Sunday, June 3, 2012

Dog Days Of Summer

Photos by OHventures
What I have learned in this past week: becoming a dog owner one wild adventure!

I have always loved dogs but have always known that in order to be a dog owner, I would need to be in a situation where it would make sense and fit well into my lifestyle. I am a busy-body who is always on the go. When I'm not working, writing, adventuring, exercising, traveling, networking, creating, exploring, volunteering, socializing or indulging in one of my many other hobbies, I am trying to squeeze in a little shut eye! So the idea of getting a dog would require me to make a few sacrifices and start adding more responsibility to my already hectic schedule

On a vacation to Florida this month, my aunt (a lifelong single dog owner) told me that, while there are many challenges, there are also plenty of joys that come from being a dog owner. And if you were to look around, you would find that there are (unfortunately) many people in this world who are incredibly horrible dog owners. If you are a dog lover and a committed, responsible person, you will find great success and discover that taking care of and providing for a pet will come naturally.

I decided that if I was going to be a dog owner, I needed to do it right. I needed to take it seriously and do it in a way that would be easily manageable for me. I figured that would mean two things. First, I could not possibly get a puppy. I wouldn't have the time or ability to train the dog and I would not have the patience to put up with the constant barking, chewing, and inevitable accidents. Second, I could not get a large dog. Living in a one bedroom apartment without a yard, I would be ridding a larger dog of its much needed space. In addition, larger dogs make larger messes. Not good.

Next, I knew that I wanted to make a difference and not just buy a dog from a breeder, but instead, rescue a dog from a shelter. My brother, aunt, and many friends have purchased designer breed dogs for a hefty price over the years. There is nothing wrong with doing that. But, for me, I wanted to head to the shelter to see those dogs that are without a home that have been abandoned. I wanted to provide a safe haven for a dog who was lost and afraid.

This led me to the Franklin County Animal Shelter located on Morse Road. I visited the shelter on May 23, 2012 just to get a feel for the place and see how they did things there. As you can probably guess, my visit turned out to be more than just that.

At the shelter, they first let me go through the rows of kennels to view all of the dogs they have there. If there were any dogs I wanted to play with or spend time with, I had to fill out an application and request to spend time with them. Of course there were more than just a few that I would have loved to have rescued from this shelter. Seeing them all just pulled on my heartstrings. But, I narrowed it down to two dogs: Puddles and Slider. After spending time with them, I knew that Slider was meant for me. I put a hold on him for 24 hours so I could sleep on the prospect of becoming his official owner.

Slider (what the shelter named him) was found May 12 as a stray in Franklin County. The warden brought him in with no back story, and no further information. It was determined that he is approximately 2 years old (based on his teeth). He is a tan colored chihuahua (perhaps mixed with some sort of terrier) with an extremely exceptional disposition unlike the common characteristics of other chihuahuas.
As with all of the animals the Franklin County Animal Shelter takes in, Slider was neutered, microchipped, vaccinated, licensed, treated for fleas, and given heartworm medications. Remarkably, he also seemed to already be house trained, and would "sit" for treats and play fetch! All of these things helped me to finally decide that I absolutely HAD to adopt Slider! I came back the next day and paid $117 for the dog with all of the above-mentioned costs included! It was quite a deal. Unlike friends and family I know who have spent hundreds and even thousands of dollars for dogs who are not fixed or vaccinated, I was making out like a bandit! Above all else, I was giving Slider a place to call home!

I kept the name Slider. It's a cool name for a cool dog. It can describe the way he "slides" on the linoleum floors of the animal shelter and pet store, but also can refer to the character in Top Gun, the mascot for the Cleveland Indians, or the tiny hamburgers you get at White Castle. Perfect! Although he really has not taken to his new name and doesn't respond all that well yet, I am sure he will catch on soon enough!

At the pet store, I bought all of the essentials: a crate (which I use when he is in the car with me or else he will sit on your lap), a bed, food, dishes, toys, shampoo, treats, a popular "KONG" dog toy, cleaning supplies, grooming tools, a harness, a cool "SLIDER" dog tag, and the list goes on! All of thhis stuff cost more than the dog himself! This little guy was going to be spoiled.

Upon encountering dozens of people and dogs of all shapes and sizes at the pet store and at my apartment complex (which is extremely pet friendly), I found that Slider was well behaved with ALL people and dogs. It was a huge sense of relief. Another huge sense of relief was the fact that he does not "yip" or bark when put in the crate, or when left alone when I go to work! Most people associate chihuahuas with being yippy, but Slider is not! And yet another sigh of relief was discovering that he is indeed house trained. While he did have one accident on day 2 of my apartment (peeing on a couch leg), I seem to think the little guy was simply marking his territory at his new home.

I live just 10 minutes from work, so coming home during lunch is no problem. And, my neighbor is a vet student who has offered to help anytime I need it! Add that to the countless friends and family who have offered a lending hand when needed, and I realized that this was going to work out swimmingly.

I have taken Slider to an outdoor winery, a concert, the dog park, the quarry, on countless walks, the pet store, a long road trip, and to stay at other friends' houses. He has been extremely well behaved, and even his new veterinarian Dr. Mike is impressed beyond words with how good my dog is. I truly lucked out. The two of us were meant to be, and I am excited to introduce to my readers my new partner on my OHventures!

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