Thursday, October 18, 2007

Making a Powerful First Impression...

Lesson Number 1: There Is Such a Thing As Love At First Sight (part 2)

We gave the farmer fifty dollars and eagerly took the puppy out to our pick-up truck. As Jim drove, I held her up on my shoulder so she could look out of the window behind us at her birthplace. I playfully took her paw and waved behind us. As we drove away from the house on the long dirt road, her mother—the largest Beagle I had ever seen—chased us for a bit, barking as the last of her babies made her way to a new life.

As prepared as we had been mentally to take on a puppy, our house was definitely not so. We had none of the things that new puppy owners should have: no puppy food, no water dish, no bed, no leash, no collar, and certainly no toys. We also had no plan for the next day, when Jim returned to work and I returned to my full day of college courses. Although we had been thinking about a puppy for a long time, this was still an impulse. We had to jump into action right away.

The first errand that needed to be run was for puppy food and other necessities. Jim decided to stay home with Bijoux while I took a list of needed items to the grocery store. When I returned home, we fed her and played with her—with the new toys I bought, along with a pair of socks that Jim knotted—until she was exhausted. We also managed to use almost two rolls of film, taking as many photographs of our new addition in one evening as new parents would of their newborn.

In our many “pre-puppy” discussions, Jim and I were both insistent that when we brought a puppy into our home, we would housebreak her with the crate method, rather than just barricading her into the kitchen. As luck would have it, we had good friends—Dawn and Scott—whose English Springer Spaniel had recently outgrown his puppy crate. In the morning, I tried calling Dawn, but she was not home. Her answering machine picked up. “Bijoux is here!” I excitedly breathed into the phone. “Could we borrow the crate that you used for Rex? Let me know!”

It was almost time to leave for work and school, and since we didn’t have a puppy crate in our possession, the only choice for the day was to put a baby gate up in the kitchen doorway. For one day, we thought, it’s no big deal.

Upon arriving home from school a few hours later, however, I anxiously unlocked the front door and discovered that it was a big deal. The house looked like a truck had driven through it. Newspapers and school papers were strewn everywhere. Formerly clean laundry was scattered all over the floor. The place was a chaotic mess. Suddenly after hearing my entrance, Bijoux, whipped into a frenzy, skidded around the corner to greet me. I took her outside to take care of her business immediately and then went back in to survey the rest of the damage. As I looked through the clutter, I began to discover that although she had made a huge mess, nothing was ripped, chewed, torn, or otherwise. She had just pulled things down from tables…not damaged them. I was quite impressed and pleased. Still in the living room, I wondered how she was able to knock the gate down when I had double-checked its security.

As I approached the kitchen, I couldn’t believe my eyes. There was the baby gate, still snugly in place where I had left it that morning. Somehow she had conquered the height of it on her first day trying! We would never find out whether she jumped or climbed her way to freedom, but this very early event in our life together gave us a strong indication of the spirit for which Bijoux would become known.