By Ruth Topper
This is Part II of our “Fletcher” story. In Part I, I explain how it was a very difficult decision for my family to adopt a pet.
After making the decision to adopt, it then took us several months to find the right dog for us – Fletcher! Fletcher’s mother and litter of puppies were rescued from a high kill shelter in Georgia and ended up in Pennsylvania, where we adopted him. After reading my fellow blogger Karen’s post “A Dog Named Blue” last week I realize how fortunate Fletcher’s family was to escape the shelter!
Fletcher arrived on our doorstep Easter Monday 2009. We now joke that Fletcher was the best $185 we have every spent! Fletcher had just turned 2 years old. He was “chipped,” “fixed,” up to date on all his shots, crate trained & house trained! What a bargain! However as rookie new pet owners we had some things to learn about having a dog… Here are some things that we experienced:
1. Although Fletcher was crate trained he really hadn’t been in one for awhile. We made the mistake of adopting on a Monday instead of a Friday or Saturday. We were able to get Fletcher in his crate – but it was like having a new baby in the house again. He whined and cried for several hours each night. I finally had to call our “rescue” mom and get some advice so that our whole family could get some sleep. We ended up putting a sheet over his crate and Gary & I had to play “bad cop” and use our very stern voices to help him understand that he needed to STOP! Fortunately Fletcher was a quick study and by the third night he was making it through the night!
2. As I mentioned in Part I of Fletcher’s Adoption, I wasn’t too crazy about adopting a dog. However because he came to us on a Monday and everyone else in the family left to go to work/school on Tuesday – guess who became Fletcher’s “Alpha?” Yes, yours truly! I was the one feeding him, taking him on walks, often releasing him from his crate after being out for a few hours, etc. I never fear that Fletcher will run away from me even without being on a leash. He never strays out of eyesight from me!
3. Because I was a rookie dog owner I did sign up for dog training immediately. Fletcher passed with flying colors – however as I think back on those weeks of individual sessions Fletcher was just like a shy toddler. He was right by my side, whimpering and whining. It is a wonder he learned anything!
4. Who knew that dogs pass gas? Any dogs Gary or I had owned were outside dogs and this is something that you just don’t notice in the great outdoors. However – get a gassy dog in a room and you can clear it quickly!
5. We crated Fletcher when we left the house for the first few months. We then gradually blocked him off in the kitchen and then gave him access to the first floor, keeping a toddler gate at the bottom of our staircase. The good news is that Fletcher never attempted to get on any of our furniture. We would have known if he did because there would have evidence – you can see him shedding as he walks across a room! He did get into a little mischief – eating a stick of butter one day and a loaf of bread another! We also found out that he liked pencils/crayons left on the floor, dark colored baseball caps and tissues left in the “open” trash cans in our living room/family rooms.
6. I never realized how important grass is for a dog to do his “business.” The first winter we had Fletcher is the one where we had over 20 inches of snow on December 19, 2009. (I remember this because it was my daughter’s 12th birthday!) I walked that dog up & down our street for hours the day it started snowing trying to get him to “go.” It failed. Of course he waited until the next day when we were finally able to get out for an hour or two – to break through the gate at the bottom of the steps & do his business on our hallway carpet! That February we had two big storms back to back. In these storms Gary snow-blowed part of our front yard along with the driveway – for Fletcher!
The most important thing we have experienced over the past four years… is the joy of Fletcher! He greets me at the bottom of the steps every morning to roll on his side for a belly rub! If he feels I’m not paying enough attention to him and I am here at the computer he will come over and put his nose underneath my arm to get my attention. Gary, who wasn’t any more excited than me to get a dog, gets down on the floor with Fletcher every few days to play! The kids love being with him. They take him outside when shooting hoops or jumping on the trampoline. My oldest who will soon be off for college tells us all the time that he will come home to see Fletcher – not the rest of us! (Shows where we rate!)
What are some joys, blessings and/or funny incidents you have experienced with your pet?