It is somewhat hard to remember now how life before dogs was…. though we are pretty sure it included less vacuuming!
Animals lovers finally become dog owners
We have always been keen animal lovers, so we always wanted to own a dog. Our lifestyle during our twenties and thirties however did not allow it and we knew it.
We worked long hours and we travelled the globe, both for business and pleasure. What's more, we did not have any close family members (read "ideal dog sitters") living close by. So we had to make do with admiring other people’s dogs when out on a walk, and “adopting” temporarily various strays on our travels around the world.
Then we hit the big Four Zero and we decided that we wanted and needed a change. We gave up our hectic jobs and travelled the world for a year. This was a trip of a lifetime and we enjoyed every minute of it.
And we met some amazing animals while travelling the world.
The idea was to go back to similar jobs when we came back but after a year on the road, we just could not bear the thought of 9 to 5 (or should we say 9 to 9) in an office anymore. So we started our own internet business which meant working mostly from home… which is of course the ideal lifestyle for dog ownership.
When you work from home, you must make sure you leave the house on regular basis. We have always enjoyed walking but like most people, only did so when the weather was nice. Dog makes sure you go out every day, rain or shine. So the idea was born…
Let's get the dog we always wanted
As the idea of getting a dog grew stronger and stronger in our minds we started reading about the subject… you have to do your homework you know!
We read books about how to choose the right dog breed for your personality and lifestyle, how to raise a happy puppy, how to train dogs, etc. We watch all TV programs we could find about dogs. We surfed the internet for additional information, took on-line tests to help us to decide which dog breeds would be best suitable for our lifestyle, etc.
Getting a dog was not a decision we took lightly. Owning a dog is a long-term commitment. They cost money, but even more importantly, they cost lot of time. You must be ready and willing to spend both time and money on your dog.
Our greatest concern was the lack of access to dog sitting. We love travelling and we were not willing to give it up for good. Research (mainly on the internet) reassured us that dog owners have number of good dog sitting options to choose between. If you don't like dog kennels for some reasons, it is easy to find people that look after dogs in their own homes.
We also realized that dog owners are a close-knit society. If you have a dog, you will quickly get to know other dog owners in your neighbourhood. And if you lucky, you may find a good dog sitter that way.
Where to find the right dog?
One of the main issues to consider in the beginning is which dog to get, not only which breed, but also if to get a puppy or rescue an older dog.
Getting a puppy was very tempting but as we were first time dog owners, we wondered if it would be better for us to adopt an older dog, i.e. someone that had learned the basics from his previous owner.
We realized we couldn't rescue any dog, it would have to be a dog suitable for first time owners. So we started visiting our local Dog Trust Rescue Centre on a regular basis, keeping our eyes open if we would see a suitable dog for us. Even though we saw many wonderful dogs there, we tried to keep our head on and heart at bay. It wasn't easy though!
So… we had done our homework and started to look around a bit, though we did not consider us to be seriously looking so far.
Even though we kept an eyes open for a suitable rescue dog, we hadn't investigated properly the puppy route. Then one rainy day we met Molly and we became proud dog owners… with a twist.
How we found our rescue dog... or did she find us!
One rainy day in November 2009, we drove past our local Dogs Trust Rescue Centre. On a whim, we decided to stop by, despite the weather being quite miserable for any outings.
We had a quick look around the centre. For once, there were few dogs in their kennels. When we were leaving, we bumped into a staff member. For some reason we asked him if they were expecting any new dogs soon. And it turned out that they were. They even had one dog at the back that he considered suitable for first time dog owners like us.
This is when we met Molly and it was a “love at first sight”. Molly just "felt right". We guess it didn't spoil it that she is extremely pretty dog. Even though it sounds superficial, liking the look of your dog is important. It does not have to be because you think your dog is the most beautiful dog in the world. However, how your dog looks should appeal to you - for whatever reason.
Molly sure is pretty, but it wasn't the only thing we fell for. Her temperament seemed to fit ours. This can though be difficult to judge in a Rescue Centre as the dogs may be stressed in this unfamiliar, and busy, environment.
Molly had just recently arrived at the Dog Rescue Centre. She was a stray, considered to be around 18 months old and was just coming off heat. She is a cross between Spaniel and Border Collie, which means she is a high-energy dog.
