Today we travelled to Broadleaf Gundogs to view 2 yellow male Labrador puppies that are remaining from the litter. To be honest I am glad of the distraction and to be out of the house. The pain of losing Frankie and Mollie is overwhelming, everywhere in the house reminds us of what we have lost. They were never just dogs to us.
The two puppies are absolutely gorgeous. I admit I am hesitant as I am concerned that we maybe rushing into this to try to avoid the pain and grief but I also know I don’t want to spend another minute than I have to without a dog. I am even missing the sound of the dogs feet on the laminate flooring which Jay and I always used to call tap dancing. The hole they have left is huge. I am unsure if I can love another dog this soon. I know Jay has fallen apart. In all our nearly 22 years together I have only seen him cry 4 times and each of those was when we have lost one of our babies ( dogs).
Jay is suffering and I decide that for his sake I can learn to love a dog if we decide to put a deposit down today.
The kennels are fab, immediately on entering we are greeted by a load of adult Labradors. If I could have got away with it I would have laid on the floor and just cuddled them all. We have both missed the feel of a dog and the love they give and Mollie has only been gone since Saturday.
We have a choice of 2 puppies one is so pale gold / yellow in colour that he is almost white. I play with him whilst sat on the floor. The breeder has placed a more red colour Labrador in Jay’s arms. I immediately see the look of peace in Jays eyes. Its the first time since… well you know. The puppy is contentedly staring into his eyes and I know my choice isn’t coming into this. To be honest the pale puppy is gorgeous also but the puppy Jay has is in the process of stealing his heart.
Dembe will be ready for collection on Friday 11th January. We chose the name Dembe years ago, its from a Character in the tv show The Blacklist. We knew it was a perfect name for a dog when this time came. We had also discussed the breed, we kept going around in circles and kept coming back to Labrador. It is a bit spooky that Dembe’s mum is called Willow, that was the name of our dog that passed away in December 2017. It seems like fate is intervening.
Today has been such a bitter sweet day after losing Frankie and Mollie so suddenly. Our house is not a home without a dog.
Tuesday 8th January
So many jobs to do before Dembe’s arrival on Friday. My anxiety levels have soared and now my obsessive list making has come to the surface. When I am anxious having a list makes me feel in control when I feel a situation has spiralled out of control. I suffered badly last year after suffering numerous bereavements in quick succession. It had relented a little only to resurface after… well I am guessing you know what.
Jay on the other hand is paralysed by his anxiety, he is struggling to hold even a basic conversation due to the overwhelming level of grief he is suffering. We are having the same conversation over and over again. Normally I would have lost my temper on the 4th occasion of telling him the same thing but I know how much he is suffering. Neither of us has slept a night through since last Friday where we nursed Mollie through the night. Jay is waking every morning around 2.30am / 3am the time he would normally have taken the dogs out….that’s a long story and for another day. I am waking up around midnight – 1am and not getting back to sleep. I am existing on 4 hours a night.
Jay has made a start on cleaning the patio, so we have taken a trip to the recycling centre to get rid of stuff that I have been asking him to tip for months! We have also been to the range and picked up some more puppy bits. Yesterday we had a trolley dash around Pets at Home. Thankfully a friend told us to ask for the Puppy booklet which gets you 10% off. As we haven’t had a puppy in the house for around 11-12 years we are having to start at the very beginning.
My anxiety is rising at the prospect of there being a puppy in the house. I am worried that I won’t know what to. I have ordered books and looked online. I feel so out of my depth. Jay keeps telling me to stop over thinking it. I know it is because a puppy is an unknown quantity and I have no way of controlling it.
Wednesday 9th January
We are so desperate for the touch, smell and company of a dog that we are now meeting friends with dogs. As Frankie was never very good with other dogs, I have never met a lot of my friends dogs. For those of you new to this blog I am disabled and have mobility problems. You can find out more about me at http://www.themyastheniakid.com.
Today we met a huge Rottweiler, although we know he can be very boisterous he was an angel with us. He cleaned my face for me at least 4 times! It was wonderful to be able to give a dog a cuddle and utter the words “good boy” .
We paid our second visit of the week to Pets at Home – just to reassure you all I’m not receiving any money from this and I am in no way promoting them. We needed some more puppy bits.
I need to buy some shelves as for years I have stored my medication box on the floor – with old dogs that never took any interest in my medications that was fine. Now we have a puppy that due to his breed will be interested in everything. So to be safe I want a shelf that will be well out of puppy range.
Today we had friends drop over some baby gates so that we can keep the kitchen and the upstairs hallway out of reach. When I will be home alone with Dembe I need to be able to keep him safe as I can’t go running off after him.
