aslan treated him like he treats any guest dog… He was excited and interested, but his stress level steadily increased. He never behaved inappropriately to the puppy, but he began growling and aggressing toward Pax.

The puppy was a sweetheart. He was good with the other dogs, sat to be petted, and was almost completely housebroken! We had just one accident the entire time, and that was a moment of “Oh, he wants to go out… Oops.” He actually goes to the door and ASKS to go out! At ten weeks! I named him Zane (which means “God’s gracious gift”), and by the time he left, I was calling him Zany Brainy.

Thursday afternoon and evening were pretty easy. Pax was miffed. Aslan was outside to keep him from jumping Pax. I hadn’t had a chance to puppy-proof the house AT ALL, so I played with the pup when he was awake, keeping him focused on people, toys, and dogs instead of cords, furniture, and non-chew toys. I was a little confounded about what to do with him overnight. I didn’t have a puppy-sized crate, and I doubted that he was going to be happy sleeping in the bed. I was right — he didn’t settle on the bed. So I put up a baby gate to keep him in the bedroom and just crossed my fingers that he wouldn’t get into trouble on the floor. A little belly rubbing, and he fell right to sleep next to the bed.

Jay came up at 1:15. He took the baby out, but also thoroughly woke him up. The puppy knocked over the gate and made an escape right after Jay got in bed, so I got up and dealt with it. Zane was hungry, so I fed him a little and gave him some water, and then took him out again. When we went up this time, he settled pretty quickly and slept until about 5. I got up, played with him, fed everyone around 6, and then (predictably) he crashed. So we went upstairs and got another couple hours sleep. The neat thing was that by Friday morning, Pax had decided that the little guy wasn’t so bad. He not only played with him, but even offered him his favorite toys to tug and play with.

Although I named him, I *didn’t* get too attached. I knew this little guy belonged somewhere, and even though he was adorable, I didn’t want someone else to be missing him. I put the word out about him in several places, but it wasn’t necessary. Lorelie e-mailed me right before bed on Thursday to tell me she had found his owner. It turns out that he isn’t a Newf. Instead he’s half Lab, half Collie. He was from a litter further up Mountain View.

I spent Friday morning trying to get in contact with his owners and finally did so at 12:30. I dropped him off at home at 1 — and he was much relieved to get back to his mom, siblings, and aunt. He, it turns out, is the only one in the bunch with long fur. The others just look like Lab pups. Any way you slice it, he’s going to make someone a nice dog. He was raised with dogs, cats, and very small children, and he’s from good family breeds. I’m not too worried about him, though I do miss him.

After he was gone, Jay and I assessed the experience. We decided that with some preparation, we could probably handle this puppy-raising thing. Our biggest concern was Aslan’s tendency to handle his stress by redirecting to Pax. Obviously, if we bring a puppy home, it will require constant monitoring and managing of all three dogs, at least for a while, and that is VERY labor intensive. I also was reminded just how exhausting having a puppy is. I was sleep deprived after the first night! I would likely need Jay to do more shifts, just so I could have a break and get some rest.

All in all, it was a good experience. Good luck, Zany Brainy. I miss you!

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