The big day is here. Who would have thought? (Well, technically we all knew it was coming, but you know what I mean.) Today we stop counting Scout’s age in months and instead go to that big superlative, years. Though not quite out of puppyhood yet (that won’t officially happen till around 1.5 to 2), Scout is more adult than puppy now. Still, in honor of her Big Day, let’s take a little walk down Memory Lane.
The Early Days
This was the first photo of Scout that we ever saw. Don’t ask us which one she is, we’ve got no idea (and to throw out another technicality, Scout wasn’t Scout yet, so to speak, since we hadn’t yet picked her out. I know, I know, I digress). Back then, August 2010 to be specific, we were a mixture of nerves and excitement with a dash of “Um, what are we thinking!” thoughts rolling through our heads. Admittedly, I spent little time not planning or thinking about Scout’s arrival in one way or another. Okay, I was obsessed. And B dealt with me with a patience only a loving husband could have delivered–and a healthy dose of X Box play.
We purchased a crate specially selected to fit Scout’s estimated adult size, complete with a divider so that we could partition it off and open the crate up as she grew:
We purchased a dog bed (the bed that went on to live in infamy), and Zoey quickly claimed it:
And we read, and read, and haunted some forums, and read some more. But all of our prep would come in handy when Scout finally arrived…
…on September 26, 2010. Remember the camera saga? Let’s just say, we forgot it, remembered somewhere near our destination, and had to stop at a Walmart to pick up a disposable. It did the job, though, capturing this adorable look she gave me when B first held her:
We’re not going to lie. Our first thought when we got in the car with her was, “Hold on, what are we doing?” The infancy of Scout was really overwhelming. She was tiny, and this made us feel like she was this incredibly fragile little baby that we could seriously hurt, you know, through sheer not knowing what in God’s name we were doing. “We’ve read every book there is!” I kept saying, but those books weren’t really preparing me for the feeling of having her there, completely in my care. Cue the first parenthood feelings!
A lot of people who have heard how overwhelmed we went in the beginning have commented, “Good! That means you knew how much responsibility it was.” Though I see their point, I more think that it wasn’t that we were suddenly realizing how much responsibility a puppy was (we had a good grip on that when we first signed up to adopt her, I think), but more that we were feeling the pressure to raise her the right way. We didn’t want to end up with a wild dog that terrorized our house guests and scared the daylights out of the mailman. We’d seen enough Cesar Millan to know that crazy dogs can happen to well-intentioned dog-parents, and we didn’t want to be, despite our best efforts and intentions, another set of crazy dog-parents.
So how did we handle it? We obsessed over everything. Everything. We read up on every stage of Scout’s growth as it was happening so that we’d know what to expect in the most general terms. We consulted the chapters we’d flagged in books. And then, somewhere amidst the chaos of Scout peeing on the carpet and Zoey vomiting inside our shoes in silent dog-protest, we became parents. Just plain old, hold-on-and-do-your-best-and-it’ll-work-out parents.
The first instance of this was when Scout was seven weeks old. She’d been with us a few days, and already I was high on the training wave. “The books say to start right away! Seven weeks is the perfect age to start training,” I remember telling B what must have been 45 times (again, patience). “It says so right here, see?” But Scout wouldn’t sit. She would not sit no matter much I poked and prodded and tried various methods. All I got was this:
This was supposed to be the easiest command, and already I was failing at it. Frustrated, I eventually gave up, declaring that Scout didn’t have to sit if she didn’t want to and we’d figure it out when she was 1 and wasn’t nipping at my fingers and eating my socks. And then she turned 8 weeks old, and WHAM. She was a sitting pro!
And that’s when another milestone happened: Scout got hyper. Not insanely, but enough of a jump from 7 weeks that it was noticeable and made us both go, “WHOA. What happened to our calm, sleep all day, puppy?”
Life happened. Suddenly there were leashes to chew…
cats to chase…
mysterious corners to explore…
and toys to play with…
Scout grew at a tremendous rate. Before we knew it we were heading to the vet every few weeks to get her next round of vaccinations.
And enjoying our first walks outside, where Scout learned that, next to sliced bread, leaves had to be Nature’s most awesome creation.
And nipping…God the nipping! It was by far our hardest challenge in the beginning, even harder than Scout’s sleep schedule. One minute she’d be Miss adorable-please-cuddle-me…
…the next she’s tearing the flesh off your hand (I exaggerate, but that’s what it feels like). We sought solace in every way we could, using every method we could, and for a while it seemed like nipping was going to drive us to the brink. And then it kind of disappeared. We honestly don’t think this is a problem we beat. We simply think Scout grew out of it.
The Middle Months
Either way, we were happy to see the nipping go. Not that the challenges stopped there. After nipping, it was onward to barking and stubbornness and stairs and walking on a leash and peeing accidents and overall puppy madness.
There were baths that she lamented by peeing on the dog bed and then again on the floor. She peed just because she was lazy. Urination became a daily part of our lives in one way or another.
And then things got better. Scout grew out of the terrible twos and fell into a routine. She became best friends with Ranger…
…taught herself that when she brings the ball back it magically will be thrown again (aka Fetch), and learned that tummy rubs usurp leaves as the best thing since sliced bread.
Somewhere along the way we’ve fallen in love with this little red bundle of fur, and Zoey, too, has finally found some peace.
We spoke a few weeks ago of Zoey’s bullying of Scout, and we’re happy to report that though Zo does sometimes smack Scout for no good reason…
…she has also started to hang out more with her, even playing with her ball near Scout’s crate (while Scout was crated) the other day, though I think this was just Zoey’s way of saying, “Haha, I’m free and you’re not.” It’s slow, baby steps that we’re thrilled to see, especially when we catch Scout nosing Zo without getting a retaliatory slap. Growth doesn’t happen overnight, but it is happening.
One Year Later
So now we’ve made it to the one-year mark. It’s come in the blink of an eye. Scout still retains some of her shyness that Dr. C first noticed when she was little, which surprises people when they meet her. Scout is very friendly, but she has always held back upon a first meet-and-greet, preferring to reach her long body forward and sniff you before charging in. It only takes a second, though, and then she’s lying at your feet, eagerly awaiting some belly rubbing. She follows us around the house with her eyebrows cocked, unendingly curious about the world around her.
To commemorate Scout’s first year, we’ve made a recap video inspired by the one over at Young House Love. Ours isn’t nearly as professional as theirs, but we like it anyway. Enjoy:
We also wanted to thank each and every one of you that has followed our family’s adventures over the past year. It has been a fun, challenging, joyous, tiring, learning-filled ride, and one we would never take back. After being puppy parents for a year, we can honestly say that, though there were plenty of times we found ourselves saying we’d never do it again (I distinctly remember sitting at the kitchen table when Scout was maybe 12 or so weeks old, and saying aloud, “Scout, I think you’ve ruined me on future puppies. Never again, kid.”), we don’t think that now. If and when the right time comes, we would consider it. After all, Scout needs a sibling, and Zoey needs one more creature to ruffle her feathers and help her grow.
So happy birthday, Scoutimus Maximus, Muffin, Little Bit, and every other name you obligingly answer to. We love you.
A + B + Z