I’ve also had to sort out my mobility scooter, it has needed new batteries forever. I want to be able to go out with Jay and Dembe when he is taken out to get used to the outside world and when he is finally allowed to have proper walks after his jabs. A friend loaned her husband to come over and open up the battery compartment so I could take measurements of the battery and see what we needed. He managed to tell us of a place locally that sells batteries so our plan is to head out tomorrow and buy them.
Today has been really hard. We are trying to keep as busy as possible. We hate not having a dog here and we are missing our babies (dogs) more than I thought possible.
Thursday 10th January
Today we had a list of jobs to get through which we are calling operation puppy proofing. Jobs completed today were
- patio bleached and cleaned
- Dog food bin cleaned
- Treats put into Kilner jar
- baby gate placed around the stairs
- dog cage cleaned and disinfected
- dog bed washed and dried
- my bedroom puppy proofed
- Crate set up for Dembe to sleep in
- Batteries bought for my mobility scooter
- throw bought for Dembe’s crate
- Batteries fitted in Scooter
- Pine handles removed from the Irish Dresser and replaced with metal ones.
Friday 11th January
Awful nights sleep, between 9pm and midnight I am constantly waking up. From midnight until 1am nightmares / flashbacks surrounding the passing of both our dogs. Its too distressing for me to even talk about at the moment. I know that it is my subconscious attempting to process what has happened but on the night before you are travelling to pick up your new addition and need to be with it and not groggy.
Jay joined me downstairs at 5am, thankfully he had slept, especially when he would be doing a round trip of approx 220 miles today.
We ended up leaving early as we were ready to go and we needed fuel etc. Thank goodness we did as we got stuck in a traffic jam for nearly 30 minutes on the M4. We arrived bang on 11am at Braodleaf Gun dogs.
It took me until Dembe was on my lap in the car on the way home for me to fully accept that he was ours. I had been so frightened all week that I wouldn’t be able to love him, that we were rushing things. Within ten minutes of having him in my arms my heart had melted. He was an absolute angel in the car. We had been prepared for a projectile puking pup due to travel sickness but there was nothing. He slept and snored the whole way home.
Who wouldn’t fall instantly in love with him?
As soon as we got home we took him straight out onto the patio, he was such a good boy and went for a wee. I thought he was finished and brought him back in. Unfortunately he wasn’t and had a wee on the kitchen rug. That was my error not his. He has been brilliant on the toilet training front. It is just a case of watching him and knowing, on waking, after eating, after playing he will need to go outside to go to the toilet.
His first meal was fun, he needs to learn some table manners but he was very hungry bless him as we had driven through his lunch time.
After his lunch he had a nap
He is cuddled up to his comfort blanket provided by the breeder. When we bred dogs we did the same thing and provided tea towels that were left in the whelping box and in the dogs bed so that it is filled with the scents of their litter mates and mum. It helps to provide them with something recognisable in their new home. Dembe has loved having his and is one of the items he has played with the most since arriving home.
We had our first visitors also this afternoon, a friend and his 3 year old son, Dembe took it all in his stride. He was pretty tired from the car journey so spent most of the visit asleep on my friends chest.
As Dembe wasn’t wearing a collar we decided that we would start getting him used to a collar as soon as possible. So later that day we put on a very soft puppy collar. I was expecting him to throw a hissy fit but he was fine. In fact he didn’t seem to notice it at all. Which has pleased me no end as some pups can be an absolute nightmare to deal with whilst you are getting them used to them.
He was a very good boy overnight….apart from my husband putting him on the bed as he was chewing his wooden crate! He settled very quickly. We went to bed at 9pm, took him out for a wee at midnight and then out again for a poo at 2.45am. After that we all slept through until 06.30am. He had been being fed around 6am at the breeders but I am hoping to move his body clock around a bit as 7am is more acceptable to me! I only woke up because I had set an alarm on my phone.
Saturday 12th January:
Dembe was on the go from the minute he got up. He went straight out for a wee, ate his breakfast with gusto and then had a poo! good lad.
We had to get cracking today as we had quite a few people lined up to pay us a visit. We wanted to get Dembe’s socialisation off to a flying start so that he is a happy confident dog. The breeder has provided us with a checklist of things we need to try and cover over the next 4 weeks – this is where he will still be fearless and new experiences accepted more easily than after this period. From 16 weeks it is much harder for a puppy to accept new experiences without fear and it will take much more work to build his confidence. Having had dogs that were terrified of their own shadow, we really want Dembe to be confident and know he can trust us completely.
