Dog Alert!

That’s right, pound puppies: we’re getting a dog. A golden retriever puppy, to be precise. We had long thought that if/when we got a dog, we’d get a shelter dog. When the pandemic hit, we began to consider getting one, but by the time we decided we actually wanted to go through with it and started looking around at shelters, pickings were much slimmer than they had been when I looked before. Yes, there were still some dogs available, but most of them were either fairly old or else had disclaimers that they needed to be in homes with older children or no children at all. While we were in that quandary, trying to figure out which way to go, a friend’s mother’s golden retriever had puppies . . .

The rest was history.

Or it will be history when we get the dog, at least. That’s scheduled to be on August 17th. We’ll be going to see the puppies in person tomorrow. The kids are very excited. Denisa and I are excited as well, even though we’d never really planned on getting a puppy. House breaking and chewing? It’ll be an adventure. But it’s been good to have something to look forward to, and it’s helped brighten up the prospects for our kids, as well.

Last week, we took two hours to determine a name. We considered many, and it was difficult to come up with one that every member of the family approved of. I wanted it to be pop-culture-related, and I had a stipulation that it had to somehow be funny. My suggestions of Chewbarka and Sir Barks A Lot were vetoed, but surprisingly, Ferris Drooler went through and was approved after just a bit of debate. We’ll call him Ferris for short, of course, but it’s good for a dog to have a full name. How else is he going to know when he’s in a lot of trouble?

Yesterday we had another planning session, figuring out all the things we needed to look into to prepare for the arrival of the dog. Where will he sleep? What will he eat? Where will we take him to the vet? How about grooming? What equipment do we need to get for him? How will we train him? Assignments have been made, and we’ll reconvene next week to see how progress is going.

I’ve known a few Golden Retrievers in my life, and I’m looking forward to having one join our family. (I’ve always wanted a really big dog. A Newfoundland or a Bermese Mountain Dog. But a Golden Retriever is at least up there in size.)

If you have any puppy or dog related advice (especially around vets and groomers in the area), I’d love to hear it. And don’t worry: there will be (many) pictures incoming . . .


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2 thoughts on “Dog Alert!”

  1. My advice after training 6 dogs in 50 years: Gentle training. Let the baby grow up and get secure. Starting day one, NEVER allow play biting (gently hold his snout and say “no” when he bites people. No barking, a gentle paddle on his snout whenever he barks (it’s tough cause their puppy barks are so cute). He’ll grown up more quiet (and less bothersome to you and neighbors) but will still alert you to strangers. Never allow on furniture or jumping on people. Sadly, the dog is not a member of the family with full “person” status (although it’s darn close). Ferris must learn to always defer to the humans. Absolutely work on the commands “sit”, “come” or “heal”, and “leave it” (dogs love to put disgusting things in the mouths). Work on “healing” with a leash. Use little treats at first to encourage good behavior like sitting and coming. Surprisingly, retrievers typically need to be encouraged to retrieve when young to develop the habit. Start right away with a sock or puppy dummy. Never tolerate Ferris tearing up anything. Buy a huge bag of rawhide chews (Costco is great) ’cause Ferris will be a constant chewer for a couple years. Focus his chewing habits to one or two types of items, no other. And one of the most important things: NO PEOPLE FOOD or TABLE SCRAPS. This will only encourage begging and his harassment of the family when they are trying to eat together. But more imporantly, his teeth will decay over time and serious health problems will absolutely develop. Best food in the world for dogs that I have found so far: Natures Domain at Costco. Better than anything your vet will offer, or anything you can buy. Trust me on this one. Take time to read a few books, which as a librarian I’m sure you have. Use a method/combination of training that makes sense to you. Most important is consistency, a few minutes of structured training a few times a day. Not necessarily the training method. It’s worth it though, you’ll have this member of the family for over a decade and they are much more enjoyable if you take time right in the beginning to get him squared away with the family’s expectations of him. What wonderful creatures they are if they have graduated basic training. One final thing. He’s a big dog, with lots of pent up energy. You gotta engage with a lot of play, walks, and runs with him. At least a couple times a day. There will be far fewer instances of bad behavior if he gets the energy pulled out of him on a regular basis. Great news for you, he’s your new regular personal physical trainer. You’ll see some great health benefits too: physically, mentally, and emotionally if you completely jump in and slightly adjust your lifestyle to fit Ferris’ needs. There are no more loving dogs than Goldens. Best wishes cousin! -Jeff Cundick

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