May 22, 2011

Day One: Settling In ....

Today started off with good omens: I woke up to a brilliant sunrise for the first time in what seems like forever (at least 4 days of rain off and on and ~7 days of overcast skies) and my current favorite song playing on the radio.

Kane and I did our usual morning play routine (which involves him being a doofus and rubbing his body all over the comforter to generate static and shocking us both) and then I hopped out of bed, let him outside, and fed him when he got back in to give him time to digest before he had to go in his crate. I can set my clock to his peeing/pooping schedule; usually ~45 minutes to an hour.

While I was getting ready, Mom stopped by and said she had decided to come with me to "make sure I was doing the right thing". In other words, after I showed her a picture of Peeps and her littermates yesterday, she couldn't resist seeing them in person. :-) It's very hard to turn your nose up to fluffy puppy cuteness, no matter how crazy you think your daughter is for having two dogs.

I put Kane in his crate and off we went. On the way down, mom asked questions about which puppy I was getting, about the mother and father, about Mary (the breeder) and seemed to be a lot more optimistic and "in" to me getting a new puppy than she was last week when she said she refused to step foot in the house with "that puppy". When I wasn't answering her many questions (she isn't a dog person, so I had to explain a lot of things to her), I was running over the handful of names I'd been thinking about for the past month or so.

I decided against Puck because while it was a cute name, I thought about all the situations I'd be saying her name and what if I had to call her from across a field and someone misheard me and thought I was saying something else? Ultimately, I also ruled out Remi. I just didn't like the sound of it; it was a little too boyish for me. So, that left Artemis (Arty) and Ellie, and then I also added Phoebe and Melody back on to the list.

We pulled in to Mary's drive at 10am on the dot.

She said I was the first one to pick up their puppy and opened the door from her garage leading to her patio, fenced yard, and the outdoor kennel.

I don't think there's anything more welcoming in the whole entire world than a gaggle of fluffy puppies running and tumbling over themselves to get to you, jumping up and whining for attention. :-) After they got their greets in, they settled down pretty quickly and sought out the available spots of shade. It was such perfect weather to pick up a new puppy—sunny, cloudless skies and a nice even temperature of 70 degrees.

Mary sat down with me and went over the contract while I cuddled with Peeps and cooed over her. After making sure I understood what the contract said, Mary asked me if I'd chosen a name for Peeps yet, that way she could fill her proper name in on the contract and get the registration papers sent out sooner (only to MASCA [the Miniature Australian Shepherd Club of America] for reasons I'm saving for another later post). I looked down at Peeps, rolled over on her back on my lap with her leg kicking because I'd found The Spot on her ribs, and marveled over the black spots on her belly.

Belly rhymes with Ellie, and that was all it took for me to blurt out her name was Ellie. I've discovered over the course of the day that Ellie's favorite thing (so far) is getting belly rubs, so I've been telling her all day, "I've got Ellie's belly, rar, Ellie-belly, I've got your belly!"

Mary mentioned that all of Skyler's previous daughters have had "Blu" in their registered name. After Mary's continued and staggering generosity (like, allowing me to take Ellie home without having paid the full purchase price yet), it was the least I could do to have Ellie's registered name be: SwampyCreek's Ellie Blu. :-) I feel like Ellie was the name meant for her, as the other name choices don't sound as good with Blu attached to them. (Puck Blu? lol)

The puppy puzzle was yesterday (after being cancelled last Sunday), but I wasn't able to make it due to work. Mary said that after the PP she revised the final height she estimated Ellie to grow to be: ~18 inches. For those that don't know, Australian shepherds (which Ellie's father is) are supposed to be between 18-23 inches in standard, and (female) miniature Australian shepherds are supposed to be between 14 and up to but not including 18 inches. So she got some height from her father as well as his good head structure, according to Mary. Unfortunately, Ellie kept her mother's bad butt; she has stifles that are straighter than they should be, although Mary said they aren't to the point they should affect her in agility or whatever sport I have planned for Ellie.

