Monday, January 21, 2013

A Beagle Named Scout

We drove down to Cattletsburg, KY on Saturday (about 3hrs away from Louisville) to meet with a breeder who raises Beagles for hunting. He had two pups left from an unexpected litter, and with a few pictures in hand, we were given the opportunity to meet with each of them and decide which one would best fit our family.

What a hard choice! They were both adorable. We ended up choosing this one and naming her Scout (from the adventurous female character from To Kill a Mockingbird).

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Our drive home was uneventful. It was good for each of us to hold Scout for a while and bond with her. She seemed relaxed for the most part.

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Our first challenge was getting her out of the car and into our back yard. She was obviously overwhelmed with anxiety. We had hoped to walk her slowly into our back yard, letting her sniff her way there on her own. She wouldn’t have any of it, and just sat trembling in the parking lot. After 10-20 minutes of gentle coaxing, we gently picked her up and placed her on the edge of our back yard. Our goal was to help her establish this little yard as a place where she can play and go to the bathroom.

We were all a little disheartened by how timid she seemed. Though the breeder had warned me that she had never been inside a house, never even felt grass, I expected her to warm up a bit more by this point. Our fears were alleviated though as she started to relax and within an hour or so she was running around, clumsily playing!

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We then introduced her to her main area for the coming days, our kitchen where her new crate was set up. This slow, gradual process seemed to help her immensely deal with this radical transition.

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We slowly introduced her to several other areas in the house that she would need to frequent in these early days. We were amazed at how quickly she relaxed and even began to connect the back yard with her bathroom area. She’s only had a few accidents in the house so far, and most of those times it is because we are still learning to read her cues and were not quick enough to respond to get her outside.

The first night she slept well, but her second night (last night) was much more of a challenge. She was so exhausted her first night that she slept most of it. We need to find some ways to increase her exercise before bed and decrease her food and water intake close to bedtime!

Overall, she is turning out to be a delightfully perfect pet for our family. There have been only two points, for me at least, where in discouragement and weariness I questioned whether or not we made the right choice in bringing a puppy home and not an adult dog. I felt at the end of myself, ready to give up during these times. I’m so thankful for the family to help carry the burden though, especially Cheri to get up with me in the middle of the night to deal with Scout! I have hope that she will continue to learn and adapt to our home.

I know so much more about training dogs now than I did with Daisy! We made so many mistakes with her. Cesar Millan’s books have been a big help, though taken with a grain of salt (his idea of a “perfect dog” is not one that I share). I am reminded of how important boundaries, authority, rules and submission are in order for puppies (and humans!) to feel safe and cared for. I am reminded how my own kids need these things, and how I need them in my relationship with my heavenly Father.

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