Happy 1st Birthday to Reese! About 10 months ago, I adopted her from the Kitchener-
Waterloo Humane Society at 9 weeks of age. Her pregnant mother had been seized from an unfit home and eventually came to term at the shelter. On September 16, 2011, she gave birth to 9 healthy puppies, one of which was my beautiful girl. Reese is a red Doberman. Because she was born at the shelter, she was left un-cropped — meaning she has two big floppy ears and a full tail. A lot of individuals I have met often can’t tell what breed of dog she is because she looks so different from what you’d expect. In a way, her appearance really works to her advantage because unfortunately her breed often gets a bad reputation for being vicious or scary. A lot of the time, this can be based on looks alone. It’s a shame, and really couldn’t be anything further from the truth.
Any dog can be gentle and well-mannered if you are willing to make the effort to understand the importance of properly training and socializing your puppy! And also, the realization that bringing a new pup into your home is not just about having something cute and cuddly to keep you company. It’s a full-time commitment that requires a lot of time and effort on your part. It’s also a financial responsibility that you can expect to fulfill for at least the next 10-15 years of your life. It is NOT a decision to be taken lightly or to be made in haste.
Which brings me back to Reese. We were not her first owners. In fact, another couple took her home a few weeks before we did only to return her to the shelter 2 days later. The reason? They did not expect a puppy to be so much work. And while I’m sure their decision to send her back was a difficult one, it was the responsible thing for them to do. And now we get to enjoy her and can offer her the time and attention that she needs and otherwise may not have received.
Don’t get me wrong, things with Reese are not always sunshine and roses. The first day we brought her home, she spent the first few hours tearing around our living room at full speed. She was everywhere and into EVERYTHING. My husband and I both wondered – what have we gotten ourselves into!? You would think having been a technician for the last 8 years would make raising a puppy a cinch, right? Wrong! It never ceases to amaze me what a learning experience this is. I can talk to you until I’m blue in the face about nutrition, crate training and how to trim your puppy’s nails, but it’s the little things that sometimes leave me at a loss. She can really be quite the handful sometimes! For example, she used to steal dish-towels all of the time. And by the time I would retrieve the towel, put it back in its rightful position on the stove and get back to what I was originally doing, she would have the thing in her mouth all over again! It was extremely frustrating. How did I overcome this problem? By filling a can with coins. I’d place it on the dish-towel rack, so that when she tried to grab her prize, the can would fall. It caused a horrible racket, but deterred her from the behaviour. Until finally she stopped doing it altogether.
She also used to bark a lot in her kennel when I would bring her to work with me. She would see a new face or pet in the treatment area and the excitement would start! ‘Pay attention to me!,’ she’d bark. Only, when the barking is happening ALL THE TIME, it’s hardly endearing. Solution? I covered her kennel with a blanket when she was barking. When she was quiet, the blanket came off, and she was given a reward. I did this over and over again until she learned that she was only uncovered an able to see others when she was quiet and well behaved. Best of all, it didn’t take her long to learn.
The fun thing about having a puppy of my own is that it allows me to learn from my own experiences and pass my newfound knowledge onto our clients. It’s so much easier to discuss things with you guys when I can directly relate. And when I think back to that first day she was a part of our lives, it doesn’t seem so bad. And I really wouldn’t change any part of it for the world.
Diana Hunsberger, RVT