This Little Miggy Stayed Home: We Got a Dog!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

We Got a Dog!

This Little Miggy Stayed Home || We Got a Dog!
If you follow me on Instagram than this is no secret, but it might be new to some of you here... we got a dog! He's a boy named August (no alias this time, you get to know his real name!) and he is a standard poodle. Yes I know he looks like a doodle, but he is a standard poodle.

It's been a little over a month since we brought a new boy into our lives and I thought I'd tell you how we found him and how life has been the past month with our August boy.

Why we got a dog and how we found him
The kids. It all starts with the kids begging and begging for a pet. Of course. My husband had a cat growing up and I sorta had a cat, for 1 year when we lived on a ranch. He was pretty self sufficient guy named Captain Jack and could be outside for days on end, until one day he never came home. (We think he was killed by the gang of wild cats on the ranch. They were a brutal bunch.) But that was the extent of my husband's and mine combined pet experience.

We had been holding off on getting a family pet for years, but lately our children's pleas had become more intense. No pets until Zuzu was 3 I would say. And then Zuzu turned 4. My oldest also made the point that she's already 11 and she's never had a pet. Plus--this was the kicker--she has practiced her violin for (kid you not) over 500 days in a row without missing a single day and her cousin got a cat after practicing just 100 days in a row and couldn't she please finally get a pet? And while I totally blame my sister in law for setting the bar so high (thanks beyotch), my oldest daughter was right. It was time for a pet.

If we were going to get a dog, I knew I wanted a poodle or a doodle of some sort. Not only do they not shed, they're super smart, highly trainable dogs. We started looking at shelters, but with no luck. Also, as much as I love the idea of rescuing a shelter dog, as a first time dog owner with young children I wasn't set on it.  One night my husband Googled and found a few listings on Craigslist and another craigslist-like site. We found a listing for a standard poodle that a family was selling. He was almost a year old, potty trained and crate trained.

I called and spoke to the mother of the home and asked her everything. What was his temperament? How long did they have him? And most importantly why were they giving him up? We talked for almost an hour. They loved him--had him since he was a puppy--but with 3 kids 7 and under, and both her and her partner working full time they didn't feel like they were giving him the best home. Mainly, it was the working--the dog spent most of the day in the crate and they didn't want that life for him. With heavy hearts, they decided to sell him. They were also equally interested in us as a family--they wanted to meet us and make sure their dog was going to a good, forever home.

They live 2 hours away from us, but one night after school I made the drive with the girls to go see him. He was very, very excited and after that first visit I wasn't sure we were going to bring him home. In fact we had sorta assumed that if we were getting him I would bring him home that night. But once I got there, no way could I make that call on my own. The two little girls were pretty scared of his size and excitement (I don't blame them--he's big!) and they had told me he was a pretty calm guy for a puppy but that he got excited around new people, but would eventually calm down. He did calm down, but it made me realize that this would be a big step for us. I told my husband he needed to go meet the puppy for himself and weigh in.

The next weekend he went with the girls (I was out of town) and his immediate reaction was similar to mine. Wow. Lots of energy. But yes, he calmed down after a bit. He called me a couple times on that visit and at some point we decided to go for it. He brought our new dog home.

The great news was that he was already potty trained, crate trained, was up to date on all his shots, and came with his crate, dog food, toys, and treats. Not that we were looking for a deal, but we got a great deal.

It's been about a month now and some things have been great, others a little more difficult and somethings are just different.
This Little Miggy Stayed Home || We Got a Dog!
The Good
He is a really sweet dog. He's pretty excited when he meets new people, but is usually pretty calm, which is great considering he's still a puppy and a rather big dog. He is very soft and cuddly and loves to be loved. The first couple of days we just spent cuddling our new guy and getting to know him. A lot of people talked about how great it is to have someone in your life who shows unconditional love, especially when your kids hit the teen years and I can already see what they mean.

I like having the company when I'm home alone during the day working. It helps me feel a little more secure knowing we have a dog that will alert me to anyone approaching the house--I'm especially grateful for this when my husband goes out of town, which isn't often but still.

Most of the girls have loved having a pet. (We'll talk about this in the next section.) Our oldest has been especially excited to have a dog and has been helpful with everything from getting his food to picking up poop. They love it when I bring him to school pick up and drop off and right now he seems like a good family companion/mascot.

