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Meet Bogey

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Sep. 15th, 2010 | 12:16 pm
mood: determined

Bogey is my dog. He's a Plott Hound mix. He's about six months old.

I adopted him in late July, from the Madison County Animal Shelter. I had him at home in a "foster" status, for about two weeks before that.

The picture was taken in July, by my very good friend gadwall.

Did I know what I was getting into? Uh, no, not really. I have had a few dogs in my day (most recently Toofus, who died a little less than two years ago). But I hadn't "owned" a puppy, nor lived with one, since I was in elementary school myself.

Well, let me tell you, folks: caring for a puppy is a lot different from caring for a senior dog like Toofus. Okay, I sort of already knew that; but I didn't fully understand it, at a gut level. It's one of those experiences you can "know about" intellectually, but can not really appreciate until you've done it. I have little doubt that this applies to you, as well.

The biggest difference: a puppy will grab things from any surface he (or she) can reach, chew on them, and, in so doing, damage or destroy them. (Toofus did that, sometimes, but with nothing like the consistency and energy with which Bogey does it.) Chances are good that, in the first few months one has a puppy, the cost of property damage will be the largest component of the cost of having him.

Again, knowing this intellectually cannot fully prepare you for it ... at least not unless you are a whole lot better at adapting to new situations than I am. This is certainly possible, but are you sure?

For example, take that phrase above: he will grab things from "any surface he can reach." Are you able to anticipate how fast that list of surfaces will grow, as the puppy grows, not only in size but in strength and agility?

So what am I saying here: that you shouldn't get a puppy? No; but I am saying that you'd be wise to think very carefully about whether the disadvantages of a puppy, as compared to an older dog, outweigh the advantages, for you.

If you do adopt a puppy, the chances are high that you will, more than once, think that you made a mistake, even that you're going to have to give up and return him to where you got him from. If you don't have fairly recent experience with puppies, I suggest that you don't ask yourself whether you're the exceptional person to whom this will not happen. Ask yourself, instead, whether you're prepared to deal with it when it does happen.

Can you refrain from giving up the puppy impulsively, even if you acquired him that way? Can you think carefully about ways of preventing and dealing with the problems? And then think carefully again, when the ways you thought of the last time don't (or at least don't always) work?

In short, do you have the determination, the stubbornness, the plain ol' grit to raise a puppy? Only if you do can I venture even to hope that you will eventually be the happy companion of a happy dog.

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