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4. A Dirty Story

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The boarding kennel had told us that Oliver was not yet house trained, however they did tell us he does keep his dog basket clean. Laboratory dogs are mostly not socialized and therefore one has to treat an older dog the same as a puppy. These dogs have still lots of ordinary things to learn. So my daughter searched for the right way of house training that she saw as doable for our situation. The first days we let him go into the garden many times. Whenever he did pee a little bit inside the house, we took him outside and clean up after him with detergent, that way he would not pee at that spot again. And yes that worked.

Now we had to take him to the next level of going on walks with us and do his business, while on a leash with all kinds of weird and new noises and smells around him. So the first days after the first weekend we had him, I took him out 3 times a day for half an hour. My daughter at that point had to finish a temporary job, so the first week I was baby sitting sir Oliver. Well babysitting, the guy is 5 human years old, so 36 dog years.

Oliver had not done any pooping since he stayed with us, although he had been eating. As a physical rule says: what goes in must go out. Thus on day 3, I was almost home after a walk with him, he started all of a sudden wiggling with his butt high up to a wall. I stood there watching what on earth he was trying to do. Not much later I heard some windy sounds and sir Oliver groaning, the first excrement was a fact and it was glued to the wall. I directed him a little bit forward so the rest of the excrements would fall on the ground in the sand. Ready with a plastic goody bag, or shall I say poopy bag, I grabbed my first warm dog poop of the ground. I tried to get the poop from the wall and accidentally made  a hole in the poopy bag and ended up with poop under my short finger nails. I wasn’t pleased with the remaining poop on the wall and I wasn’t pleased with the poop under my nails either. My intension is to clean up after my dog and here I found myself with an expressive artwork from sir Oliver on one of my neighbors shed walls. I went home ashamed of not living up to my intension of cleanliness. My family members ensured me that the next rainfall would clean up the remaining mess…

While and after he had done his first poop on our walk, I praised him for the job he had done. So the next days I would say: Oliver you may pee or Oliver you may poop. I do this so he will eventually make a connection with these words and empty himself when on a walk. We’ll see how this will work out in time to come.

When fantasizing/talking about having a dog we decided that we wanted to clean up after our dog. As we see it as a responsibility to take care of our dog and how he affects the environment. Most areas I walk with him, are legal dog walking areas, and as well areas that are fun for kids to play. I do remember coming home as a kid having dog poop under my shoe and my mom not being pleased with it. So yes, dogs are of course not allowed at playgrounds, but public lawns are fun for kids as well as animals.

Our city has regulations that say, in this area one has or hasn’t have to clean up after your dog.  There is no municipality staff that will check on you, which means that the majority of dog owners do not give a shit about the “clean up after your dog” regulations. Soon to come, a new local law, goes into effect that says that every dog owner has to clean up after his/her dog, and still there will no one check up on the dog owners. It will take a miracle if this new law will make people become responsible.

At least I do not like to hop in between dog poop when walking my dog, would that make me the only one? That alone would already be enough reason to clean up after my dog. So even though the motivation might be egoistical in nature it would solve the issue. The real issue is of course self-responsibility, as long as we do not give a shit about ourselves and others, nothing will change from dog poop to war.

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3. The first night

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My daughter and I had decided that Oliver would sleep in her room to feel safe and get used to her as main caretaker.

After Oliver came out of the car he wanted to be outside and lay on the towel we brought for him in the car. Only later that evening he was comfortable enough to not only walk through the house, but also stay inside for a longer period of time. We let him go in and out the house as he would indicate, since it is still good weather and temperatures are allowing to have the house open all day.

There are small steps in the garden and we had no idea if Oliver was able to walk stairs. So we tried and after a bit of encouragement he was able to take the 4 steps up and down. I knew we had taken in an inquisitive and smart dog. Only after a few hours of adjusting he was able to learn.

When we sat down for dinner we gave him the food we got from the boarding kennel and he ate! I was a bit surprised that he ate, we were told that he was a bad eater. To me it seemed more that he is a slow eater, he takes his time, but does eat. I know a dog can go without food for some days, that doesn’t mean it is fun to watch a living being, so scared or stressed out, he cannot eat.