The Not-So-Good
Well other than the explosive doggy diarrhea and throw up we experienced the first week--which no one warned me about thankyouverymuch--a lot of these bad behaviors are subsiding (knock on wood) and/or we are working through them with a trainer. However, one unexpected side effect has been the uptick in stress for my husband. He recently went to see the doctor because he thought he was having reflux issues, but the doctor said no reflux--it was probably just stress. My husband claims the feeling came as soon as we got the dog and he does actually find that having a dog is stressful. He says, "It's just one more thing to take care of." Which I get. But, from my perspective, I don't have to rock him to sleep, I'm not feeding him in the middle of the night, my body didn't change because of him.... so for me it doesn't seem like that big of a deal. I jokingly diagnosed him with post-puppy depression--ha!--but I get it... as much fun as it is having a dog, he's also a lot of work and responsibility.

But overall the biggest issue has been his nipping at the younger girls. Zuzu is pretty skittish when it comes to animals to begin with, and she would barely let her feet touch the floor the first couple of days the dog was home. Then she got pretty comfortable around him and he nipped Lamp one day. Then the next day he nipped Zuzu. But both of those times were during high energy moments where were playing with him and so we chalked it up to him being overly excited. But then he did it a couple more times during non-high energy times. We're working with him and a trainer and have seen some improvement in this area. And the difficult thing is just when she was starting to trust him, stand around him on her own he nipped again. So she still refuses to walk around the house freely when he's not in his crate and that is tough. Lamp however still interacts with him just fine and moves about the house freely. We are really trying to work through this with Zuzu because how awful it must be to suddenly feel like you can't feel comfortable in your own house anymore! Interestingly enough she has no problem with him in the car even though he is right by her. But we're making improvement--she used to say she wished we had never gotten him, but now she says she loves August. I think they'll be friends. Eventually.

The other big frustration has been teaching him not to pull on the leash. Again, as we've been working with him on this we've seen improvement.
This Little Miggy Stayed Home || We Got a Dog!
The Changes
There are some things which are neither good nor bad, but just different. We now have an extra member of the family to consider. We hurry home a little faster so he's not in his crate longer than he needs to be. But just coming and going is no longer a thoughtless process. We have to decide if we can take the dog with us, what places allow dogs? Do we need to bring a water bowl? Where's the leash? We haven't yet gone on a trip, but of course we'll have to find a place for him to stay when we do. Or what about a road trip, do we take him or put him back in a kennel?

Also right now our house isn't functioning the same way. We have a gate up to keep him from going into the bedrooms in the hallway. If we leave the gate down, then we have to close all the bedroom doors. I don't anticipate this being something we do forever (seasoned dog owners, is it something we'll do forever?) but it's definitely changed how we move in our house for now.

Lastly, it's been interesting to notice how many people are dog people who want to come up and pet our dog. In the past it's always my kids asking to pet other people's dogs, and while I usually pet the dog with them, I would have never asked to pet a dog if my kids weren't there. But I've had quite a few adults come up and ask to pet our Auggie boy. Which is sweet! And it's made me realize how many animal lovers there are out there and seeing a side to people I haven't seen before.

Overall we love him. He's sweet, cuddly good boy. I hope he's loving and adjusting to our family and that overtime all of this will feel second nature. Also, I feel like we got pretty luckying getting a great dog, the exact breed we wanted and the fact the he's so young but not a new puppy that we had to house train, crate train, etc. I'd love to hear any advice or words of wisdom from you long time pet owners--did having a pet for the first time feel stressful? I think having a bigger dog also plays into that stress--he pulls harder, his poop is bigger (ha!) and he's more intimidating to our daughter--do you find this to be true? Also, favorite dog toys? I'd love to help the guy have a little more fun during the day. XO


  1. Emily4:40 PM

    Your pup is so sweet! Compared to my family, your doggy situation sounds familiar in some ways but different in some. We have a labradoodle named Marlowe who looks a lot like August, just brown and maybe a bit smaller. Marlowe is 45 lbs, which I've found to be a great size - he feels like a big dog (at least when there aren't any real big dogs around!), but I can pick him up and he can't drag me down the street. I can see how a bigger dog would be more intimidating. Personality-wise, sounds like there are some real similarities! I often say that the only bad thing about Marlowe is how darn excited he gets to see other people/animals. And it's still true at 7.5 years old! He used to do a lot of pulling on the leash (for years!), but he's gotten a lot better now. I'm sorry about the nipping! We had Marlowe for 4 years before we had kids, so we didn't have that issue. I can honestly say though that Marlowe has never had an aggressive moment in his life, which is wonderful with little kids. Hopefully August will learn quickly how to play with his new sisters!

