We picked Watson up from the breeders on Saturday, and boy was I excited! I had been counting down the days until we were able to take him home on the calender, and when the moment finally arrived when we pulled up in front of the house and I saw the play pen full of puppies, my heart just melted! The breeders had taken exceptional care of the puppies. They all looked sleek, plump and energetic, no longer snoozing little balls of newborn fur but now jumping and bursting with energy.
Watson was easily recognizable, even in the middle of his other brothers and sisters. I saw his white blaze on his forehead and scooped him up from the fray. He sighed. I wondered if he even had an inkling of the purpose for which he was born. He looked adorable, and the thought that my well-being and health would eventually rest in his paws made me sincerely grateful for the research and hard work I had put into choosing him.
The breeders-who had become more like benevolent grandparents-patiently answered all of my questions, gave us a thick folder full of advice and information, and sent us on our way.
In the car, Rally curiously sniffed Watson and promptly turned his back on him in the back seat. I’m sure he was thinking, “who the heck is this?” as Watson gnawed on his tail and pounced on his paws.
The two hour car ride home was uneventful until Watson started to grumble and lick his paws. Experienced pet owners will notice the warning signs, but Rally had rarely thrown up with me and never got carsick, so I just thought it was cute when Watson began to lick Rally.
Sure enough, two minutes later, Watson retched, sending a warm stream of half digested puppy chow all over Rally’s butt and my leg. Rally didn’t even react other than to glare balefully at me. I started laughing and my parents quickly rolled down the windows. Watson burped happily and snuggled down in my lap for the rest of the rather smelly trip.
Once we got home, it was time to introduce Watson to Tagg, my parents Yorkie/Maltese pick who we swear is really a cat in disguise. Ever since turning seven, Tagg spends his days either snoozing on the gray leather chair overlooking the driveway, or else snoozing in Dad’s lap in his red leather chair. Tagg and Rally ignore one another, but I could see the resignation in both older dog’s faces when Watson bounded up and pounced on Tagg. He’s a bit bigger than Tagg, but Tagg had the advantage of knowing how to run on tiled floors, and skittered into the safety of Dad’s chair. Watson followed him, hopping and skidding on the slippery floor, yearning to play. Three days later, Watson seems to have reached the conclusion that Tagg will not play with him ever, but whenever Tagg happens to trot by he’ll take a half-hearted nibble on his tail.
Crate training proved to be harder than I anticipated. Tagg isn’t crate trained, and Rally was already trained when I got him. Still, we thought, it can’t be too hard to teach. After all, as humans we understand that staying overnight in a crate isn’t a death sentence. Sleeping alone is fine. Besides, how loud can a puppy get?
Boy did we find out! Watson’s crate was spacious and beautiful, carved wood with a sturdy gate. Dad had even put a false wall in the middle of the crate so that Watson had a cozier, warmer place to sleep. He had a plush pad to lie upon, blankets to snuggle under, countless chew toys and teething rings to occupy his mind, and the entire evening of waltzing in and exploring the confines. I put Rally’s bed right besides his own in case he got lonely, and when Watson dozed off, scooped him up, put him in his crate and shut the door. He yawned, curled up and was soon snoring. Feeling pretty good about ourselves, we congratulated one another on the success of crate training and went to bed.
Thirty minutes later a yowling jolted everyone awake. It sounded like someone had set fire to the tail of a rabid squirrel and sent it up a pine tree. Nothing we did could block out the noise. My headphones at top volume couldn’t gain me a wink of sleep, and I spent the entire night miserably wondering if the puppy was dying, if he was hurt, if he was scared and lonely. I got up whenever the crying got urgent to plop him on the grass, say “go potty” and wait in vain for him to empty his bladder. My Mum shuffled out to my bed and wondered if we shouldn’t let him out, if only so as to prevent the neighbors from thinking we were torturing rabid squirrels, and I desperately reviewed my notes and research.
“Some crying is anticipated.” One website read. “Expect a degree of moderate whining.” Another advised. I put down my laptop, adjusted my ear plugs and wondered at the sheer lung power Watson was capable of. He certainly wasn’t slowing down. I almost unlocked the crate, but then I remembered all of the sage wisdom that I had been told; don’t unlock the crate, he’ll quiet down eventually. It’ll only teach him to cry so that you’ll let him out…soon he’ll adjust…he won’t hate you in the morning…
Around 6 AM Watson finally dozed off and the rest of the household breathed a sigh of relief. Dad got up for work, red eyed and rather ungrateful that I had chosen to raise a puppy, and as he was gathering his things I tentatively opened Watson’s door. Out he came, bright eyed, tail wagging, licking my face and squirming with delight. After his sleepless night of ceaseless howling, I had thought he would be shaking and traumatized,but he soon demonstrated that he possessed either a very short memory or a loving disposition, because throughout the day he waltzed right back into his crate to fetch toys, snooze and watch the happenings of the household.
Now, three entire nights later, Watson just slept until 8:30 AM! I woke up several times in the night, suspicious of the silence, and this morning had to shake Watson awake so he could go potty. He grudgingly climbed out of his crate, went pee, and returned to the warmth and plushness of his den. I sent a mental prayer of gratitude towards the advice written in the handbooks and websites.
Since we got him, Watson has displayed a laid back, curious and friendly attitude. He mouths and pounces on anything that moves, smells good, smells bad, is shinny, is textured, has four legs, has two legs, has shoelaces, is soft, is hard, is squishy and anything that he thinks will play with him. He’s got to play with our neighbors small dogs, met new and interesting people, got pet and cooed over, and even got to meet his first cat, who denied his enthusiastic requests to play and spent the entire visit glaring at him from the bookcase. He’s heard sirens, smelled gunpowder and ridden like a champ in the car (without even throwing up once!) Yesterday I let him drag his leash around, and he had a blast visiting the little play set behind my house. Today, we’ll go down the slide and introduce him to walking on wobbly textures.
At this stage in his life and in training, all I want is for Watson to see and hear as much as possible, and to love Rally. And boy does he love Rally! He follows that leggy cranky dog from one end of the house to the next, bouncing on his stomach, gnawing on his ears, pouncing on his tail. Whenever Rally sits, Watson sits. Whenever Rally sleeps, Watson sleeps. I’m not sure how much Rally appreciates his new fan, and sometimes he glares at me in resentment as Watson squeezes besides him in his crate for a nap, but the two seem to be coexisting nicely.
When I return for Christmas and winter break and Watson is 10-11 weeks old, I’ll take Watson to puppy school and start on more socialization. Right now, I’m just grateful he sleeps through the night and can settle down in his crate without wailing like a banshee!