With the amount of pictures of Fred that I have flooded Facebook and Instagram with, I feel a little redundant in saying it, but: WE GOT A PUPPY!
Josh grew up with three yellow labs, and I grew up with three cats. For some women, in marriage, they anxiously await their first child. I have been anxiously awaiting our first pet!
Josh and I have always wanted to get a dog. Even when we were in our tiny apartment in San Diego, we really wanted one, but knowing it wouldn’t be fair to the pup, we refrained. I should probably say Josh made us refrain. There were definitely times I was weak and, if he had not been strong, I would have given in!
As we were preparing to move to Minnesota, we began to talk a little more seriously about the timing of getting a dog. We would have to wait on a cat (a serious bummer for me), but a dog would be a possibility sooner rather than later. My father-in-law, Lyle, was planning on getting a new puppy in the spring and Josh thought it would be fun to get litter-mates. I agreed.
Lyle had been doing some research on breeders, so when he went to visit them, we decided to tag along. After visiting a few, we quickly realized: with the timing of breeding, gestation, birth, weaning, and the addition of waiting lists, if we wanted a puppy this spring, we had to pick a breeder and make a deposit now! Some breeders we met with already had waiting lists for puppies that were so long it would push us to bringing one home in the summer instead of the spring. Though it seemed far off, we kind of needed to make our decision now!
In total I think we met with about five different breeders. They were all great and they all had beautiful dogs. But there was one breeder that ended up standing out from the rest. When we went to Whispering Pines Family Kennel, both Josh and I knew this was where we wanted to get our dog. Dan and Mary Jo were very knowledgeable and had been breeding dogs for about 30 years. The thing that impressed us most about them was that they did personality testing on their puppies and bred their litters specifically to achieve certain personalities from the litter. Their claim to success wasn’t so much that they just had great dogs, but that they matched those great dogs to what it was that you, the family, were looking for in a dog.
Though we were planning on purchasing a puppy that was yet to be born, we still wanted to see the current litters. I mean, come on! Who can pass up playing with and seeing cute little puppies?! When we were taking a look at the current litters (which, to our knowledge, were all spoken for), Josh ended up picking up and holding this cute little thing:
Amidst all the crazy puppy barking and noise, she was content to let Josh hold her for a long time (NOT typical of most puppies). After that, I held her for another good ten minutes or so. For a bit, she even nestled her face into my coat and closed her eyes, content to be held and loved by me. Talk about stealing your heart!
Later, before we left, we found out that the cutie we had been holding was reserved for another family, but that they might not take her. They had been waiting for a chocolate Lab, not a yellow (we preferred a yellow). AND, to top it off, the personality of the puppy we had been holding matched the personality of the kind of dog we were looking for. That little puppy that had captured our hearts might be available. NOW! Oh, snap!!!
I’ll be honest, at that point, I was already gone. I had already decided I wanted that puppy. Reason said, “It’s hard to housebreak a puppy in the winter because of the cold and snow. Wait till Spring.” “Puppies are a lot of work.” “You don’t have a job, should you really be taking on this added expense?”
It’s not often that I give into instant gratification, but maybe it was the move and all the newness and uncertainty around me… Rational or not, I wanted that adorable little face to be mine!
We called Dan and Mary Jo the next day and told them we wanted to be on the waiting list for a puppy – either the one that was potentially available now, or one for the future. But, as unwise as it may have been, I had my hopes set on the one we had been holding.
To make the short story (that I’ve turned into a long story) a little shorter, we got a call later that week that the puppy we had been holding was ours. It was a moment of pure excitement and joy mixed with an overwhelming, “Oh crap… what did we get ourselves into?!”
We went up to get Fred on January 1st 2014, the first day of the New Year. Seems fitting that our little family of two should grow to three at the start of a New Year.
We again met the cute little puppy we had been holding, this time one on one in Dan and Mary Jo’s kitchen. She was perfect. Though, to be honest, I think I was already so smitten that, if she had pooped in my lap I still would have wanted to take her home.
She fell asleep in my arms pretty much instantly on the way home, thereby forever stealing my heart.
Josh, being the unique man that I married, has always wanted to name his female dog “Fred.” So, though it was odd, it was not objectionable, and she was named Fred… or Freddie… or Fredrika… or Fredwin. Depends on our mood. I did put my foot down, though, and demanded a pink collar and dog-tag. With a name like Fred, we had to give her some femininity!
All in all, Fred has proven to be a fantastic puppy and an excellent choice. There have been some ups and downs, and I’ll admit, there were brief moments within the first few days that I wondered what the return policy might be like… but at the end of the day, I am so glad we got her – and very glad we got her when we did.
First, I think she is one of the reasons I am handling this big move and transition so well. She gives me some purpose and brings joy and laughter to my days – especially needed when Josh leaves for days at a time to work up North. She is my little buddy and likes to cuddle with me (she is currently snuggled up next to me as I type this).
Second, I think pets are a good revelation to the love you are capable of. I had heard people say that, if you were thinking about having kids, get a dog first. In a lot of ways, I now think that is a pretty good recommendation. Puppies and babies have a lot in common. You get less sleep, you have to puppy/baby proof everything, they are emotionally and physically demanding, you lose some independence, and they aren’t cheap. Now, I’m sure if there is a mother reading this with a three week old at home, she would like to reach through the computer and bang my head against the wall and inform me of the differences between an infant and a puppy. Yes, there are similarities, but I also know the analogy is not perfect. I can’t put my six month old in a kennel and leave for two hours to go grocery shopping.
But I really do think puppies are a good baby stepping stone. Not everyone needs said stepping stone, but for me I think Fred is a good one. Since being married, I pretty much thought my heart was full. I love my family, friends, and husband – I thought my love meter was a max capacity. But Fred has shown me that there is always room in your heart for more love. The love meter is never really full. I’m sure this will sound pretty nutty to some, but adding Fred to our family has made my little heart burst with more love than I thought possible. Looking at Fred and loving her makes me want to know what the love will feel like when I look down and see a squirming blond haired blue eyed little baby in my lap instead of a furry one. I’m pretty sure my heart won’t be able to handle it.
But, for now, my heart is doing all it can to keep up with the love demanded for our little family of three.