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. Jones....my 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:
(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.
(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.
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.
Brand New Look
1 year ago