- Lesson from Tom: Your new dog, especially a puppy, needs time to adjust to a completely new environment. This may be the first time the puppy is away from mom and siblings. She needs love and comfort without distress in order to make this transition easier.
- Tom says, “Don’t leave me alone at night, I’m a pack animal and need to be near you!”
Story: In the spring of 2004 I had an urge to have a dog. I researched what kind of dog would be best suited to us. I have a mild allergy to dogs so I looked for a kind of dog that would be the least or not at all allergic. This lead me to poodle mixes which were popular at the time (and still are!). The size of the dog was important as well. We live in a smallish place that has a tiny outdoor garden, therefore a smallish dog was on the list of requirements. At that time I wasn’t very conscious of whether to look for a dog from a breeder vs. a rescue dog. So I just tried to find a schnoodle breeder close to home.
I found breeder who was a few hundred miles away, and she sent pictures of the schnoodle pups who were still being weened from their mom. Only one of the pups pictured was looking directly into the camera. Plus he had a little ‘star’ on his chest : ).
Once the pup was weened and ready to be adopted, I arranged with the breeder to meet half way, on March 17 –at the toll booth on the Coquihalla Highway– to exchange money for puppy. When I picked up the pup, he was bigger than I thought, but we agreed he was fantastic! I had brought along a kennel to put the puppy in and keep in the backseat. The breeder said that the puppy wouldn’t be happy with this and would cry. She gave me a shirt of hers to keep the pup company with a scent he was familiar with. So I drove back to Vancouver with the puppy sleeping in my lap. We stopped at the rest-stops along the way home to take a pee.
We named the new pup Tom. Kind of after our favorite author at the time, Thomas Bernhard, but also after Tom Sawyer. We were new to puppy care and had thought that Tom would happily sleep on his own when we brought him home. Greg had constructed a pen by the front door where we thought he would stay when we went to bed or when we went out. Well, we underestimated Tom’s persistence (and need for physical contact and affection). We put Tom in the pen, and he whined. After a few minutes we heard little feet running towards us. We made the fence around his pen about a foot higher, put him back in the pen and ignored his whining while we went to sleep. I felt terrible as he continued to yell for hours. I believe this first night’s experience contributed to separation anxiety that Tom experienced for years afterwards. His first night away from his mom, in a new strange place and forced to be by himself….!.
The following night, Tom managed to climb the wood fence that separated him from us. He ran to our bed and asked to join us. From that time on, he slept on top of our bed with us. We were all much happier : )
Tom has become quite articulate about voicing his needs and desires. We love Tom and continue to learn from him about creative spirit and persistence.