Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Meet the new puppy!

I picked up the new puppy today! Cassie wants final say on the name but right now "Bandit" is the frontrunner. I'll write more later about his first day but wanted to just introduce him! He's a Border collie, a blue merle. He's so stinking cute, and I think after an adjustment period he and Scout are going to get along just fine.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Puppies on the brain Part 2

So I've been thinking a lot about getting another puppy. Not just thinking, but praying, talking to the vet, researching, debating the pros and cons.

I think I've figured out why I want another dog: for a long time I've been in this empty nest limbo. Cassie's grown up, David's always had his own hobbies and passions, and over the last couple of years I've really gotten into the dog. I love training and agility, I love reading and learning about dogs and how they think and how people can be better pet owners. It's becoming a bit of a passion for me, I guess.

Which explains why I was so irritated that David came to agility classes with me. He would talk to the dog while I was working with him, and he would interject his thoughts about what I was doing wrong. I tried to explain to him that it would be like if I went hunting with him and sat in the tree stand explaining why he was holding his bow wrong. He didn't get it.

Until yesterday. When I explained it in terms of passion and hobby and interest, rather than just family pet, he understood. (Of course, he immediately started telling me all of the things I should do about getting a dog, but when I told him to stop being a control freak, he understood. Poor David.)

In any event ... the conversation took place because I found a puppy. It could be another one of those right time, right dog moments. I was talking to a breeder, Kim at Gentle Shepherd Farms, about new born puppies, but we got talking about a 13-week-old male that was supposed to go home this week with someone who ended up not being able to take him. Because he's a bit older, Kim has a good sense of his personality, and she thinks a female may end up being too alpha with Scout and he could end up miserable for the rest of his life. While Scout plays with Dali, she is definitely an assertive dog and he doesn't seem to enjoy time with her. We all (including the vet) agree this puppy might be a good match with Scout. This new puppy has an energetic but non-aggressive personality, the breeder says, and would do well with another mild mannered non aggressive dog like Scout.

David and I were both excited at the prospect, and when Kim sent me the pictures I fell in love. (I mean, look at that face!)

But then last night, Scout was up coughing. His little half day trial run at doggy day camp last week resulted in kennel cough, if you can believe it. Even though he's vaccinated, I guess dogs can still pick up the virus and for the past few days he's been hacking all night like a human with bronchitis does. As I lay with him on the spare bed I thought, I enjoy these Scout and me moments. Will another dog ruin that? Am I being selfish? Do I have the energy for another dog?

So that's where I am. I look at the photo of this dog and see him and Scout romping around the backyard and herding Murphy (and shedding pounds of dog hair and monopolizing the bed) and think about how wonderful it all would be. Then I curl up with Scout and think maybe I'm not being fair to him.

We can't go see this dog for another week because of Scout's virus and I do want to see how he and the puppy interact. And because this breeder is an expert in border collies, I want her to meet Scout. She may have some insight into how he and a new dog will interact, and who knows. She might meet him and think that Scout and I are both neurotic nutcases not worthy of one of her puppies.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Puppies on the brain

I have puppies on the brain. I don't know if my biological clock is ticking and since I don't particularly like children it's manifesting itself this way or what, but ever since I saw an ad for Border collie puppies in the paper I've been thinking about getting another dog. (Let me clarify: I like children. Other people's children. In specific situations. But I don't necessarily want any more in my house.)

I don't need another dog. In fact, I'm not even sure I really want another dog. David is lukewarm (mostly cool) on the idea, and I haven't even asked Scout yet. Murphy might be up for it if we got a dog that stayed out of his way. I'm waiting to hear what our vet thinks.

I think the whole think kind of kicked off when I started surfing around the website for Glen Highland Farm in Morris, NY. The farm is a Border collie rescue facility. You know, people see Border collies on TV and in agility competitions, think they're super cool dogs, get one and then find out they can be a big, giant (albiet loveable) pain in the arse.

You have to really understand a Border collie to own a Border collie. I use the word "own" loosely. When you get a Border collie, you will begin to eat, breathe and sleep Border collie. Eat, meaning that in your house dog hair is considered a condiment. Breathe, meaning that if your face gets too close to the dog's, you will immediately find his tongue in your mouth and up your nose. Sleep, meaning be prepared to surrender the best part of the bed to a furry footwarmer.

You understand that your time is not your own. Your hours are counted soley as free time between bouts of throwing a glow ball or frisbee. Your cat gets herded several times a day.

It takes a special family to welcome that kind of canine dynamo into your house. A Border collie is not a dog for people who aren't home all day. It's not a dog for people who just want a pet. It's not a dog for the impatient or weary, or those who think a veterinarian is someone you see every few years for a rabies shot. It's not a dog for someone who eschews training classes as a waste of good money.

If I'd known back 16 years ago what I know now about Border collies, we might not have gotten our first. Natasha came to us as a puppy, and we got very, very lucky. She was a great dog for 14 years. Her job was to protect Cassie, and Natasha not only knew it she took it very seriously. We never took Natasha to training, but I can see how, after numerous training sessions with Scout, that even a good dog can benefit from classes.

And Scout, for all of his quirkiness, is a great dog. Amiable, albiet anxious; well-behaved, albiet energetic. I feel like he's my shadow. Which makes me wonder why I want another dog.

Like I said, I'm not sure I really do. But when I see those rescue dogs abandoned by people who don't understand Border collies - and I do understand them - it makes me wonder if maybe we have enough love for another one?

David says we don't have enough yard or money. He's probably right.

But on another positive note, Glen Highland Farm has a camp where they take kids from the inner-city and bring them to the camp for a week to work with the dog. I really, really like that idea and have asked for information about volunteering.

Maybe that's what I really need. To be around people and dogs and do some good for someone else.