Bringing home a puppy during Covid is a new experience. Let the preparation begin!
In the quiet hour or two I usually get before the boy and his daddy wake up, I get a lot done. Starting this Sunday morning, that’s over...at least for a while. Saturday afternoon, you see, sometime around 1pm or so, we will be picking up and taking this wee pup home (or one of her siblings) and then my mornings will start to look RADICALLY different for the next few months.
A quick bit about why we aren’t 100% sure about if it will be A-1 (her current moniker until she’s officially “picked” and joins a family): There are 5 available pups in this litter, and we are pick #5, and Little Miss A-1 Steak Sauce was not previously chosen by the other families.
You see, everyone has “pre-picked” their puppy, but due to Covid restrictions, none of us can meet the puppies until actual pick-up day, so right now, it’s all tentative. This is frankly deeply disappointing, but necessary, in order to keep everyone as healthy as possible. In the “before the 2020 plague” times, our breeder would welcome prospective families to her home where the puppies are being raised to meet several litters that were between 5 and 6 weeks of age and find a puppy (hopefully) that matched their family’s personality well. Due to the need to limit everyone’s exposure and meeting with many strangers in today’s environment, puppy meet and greets have been moved to online.
We frankly consider ourselves super lucky, because A-1 sounds and acts on video exactly like what we want for a puppy -- extremely outgoing and sassy, and wicked smaht -- just like me! (In all fairness, we would likely love ANY puppy that came into our lives, and a multitude of personalities could fit well into our mix.)
Anyhoo, there is a chance that A-1 will be chosen before our turn and another pup will be our “only” choice. And frankly, it won’t be our “only” choice -- we could decide that the puppy isn’t right for us and go home empty handed, no harm no foul, and come back in a month or so and get a later pick with other puppies that will be ready by then. But who are we kidding?? I cannot even FATHOM saying, “Nah, I don’t want any one of these precious nuggets to come home with us.” (Actually, I can fathom that, and I talk about it a bit in another post, literally “another story”.)
Step 1: Choosing a name
So, for the last week, I’ve been prepping in earnest for her (or one of her sibs) to come join us. First, there was the name discussion and negotiation with hubby (even our son had some input and put forth a name as “puppy”, pronounced “poppy” was one of his first words).
We thought about honoring Justice Ginsberg who was an icon for us. We considered a Star Wars or Game of Thrones name tie-in (cuz that’s the kind of nerds we are, just ask our cat, Tormund Giantsbane). We explored a space-themed name because of our son (who was named after a famous astronomer), and frankly, if we do end up getting a boy, we’ll likely go in that direction.
But we landed on a name that has long been on my list of dream pet names: Hedy (after the iconic scientist and Hollywood Golden Era movie star, Hedy Lamarr).
Hedy Pawmarr is perfect: geeky, beautiful, honors the inventor of BlueTooth (BT) and a perfect splash of sassy fun -- and “Hedy” should be easy for my son to say. The name also has a lovely geeky tie-in as the nickname of Hedwig, Harry Potter’s owl, so that’s a win, too!
Step 2: Prepping the space
Now that she’s named...we have the space to prep. We are creating two safe spots for her. First, a larger crate in our bedroom with her comfy bed. She’ll sleep here, next to me, so she knows I’m near, and so I can pop up and take her straight outside when those middle of the night baby bladder issues crop up. In her bed, she’ll have a Snuggly Puppy to keep her warm and calm (more about that in a later post).
Then, in my office, we’ve created an enclosed space (using her big brother’s extra baby pen panels) with a smaller crate, toys, water bowl and puppy pads. She’ll be next to my desk, away from the commotion of the general household and in a space she can explore a bit, but also not get into TOO much trouble.
Keeping fur baby safe & secure is key, so in addition to the baby pen, there are several baby gates around the house (put up to bar her big toddler brother from explore beyond HIS safe space), but the gates will protect her from him, frankly, as she gets used to her new surroundings. Another safety/access addition - the “cat door” we installed. The opening (which has a cat butt on the other side -- ack! The cuteness!!) is too small for her to squeeze through (at least after she gets a wee bit bigger) and gives the kitties a way to escape to their bathroom space and save us all from Hedy snacking on “kitty rocha” (EEEEEWWWW!!). In the upcoming weeks, we’ll also be shoring up the bottoms of the fence in the back yard so she is safe and secure there, too.
Step 3: Preparing for training
Another big part of my prep is preparing for her training. I’m so excited (and lucky) to be using the Dog Guru’s Raising Your Puppy course. I watched the first week of videos and I’m nearly done with the reading (there is a lot!) so that I’m mentally ready for the work ahead.
