I’ve never raised a puppy before.
The house I grew up in was surrounded by woods with no discernible backyard to speak of and even if it’d had that, and a fence, and whatever else, it still wouldn’t have worked out well. My mom worked, I was in school, so a dog would have been more than we could handle, and he probably wouldn’t have been happy with us being cooped up all day .
We opted for cats instead.
I love cats–a lot of people don’t, but I’ve had some really unique ones over the years. I had one when I was younger that was built like a lion, who would lay in front of the food bowl and scoop the food out, lay in front of the TV and watch it for hours, and follow the other cats around until they laid down so that he could cuddle up next to them. I have one now that is forever a kitten, or acts it anyway, even though he’s 10 years old, and another that has such fierce loyalty to me and my side that you’d think he was actually a dog.
I’ve always been kind of a cat person by default–it happens when that’s all you know–but as much as I love my cats, and have and will continue to do so, I think I’ve begun to shift toward being a dog person, ever since getting Flynn.
Here’s some background on the little fuzzybutt.
Flynn is a purebred Blue Heeler–an Australian Cattle Dog. Before him, I’d never even heard of a Blue Heeler. Australian Shepherds I knew, Border Collies and other herding breeds too, but never Blue Heelers–which I wasn’t alone in; a fair number of people I tell about Flynn have never heard of them either. People usually respond with a, “what?” to which I respond, “Blue Heeler.” and they ask, “what?” and I say, “Australian Cattle Dog.” They say, “Oh. Australian Shepherd. I get it now,” to which I correct them and say, “No not quite. An Australian Cattle Dog,” and they say, “what?” and it’s like that for about an hour.
I’m not even exaggerating a little bit.
How we came to get Flynn though goes about like this: Abbie and I live about thirty minutes apart, twenty at night or in the morning with no traffic, which hasn’t always been true. Early on in our relationship we were half that distance or less, so I could stay later, get there quicker, swing by on my way home from somewhere–it was easier. But the place she lived in was kind of isolating so it didn’t balance out well. There were a lot of older people who held the same schedules as one another, were grumpy, antisocial, and viewed her (keep in mind they a hundred years old) as a “hoodlum street youth with a propensity for…”
(Tries to think up a crime.)
“Baaaaaadger theft?” Yeah.
The convenience wasn’t worth her living in that environment. It wasn’t worth her feeling alone. So she moved back near where her family lives, out of town and into the country a little bit, distancing us, but making her feel more comfortable; I call that a win.
However, that didn’t take away the lonely feeling completely; it just made it a little more bearable.
The conversation about a puppy came up every now and then, not because there was a void in need of one, but because it was an idea, in a general sense. But we didn’t know how we’d arrange taking care of it, how it would do, if it was a good time to pick one up, or if we were even in the right mindset to take care of one. There were a lot of questions there and we–I–wasn’t sure.
If we’re honest, I don’t think either one of us were ever very serious–we were just entertaining the idea.
I’ve known a number of people who have gotten a puppy while they were dating. Some of those relationships, as you might imagine, didn’t end well and a dog just complicated the whole thing, but the majority of them were pretty solid where they were–they knew they were in it for a while–and the puppy was a good experience for them both as they moved on into marriage. My cousin and his fiancée come to mind: they’re getting married in a month and have a 3 (maybe?) year old fur baby; I’m hard pressed to think of a happier dog.
It can be good–it just depends on your relationship, your planning, and what you’re reasons for doing it are.
So when I approached the question, “How will Abbie take care of her new puppy?” with an alternate question: “How will we take care of our new puppy?” it all took a bit more shape, and the newly existent plan of getting a puppy moved forward.
A few days later, a long drive, and some shot nerves on all three of our ends, we brought Flynn home, the Blue Heeler booger, where he has settled in nicely.
That isn’t to say it’s been easy, just more or less interesting; it’s a puppy so you can come to expect that.
On his worst days, he’s a nightmare, and on his best, perhaps a general annoyance. Sometimes I don’t get it. He gets into everything, he chews, he bites, and will do anything that he wants to do, even if it means getting hurt.
Blue Heelers are herding dogs by nature so they’re hardily built. They can get stepped on by a cow, or kicked, or bitten (if cows bite), but they’ll just keep coming back. They’re energetic and smart–sometimes too much for their own good–and they can go and go forever. Which in a dog is great. You can run with him, train him, play fetch with him, give him jobs, but as a puppy it’s not so easy. Puppies are notoriously destructive and difficult, but Flynn’s a little more so. That blood mixed with the age that he is makes the relationship we have resemble a-yo-yo-act-where-the-yo-yo-gets-tangled-and-some-guy-throws-it-across-the-room-and-sets-fire-to-it-while-standing-back-to-watch-it-burn. It’s me and Abbie putting the fires out while Flynn goes around starting new ones.
He’s an experience.
If ever you have a weak heart for seeing your child get hurt (I don’t know who wouldn’t, I’m just giving the option), don’t get a Blue Heeler. They’ll get hurt doing everything.
Speaking of, Flynn got into a wasp’s nest yesterday and they lit his butt up.
It hurts when he poops. We gave him Benadryl. He’s okay now.