Bailey is back in our lives and this time for good. Life with a puppy is exciting. I find I have very little time to write unless I get up at 5AM when he is still sleeping. Once Bailey is awake it is constant supervision!
I have read all the training manuals and checked out various websites to try and figure out what is the best way to ensure a positive adjustment for Bailey, for Sooke and for us. Of course the data is endless and quite honestly not all that consistent. Then add to the mix the number of people who once they meet Bailey provide tips or insights they have learned about boxers, or about helping older dogs get use to a puppy or about diet.
Let’s take diet. There’s all protein, all whole grains, all raw – not to mention countless varieties and prices for something Bailey basically wolf’s down in seconds without any real interest in whether it is chicken, buffalo or pork. Yes I want a healthy, gasless boxer and I have gathered from my reading that is a challenge. But all the choices make it quite difficult to come to any clear decision.
Then there’s training. Caesar says I need to be the top dog and that it’s exercise, discipline and then affection – that’s the right order. The Boxer rescue folks are not too fond of Caesar and they suggest only positive reinforcement and never say Bailey’s name when angry. That sounds great until I see him chewing on my leather boots and can not help but yell, “Bailey, No!!”. So much for never yelling his name.
Then there’s is the little issue of Sooke. The top dog in the house. She’s nine an not so fond of the idea of sharing her world with the likes of Bailey. She is trying. She snaps at him and makes it clear she will decide when and if she is going to play. They are best when outside with extra room. However, temperatures in the single digits are making the time outside short.
So life with Bailey is exciting, exhausting and wonderful. I have to believe that if we do a ‘good enough’ job of picking the right food, training and allowing the dogs to become pack – all will be okay. In the mean time the blogs will be shorter and likely focused on my canine world. I hope the adjustment won’t take too long.
The Bailey, aka Moose, story continues. I now understand why there are so many dog stories out there. We have yet to have our final interview before being officially allowed to adopt boxer Bailey. In the mean time we have been allowed another visit. Today’s visit was challenging.
We thought we were prepared. We were rested and ready to walk and play first thing so that Bailey could spend the rest of the morning becoming more familiar with our home. The walk went pretty well except for the part when Bailey needed to be on the leash. He’s obviously new to the leash and does just fine for brief periods until he moves in such a way that the leash catches his attention. When that happens he does one of two moves. One is the classic chewing process clearly intended to rid himself of this annoying line that is slowing down his forward progress. The second move is when the leash seems to totally surprise him and he proceeds to jump around in such a way that the leash pulls on his collar so tightly that he thrashes even harder in an effort to figure what the hell has him trapped. The second move is much more difficult to watch and even harder to sort out. Of course we know it is our job to teach him differently but we are not there yet!
Overall though, the walk went well. Back at the house it seemed he was content to wander around and finally drop down at our feet for a nap. This is part where he is the adorable puppy and isn’t it great to have him in our lives moment. Then he woke up.
We missed getting him outside fast enough so there was the little accident on the carpet. Once out he seemed confused why we were staying out when he was complete with the task. Back inside it was clear he wanted our undivided attention. Actually he really wanted Sooke’s attention and she was not into playing. After a number of play bows, some barking and a few right hooks thrown gently at Sooke’s face, she let him know she was not going to be the one to entertain him. Next he started working on us. We did give it our best shot and for a few minutes I thought we were doing okay. But the phone rang and one of us needed to cover that. You would think one of us could entertain the puppy but may be that is the problem we simply are trying to hard and he knows it. Shortly we felt quite defeated and decided we’d end our visit a bit early.
When we dropped Bailey off at his foster home we asked how she did it. We then got the chance to see Bailey with his three adult boxer buddies and realized he was getting tons of attention that was never really going to be available at our house. It was fun to watch one adult dog after the other tag team Bailey’s needs for play. I was exhausted watching!! Foster mom, Tracey, let us know that really he would settle in. Routine and knowing us would eventually help him settle into our lives. Still I left wondering if I was the best owner for Bailey.
After getting home we had another chat about our decision. I am beginning to wonder if this is why the adoption process is taking so long. The process will determine how committed we are or wear us out trying. We are not giving up on Bailey but after I write this blog I am heading to Petco for more toys and supplies. Tomorrow he is coming over for a sleepover and we are determined to be prepared.
Of course having Bailey in our lives has changed the focus of everything. Even blogging seems difficult. I wasn’t going to keep writing about Bailey but he is so BIG in the picture thus for a better writer a book becomes a easy outlet for the amazing level of focus this job requires.
I am sure any parents reading this blog are laughing. Indeed Bailey and previously Sooke are the closest thing to child rearing I have ever done. Well not totally true I did teach, and at one point, was responsible for a room full of first graders. I also have a niece and nephew who survived living with me for short periods when they were young. I don’t need to be reminded this is not the same. I know from talking to many new parents when they were exhausted and wondering, “What made me ever think I could do this?” It is not uncommon to question and even wish for a way out. It is a significant life change be it a child or a puppy – both are a handful of joy, energy and constant demands. I just hope I am up to the job or up for being honest and making the right choice. It is clear this is not an easy logical choice. This type of decision is riddled with emotions. It may seem obvious to an outside observer but for me I am not so certain.
In the mean time, I will keep giving this my best shot and likely you will keep hearing more about Bailey. He really is a cute puppy and he does deserve the effort!!
Some of you who are regular readers ( god knows if there really are any) may be wondering what happened with Moose. The adoption process as I mentioned is not so simple as it use to be. Currently our application is under review, references are being called and our vet needs to vouch for us. In the mean time though we were allowed to have Bailey (previously known to you as Moose) over for a one day visit.
Bailey was dropped off at 8AM. We did our best to make sure the house was ready for a puppy and let Sooke know this was still a trail run. The day was exhausting!!! We were told by our friends we were like the parent’s of a new born (okay probably more like a toddler since Bailey was very, vary mobile).
We did schedule as much activity into the day as we thought Sooke could handle in hopes that we would keep Bailey happy. The good news was that our efforts worked. Bailey had some great naps at various times during the day which allowed us some recovery time.
It was wonderful seeing Sooke and Bailey play. They played tug-of war and some sort of herding game which basically looked like Bailey trying to steal the toy from Sooke, while running at full speed. Of course Sooke had the upper hand since she could simply give Bailey the right front hip and send him tumbling. He was game and right back up and after her each time.
We did learn that we will need to get up to speed on training and making sure the little fellow gets who’s boss. He seems willing to learn though strong-willed.
By the end of the day we were okay letting him head home with his foster mom. Though we had become quite attached we knew we needed a bit more prep time before having Bailey home for good.
Today we put together a crate and bought some boxer training books. We are hoping we can get approved and bring Bailey home officially by the middle of next week.
In case any of you grew attached to the name Moose. We decided Moose, though a cute name sounded a little too close to Sooke. Plus we just weren’t thrilled about having a moose in the house. He seemed okay with the change.