Over the next six months, I’ll be using this course (and the personal guidance of its creator, Robin Bennet) to help Hedy become a well-behaved, socialized and emotionally secure dog (for our next magic trick, I’ll see if Robin can find a way to do that for me personally ).
We’ll have many blog posts, videos and podcasts about Hedy’s training...so stay tuned.
Step 4: Double check you have supplies, and then check again
To wrap up the prep, I’ve made sure we have supplies in place so that she’s got all she needs (and a bit more). Buckle up, buttercup -- because it is a LOT (almost as much as we had to get to prep for HUMAN baby) -- and it’s not cheap, but it is critical to have these supplies ready to go for optimal ease of transitioning into your home.
Here’s the list of what we’ve got ready to go (which, for the record, I mostly purchased directly from our favorite local independent pet shop, but we’ve included online links for you below):
- Training books and education (for the dog AND the humans). Here is what we are armed with:
- As mentioned above, Robin Bennett’s Raising Your Puppy online course
- An old favorite, It’s Me or the Dog (read years ago, but I’m re-reading now)
- Ian Dunbar resources (highly recommended by Robin, FWIW)
- The Family Dog -- this resource is going to help us with our son, and helping HIM learn how to behave around our new pup
- Brand spankin’ new clickers for training -- we bought a set of 8 so we can have them everywhere, and every adult in the house can have easy access (because it’s a family affair)
- Crate for sleeping (we are using a simple wire frame one we had) -- check out Petmate's crates (and, PetHub members, don't forget about our Basic and Premium Perks deals!)
- Travel crate for picking her up (this will also be the crate in her puppy pen) -- she’s going to use the cat travel crate for now (sorry Houdini & Tormund!). Petmate also has some great plastic travel kennels and softsided cariers
- Baby pen/gate
- Food & water bowls (she’s going to be using Penny’s old bowls for now)
- A variety of toys to stimulate/satisfy her in lots of different ways:
- Kong Puppy Toy (peanut butter, here we come!)
- West Paw Rumbl Treat Toy (Perks available for PetHub members)
- Outward Hounds Rip Ems Cow
- JW Holee Roller (Penny’s absolute FAVORITE toy)
- Kong Knots Bear (so cute and little!)
- Benebone Maplestick for chewing!
- Coming soon...CHUCK-IT!! We love, love, love Chuck-it toys, but we will wait a few weeks before bringing in outdoor stuff
- Two beds -- both easy to wash and inexpensive enough I won’t be devastated if she chews them up:
- Super fluffy and comfy cuddler bed for night time
- Simple reversible and soft pad for her puppy pen crate from Midwest
- A note about beds ~ my favorite beds are from P.L.A.Y. (stylish and easy to clean & change-out) -- Tormund actually “claimed” Penny’s old bed. However, they are pricey, and I’m going to wait a bit to give one to Hedy, until she learns to not chew/destroy her bedding (learned THAT lesson with previous pups!). There is a great Perks deal available for PetHub Premium members though
- Wonder Walker harness (there are lots of harness that we will be trying with Hedy, but we went with this tried and true one first)
- Simple nylon collar & short leash -- we actually are using the CHEAPEST ones I could find here, because:
- The puppy will grow fast and these will be too small very soon
- For the next month or so, walks will be around the yard to get comfortable walking on leash, etc. and it’s more about getting used to having a collar and walking on a leash (which we attach to the harness, not the neck collar)
- If the little bugger decides her collar/leash are a chew toy -- I won’t be devastated with having a cute, expensive set destroyed
- Food -- a critical part of raising a puppy and we will do a WHOLE series of posts/podcasts/vids about -- but I have chosen to start our puppy off on the right paw with Petcurean foods. There is a bag of NOW! Fresh small breed puppy formula ready and waiting for her to snarf
- A wide variety of small treats for for training -- here are some we love (and we've got awesome Perks for them):
- LOTS of pee pads
- Basic collar & leash
- Pooper scooper (with baggies that attach!) and a trash bin for keeping the stink OUTside
- Earth-rated poop bags for walks around the ‘hood and emergency in-house accidents
- Carpet cleaner to the rescue -- we have used Unique Pet Care pet stain products for YEARS and simply haven’t found anything better, so we will stick with them -- they say “We tackle tinkle” and they do a really great job with it!
Bringing Hedy Home chronicles the journey of bringing a new puppy into your life. In this series, PetHub's COO, Lorien, shares all of the joys (and terrors) that come with sharing your home with a puppy and provides some of the lessons she has learned in her lifetime of being a pet parent. This is the second article in the series and was written by Lorien Clemens on December 16, 2020.