After that, I put Ellie's new collar on her, bundled her up in my arms, and TOOK HER HOME, WOOOO. We left with a packet of information on crate and clicker training, basic puppy care, Ellie's 5-generation pedigree, and a sample of the food she's been on, Purina One.

She whined a little when I initially put her in her crate for the ride home, but she quickly settled down and ... stared at me. For a long time, lol. I won't lie and say it wasn't unnerving to have my new puppy give me such a considering, thoughtful look. She was measuring me to her standards, and she wasn't shy about it. :-) I think I passed muster, though, given her affectionate nature the rest of the day. After passing judgement on me, Ellie whined a bit for her littermates and mother, tried parlaying that into some very artful howling, and then finally stopped fighting it and fell asleep.

Unfortunately, I had to wake her up in order to move the crate from my mom's car to mine, so my mom could continue on to Dale's house (her boyfriend). Ellie whined a bit after I got her crate wedged into the front seat of my Lumina, but again quickly settled down, although she stayed awake for most of the rest of the journey home. I had my windows rolled down (no air in my car, ugh) and the semis I passed scared her at first. Every time we passed the actual truck, she'd sit up and cock her head at it as we went by. But, she's a quick learner and after the 4th semi we passed, she didn't even bother looking at it. :-)

She lasted the entire two hour drive without having to take a potty break, so when I got home, I immediately leashed her and let her out to pee. As I would repeatedly discover over the course of the day, she gives NO warning before she squats. I mean, it's not surprising at all for an 8-week-old puppy to be like that, and she isn't my first, but even against my previous puppy experience, she is fast! I totally missed that first pee; and, honestly, I'm not even sure if she actually went pee. There was moisture on the grass, so I assume she did, but the point is to praise as they go pee, lol. Too late.

I plucked her up and put her in her expen while I got her crate inside and set that in her expen too. Of course, every time I left her sight, she whined and howled for me, so by the time I got around to letting Kane out, he definitely knew there was another dog in the house. I didn't get much more than a quick lick on the hand in greeting before he bolted from the computer room where his crate is and out to the living room to investigate.

I'm going to take a deep breath and admit ... I was jealous of how excited he was to see Ellie. He was doing full-body wags, his tail hitting either side of his body as it wagged, totally helicopter-pinwheel-crazy, and he was throwing Ellie play-bows left and right. Usually, I'm the only one that gets that. :( And then I kicked myself for even thinking that and squeed over how cute he was behaving and, god, at least he seemed excited to have a new puppy in the house!

Ellie, on the other hand, wasn't as excited to see him. :-) She actually growled and batted at him with a paw (through the expen, of course). I laughed and had to add 'sassafrass' to her name, for a full name of "Ellie Blu Sassafrass". Her little growl was totally understandable with Kane being so nutty and over-excited, though. I made him "get back" from the expen and then down-stay to calm him down and give her a chance to just watch him. After several minutes, she got up her courage to try barking at him to initiate play, darting at him and then away, wiggling up to the expen fence to show him her belly. Taking my cues from her, I opened the expen door, making sure to keep Kane in a down-stay. She hopped out after she discovered she could get over the lip, but was a lot more cautious with Kane when she realized there was nothing between them.

Kane was being such a good boy. He so desperately wanted to play with Ellie, he was literally vibrating from the tension of being kept in a down-stay. I didn't want all that frustration to build up, though, and Kane had never gone outside after coming out of his crate, so I took Ellie on her first trip through the lower floor of the house to the backyard. She followed right on my heels, navigating the three stairs leading to the back door with a minimum amount of help on my part.

Once outside, Kane exploded into zoomies. He zoomed from one end of the (unfenced) yard to the other and back again, did laps around the entire house a few times, and then suddenly screeched to a halt and went pee. LOL. Ellie watched everything with a mystified look on her face. 'What the heck is this strange dog doing? Do I really have to live with him?'