    I wonder why it is that you're keeping the dog out of your bedrooms? We encourage Marlowe to sleep downstairs, away from the bedrooms, because his "must bark at every noise" instinct seems to be stronger if he's in or right outside our bedrooms at night. We stopped crating him at night years ago, though. Marlowe also loves coming upstairs with us at naptime and bedtime to put the kids to bed, he's so sweet.

    So nice that you got an older, potty-trained and crate-trained pup! I think adding any dog to a family with three kids is going to be quite an adjustment, though. When we got Marlowe when he was 9 weeks old it definitely seemed like a full time job. I feel like we were able to do it because my husband worked from home and could keep an eye on him.

    You ask about dog toys! I think that depends on August's personality. Marlowe doesn't seem interested in toys if he's by himself. If we have people over he seems to have nervous energy and likes to either rip stuffed toys apart or chew on antlers. (You can buy deer/elk antlers specifically for dogs to chew on - Marlowe seems to like the forked ones best!) And of course he loves to chase balls! Any old tennis ball would do, though he loves ones with squeakers in them...

    Ok I think I've rambled enough! I'm new to your blog and I'm loving reading about your family and your special needs spotlights! Good luck!

    1. Thank you for your kind words.

      So we're keeping him out of the bedrooms for now because he tends to grab all the small things on the floor and chew them up. And while he sleeps in the crate right now, I'm thinking that some day when he's a little older I'll be fine with him sleeping on a doggy bed out in the open.

  2. Anonymous8:43 PM

    There is a rubber toy you can put peanut butter in and put it in the freezer. When ever I need to crate Toby for a longer period of time I take that peanut butter toy out and it entertains him for awhile. And I feel less guilty about that time in his crate. It gets better! Toby stresses Mark out too, he thinks like your hubby. But Toby is growing on him very slowly. And honestly I just love the evening cuddles with me and my sweet doggy. -Nita

    1. Yes! We have those--Kongs I believe. I think we have to be careful with too much peanut butter as he had some yesterday and the day before and threw up yesterday after the kong. But yes it did help him be OK in his crate longer.

  3. Your doggy adoption story sounds very similar to my own. My husband & I adopted a large breed, older puppy who was housebroken & very sweet, but full of energy and willful. I’ve never had a dog before, & my hubby had a lab for a short time as a kid. Our Hunter is 7 now & we love him and things are now calm, but it was a big adjustment.

    My takeaways: it took an entire year for his whole personality to come out and for our routines to feel comfortable. Part of this was us getting educated - I was surprised by how loud and firm you really need to be for the dog to understand not to do something! Also, big dogs need to be better behaved so we had to work out something where we knew he would listen to us.

    Practically for the pulling issue - we use a Gentle Leader to walk our dog. It’s a leash that goes around the dog’s nose, not neck or shoulders. This means that if they pull, they do so with the power of their head, not their whole shoulders. Game changer! Hunter is 65 lbs & could pull me with a normal leash. With the gentle leader he can’t.

    We also put him in doggy daycare once a week when he was younger. I thought it was extravagant ($!) at first, but he needed the exercise and was much better behaved after. Part of the mania was just extra energy he needed to burn off. Also, that had the bonus effect of getting him used to going somewhere with other dogs. It’s the same place we board him when we go on vacation so he is excited to go because he knows he’s going to play with his friends.

    Hope this helps & best of luck in your doggy adventure!

    1. I've never heard of a gentle leader dog collar...I'll have to check that out--thanks! And yes, I can see that a lot of this is just an adjustment. Some days my husband has been stressed if he pulls too much on the leash or if he barks too long at night, but then the next day he's all cuddly with our puppy again. I might have to check out doggy daycare as well. So thanks!

  4. I know you’ll get a lot of advice but we are in a similar situation where we just got a year old doodle. I have started listening to a wonderful podcast calls The Dogs Way with professional trainer Seah McDaniels and it is wonderful. He addresses leash pulling and other annoyance behaviors which can be blamed a lot on lack of exercise. Give it a try! It’s super helpful!! Good luck with your beautiful pup!