Around 23:30 we prepared ourselves to go upstairs. We took Oliver’s dog basket upstairs and his water. We’ve got quite a steep staircase, so we encourage him to get up as we did in the garden, but he saw no way how his body and paws would fit on the shallow steps. Therefore we decided that I would carry him upstairs. Cool, but how does one carry a small dog the best way for me and him. We Googled it and I had to put one arm under his chest and the other arm around his hind legs. That wasn’t too bad and he was as wiling as possible. I did wonder if that was due to being trained in the laboratory to silently undergo all they asked from him? It still upsets me a bit to think about his past and what he had to go through. At the same time I cannot wipe out his past, and yes, I can give him a bright future.

Oliver seemed to be okay with staying in my daughters bedroom and thus we all ended up in bed, preparing ourselves for the next day with sir Oliver.

Around 1:00AM I woke up and heard a sound. Someone was calling. It was my daughter calling me. I got out of bed and went to her bedroom being worried. “It is not going well with Oliver”, she said. I saw a dog lying in his basket and not much of a sign that he was doing terribly bad. I touched him and he didn’t feel hot, he appeared the same as during the afternoon and evening. “His heartbeat is way too fast mom”, she said. She had been Googling what an average heartbeat should look like. This was the first time that I felt the granny and my child the young mother of a new born life. I honestly didn’t understand what the fuss was all about. Then I stepped back, slowed down and remembered how I felt as a young mother. I felt so lucky in that moment that I now could go through such events while being stable and able to oversee the situation, without freaking out on my own emotions and (over)protection. Of course the dog wasn’t totally okay, he was stressed and was dreaming and processing his adventures. It was absolutely normal that his heart rate was above average and yes he snored what kept my daughter awake. I tucked them both in and wished them some sleep. Call me whenever you need me, I told my daughter. I did not hear again from her that night.

When we woke up that morning my daughter was exhausted, she had been doing little naps the entire night and she felt broken. I carried Oliver downstairs and both of them took the day to nap some more together.

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2. Bringing Sir Oliver Home

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Today was the day we visited the boarding kennel to meet the dog that was selected for my daughter, after we had a house call of one of the foundation’s contributors.

All things are ready in our home to take him home today. We made a stair-gate so the dog has no access to the attic where the cats have their safe haven now. It is one thing to bring a new dog into the family and it is another thing to create such an environment that all animals are able to live in peace. I have absolutely no idea how our 2 cats are going to react. I do have a memory of a few years ago when we decided to take in a third cat. It took 4 months for the oldest male cat to get used to the new and younger male cat. During that transition I had moments where I came to believe that there would never be peace in our home again. Though 6 months later they were cute stepbrothers and were able to lay down in the same chair. So I have to let go of this 1 memory where we had hard times. I mean isn’t every new situation, in fact a new situation, until we decide to turn it into something old? I will slow myself down and breathe through it, as that solves a lot when I think things get rough.

So we got into the car, my daughter my partner and myself. My son had no direct interest to come along, he said he is cool with a dog in the house, and he will meet him whenever we bring him home. We brought some toys, a large towel, some dog treats, 2 different dog harnesses, some water, a bowl and a leash. We were ready and nervous and it was still an hour drive to get to the boarding kennel.

During the drive I was asking myself: what if I do not like the dog and my daughter does? What if in realtime it doesn’t seem the thing to do for me. I decided to put those questions on hold, since I could not answer those questions and it seemed to be more of a mind entertaining type of thoughts. I know where that ends, and why should I seek for feelings of insecurity when I can as well enjoy the ride and experience all that happens in real time. Never in my life have “what if thoughts” assisted me, it brought me chaos instead. So a big no no to these thoughts and we focussed on the names we had been able to come up with.

My daughter had been choosing some names for the dog to rename him. Only after meeting him she wanted to choose the name that seemed right.

We arrived a bit early at the boarding kennel and no one was home. So my daughter called the owner to tell her we had arrived. About 10 minutes later she came home. We had been seeing several dogs and heard several dogs while waiting. Is one of them our dog? We didn’t see any beagles.

We went in with the owner and she walked us after a bit of chatting to the place where the beagles and guest dogs were. In the distance we saw 2 beagles sitting on a wooden bridge. One came right away to the lady when she was calling his name, though that was another beagle we later found out. Our dog came out of the fenced field and we let him walk with us without right away touching him or calling him. Then we went to the garden of this lady so the other dogs could not come in and got acquainted with sir Oliver. It was a bit awkward in the sense that my hands are used to stroke and pet cats. This animal felt like sanding paper at first. How do I pet a dog? So whenever he came to me I stroke him where he seemed to like it. The lady said that he is a really cuddly and wants to cuddle all day. I was sold. This could be the perfect dog for our family. My daughter had to go through some paperwork and after an hour of being there we left with a dog and a animal passport.

