In honor of national puppy day, I’ve decided to share the story behind the newest member of our family…Santana.
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But let’s start with the fourth grade. Yup — that was the year I wrote this poem. (Yes I know I am insane since I have it memorized to this day):
My New Dog Poem, Circa 1978
My dog would have a bone,
That would be hard to gnaw,
And I’d scream in a loud tone,
On the pooper scooper law.
My dog would be such fun,
And we would be so happy,
He would not weigh a ton,
And his name would be Pappy.
But my dream will not come true,
Cause my parents won’t agree,
I’d cry and say “boo hoo,”
But there’ll be no dog for me.
As you can see, I have always wanted a dog. But that dream eluded me…until now. Earlier this year, my family decided we were finally ready for a pooch and we decided to go the rescue dog route. After responding to an email on PetFinder.com, we fell hard for a feisty eight week old puppy who was literally handed to us on the streets of Manhattan. We became her foster parents at that moment and one week later, we officially adopted her.
We fell for Santana hook, line and sinker. Her adorable black and white coat, her playful spirit and the way she would cuddle with us after her little body would conk out after a day running us ragged. At the beginning, Santana had worms, pooped everywhere and was not that interested in her crate – in fact, she whined and cried whenever we put her in there but my dog expert friends, our local veterinarian and my client, i4C Innovations, creators of Voyce, a new health and wellness device and service for dogs and their owners, gave me the best advice I could ask for as we tried our best to train our puppy.
By the time she was 10 weeks old and had all our shots, we enrolled Santana in puppy training classes at Pet Smart. While she graduated after six weeks (we’ve got the cap and certificate to prove it), she managed to eat my husband’s computer keyboard a few days later and exploded all over her crate. It looks like there will be a lot more training in her future.
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Santana has even been on a long road trip. During February break, we drove down to Florida from New York to visit my parents and rented a minivan so that she could travel with us too. We could tell that she loved every minute of the trip. Sure, she had a few accidents here and there, but Santana has become an integral part of our lives. Even my parents, who are not dog lovers, took a liking to her – I even have a photo of my mom walking her to prove it!
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Living with Santana is exactly like having a baby all over again. She gets up at the crack of dawn, she pees, poops, eats, plays, sleeps and then starts the process all over again. She chews on everything and I’ve found that deer antlers and bully sticks, while they smell quite bad, have become our best friend. But the biggest difference between having a baby and having a puppy is simple…dog parks.
Santana has come to love her daily runs in the dog park. When we were vacationing in Florida, we were able to easily find dog parks nearby with the help of BringFido.com and we’ve come to rely on that app to find pet friendly hotels and restaurants too. The only thing we do need to be careful about is when she comes in contact with other dogs who might be a little too aggressive for their own good. When he saw a photo of Santana in the park, expert dog trainer Jeff Noce, president of i4C Innovations, explained she was in a dominant pose (ears were forward and tail was curved) which signaled that if another dog mimicked the same behavior that it could be a dangerous situation for her. She actually had a run in yesterday with an overly aggressive Jack Russell and my husband removed her from the scuffle immediately.
While we still have a long way to go, I feel fortunate to have so much support as we try our best to train our puppy. We’ve got her crate trained, she can do a few tricks and she is so sweet when she snuggles with us on the couch (which she’s doing right now as I write this post). Sure, she still jumps on people when they walk through the door, but Jeff gave me a great piece of advice for that issue. When you come home, you don’t make a fuss, you walk past the dog and take about five minutes for yourself before you return to the dog and spend time with her. That way, she won’t equate the door opening with excitement that someone is about to play with her.
Now that Santana has joined our family, every day is an adventure and while my furniture and floors will never be the same, we’ve welcomed her with open arms. Despite the fact that our cats Hazel and Jasper and the bearded dragon, Guapo might protest, our home is now complete. Sure, it might look like a zoo, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.