Sunday, March 6, 2011

Empty Nest - Puppies Sold!

Roku (left) and Jitsu (right),
at 12 weeks.
Roku and Jitsu have both been sold as of Friday night, and I embarassed myself by bursting into tears as the last pup was going out the door.  I could not understand my reaction.  It came as a complete surprise.  I am still processing this "empty nest" feeling I have, kinda like sadness, grief, loneliness -- but I'm neither sad nor grieving nor lonely.  In truth, I'm overjoyed and relieved!

Roku's Mom, Kathy, wants to begin agility training and Mike, her husband, belongs to a dog club and already competes with his big dogs in agility, so that's a good start. She saw Roku (now named Winston) last weekend at the USDAA trial and was instantly smitten with his adorableness, quickness of mind, and beautiful markings.  She came and got him on Tuesday, and sends me news of his progress and photos every few days.

Madalyn and Jitsu saying goodbye
at my door. Turra in background.
Jitsu's new mom, Madalyn, already trains vigorously in Obedience and travels all over the country competing with her Papillon, Merlin.  She came wearing a beautiful gold OTCH pendant around her neck earned with her Yorkie, now retired. Madalyn was impressed with Jitsu's bone structure, symmetrical markings, coat, sure-footedness, and speed, plus her enthusiasm, eagerness, friendliness, fearlessness, sociability, cuddliness and obvious intelligence.  I can't remember what all else she was looking for, but she found it in Jitsu.  She left after an hour's visit to "think about it", and within an hour had called and was back to fetch her dog.

Both of these owners found me thru dog channels, not by me placing an ad in the paper, which was about to be my next move.

So I cried, and the next morning almost cried again, and realized it is mostly for relief.  What a burden lifted that these puppies made it from a necessarily impersonal breeder situation to the warmth of my foster home, and are now placed in high-quality permanent homes where they will be challenged and trained by day, and scurry around the house by night, smothered in treats and kisses, and sleep cuddled up in Mommy's arms.  They both made it into "the good life"! To top that off, both dogs will remain here locally so I'll probably see them once in awhile.

I hadn't realized what a responsibility I had taken on when accepting these puppies into my care at 8 weeks of age.  Feed them, clean up after them, keep them safe, socialize them.  Time consuming, but easy enough.  Add to that, beginning to shape them for performance careers. Crate training, pottie training, car travel, tugging, reinforcement, guessing games, desensitizing them to various stimuli, developing handler focus, building trust and loyalty, teaching tricks, hand signal recognition, verbal cues. That was enormous fun for me because, as they say, "a beautiful mind is a terrible thing to waste", and they learned fast.

And now suddenly it's over. I have to adjust and let go, again. 

Winston's new carrying case.
Kathy and Madalyn both called the next day to say their pups had a pleasant first night, got clean bills of health from their vets, rode in the car without complaint, held their pottie business for outdoors, are well behaved, and seem to be adjusting fine to their new surroundings.  Kathy sent photos from her iPhone and emails regularly.   Madalyn said I could call anytime to check up on Jitsu (now Mikki), which was incredibly thoughtful. Since Madalyn doesn't have a camera or a computer, I will not be able to keep in touch in my usual way, sharing photos and anecdotes via email, so I will have to print up a portfolio of Mikki's puppy photos and get them to her.

Winston captures his Mommy's
heart with every pose.
Today (Sunday) I woke up again, not about to cry but missing Winston's kaola bear face and precious antics, and Mikki's pointy little nose burrowing through the leaf piles outside, her bullet shaped body tearing across the yard at MACH speed, her high jumping trying to get out of the X-pen to where I am. She's a natural for agility, on her last day going fearlessly over the full-height see saw in pursuit of a treat.

Did I make a mistake letting these puppies go? How can 2 lbs of fluff get so deep under your skin in 5 weeks and you not even realize it until they are gone? OMG I can't imagine if something would happen to any of my dogs. I never want to find out how deep under my skin they are!!!!!!!!!!

I hadn't realized what a responsibility breeders have in placing their litters, how they have to maintain some distance from the puppies, or cry often.  I would never make it as a breeder, much less a foster parent.  Okay, another factoid learned about myself.  But before I move on, I am taking in how much I enjoyed conducting my first "puppy finishing school".  There is not much that compares with the scampering enthusiasm, reckless abandon, and total openness of a puppy, not to mention soft fur, warm puppy breath and a tiny heart beating in your hands.  My house seems empty now, with 4 contented adult dogs lying around my feet, waiting for me to say what's next.

So now that I've got that bit blogged about, what's next is mopping and sterilizing the kitchen floor, shampooing the den carpet, picking up toys, bits of paper and a few dead lizards the puppies managed to find, fixing lawn mower and replacing an oven element, getting my room reserved for our upcoming Mobile trial, and streamlining the trial entry process.

Upwards and onward!

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