  5. I typed a long message but accidentally deleted it, so I'll just say: congrats on getting your pup! August looks so very sweet. I had doubts both before and after getting my dog, but now I've had her for several years and I can say it was one of the best decisions I've made. She adds so much to life. It definitely is an adjustment period at first, but so worth it. For the pulling - you might consider a front clip harness. I've done a ton of training too, but the harness was the game changer for me.

  6. I love him! we have two puppies.i know two! and 1 is 14 months old and sometimes i look at him and think. what was I thinking? 3 kids under 9 years old and 2 dogs... But they are both amazing in their own way and we love them.
    But what was I thinking???
    The nipping is a pain! we had that with our first puppy. With hard work it disappears. The trainer will take you through it all. Before you know it all the love and cuddles you get makes up for the poop and vomit. :-)

  7. Congrats on the pup! I think all kids deserve to grow up with a beloved cat or dog. I had that privilege and yes, pets are a good thing. Please be sure the crate is big enough for him. So many keep dogs in crates that only allow them to lie in a very tight crouch, versus comfortably lying on their sides and relaxed. I wouldn't be happy myself, if left in that position for even 15 minutes let alone hours on end. Dogs are social (pack) animals and are extremely stressed when left alone, so kudos for keeping him in the house around his new pack, your family, as much as possible. Remember, he spends a lot of time at home, and needs lots of exercise, walks, time off the leash at dog parks, or doggie daycare. Love him, treat hime kindly and with love and you will have a loyal devoted new family member/best friend forever.

  8. One more thing, I'd lose the crate and get him a nice big doggie bed, as soon as you feel ready.

  9. Anonymous8:42 AM

    I've been raising Seeing Eye dogs for 15 years and am currently raising our 14th, a large German Shepherd. You are on point with getting a trainer but please make sure what that person is doing and telling you feel right. Nipping is a puppy behavior and is usually eliminated early in their first year. That your pup is doing it at a year just makes it a little more challenging to correct. Although our pups must pull (due to their planned career) that is also usually an easy correct--you can always take the easy way out here and purchase one of the leash like products that eliminate pulling. Poodles are high energy dogs and can be notoriously stubborn. Exercise is key in managing behavior as it drains excess energy. Do NOT take him to a dog park but do find a neighbor with a well mannered dog he can romp and run with. Greeting manners are also easily addressed but require an enormous amount of consistency. Your trainer can show you how to teach a "go to your place" command you can use when people are entering your home and do not wish to be assaulted. You need not ever "dominate" your dog or play the "alpha" you simply need to be the mom! Dogs respond well to your insisting on being the one in charge--just like with your kids!

  10. He sounds wonderful! We adopted our dog around 9 months and it was so nice to get a dog that didn't need to be potty and crate trained. If you don't already have one, get a Kong for your pup. They're great to chew on and even put treats or peanut butter. They're great for days that the pup may be in the crate for a long period.

  11. I often joke that our pup is very similar to a human toddler. She is 75% poodle, 25% lab and needs exercise to be well mannered. She can be stubborn and likes to test her boundaries. She responded very well to the electric fence and plays well with the neighbor dog who comes to visit. She LOVES fetch, so there is an easy exercise option if we cannot walk her one day. She does very well out of her crate. She does not spend the day in a cage anymore, but at two years old, we do still have the cage out in case we need it and we have a gate still blocking our stairs. She can only go upstairs with us. She spends the night in our son's room, and is very polite in there since she can't see out those windows haha. She too had a nipping problem but has learned those behaviors due not give her the attention she desires so that has died down. Our biggest issue is that she believes she dominates over our youngest, and we do still continue to deal with that - sounds like a similar issue you are experiencing. She will steal our youngest's stuffed animals, socks, etc. But we have gotten that down to manageable occasions and everyone is in a happy place. Now it is more like a troublesome younger sibling and less like a battle for control. A trainer was very helpful for us, but we had to do a couple sessions.

  12. We had a dog who wanted to chew up my underwear (not from my body, but clean, dirty, didn't matter) and other random stuff occasionally (oooh I just remembered - period paraphernalia was a big hit with him too), so I started always closing my bedroom door to keep him from getting in my room and finding stuff to chew up. So, yes, with a boy dog and 3 daughters, you might be closing doors for the rest of your life. But, having a pet is one of the best experiences in life!