Thursday, January 8, 2009

our beginning - part 2

Prior to bringing Sophie home, I fell victim not only to the ideals of movies, but of books, television shows, websites and any other piece of canine propaganda out there. To my credit, I spent a considerable amount of time learning about dogs, especially Border Collies, so that I would be well prepared for her arrival. But in the process of my extensive research and prep work, I also managed to dream, fantasize and create my firm notion of, not what life would be like with a dog, but what life would be like with MY dog. In my mind, these following statements were completely true and realistic about my future puppy:

1. She would never go to the bathroom in the house
2. She would love her crate.
3. She would never bark unnecessarily or excessively.
4. She would not chew anything except her own toys.
5. She would not chase the cat.
6. She never pull on her leash when walking.
7. She would always be obedient and know all my commands.
8. She would not jump up excitedly on people.
9. She would get along with all other dogs.
10. She would be a Canadian Agility Champion.

9 months old, she completed her first Terry Fox Run and
she raised almost $500 for the cure

I believed all of these things because a) those were the kinds of dogs I saw in the movies; and b) I had done my research and was prepared. I was certain that with all of that research behind me and with diligent planning, my dog would be trained properly from day one. I would teach her to know better. We would have the perfect owner-dog relationship. I was convinced that if other dog owners had just done the research and properly applied what they had learned, they also would have experienced the pleasure of raising a perfect puppy. As I look back now, I'm pretty sure that even then...even before Sophie's arrival....reality was winding up to give me the slap of my life. Life was about to get real in the messiest, craziest, most whirlwind adventure-ish, best sense of the word. Life with Sophie was about to begin.

learning to herd...she was breathtaking

Part of my diligent planning involved trying to prepare us for the changes in our routine. significant other....loves his routine. I consider it one my responsibilities to ensure that his routine remains relatively stable. So a few weeks in advance of bringing Sophie home, I created a spreadsheet (Yes....I said spreadsheet. No...I am not joking) of the new routine for plus one puppy. It involved her times to go out, her walk times and durations, her feeding times, her playing times and which of us was responsible for that block of time. This was carefully put together based on my research. I gave this to Jones so that he could mentally prepare and adjust to the new routine and so that he would not be surprised at the old one being disrupted once Sophie arrived. A perfect proactive solution! I did forget one step, however. I forgot to send the spreadsheet to Sophie.

introduction to dock dogs....she did not take to it :)

For two weeks we lived in the hazy, make-believe cloud of preparedness known as Sophie's Spreadsheet that was attached to the fridge, perfectly square with four little magnets. Then she arrived. I believe the first night went something like this:

At 1am:
(Whining has not stopped for 45 minutes now)
Me: Do you think she is okay?
Jones: She should be sleeping. The spreadsheet says she should be sleeping.

At 2:30am:
(Sharp barking to be let outside)
Me: Are you going to take her out?
Jones: It's not my turn. My time on the spreadsheet is 6am. Whose turn is it?
Me: I just took her out an hour ago, but since there are only two of us I guess it's my turn...AGAIN.
Jones:(heavy sigh) No...I'll do it.

At 2:45am:
Me: That was quick. I didn't even hear the door open.
Jones: That's because it didn't. She went in the kitchen on the way to the door.
Me: Oh no! Did you clean it up?
Jones: Yes. I used the spreadsheet.

And so the spreadsheet, the routine, the planning and the ideallyic notions fell by the wayside and we began learning to live with Sophie. It has definitely been a roller coaster, but we've had more highs than lows; more laughter than tears; more real moments. No matter how many posts I put on this blog, nor how many columns for newspapers or magazines I write about her, nor even if I get to writing that book one day, I will never be able to truly express in words what this little dog means me...what joy she genuinely brought to my life.

agility fun - read more about our agility experience here

I will conclude the story of our beginning with my new list of ten statements about Sophie....and these ones I know for sure are true because I live with them everyday:

1. She is wicked smart....and even smarter if there's a cookie involved.
2. She loves being near at least one of us.
3. She was born to be on the trails, not led around on a leash.
4. She actually does only chew her own toys.
5. She thinks the cat is a little doggie friend to play with.
6. She has a love for people that is infectious.
7. She has a zest for life that is unequivocal.
8. She is definitely Jones' best friend.
9. She opened my eyes, my soul and my life.
10. She is the champion of my heart.


gigi said...

That was great! I loved that and even chuckled about the spread hseet and using it for clean up. What joy she has added to your life.

Muddy Boot Dreams said...

I loved it also, and the part about the spread sheet, wonderful.

This truly would make great book material.


laurie said...

i am laughing my head off at your spreadsheet! had to read this out loud to doug, too. did you read the post i wrote about getting boscoe and terrorizing him with pennies? quite similar.

so are those photos real? she's herding, she's doing agility???? or are those spreadsheet-inspired dreams?

Hilary said...

I can understand the dramatic life change she brought to you. I see that in action on a daily basis with my S.O. and his dog. Nicely told.

I too would like to know more about the photos. I'm hoping those are future blog posts.

Anonymous said...

What a sweet story and a beautiful dog/companion.

Joanne said...

She sounds like a gem. I like how she's even smarter if there's a cookie involved. Clever pup! Enjoy!

Pam said...

I love that painting on the bottom of this post - it's beautiful.

I really like border collies... they are smart, funny, loyal and so loving. Yours is beautiful, it's nice to hear how she has enhanced your life.

Kathy said...

I loved that. Too funny. And typical, they always have their own way of doing things don't they?

laurie said...

what an amazing dog. i think riley would be good at agility---if we could do it in a place where he wasnt' distracted by rabbits, squirrels, and other animals.

there's no particular blog etiquette for comments that i know of. you put 'em where you think the person will see them!

thanks for answering my question.

b&g girl said...

ah, thank you that was excellent...

Sherri said...

Andrea, this is such a good story and I was able to relate so well. Every dog personality brings something different to his or her new home and the home adjusts to the pup...and is usually much happier than it was before the pup arrived. Beautiful post.

Far Side of Fifty said...

I loved the spreadsheet part..BC's and a spreadsheet..simply NOT happening! Your expectations were wonderful, but she captured your heart and soul ..which is even better! I love that you have done agility! I would like to do Fly Ball with Chance, but we are so rural. Have you tried it with Sophie? If so please blog about it! This was a wonderful post today! I REALLY enjoyed it! :)

threecollie said...

BC's are the greatest dogs I could possibly imagine, but mine have humbled me in ways I had never even thought of when I got the first working one...Mike that is. He knew more than I was ever going to right out of the box and didn't mind letting me know it. Enjoyed Sophie's story very much, thanks for sharing!

Tatersmama said...

What an amazing girl! I liked the part about how Sophie is so wicked smart - especially if there's a cookie involved. A girl after my own heart. ;-)

Beuatifully told, and I can "feel" the bond between the two of you!

Pam said...

This was so funny, especially the spreadsheet part!

Barry said...

Dogs are great reality checks as well as amazing friends and companions!

Sophie is wonderful dog.

Karen ~ Cider Antiques said...

That was wonderful! My dog is wickedly smart too. I made the mistake of training her to "trade" when she took something she wasn't suppose to have, when she was a puppy. It worked very well . . . for both of us. Now when she wants a treat she goes and gets one of my shoes, then sits directly infront of me ~ waiting for a "trade/treat". How silly of me!