As we don’t have children we are arranging for lots of our friends that do have kids to bring them over and meet him. I put a request out on social media for people who were willing to help to contact me. Its been so successful that I have had to create his own social calendar to keep up with who is coming when. We basically need the house to be like Piccadilly circus, with just Jay and I it is too quiet and not a place a pup would learn to cope with a lot of noise or visitors. Next week he has a play date with new people including children and dogs practically every day next week. We are also planning outings for him so that he can get accustomed to different noises and environments.
This evening Dembe is shattered, he has met 7 different people ( in our home) including one delivery man and three children. He has coped brilliantly with all of it. My friend Sarah took some wonderful photos of him
We also managed to squeeze in another visit to Pets at Home for a car harness for him. There he met another 6 people including children so in total he met 13 different people. He took it all in his stride.
Sunday 13th January:
Every day since his arrival Dembe has become much more confident in his environment. Today he is now zooming around the lounge and kitchen at full pelt like a maniac. Hubby and I are in stitches at his antics. He reminds us in lots of ways of Mollie, Frankie and Willow. Dembe’s waggy tail when eating and drinking is exactly like Mollie used to do. Frankie never liked to be cuddled to sleep, if I ever tried to pet him he would get up and move away. The rest of the time Frankie would be soppy as hell and Dembe is exactly the same, he doesn’t like to be touched when he is trying to sleep. The rest of the time he loves cuddles. He is very much like Willow in the way he will go to anyone to have some attention. We always used to call Willow the cuddle whore, he is no different. He is very happy being stroked and adored, even by complete strangers. Its really nice to see his personality developing.
This morning he had his first shower. As we don’t have a bath, as physically I can’t get in and out of it, it was important that he gets used to having a shower. I quickly had a shower, Jay held Dembe just outside of the shower cubicle for a bit so he could hear the water running and know that it was ok. He then placed Dembe on my lap he sat very still, I was worried he may panic and tear my skin to shreds but he was so well behaved. Jay applied a small amount of shampoo and got him washed off. After his shower Jay towel dried him. We were both amazed at how quickly he dried off. He enjoyed the hairdryer as well which was nice, as none of our dogs have ever liked having a bath or having the hairdryer near them so we wanted to make a massive effort with Dembe so that he can be bathed as and when necessary.
He is coping well with all the strange noises being in a new environment brings. He is no longer scared of the hoover, this morning I kept him on my lap as he looked quite keen to give it a bit of a chase whilst Jay used it. He has also been exposed to the steam mop this morning and he couldn’t work that out. He is fine with the washing machine and tumble dryer, they have been in action since Friday.
Today I lay on the floor whilst he played with his two current favourite toys, a teething ring and a small duck toy with a tugger rope coming off the end. I wanted to take a photo for the blog but what I ended up with was this!
His favourite game at the moment seems to be dragging his puppy bed into the centre of the room which is quite a feat as it is much larger than him. We keep joking we will have to put a house brick in the bottom of it.
We’ve had a reasonably quiet day today as Jay and I are really feeling it after all the loss, sleepless nights and many visitors. Even Dembe seems knackered today and has slept a lot.
Dembe has met 4 new people today, my next door neighbours and my good friend Heather and her daughter Sophie. He was great with all of them.
On top of having a shower today he has also had his nails clipped. Due to having Ehlers Danlos Syndrome my skin is very fragile, as he isn’t really walking anywhere that would get his nails to wear down naturally I had to clip them today as he has scratched me a few times accidentally. I am always weary of puppy nails after Willow sliced my eye lid open ( you could see the fat under the skin), due to it being in the crease all that could be done was steri strips applied and kept on for a week. It was quite painful! So now as soon as puppy nails seem to get too long or start snagging on clothing I like to just snip the ends off with a pair of human nail clippers. By doing this on a regular basis it also gets the dog used to having his feet handled and means you can trim nails when they are an adult without them getting wound up and possibly snapping at you.
It feels like we have had Dembe here for weeks but in reality its really just been two whole days. By the time this is published he will have been with us 3 days. It feels like a whirlwind. He has settled in so well and loves us both rather than favouring one of us over the other. He has really helped Jay cope with his feelings of loss and depression since losing his girl Mollie. He does provide me with a focus but the sadness of losing Frankie and Mollie in such quick succession is still there. I still have the odd cry and I am sure I will for years to come.
My anxiety is still quite bad as I am panicking about doing things right and whether or not we have done enough training with him and then I realise its been just a little over 60 hours and Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Next week we have quite a few visits scheduled both at home and visiting others. He also needs to see the vet for a new puppy check and to book in for his next lot of vaccinations.