Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Becoming a Dog Owner - A Love Story

In the world of Wise Owl + Sly Fox, there is no better friend or more adorable accessory than our dogs. The decision to become a dog owner is one that shouldn't be taken lightly and the more that our friends become parents, the more it's clear to us that owning a dog is much like having a child. 

We know for a lot of people that last statement seems ridiculous and absurd, but come on, you have to clean up their messes (which often involves poop), you have to feed them because they can't feed themselves, they sleep a lot but are awake and loud when you're trying to sleep, they like to play fetch, and the older they get, the easier it gets to care for them. There's also all of the planning that goes into both raising children and owning a dog. Outside of the planning and purchases and all of the other preparation to ready yourself and your home for when your new bundle of joy arrives, there are basic preliminary questions you need to ask yourself, the most important being, "Am I ready for the responsibility?"

Both Wise Owl + Sly Fox found different times in their lives to expand our self-created families. Below are our own personal stories as to how we became the luckiest girls in the world by opening up our hearts to two very special furry companions.


Owner: Sly Fox
Date of Birth: January 10, 2008
Breed: Labrador / Poodle Mix (Labradoodle)
Weight: 70 lbs. 

I had known for years that I had wanted a dog of my own and I knew that I wanted to get a puppy (and a big puppy at that). Before I went to even look at puppies, I did some research. I wanted to know more about different breeds and how their characteristics and personality tendencies would fit into my lifestyle. I was a junior in college when I started this process, so I had the extra time to really train my to-be dog as well as take the time to make sure he was properly exercised. I always knew I wanted a boy dog, I think because my family had a boy dog when I was growing up, but secretly because I knew if nothing else, my dog could be my boyfriend.  

I used a lot of different resources to find information about what type of dog would suit me best. Websites like Puppy Finder and the Nebraska Humane Society were great resources because they had extensive information regarding each breed as well as little quizzes you could take and based on your personality type and various other criteria they would recommend what type of dog would be best for you. Based on my research I I knew I either wanted a Labradoodle or a Weimaraner. I wanted a dog who had energy, but not a crazy amount and one that could be easily trained. I also took into consideration the grooming of each pet (anything mixed with a poodle will be less likely to shed and therefore more hypoallergenic), their life expectancy and their common ailments (poor Bebop will eventually have hip dysplaysia). I mulled over the two dog breeds for some time, I went to the dog park to see if I could catch any playing to see how they interacted with other dogs and I started going to the Humane Society and pet stores to see if I liked one more than the other, when finally one magical day I saw an ad in the newspaper for a breeder coming to the Omaha area from Falls City, Nebraska with a litter of 8 Labradoodle puppies.

This was it, I was ready to buy a dog. I went to the address where the breeder was going to be that weekend and when we pulled up to the house there were these little fur balls running around all gangly-like bumping into each other, bopping around, smelling the grass and being all sorts of cute. The breeder told me that Bebop's father was the poodle while his mother was the Labrador and that all of the pups were only 8 weeks old. Bebop's litter produced 4 brown and 4 black puppies, only one girl was left in the batch. First I ruled out the black pups because I loved how the brown pups were brown all over - brown fur, brown noses, and brown eyes. I spotted Bebop because he had a wet patch on the flank of his right side, like one of his brothers had licked him. 

It was love at first sight. He had so much energy and was so rambunctious that I knew he was meant to be my dog. So I told the breeder, "I'll take the wet one," stuck him in the backseat of the car and started back home. Bebop was quiet almost the entire ride home, I sat next to him in the back, well rather he sat on me, he was really into lying on people those days, which was fine since at that point he was only 25 pounds. He wanted me to hold his head the entire ride home, and I don't mean hold his head like a baby, I mean I held my hand under his chin for the entire half hour long drive home - this tactic would later be called "shelfing" and Bebop has shelved it all at this point from beds to people to couches to tables, you name it I bet he's shelved it.

The first night we spent together wasn't completely awful. I tried to kennel train him, but damnit he was just too loud, too cute, and too desperate (funny that's usually what I looked for in a guy to take home from the bar). I let him  up on the bed and when I awoke the next morning Bebop literally had his face lying lightly across my throat while the rest of his body was on my pillow next to my head. I MEAN HOW FUCKING CUTE IS THAT?! The next few months (hell few years) was an entire process which required a lot of patience and love. Bebop took awhile to understand that he couldn't go to the bathroom inside and I spent months cleaning up his messes. He was goofy about going up stairs, he couldn't figure that out for months so every time I wanted to go to my room I had to pick him up and carry him upstairs. Luckily, there weren't any big health issues or scares, but one thing to keep in mind about getting your dog through a breeder is that they are not typically spayed or neutered. When Bebop was six months old I had the pleasure of taking him to the vet's and paying about $500 for the procedure. He came through it more than fine, but he did have to wear one of those dorky cones for awhile. I also had them remove his dewclaws because the nurse told me this awful story about the claws getting caught on something and then ripping off and the thought of that totally disgusted me.

Bebop has only been to one training class and that was Puppy Manners which he was allowed to take once he was six months old. I was in Lincoln at the time, so I signed up for the class via their non-credit program at the local community college. Bebop and I learned a lot at that class. He learned how to listen to me better and I learned how to control him. I can't under estimate the value of obedience classes. They simply work.

As the years progressed, Bebop began to calm down. He'll still run up to greet you at the door with his big wagging tail (that tail has caused many bruises on shins due to the pure force behind the excitement) but now he does not necessarily need to be on a leash if we're outside because he is over that "running away" stage of his life - mostly I think because I baby-ed him too much so he knows he wouldn't do too well in the outside world.

A lot of people ask me about his name, and I didn't realize there was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reference until maybe my fourth visit to the dog park when someone asked me, "Bebop? Well where's Rock Steady?" Bebop is actually named for an anime show called Cowboy Bebop - haven't seen it? Check it out, for serious. 

Bebop is the sweetest dog I've met. He's calm and his eyes tell you exactly what he's thinking. He's my best friend, and he knows when I'm down and need some extra cuddle time. He hogs my bed every single night, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I love that furry bastard. 

 For more pictures of these adorable guys, check out our We Heart Our Pups page. And stay tuned for Part Two - When Kerry Met Ollie.

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