Sunday, August 14, 2011

Last Sunday together

“Throughout history, the dog-human relationship has shown that dogs can humanize us, and this is part of the magic unleashed in adopting a puppy…Something so simple as walking the dog takes us out of ourselves and reminds us that life’s beauty beckons to be acknowledged.” (from Dogs and Devotion).  As I write this afternoon the puppies are snoozing, tired from their busy day yesterday the highlights of which included a haircut, an evaluation and the first round of puppy shots.  All of us are moving a little slower today; my exhaustion is catching up with me and I am quite content gazing at them stretched out and napping on what will be our last Sunday all together.  Last night as they raced through the kitchen with Sophie charging after them there was pure joy in their antics.  Earlier this week, they each had their temperament “test” and it was of great interest to see them individually respond to the stimuli.  While there were some small variations among each of the pups, as a group, they were friendly, playful, curious, confident, interested in the toys, and for the most part, even retrieved a “ball” for the stranger-evaluator.  After evaluating each of the puppies’ structures and physical characteristics, and looking at their temperament results during this busy week, I am making some initial decisions about their homes.  At least one puppy will live with me as planned all along.  I’m pretty sure I know who it will be.  Without a doubt, the puppies and the experience of raising them to this point has been a tremendously satisfying and unexpectedly transforming experience.  For instance, for the first time, I heard today the sound that a puppy makes when he's snoring and his head is leaned into a water bowl.  The puppies have helped me see the comical in poop smeared all over a toy teddy bear or the endearing in the sweet gaze of a puppy sprawled out on his back with his legs in the air. Truly I will never look at a dog in the same way again.  I am thrilled to know that these amazing puppies who have spent nearly eight weeks in my home, will be adopted by the wonderful families I’ve met during these past weeks. During the next few days we will complete the remaining preparations for "adoption day" at the end of the week. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The great outdoors

August 7, 2011: The puppies at six weeks old have a comment for every situation.  Walk into the room to say hello?  A chorus of excited barks and cries greet you.  Walk out of the room to take care of business…the same yips and barks serenade you.  They eat and they play and they annoy each other.  They gnaw on the sides of the pen and on each other’s legs and tails.  Their play fighting is sometimes brutally fierce, but like kids they usually work things out after a brief episode. They continue to thrive in every way and are “outgrowing their pen” and so in the last week their world has expanded to introduce them to the great outdoors.  Like human babies, they appear to have fussy times every evening so out they go to race around their outdoor pen, and on one occasion thus far, to test out their baby pool.  So far, the bravest have leaned over the edge to take a drink, or to place one paw carefully in the water.  Grass is now something to chew and eat.  Airplanes flying overhead created a stir of worry the first time they heard this unfamiliar noise, but this loud sound is now an accepted part of life.  If the weather is not up to an outside visit, the puppies race from one end of the kitchen to the other end of the dining room.  Sophie played with them this week, chasing and batting them.  Visitors to the house are greeted with excitement.  After a visit of an hour or so, it’s time for a nap and then “we’re back at it.”  If there is one word I would use to describe the puppies it is ACTIVE.  We take many many photographs in order to have just a few good ones that are not blurry.  I have a new appreciation for breeders who somehow manage to line up an entire litter of puppies and take a photo that shows every puppy looking in the same direction! (photoshop?)  This week they’ll have their temperament tests.  This series of activities will expand our understanding of the puppies’ personalities and reactions to new situations and help us understand what homes and lifestyles might be best suited for each of them.  Seven weeks is an ideal time to conduct the tests since “EEG readings indicate that neurological development has reached adult levels, thus allowing us to obtain a true reading of their behavioral tendencies…if [the tests] are done later, between eight and ten weeks, pups will be in the fear period, making assessments of temperament subject to serious misinterpretation.” (p.76, Monks).  While I have some thoughts about each of the puppies, I’ll be curious to learn what someone who has never met the puppies will think.  While all of the puppies are affectionate and active, some will be more submissive, some will be more sociable, and some will be more sensitive and obedient than others.