My daughter put the harness on and the leash to assist him to our car. Her first idea was to sit in front of the car and keep the dog on her lap. My partner was not really thrilled with that idea while he had to drive, so we placed both of them in the back seat, which turned out to be the best solution.

During the drive the dog was trembling and absolutely not feeling okay. We tried to calm him down with a stable voice and my daughter stroke him the entire time. This hour was one of the longest hours in my life. When we took the cats out of a shelter it was a 45 minutes drive and they made a terrible noise during this drive. The dog stayed calm, didn’t bark or cry, he underwent it to his best ability. After all as a laboratory dog he has been used to go through awkward situations as well and make the best out of it.

When we were almost home my daughter decide to call the dog Oliver. My daughter has become the proud parent of a dog and I have become a grandmother! Lets walk this journey!

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1. Why?

11403118_787808067998540_4094874963838142993_n-1Why did I become sir Oliver’s granny?

My daughter wanted a dog for many years, and we as a family were not yet convinced that a dog would be the right thing to do, at that point in our life. Since I’ve always been convinced that I am a cat lover, I automatically closed the door to become a dog lover. Dogs had never played a major role in my life, except for the big dog my brother and I had to walk by going to school. We were afraid for that dog even though he was standing behind a fence. I tried to keep calm to not upset my baby brother, through the tone was set, between me and dogs. So I became a cat lover and basta.

So what I did to solve the issue with my daughter wanting a dog, was getting our family a few cats. Diverting her attention from wanting a dog and introducing 3 super cute kittens. She liked it, as she likes almost every animal on the planet. However her desire for a dog did not disappear.

At age 14 my daughter her body collapsed with chronic Lyme disease and we went on a roller coaster through the medical arena, the alternative medical arena and finding out ourselves what’s the best thing to do. At age 19 my daughter had tried many things and nothing was solving the issue. She and we were almost wanting to give up. The disease is not acknowledged in our country and it is hard to get the right care and being able to pay for it. And then we found out about the “Lee Cowden Protocol”. After almost 9 months doing the protocol she is finally able to take part in normal life again. We’re celebrating life again with her!

During her illness the desire for a dog became even stronger. I could see how a dog could benefit her, I could also see that she wasn’t able to take the responsibility for a dog. So basically we had to be the main caretakers, which was not that easy or practical at that time. As well as my strong belief about being a cat lover and simply not being capable to become a dog lover as well.

Since my daughter is taking part of daily living again, she started seeking for ways to have her own dog. She was quite clear on the point that she wanted a dog from an animal shelter that needed a new caring  owner. On this search she found a website where they offered the adoption of a lab dog. The more she read about it the more she knew this is the way to proceed. She introduced the idea to the rest of the family and once I understood we were talking about having a Beagle, I was sold. I was sad at the same time knowing that we, as a society, are still in need for laboratory animals and that Beagles are chosen to be guinea pigs due to their high pain barrier. It made me sick and guilty at the same time. I had to come to terms with those feelings first, I did not want to invite such a dog into my home based on feelings of pity. So I did some research to get a broader perspective on lab testing to see that we will be walking the consequences of animal lab testing until we can use other measurements to test medicines and medical procedures. So the best thing to do now for people who care, is to take care of the dogs that are released from these laboratories.

After a few months and a holiday, we as a family, decided that our daughter could have her dog. We started a process with the lab Beagle foundation and were invited to a meeting about having a lab dog. That was very informative and we were still wanting to proceed. So then we got a house call from one of the contributors of the foundation. They do this to see the people in their own environment and check if the family is ready and if the house/garden is suited for the dog. We passed the test and were allowed to go and see a dog that they thought would be suitable for us. My daughter asked for a bit older dog, we saw that most people were like magnets to the puppies and the puppies were relocated very fast to new owners. So she could see that the older dogs were far more in need and less likely to get a loving home. The dog she liked was 5 years old and already 9 months released from the lab. Due to not being adopted yet he had been transferred after 7 months to a boarding kennel to wait for his new owner.

In my next blog I will share about our trip to the boarding kennel.