July 25, 2015

Pre-Puppy Jitters

Ignore, if you will for a moment, that I've been away from posting for a few months.
Life has been full and I've been busy with so many good things.  Not a day has gone by that I haven't thought of my blog or the wonderful blogging friends I've made through it.   I will be catching up.
But first, what drew me here to a keyboard to type out my thoughts late this evening.. is a puppy.   
I guess word is we're getting a puppy tomorrow.  
Our house is full of excitement.  The kids are beside themselves with anticipation.  Beau has been unable to fall asleep the past couple of nights, says he's just too excited.  
I, on the other hand, am a basket of mixed emotions.  
I think the excitement might be rubbing off on me, but I keep wondering if my heart is ready.  It's been nearing 14 months since we lost McGee.  Often times, thinking of him still brings me to tears. 
We were at the enjoyably spoiled stage with him, the dependable, mature, good-old-lazy-dog stage.  Any longing to start over at the puppy stage hasn't come to me yet.  
But it's time. 
Ready or not, we need a dog.  

Since early spring we've had problem after problem with pests and predators infringing on our home.. (We're well aware that it's likely we're just as much infringing on theirs.. I'm sorry for that.)  First we had weasels, lots of weasels, who diminished our small flock of laying hens to just one lone, terrified chicken.  I found myself commenting on the carnage around here often this spring. 
After we'd dispatched what we hope was the last weasel, we had a pair of beavers arrive and take up residence on our little pond.
Oh, they were fun to watch at first!  I so appreciated their industrious character.  Until the yard was flooded from their damming up the outflow of the pond, jeopardizing our driveway with flooding as well.  Every day Johnathan and I would go out with mud boots and shovel to notch out the dam and allow water through.  Every night the beavers patched it up like the brilliant engineers they are, always gaining on us a little.  We tried hard to coexist.  Mostly if we could just keep the water down below flooding, we thought they'd be ok! 
And then the 60 foot trees began dropping.  Beavers don't care what trees they chew down, where they will fall, or if there are buildings or power lines nearby.   They were speedily clearing trees at an alarming rate.  Big ones, little ones, even one of our favorite little oaks.  The carnage was not in the form of chickens now, but trees!   Each day when another one fell, I agonized!
As summer moved on and trees were still coming down, our strawberry patch took off bearing ripe fruit.  One day Lilly said, "Mom, I saw a black cat going into our strawberries."
The strawberry patch grows against the south length of our house.  Lilly was jumping on the trampoline a few yards away.  We don't have any cats around the area, so I thought it odd.   Later that day, I too, saw a black tail that looked like a cat going into the strawberries, so I went to investigate.  
I got a good look as the creature lumbered away slowly and looked back at me.  It was not a cat!  Turns out it was a fisher (often called fisher cat.)  
Fishers are extremely agile, ferocious predators.  They are one of a very few animals that can kill a porcupine. And apparently they like delicious, home grown, juicy strawberries, too. 
Rarely seen, they are super neat animals... BUT, not so neat to have in the strawberry patch where they might cross paths or accidentally corner it, or traipsing all around our yard within a few feet of the house.
And at this point, we'd gained confidence that we'd secured control over the weasel population, and had gotten a few more hens.  A fisher is a much larger member of the weasel family, and sure enough, the adored and friendly Pippi Longstocking was the next casualty.   Then a dismembered turtle was found left in the yard.  And all the robin eggs and nestlings we'd been watching disappeared.  Seeing the fisher next to the house or passing through under the trampoline during the day became a daily occurrence.
Also - that fisher scream!   16 summers sleeping here with the windows open and I've never heard anything so chilling.  I would fly out of bed at night and run for the windows to yell at the crazy snarling banshee thing to be quiet, wondering what it was fighting and killing this time.  (A horrible sound!)
Throughout all of this, the army of weasels, the chicken slayings, the flooded yard, fallen trees and loveable but incredibly destructive beavers, the hijacked strawberry patch and flying out of bed from a deep sleep to predator screams in our yard...  throughout it all we found ourselves saying again and again,  "We need a dog."
Just like we did all those years ago when we were overrun with skunks and had a nuisance bear.  That's when I went on my mission to find a red dog with a black nose and we ended up with McGee.  He kept the coyotes at distance, and the bears steered clear of his scent.  Beavers came to our pond a few times, but moved along when McGee showed interest in them and prevented them from coming on land to chew trees.  He didn't keep all the raccoon out of the garden, but he sure helped.
A year after his absence, we've got critters coming from all directions! 
In the woods, on a farm, and in many places, a dog's presence serves a purpose.
Yes, we need a dog.  

This evening Beau was talking eagerly about the puppy to us and I again shared that I'm not sure how ready I am.  This development came on pretty quick and has been all Mitch's arranging in the past week.  For the record, he's been interested in this kind of dog for years and we'd been considering one as a second dog when we had McGee.. so it's not a brand new idea and we've done our research.  But still, the reality of it is a very new thing that came on quick. 
Anyway, when I said this about not being ready, Mitch said that he wasn't ready for a dog at all when we got McGee (who was all my arranging), but he sure liked him a lot.  Then I had to scoot away before Beau saw my eyes tearing up, because yes, we sure liked him a lot. 
And I know I'll love this puppy, too.   
There are the pre-big day jitters running through my mind.. Am I ready for 2 am wakings (Hopefully not for long. I don't remember those with McGee, who was a breeze to house train.) For the commitment that this life will be part of our lives every day for the next several years, ready to share my home and offer patience and care, for better or for worse, through chewing, digging, or whatever challenges come our way?  Ready for the fact that it may break my heart one day, too?  It may seem silly to wonder these things, but we're getting a puppy.  It's a big deal.  I wish every pet owner thought through these things. 
When we adopted McGee we had to fill out a lengthy application that asked some really tough but good questions.  I joked that we had to sign our lives away, but it really is a commitment not to be taken lightly.

