Saturday, May 24, 2008

Guest dog-blogging: My wife

My wife, ever in search of information concerning pet-ownership, has been reading forums about the breed of dog we just got: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

The original question was from a prospective dog-owner about dog-smell and the discussion quickly degenerated into a harangue about how the questioner should not get any dog. This prompted my wife to do what she hardly ever does--post a comment of her own.

It seemed to have an impact: The thread became much more positive from that point on. The posting didn't exactly "change the face of Arrakis", but she did shift the course of a discussion thread in a positive way.

And now to "V's" say...

Wow this thread has really gone from a simple question to a deep exploration of whether Petcrazyme should even own a dog. To answer the simple question as a smell-sensitive clean freak, I believe all dogs have some smell to them but their owners get used to it! If I may be so bold as to put in my two cents on the other subject of this thread, I'd like to offer a different perspective of owning a cavalier as a person who has never been a dog person. Perhaps I'm an exception so please take it for what it is - just one person's experience. I grew up never owning pets. In fact I was always afraid of dogs! My parents didn't like animals and my mother made Martha Stewart look like a slob. Now at the age of 40 and having three daughters, I felt that having a pet would be beneficial to them. Perhaps I also had a vague sense of desiring a fourth child, or maybe midlife crisis, I don't know. For whatever reasons, I decided I wanted a dog really really badly. Just to give you some insight into the kind of person I am - I am very clean (weekly cleaning service), organized (a place for everything and everything in its place), everything I do is well planned and spontaneity makes me uncomfortable, my husband thinks I'm obsessive but I think I just care, I enjoy peace and quiet, and I run a tight ship here at home. My job in software quality assurance is perfect for me. I did a lot of research on the internet and read many books about different dog breeds. I searched Petfinders daily because I wanted a young adult that was past the bothersome puppy stage. I talked to friends with dogs, people at the vet office, dog rescue workers, and breeders. After all of this research, it became apparent that the CKCS was the ideal breed for our family and our lifestyle. I considered the shedding, the accidents, the obedience training, the costs and felt that I could handle it. Since rescue Cavaliers are very rare around here, we decided to look for a puppy. We found a breeder nearby with pups that were already 12 weeks old. By the time we actually brought Meenah home, she was 16 weeks old. The breeder had already started crate training and housebreaking. She was even paper trained and trained to go potty outside, which I was so happy about because I did not want to take her outside in the cold, rain, dark, etc. Everything seemed perfect! Before we picked her up, I continued reading and researching all I could on puppy care and training. Got her first vet visit scheduled, enrolled in puppy kg class, arranged for a private trainer to come to out house to get us started, purchased all the things I needed for her care and comfort. Took a few days off from work. It was all falling in place. I went to pick her up at the breeder's home with my kids. As soon as I knelt down to pet Meenah, I could feel a warm wetness on my leg where she was leaning against me. She peed on me! Of all the things I had prepared myself for - the housebreaking, the shedding, the nippiness and jumping, possible health issues down the road, the fact that they have anal glands that need to be expressed every so often - I had never considered submissive urination! The breeder assured me that she had never done anything like this before and it was probably just from excitement, not uncommon with pups. Even though warning flags went up in my mind and I thought I should walk away right now, I didn't. My kids were all there. The check had already been handed over to the breeder. I thought there was no going back. I was very disheartened by the submissive urination but it seemed pretty much gone within the first week, at least with us. Since then it has cropped up when we've scolded her too harshly or been too insistent that she bend to our will. Also it has happened when she has been petted on the head by intimidating people. So we've learned that she is sensitive, should be handled softly, that we should have her pee before anyone comes over, and to have people ignore her at first and then later squat down or sit down and pet her on the chest. She has really really improved as we continue to work with her and build her confidence. The vet just called me (she is in for her spay today) and said she is definitely shy but hadn't piddled at all! I think that's huge. I was also very disappointed to discover that she was not papertrained at all as the breeder had told me. She tore up the papers, chewed on potty pads, and went potty wherever she wanted on my floor. After a few days of this, we broke down and started taking her outside every two hours and crating her. That worked out infinitely better. She now goes pee on command (we are working on a command for pooping), goes to the door when she wants to go out, and hasn't had an accident in the house in 5 weeks (knock on wood). We have learned her potty habits and recognize her signs. She isn't even 6 months old yet. Not too shabby. My Meenah has slept through the night from 9:30 pm to 6:30 am without a peep from the third day we've had her home. She does not nip, does not chew on anything but her toys, responds to uh-uh if she is doing something she shouldn't, obeys commands, grooms herself, allows me to groom her, and is so sweet and loving that I sometimes feel my heart will burst open. So I've made some adjustments for this little creature. I don't mind her hair on my clothes, but I do put a throw on the sofa before I let her onto it. I have gotten used to her slight doggy smell, but I bathe her every one to two weeks and use puppy wipes on her daily. I have learned to live with floors that are slightly more dirty than they were before. But she has learned that when she comes inside, she must lay on the towel near the door and allow me to wipe her feet and privates with puppy wipes. It is all routine to her now. To dog people, I know this sounds bizarre but she and I have learned to live with each other and we love each other! We go on our daily walkies, we play in the backyard, we practice our obedience training and are working on a couple fun tricks, we snuggle a lot, she gets all sorts of toys and treats, and I believe she has quite a comfortable life with us. She has taught me to relax and to see that things don't have to be perfect all the time. I think I sometimes forget that she is a dog because she is just melding into our family so well. The breeder can't believe how well we are doing with each other and I get comments all the time about how sweet Meenah is. Can a person who is seemingly not a dog person own a Cavalier? You betcha. Do I sometimes feel like braining her? Yeah sure but those feeling are fleeting and I'm sure shared by just about every dog owner! After two months with her, I can't remember how I used to spend the time that I now spend with her. She has to stay overnight at the animal hospital tonight and I miss her terribly. By the way, I still don't care for dogs. I just love mine to bits.

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