I know this sounds crazy, but as an adult I have never had a puppy. Don't get me wrong, I love puppies. I've worked with innumerable puppies over the years, and they are fuzzy, wiggly, balls of love. I've always felt however, that a puppy is going to be a dog in the blink of an eye. I might as well skip the tough stuff, like teething and potty training, and adopt a less desirable, but no less awesome, adult dog.
Two weeks ago I was working at the North Country SPCA, as I do several times a month, when everything changed. It was business as usual for me until one of the staff members brought a puppy back to the shelter from the local vet. She walked in with quite honestly, one of the cutest puppies I'd ever seen. He was also special needs, which spoke to my heart (okay, yelled at it).
Fisher had been brought to the shelter with terrible injuries that necessitated the amputation of his left front leg. His left hip was also broken, and he was waiting for surgery to repair it. As I sat in his kennel with him, I knew there was no way I could leave him to recover in the shelter. The NCSPCA is an amazing facility, and if you have to be in a shelter, it's the best place to be. For this puppy though, I knew his best chance at a complete recovery was in a home environment - namely, mine.
While in my care he has received the surgery to repair his hip, and is recovering well. This five month old puppy is an inspiration. I know that if I had a limb amputated, and another one broken, I would be inconsolable. Fisher however, is happy and loving. He has literally charmed everyone he has met, person and animal alike.
The little guy is working with what amounts to two and a half legs, and has only had one accident in the house. His crate training is going well, and he can be left alone for several hours at a time while occupied with a food dispensing toy or marrow bone. He has started teething in his time with me, and I'm working on redirecting his urges to appropriate chew items when he begins to nip me. Did I mention he's a beagle? This little man has a big voice! We're also working on learning to be calm and quiet for attention.
That being said, having a puppy (especially a three legged beagle) is an awful lot of work, even for a professional dog trainer! He has to go out to potty after practically every activity, he barks, he nips, he tries to chew things that he shouldn't, and he doesn't respect the older dogs personal space with out gentle reminders from me. I don't think I'll ever seek out a puppy for myself, but if one should happen to find me, I'll be well prepared.
In honor of this super beagle, and the amazing progress he has made, my next posts will be about common puppy issues: potty training/crate training and teething/nipping. Stay tuned for some great tips and tricks. Until then, happy training!
Emily Lewis is a professional dog trainer and veterinary technician. She lives in Vermont with her three rescue dogs, tuxedo cat, corn snake, crested geckos and Russian tortoise.