Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Forever A Family Member

Jenny in my husband's arms, she's not quite keen to go out in the rain...

Gosh, it's been a real long while since my last entry! Anyway, glad that we have a new year ahead of us and wish the same for anyone reading this blog.

One thing I like to advise anyone - and it's really a no-brainer - is that before we even think of adopting a puppy, we must consider what breed will suit us and our lifestyle. Why lifestyle too? Well, imagine if you are constantly jetting and can't fit a dog into your weekly or weekend program, why on earth do you want to adopt a dog in the first place? Is it because it's cute or the kids are pressuring you to get a dog with promises of walking, feeding, grooming the dog? If so, forget it, it - the promises from your kids - only lasts for a few weeks, then the puppy is all yours for the rest of his entire life. Well, let me point out to you, the puppy cuteness only lasts max. 3 months - yup, that's how long a puppy remains a puppy, as in looks and character. Thereafter you have an adolescent dog, awkward growth spurts, sudden stubbornness, the so-called puberty phase that you thought only kids have...before it matures into a dog at three years old.

Before Jenny joined, we had Sandy, a male Golden Retriever who lived to be over 15 years old. We had 15 very memorable years with Sandy. When my husband and our then young daughters (seven and five years old) ganged up together with exactly the above-mentioned promises that they will walk, feed, bathe and groom the dog, I finally relented. And yes, the puppy became solely mine within three months. See? I am speaking from my own personal experience. 

As I grew up practically with dogs - at one time, I showed and bred Dachshunds too - I decided on a Golden Retriever for the family. I last owned a Golden Retriever when I was studying in Florida. I bought this wonderful Golden Retriever in Florida and brought Royal back with me to Singapore when I returned home (I come from Singapore, in case you are wondering). Golden Retrievers are simply a delight to have when you have young children and want to introduce them to dogs. Goldies  are willing to obey and work, simply to please the owners.

After Sandy passed on, my husband and I both agreed on a Dachshund and Jenny joined us in late mid-August 2012. I needed to have a smaller breed that I can simply pick up in urgent situations, especially in its old age - I will talk about that in my latter blog updates - since I am mainly alone with Jenny and my husband travels pretty frequently for his business. I know that Dachshunds are active hunting dogs. The "active" part is what I need to get out more often, more walks in good or bad weather (no bad weather, just dressed wrong!!); I have to admit, I forgot the "hunting" part - the most important hard-wired genetics of a Dachshund. Plus a Dachshund is not a Goldie, Jenny has wonderful concentration but very short as a puppy. I wasn't used to that. Another thing is, it was 15 years ago since Sandy was a puppy! I had forgotten all about puppyhood and the training too. 

With the help of a trainer (that's another topic to go into next time), we developed the techniques to divert her hunting instincts plus hard work on my part to strengthen her recalling. Now, when off-leash she comes consistently when called -  I like to use a whistle to call her though she comes when called too. Of course, I have to time the recall, no use calling her right away when she meets her four-legged friends or has begin to sniff a specific spot.

Our holidays are almost always planned with our dog in mind. Sandy holidayed with us every year except for overseas flights which we couldn't take him along (and that wasn't very often either, I'd worry about his well-being the entire holiday) - he stayed then with my in-laws and later a friend who was a great dog-sitter. A dog is a family member for the entirety of his life and you are responsible for him, please don't forget that! Unlike children who grow up and leave home, a dog never leaves home without you.