Like I wasn’t going to have a few themes that covered the dog world and though Harper isn’t much of a barker, woof indeed!
As we come to an end of this January’s challenge, Harper will be approaching her nine-month “birthday.” It’s crazy how fast time has gone by with her. From this cute little furball to a beautiful “adult” dog. I feel as though she’s reached her growth peak – give or take a few pounds and such – and I’m happy she’s not huge. She’s the right size. Now, that’s not to say a growth spurt isn’t coming, but my vet seems to think she’s peaked and I’m OK with that.
Everything else I’ve seen in Harper since I got her in July is truly amazing. I look back at the initial thoughts I had from getting her, the ups and the downs, the frustrations and celebrations, and everything in between and it’s been a journey unlike anything I’ve ever had.
I had wanted a dog for a long time. But I never really found what I had wanted. I went looking at shelters and everything else and I contacted rescues. Nothing fit and nothing clicked.
Then, it did.
I had been on a waiting list for a golden (after a couple of years of breed research) and I never heard anything back. Well, when I contacted, nothing was ever happening. I knew I didn’t want to try and train a dog in the winter (goodness… I look back now and realize how much I would have hated doing it in the winter!) so I was in a spot where I needed to find a dog.
A couple of late-night searches via Google allowed me to find a spot and soon enough we went and looked at the puppies, met the pup’s parents, and put a down payment on one.
Seems she was the runt, too.
The roller coaster began a few weeks later when I picked her up. She was nine weeks old. Within 15 minutes of leaving the breeder, she threw up. I stopped, cleaned it up and got her settled (I had brought a laundry basket for the front seat). She settled in and slept the rest of the way home.
Then she was home. So much excitement. She explored the yard and sniffed around. She ran and followed me around. That night, I had her sleep near me in the basket. Midway through the night, she was out and exploring on her own.
Exploring is a theme she’s followed throughout her existence.
That first month was extremely hard. We had a session with a trainer the day after I picked her up. Two hours of a session was extremely tough to take in. In the end, I didn’t feel a connection with the trainer. I needed to start anew.
But the emotions. As I look back, I have to be honest. I was looking for any reason to bring her back to the breeder or rehome her. Anything. Despite taking two weeks off from work – I was a true idiot. I thought she’d be everything I wanted in two weeks.
Here’s the kicker – when I would see other dogs who weren’t well behaved or barked a ton or whatever else, I’d always say “That’s because they aren’t trained well.”
And here I was ready to give in because Harper was yet just a baby and needed to learn.
I had emotional breakdowns. I second-guessed every single thing I did. There were times I fully regretted getting a dog. I hated that my life changed so much.
And a side note? I had researched so much and knew what I was getting into and I still wasn’t ready or prepared.
But, I persevered.
Two saving graces for me – finding a trainer (who I still use) who had empathy and the uncanny ability to not only train your dog with you, but also train you. As a first-time dog owner, I was lost. I was frustrated. And I was drained. Nanci was one of the most important pieces for me keeping Harper and making sure she was my dog.
The second was finding a doggy daycare that I trusted and that had an owner who looked at it more than a business. For a few years I had driven past one on my way to work. One day I called. I asked if we could stop by and meet her. So after a training session, we stopped. She met Harper and us. I felt at ease. She owned goldens. It was warm and welcoming. Harper still goes there once a week, and that’s also where she gets boarded if needed. I trust my dog fully with Moriah and I can’t speak highly enough about her and her services (she’s also a groomer!)
The fact is these two ladies truly saved me when it came to Harper. I can’t speak highly enough about their professionalism, humanity and how they treat animals. I feel fully blessed to have both of them be part of this journey I have with Harper.
Over time, things improved. The lifestyle change for me is still hard at times. I have said many times that if I could take what I know now, and go back to last June – I would say I’m not doing it. But that would also mean taking away the emotional connection I have with Harper.
The emotional roller coaster is a little more level now. I can’t say I don’t get frustrated at times – I do. I know I have to be more diligent about Harper’s training. I have to set her and myself up for better success. Overall she’s amazingly well behaved. But, she’s still a puppy. We need to work on jumping and making sure she doesn’t do it.. And we need to work on drop/leave it because she constantly is picking things up on our walks. She still nips and bites at times, but it’s pretty playful. That doesn’t make it right, though, so we’re still working on it.
She’s involved in dog sports and I look forward to the spring when we can start dock diving again. We did it at the end of last year and she really enjoyed it. I see dock diving as her sport, that’s for sure. And I have so many ideas for videos and photos surrounding that!
Nine months old. It’s truly crazy to think how fast the time went and all the different emotions that went along with it. She’s a true gem. She doesn’t really bark. She’s usually pretty chill. And she loves to have fun. In time, I hope she likes car rides more than she does now as I look forward to exploring so many places with her.
There are times she’ll be on the couch near me at night and she’s off snoozing. I’ll sneak a peek over and she looks so peaceful and it always makes me think how lucky I am and still be in disbelief that she’s mine.
This post is part of the 2022 20 Days of Chill Writing Challenge hosted by A ‘lil HooHaa. Please check out the links (intro I themes) if you’d like to see the setup and themes! You don’t have to do every theme if you don’t want to! And for those participating, take a moment and check out the other participants!