Nine months is long enough to grow a human, but it’s also long enough to know what a wild ride it can be when you have a large breed puppy! I titled this post “#001” because I’m positive I’ll have lots to write about our chocolate lab named Roux!
Never in a million years would I have thought that I’d have a big dog running around in my house! My last two dogs were Boston Terriers, which are obviously much smaller than a Labrador. Ernie and I heavily disagreed over which type of dog we were going to get, whenever that time would come.
Finally, I gave in.
A chocolate lab has been Ernie’s dream dog ever since he was a kid, but he’s never had a puppy to take care of all by himself. Therefore, I’m not so sure he knew the full extent of what was coming soon. He knew he wanted to train her for hunting, and even had her name picked out. What better name for a dark brown dog with a Cajun family?
When we first got married, I had a Boston terrier named Sugarbell (Sugar). She was my baby. I lived with my dad as a teenager when we got her as a puppy, and I raised her and trained her. I had read some dog-training books, and I was proud to raise such a smart dog that was well-trained. I’d share a picture with you, but since we moved, I still haven’t unpacked all my photos.
Unfortunately, her life ended too soon at five years of age. One morning as Ernie was leaving for work, he told me to go check on Sugar because she was laying on the bathroom rug and couldn’t stand up. He propped her up, but she would fall over. I took her in to the vet that day, only to find out from an X-ray that all the vertebrae on her spine were completely fused together. She was obviously in pain for some time, and we didn’t even know. Our choices were either to put her down out of her misery or for her to live the rest of her life as a quadrapalegic dog, having no function of her legs whatsoever. That was really tough. My dad met us at the vet to say his last goodbyes, and we cried and cried. I’ll never forget that day in 2008.
Since then, we haven’t had any other dog besides a yellow Labrador for only three months that had heartworms we didn’t know about. That “free” dog cost us $1,000 in vet bills and lots of stress that summer, and from then on I said that we weren’t getting another dog until we had extra money! I don’t ever want to have to make a choice between money and a sick animal, so we decided to wait until we were financially stable enough. What I mean is, I don’t ever want to be in a position that risks the stability and well-being of our family, over a dog. Our dogs are family to us, and we would rather not have to make that choice.
Over six years ago when we decided to tackle our debt and get on top of our finances, we also decided that there were some major goals we wanted to accomplish before getting another dog. It may sound silly to some, but at this point in our life, we wanted to make sure that nothing stood in our way of getting out of debt if we could control it. In order to do this, we had to say “No” to many things, including a new, fur-family member. We knew what kind of responsibility this would incur, and we wouldn’t be completely ready. Before we started this journey, we would’ve never even thought twice about it. But, by this time, we started to become very conscious of our future decisions.
Let’s face it, I’m the one who would be the main caretaker of the dog during the day since I’m the one who’s home most of the time. Therefore, there were also some of my personal “Mama” requirements in order for us to get a puppy: We must NOT have carpet! All you puppy owners know exactly what I’m talking about! In addition, I needed to be able to physically handle a large dog. It’s a lot to handle for a petite person like myself. I know what kind of toll that would take on me, especially with having three small children at home to take care of as well. I wanted my youngest to be at least a toddler so that I’d also be able to dedicate some time to the puppy. It was going to be a very different situation this time, especially since I already have children. The first time I got my own dog, I didn’t have kids, and I was able to dedicate all my free time to training Sugar. On the plus side, our new puppy would have plenty of new family members to love!
So, to wrap it up, we had some really major goals to accomplish – get out of debt, sell our mobile home, save up to buy a house (read about our dream house here!), build up an emergency fund, and make sure we had NO carpet! We take our fur-family members very seriously, and we wanted to make sure we were ready for that – physically, emotionally, and financially.
Therefore, getting a dog really is a big milestone in our life, and signifies something very special. This means that when we got her, our set goals were accomplished! This is a BIG deal! She is genuinely a symbol of accomplishment and a reward for us as a family, and this is something we do not take for granted. We could finally relax, and get a dog!
The kids were excited to find out that we would be getting a dog soon, but they didn’t know when. They also didn’t know that we already had her picked out. We could not wait! We kept it a secret, and this is the live video of us coming home with her…
Too bad they don’t stay small like that!
She has been quite a handful ever since, and I know we still have a ways to go. The first thing we had to break her from, besides house-training, was play-biting. Unknowingly, we got her from her litter too young. Little did we know that when a puppy is taken from their litter too young, they don’t get enough time to be disciplined by their mother. The mother bites them back and teaches them not to bite. This bad habit lasted quite a few months, but I’m so glad that part is over!
