If you subscribe to my newsletter, then you already know that we have expanded our family! We adopted a beautiful, sweet little girl this week and we couldn't be happier!
Ever since our last dog attacked Connor, we've been a no-animal household. It has been stressful and anxiety ridden for me, but we've been alright. I have learned over the last 5 months that I really don't like not having an animal. As obnoxious as they can sometimes be, having one brings me comfort and relieves a great deal of my stress. Mike has been anxious about adding a dog to our family because he witnessed Chuck going after Connor and I know that had to have been traumatic. I didn't bring up my stress or desire for an animal as often as I felt it or wanted to, but I know I probably talked about it more than I should have. I didn't want him to feel pressured to get another dog. I wanted to wait until he was ready. We had a pseudo agreement that we wouldn't even consider a dog unless Connor found one he was comfortable and at-ease with.
Over the last few weeks, Connor has been talking more and more about having a puppy. He plays fetch and tag with his imaginary dog, Riley (same name as our black and white dog who passed away a year and a half ago) and he pretends to go camping with her all the time. I've been slowly, casually talking to him about what kind of puppy he wants, pinning down a good size and personality type for him for when we eventually got a new pup. We've been to a few pet stores and he's encountered dogs a lot (family pets, neighbors, a random lady walking her dog at the park, etc) and he loved the dogs, until they got close enough to touch him, and then he'd get very nervous and try and hide behind myself or Mike.
I took the boys with my sister to an animal shelter on Sunday, just to get some more exposure for him and let him play with a dog or two in a neutral, "we can leave any time" setting. Then I saw this little girl. Just hanging out, laying there wagging her tail, being super chill. I brought her out to meet him and that was it. He loved her. Petting her, without prompting. Asking her for kisses. Giving her hugs and kisses. It doesn't sound like much, but for a kid who's been hiding from dogs for months, this is a major break through. I imediately sent Mike some pictures, we talked it over, and we are proud to announce that we are now a family of 5!
Mike and I put together a rather lengthy list of all the potential names we liked, then nixed and vetoed until there were only 2 names left. We let Connor make the final name decision and our sweet little mutt is now called Dutch, after a super badass chick from KillJoys, although Connor doesn't know the show... We also took him shopping for all her things and he picked out everything for her: collar, bowl, toys, and treats. We agreed that he needed to feel as much in control with this new pup as possible and make sure he knows that she's his responsibilty too. He loved it.
She's been home with us for a full 24 hours now and it's been interesting. It's been 12 years exactly (thank you, Facebook memories) since I last had a puppy, and apparently I blocked out some of the more annoying puppy memories. She whines a lot if she's in the kennel and we are home, like when we did bath and bedtime for the boys last night, or when Mike and I went to bed last night. Not awesome, but it's a phase. I'm not looking forward to the chewing phase either...
I'd also forgotten how much of a pain it is to start fresh with an untrained dog. Teaching her not to jump on people, or play to rough with her mouth is going to be a challenge, but we can handle it. Connor gets nervous when she has too much energy and is too excited, but I'm working with him to show him that he is bigger than her and he is the boss (compared to her). If she's doing something he doesn't like, he can say "No" in a loud, firm voice, without yelling and help to teach her what's appropriate and what's not. He also likes that he can escape from her when she's being too crazy, ie running in circles, by simply getting on the couch. She's too little to get up on the couch without help.
This is going to be an adjustment for everyone, and I know it will be challenging at times, but I'm really happy that we have her and I'm so grateful that Connor loves her so much. She will still do things that make him nervous for awhile, but he's learning and working to get comfortable and confident with dogs again. I think she's the perfect addition to our family.
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