I don't recall if I ever particularly felt this way, but I know it's not uncommon for expecting parents to wonder if they can love a second child-on-the way as much as the first, or if they'll have enough love or attention to spread to multiple kids.   A part of me has worried a little, can I love this dog as much as McGee? 
I do remember as an expectant mother worrying about "being ready" in the nesting sense.  In our case, with each added child, it was the rush to get a vehicle that would fit us all, or the ridiculous-but-real-to-me-at-the-time question of "where will this baby sleep?"   Puppies are different than human babies, I know. (I do!)  But I'm feeling similarly, the nest-er in me doesn't feel "ready" for this puppy.  I haven't had time to prepare this or that, or really anything.  But truth is, like a baby - it will all be ok!  There will be room and it will be loved.
We already chose a name for her.  That kind of sealed the deal.  (Yes, it's a her!)   

They're so excited.   I might be too.

Ready or not, we're getting a puppy.
Update:  Kids were up early with huge grins on their faces and we are en route, with a puppy bag packed and many miles ahead of us today.
This is not our pup, but one we visited last year at our local humane society, just a couple of weeks after losing McGee.  We'll introduce our new family member soon, given all goes as planned.    


  1. Awwww...pups are such wonderful additions to a family. I know this one will be great! Glad to see you back!

  2. Hello, enjoy your new puppy! Have a happy weekend!

  3. First of all - welcome back to blogland! I've missed your posts, and often wondered how you and your family were doing.

    Secondly - huge congrats on the new family member! I'm sure you will love this new puppy as much as your wonderful McGee. Can't wait to see photos of her. :)

  4. Welcome back. I was almost to the point of consigning your blog to the infrequent check list. I was afraid something terrible had happened. Sounds like the varmints have given you a rough several months. Surprising bears were not part of the mix. Looking forward to reading and seeing photos of the new addition.

  5. I just re-read the McGee post when you lost him, and I cried again. I know what you mean, but that quote box says it all about why were love them so much. Dogs embody true love and forgiveness. I wish you all good things with your new puppy. She just won the Puppy Lottery but doesn't know it yet. :-)

  6. I've been wondering how you've been! I can totally relate to all of it. The pain of losing our dog last year made me practically vow to never get another dog again...which is perhaps the only reason the current dog (who was a puppy at the time) has made it as long as she has in our house. She's a handful!

    But you'll have all those helping hands, and I have no doubt she'll work her way into your heart. They have a way of doing it. Good luck! Can't wait to hear more!

  7. I am SO EXCITED . . . goose bump excited. A new puppy couldn't find a better home than yours! I went back and reviewed a post you had done on McGee . . . and tears . . . what a wonderful family member he was . . . And the new kid on the block will be warming your hearts unbelievably! Like I said, I am
    SO EXCITED for each of you. Love ~

  8. Loved your post, not all the messy critter stuff though . . . We had a SCREAMER in our woods this spring . . . unbelievable, woke us up in the middle of the night. Bet it too was a Fisher Cat . . .

  9. We had four hunting dogs the last one being our "last one." Later a GSD. Our last dog . Now Lily our recue GSD. Dogs seem to keep coming back into our lives...:)

  10. Amanda, So good to see a post from you again. Your creature invasion sounds formidable! I've had lots of Moose, the ever-present foxes, deer, a porcupine, and of course all the small critters like squirrels (also a resident pine marten that I rarely see but who keeps the squirrel population in check). I miss my old Golden terribly - she died 10 years ago. I often think of a new dog, but at 71, I hesitate. We do have 2 Granddogs who visit though. Can't wait to "meet" your new friend.

  11. So delighted to hear from you! Oh my - you were pretty busy those last few months. You are probably already deeply in love with the new puppy who in the future will take care of animal invasions! I understand your concerns about a new dog . When our dog died 3 years ago I said never again . We had another one a year later and another puppy last summer - she died while being operated. Now we adopted 2 street dogs from Greece! With 3 dogs we are finally settled - but the work!!
    Enjoy and have fun with the dog and the children will be happy!

  12. Awe, good luck with your new puppy! I totally understand about having a dog on a farm.

  13. Can't wait to meet your new puppy. It's always hard to lose a beloved pet as they are so much like family but I think it's grand when we can find a new companion to share our love with.

  14. I so understand your very mixed emotions about the puppy. We lost our oldest dog, Riley, last October. He is buried in the backyard. Whenever I think of him, I tear up. I miss him something terrible. We still have his dear brother, but he is also getting on in years, 12-1/2. Scout is my dog, so I know that his lose when the time comes may very well do me in. Our daughter wants to get her own puppy, which will go with her when she moves out. I am not sure I or Scout are ready for a bundle of puppy energy. But for you without a dog at all I can see the need, in so many ways.

  15. oh my gosh, what a full creature time you have had, and as always it so entertaining reading your home life adventures! Last-LUCKY, lucky puppy :-)

  16. He's so cute!! Welcome to puppy parenthood! :D congrats!

  17. After this summer I think you all really NEED a dog. Seems your concerns have been resolved - all good.