What most people fall in love with is that cute picture of a puppy, like this one.
Oh my gosh, so precious!
What they don’t always realize is that behind that precious, puppy-dog face is a handful of poop, pee, training, chewed-up personal belongings, and lots of food and vet bills to start. And on those tired nights when you just want to go to bed, your puppy is crying, randomly pooping and peeing in the kennel, and having to go outside in the middle of the night. Many people also forget about what happens when you travel. You must be ready to either take the dog with you, or have money saved to pay a dog sitter or kennel. Even family members aren’t so excited to dog-sit your big, huge bundle of fur. Large dogs don’t always accommodate so easily.
I’m only saying all this because it’s such a big responsibility to have a dog, and many people only want to imagine all the positives of having a new pet. I also wanted to emphasize the financial responsibility – since that is my forte. And in my experience, it’s devastating to not realize what you are getting yourself into when you decide to raise a puppy. It’s important to be 100% committed to all the trouble that comes along with your new furry friend.
In the end, if you stay dedicated, you will have the most loyal friend you could ever ask for.
Recently, I asked my 10-year-old, “So, did you think it was going to be this difficult to have a puppy?”
With a surprised look on his face, “No. I didn’t think of all that.”
“It’s not all rainbows and sunshine with a new dog, but don’t be discouraged. All our hard work and training will pay off.”
I have to say, after having a smaller breed dog, and now a larger breed – in my opinion, smaller breeds are much easier to handle as puppies! But once again, they are oh so precious!
My hands were so full at the very beginning, while also potty-training a toddler. It seemed as though everywhere I turned, I was cleaning some kind of mess from either a dog or a toddler! Needless to say, I wasn’t very happy about it all. Some days were very hard.
She really is a good dog, which came with lots of strict training on our part. Even at nine months of age, I swear she is ADHD. But from what I understand, labs are just that way when they are young. When we’re gone for only 20 minutes, she acts like we’ve been gone for a year and is over-the-moon happy to see us again. She will gulp down any food and acts like she hasn’t eaten in a week, which is why we got her this life-saving bowl that slows down her eating! One would also swear that she never gets any water because she is constantly trying to drink out of the toilet and trying to lick up any excess water from the bathtub or while we’re in the shower!
She goes crazy over any kind of ball, and it’s really hard to have her in the yard while we’re playing baseball. Actually we can’t have her in the yard while we’re practicing baseball! She retrieves everything – hence, the name Labrador retriever.
She does a great job retrieving, which is basically what she was born to do. She absolutely loves it!
I can also see how labs make the top of the list as one of the best family dogs. One time, I was blow-drying my hair, and I kept hearing a loud tapping noise. When I finally looked around, I found my 3-year-old laying down with Roux, hitting her repeatedly on her face. That was the loud tapping noise! Poor Roux! Although, she didn’t seem too concerned – she was still pretty much passed out, sleeping!
This might sound crazy to some, but something else we decided to do with Roux that we’ve never done with any other dog, is to also incorporate holistic living into her lifestyle. If you haven’t figured out by now that we live a very holistic, natural lifestyle, we have also learned how to do that with a dog! We’ve found a holistic vet, and we love her too! I’ll be sharing more of that as well in future posts. Subscribe now, so you don’t miss out!
A boy and his dog…
We’ve had quite a few restless nights with her – from crying at night as a new puppy, peeing constantly during excitement, ruining a few kitchen rugs, diarrhea episodes that covered the kennel while visiting with family out of town (that’s a whole story on its own), accidental ingestion of laundry soap causing an all-night sickness, a horrible excretion of the anal glands from her tail being slammed into the bathroom door, and the list goes on…
We’ve also recently discovered that she’s obviously smart enough to figure out how to open the double-lock system on her kennel/crate when we’re gone all day! She did it twice, so she knows what she’s doing now. She loves to chew up wood, so thank You God, she took it easy on us by only chewing up a few pieces of clothing! My desk is still intact, and we still have a bed set left! I’ve heard horror stories of labs who’ve eaten entire holes in the walls! We’ve only lost one pair of cheap tennis shoes 🙂
We kept my brother’s dog for him recently as a favor while he was getting his house built, and Roux made her a BFF during that six-month visit. Meet Splenda!
Even though she’s a handful now, I’m confident she’ll turn out alright!