Even though we like Border Collies very much as a breed, we had considered them as too high energy for us. We had been more inclined towards Labrador, except they felt a bit too big for our living arrangement. Molly being a Sprollie (cross between Spaniel and Collie) made us believe we could handle her energy level (and we are happy to say we have… though we now know that Spaniels are quite high energy as well).
We took her out for a walk, and threw some balls for her, which she thoroughly enjoyed (we soon found out it is her number one favourite activity… and purpose in life). We got on very well, she was a bit excited but, in our opinion, understandably so.
So after giving her back we asked the staff for more information about her. They didn't know much more about her as she was a stray. But their assessment was that she would be good dog for dedicated first time owners.
The Dogs Trust sent a staff member the same afternoon the check if our living arrangement was suitable for dog (they mainly check if the garden is safely guarded off so the dog cannot get lost). And we got the green light to adopt a dog.
We met Molly for the first time on Tuesday and she moved in the following Monday. We have never looked back!
But what we didn't know at this point was that Molly had a big surprise in store for us.
Molly's big surprise... maybe we should have seen it coming but we didn't!
Our new rescue dog, Molly, settled in very quickly. We established some routine, set our boundaries, and started her training. She already knew most of what we wanted her to know, like sit, come and stay, but we needed to establish which commands and movements to use. And to establish ourselves as her new pack leaders.
It was obvious from the beginning that Molly is a clever dog and street smart too. To this day, she can surprise us with her wit and way of doing things.
We made sure to give her enough exercise during her settling in period. We assumed she had a lot of unspent energy after being in a kennel, even though she had not been there for very long. We also believed that being both mentally and physically tired would help her to settle in quicker.
Which it did, she settled in very quickly (though we now know it took her few months to fully "move in").
Molly was underweight when we got her. She was just over 13 kg, but our Vet said +/- 17 kg would be ideal weight for dog her age. We were therefore very pleased when she started to put on some weight.
The Dogs Trust had given us a voucher for having her spayed.
We though had to wait few weeks as she was coming off heat. So we gave her few weeks to settle in with us but booked an appointment for her approximately 3 weeks after we got her.
The week before her appointment, we started to wonder! She was gaining some weight as planned but her teats were also starting to get noticeably bigger. So when we took her to the Vet we asked him first to check if it might be too late... and it turned out to be the case. Our beautiful young rescue dog was already pregnant.
This was of course a big surprise to us, something we would not have done on purpose, i.e. to let our dog get pregnant. Molly was only an adolescent herself, we joked about her teenage pregnancy. However, it was a nice surprise.
The Vet offered to have the pregnancy terminated but we refused. What happened had happened and we would deal with it. Dog pregnancies last between 57 to 65 days on average, so we expected the puppies to be born around Christmas time.
Fortunately, our personal circumstances allowed us to embark on this adventure with Molly. And after the first initial shock we were actually quite excited about this. As we said, we would never on purpose have embarked on this journey but as this had already happened, we decided to enjoy the whole experience.
Allowing your bitch to have puppies is not something you can or should do if you not available more or less 24/7 during the puppies first few weeks. Physical presence is not enough. If your bitch has a litter, you take on a very important role in her puppies' life. You have responsibilities as a breeder, and therefore it is not recommended that people take this on except they are willing to put in the time and effort to do the work properly.
On Christmas Eve 2009 Molly had 8 gorgeous healthy puppies, five boys and three girls. There was a lot of hard work involved but also a very fun work. We thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.
8 healthy puppies born on Christmas Eve 2009
5 gorgeous healthy boys and 3 healthy girls
Molly was very attentive mother from day one
Mother's love is vital for good start in life
Eating and sleeping is what puppies do best
They are also great at playing and sleeping
Tess and her sister Ruby that lives locally
The sisters enjoying a nice meal and a cuddle
Then they got mobile and the fun really started
Puppies are curious and love exploring
And everything food related is of special interest
Molly was patient but feeding 8 hungry mouths was not easy
Quality time with mom is so important
Two beautiful sisters exploring the garden
In just few weeks ready to explore the big wide world
We of course couldn't resist to keep one puppy, her daughter Tess. So we ended up being proud owners of two wonderful dogs.