Thursday, November 11, 2010

Finding Finnegan

How did we come to welcome this cuddly ball of fur to the family?

The kids wanting a dog, which is a universal childhood condition, was a subject of some early blogs.  First, at age 6, Jackson orchestrated a family vote on getting a dog.  By orchestrate I mean in a third-world-country-voting-irregularity kind of way.

Then, in his first (and only) chance to be a guest blogger, Jackson used the platform to talk about getting a dog.

More recently, I blogged about how Husband and I were getting closer to getting a dog, but we needed the kids to be more responsible. Jackson outlined his plans and Master Plan to behave more responsibly.

Husband and I agreed that we were working toward getting a dog. The ideal time being around spring break in March, which will be 2 weeks and a perfect time to break in a puppy. Or, as it turns out, to have her break us in.

So Husband and I agreed that a good first step was to research breeds, appropriate sizes, places to get puppies. So with almost as much zeal as when Husband was looking for a flat panel TV last Christmas, we began our investigations.  I was pretty set on a poodle-something cross. A smart, good medium sized dog that won't shed. The non-poodle part part will up the cuteness factor as I find poodles crossed take the cuteness of both breeds.

Husband and I also researched the care of a puppy and the various schools of thought on puppy training.  Somewhere along the line I picked up a copy of Puppies for Dummies which is a good overall source of info on all things puppy.  This gave us the false sense of security that we might actually know what we are doing.

We looked at websites where rescued dogs are placed as this seemed like a right and good thing to do. We found there were few puppies and almost no non shedding, small breed puppies that could be placed with children.

Sydney and I stumbled onto a show, Pick a Puppy on CMT where families meet three breeds of puppies and then choose one. It's like Househunters for the canine inclined.  About the second show we watched, highlighted Maltese puppies.  The kids fell hard for the white balls of fluff.  Husband and I were not far behind.

We started scouring the Internet looking for more information on the Maltese and everything we read seemed to jive with the kind of puppy and pet we wanted: non shedding, smart, loyal, good companions.  We even started looking at availability. Somewhere along the way, Husband and I independently realized that neither of us were going to wait until March to get this puppy once we were this invested.  We amended the plan to getting a puppy in December so the Christmas break would be part of our puppy bonding and training time.

The strange thing about Husband and my research was that we were our own islands of puppy information.  Because virtually every day in September and October was jammed full with activities, things to do, we barely had time to talk. When we did it was more like "have you seen Sydney's Brownie uniform?" or "did you remember to pay the MasterCard?" 

Our conversations about puppies were short and we never came to any conclusions.

Last Friday night, as I mentioned, Husband and I had time to process our thoughts on puppies.  We concluded that we did not want a pure bred Maltese.  The normal weight range is 4 to 7 pounds, with many breeders preferred to breed those closer to 4 pounds than to 7.

We were looking at a Maltese bred with another small dog. Shiu Tzu and poodle were amoungst the common types and this usually produced a little bigger dog.  Because we were so in love with the Maltese, ideally we were looking for a mostly Maltese dog with a little of something else.  We looked for what was available on the Internet, mindful to avoid, to the extent you know, puppy mills and unscrupulous breeders.

We found a few possibilities and we fired off some emails.  We heard nothing back from anyone.  A day later, Husband and I asked ourselves what we were doing. We had another week and a half of a fair number of extracurricular events, and after that, we had a pretty clear calender. Waiting a couple weeks was indicated.

But.  There is always a but.  There was one litter of puppies, that seemed perfect. Mom was a 15 pound Maltese-ShiuTzu. Dad was a 9 pound Maltese.  Cute-as-a-button.  Husband and I agreed we would pursue this one lead, and if it did not pan out, we would not pursue anything further for a couple weeks.

We heard back from the breeder and they had 5 puppies still available.  We liked the idea of seeing a litter and choosing the puppy that most suited us.  Monday after school we made an appointment to meet the puppies.

You have no idea what kind of energy FIVE puppies have. They were in kennels when we arrived. There were 2 girls in one crate and 3 boys in the other.  I have an irrational preference for girl dogs.  I did not really want to live in a world that involved a dog wiener.  The girls were released and they ran circles around us. One of them was slightly interested in meeting us, the other wanted only to run as hard and fast as she could.  The first one, I thought was a possibility, the puppy-with-too-much-energy fell to the bottom of the list. 
The boy puppies.

After a few minutes, the boys had their turn to meet us. One boy was obviously more assertive, but also very, playful. He had dark grey ears and I was sorely tempted.  The other two boys were completely white and both more the shy and cuddly type of puppy. 

How do you choose? I could have gone home with any of them at that point.  I said to myself "I could totally have a boy puppy, you don't even notice their boy parts".

As if reading my mind, one of the shy boys peed in front of me on the carpet.  While puppies will be puppies, when I picked him up, pee dripped down a lot of fur around his boy thing. 

Girl it was to be.

The boys were put back in their kennel and we examined the girls carefully. I tended toward the smaller of the girls. She seemed a little calmer.  But then, as soon as I stated my preference, little miss-too-much-energy climbed into Jackson's lap.

This was notable.  What had been happening in our visit is the puppies were running madly in circles around us. Husband, Sydney and I were grabbing them as they ran by and would interact with them until they squirmed out of our arms. Jackson was petting what ever puppy someone else was holding.  But that little girl, the one who had fallen to the bottom of my list, sat calmly with Jackson. Then Sydney.  Then Husband. 

 So really, she chose us.

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