The verdict so far on Kane and Ellie? Kane absolutely adores her; Ellie's not so sure about him. She'll approach him on her own and will initiate play with him, but I think he intimidates her with his excited and overdramatic responses. I'm not pushing it though. This is her first day and I'm sure once she settles in and realizes that's just how Kane is, she won't be as intimidated.

Despite not having any major issues while in the crate on the ride home, she screams bloody murder when I put her in it at home, lol. Kane goes into his crate to make me happy, not necessarily because he's excited to, and the feeling has persisted even though I leave him yummy food-stuffed kongs and only give him his favorite toys in it.I'm going to have to pull out all the stops to nip this in the bud and get her associating it with good things. I want to make sure Ellie does more than just tolerate it. I'm feeding her all her meals in the crate with the door closed, randomly tossing pieces of cheese during the day when she's out of it but in her expen, even hiding pieces of kibble under her stuffed animal for her to find later. At first, I'm only going to put her in her crate when she's sleepy. As the next couple of days pass, and she gets more comfortable, I'll begin putting her in it when I leave the room to grab something or to let Kane outside; things I know will only take a couple of minutes at the most.

I did put her in there once when I knew she was ready for a nap, but she was fighting it and being a pain in the ass because of it. Sure enough, she screamed her little head off. I ignored it though and let her work through it and about 10 minutes later, she finally drifted off to sleep with a few lingering whines, nomming on her puppy kong like it was a pacifier.

The total so far on accidents? 2! I consider that a great success on the first day, without having the benefit of a schedule to know when she should be going outside. Both times I took my attention off her for a split second, either to pet Kane or remind him not to get into her expen, and I turned back and she was piddling. She's on a leash when she's out of her expen, but that doesn't stop her from piddling right next to me! :-)

She hasn't yet peed on her pee pads, which makes me a little nervous even though I know it's still early. Mary said she trained the litter to go on them and they were at 99.9%, so I'm hoping it's just because Ellie is in a new, unfamiliar place. I'm planning on taking her outside to go potty during the day and at night, when I can barely get myself to crawl off the couch, I'll put her on the pee pad.

Oh, and her poops are good! Maybe TMI, but I'm keeping an eye on them because I'm switching her to Eukanuba puppy. A slight step up from Purina One, at least. I'll keep her on that until she hits ~7-8 months old and see how she does on Taste of the Wild. Knock on wood, I'll be able to get her and Kane on the same food.

And there you have it.

The first day of my new life with Ellie Blu Sassafrass Copper-butt. :-)

Now, I should really try to get some sleep! I put Ellie in her crate at 9pm for the night, but Mary said the litter usually gets up around 4am to go outside. 2 and a half hours ... *sigh*


  1. So glad Kane likes her! His reactions sound adorable!

  2. Aw, I can't wait until you get your camera sorted! She sounds so adorable!

  3. Sounds like Ellie is settling in well! Her name goes so adorably with Kane's, too :)

    I bet once she's gotten over the shock of being away from her old family, she'll be happy to play with Kane - as long as he doesn't trample her in his goofy, happy exuberance!

  4. this is *too funny* I acaully laughed out loud.

  5. She sounds adorable! And I'm so, so glad Kane has been so great with her :-) Holly still isn't sure if she wants to play with Byron or eat him... she's always so excited and happy to see him then the second he throws a bow or a bounce sh'e snarling, lunging and screaming blue murder. *sigh* Stupid dog.

    Can't wait 'til you get your camera battery!

  6. Is this dog going to be registered as a "North American shepherd" or a Miniature Australian shepherd?

  7. @retrieverman

    Per Mary's wishes, she will be registered as a Miniature Australian Shepherd with MASCA. I know NAMASCUSA and the AKC recently agreed to refer to this breed as the Miniature American Shepherd upon introduction to the FSS program.

  8. This post is missing something - pictures!

  9. Awe, Ellie belly! I call my parents' dog (whom, if you recall, is also named Ellie) Ellie Welly Melly Belly. :)

    Kane sounds like a total lovebug. <3 Sounds like a good first day, overall, considering you have a super smart, 8 week old pup.