First weeks with a new dog are generally pretty nuts. I was making the joke before Johnnie came back that we were putting our helmets on, battening down the hatches and going into the week head first. You never know what “issues” a new dog will have adjusting to their new life in your home.
I am very happy to say that the first week with Johnnie went relatively well! I’m not saying there weren’t some bumps, but all in all Johnnie has been easy going while she adjusts to living in our home (. . . KNOCK ON WOOD PLEASE). Here’s a bit of a rundown of the first week having her with us!
Sunday – Her first day out of the shelter. I picked her up Sunday morning, took her for a run, took her to a doggy play date and then joined some shelter friends at an adoption event. She was completely wiped out by the time I brought her home so she slept all evening and did WONDERFULLY in her crate Sunday night! I had no idea if she was going to come used to the crate, take to it quickly enough or absolutely hate it and require intensive crate training.
Monday – I worked from home Monday morning to help her adjust since we only had a whirlwind Sunday together. She slept most of the morning, but I took her for a short run when we both woke up. I left her with my dad for the afternoon while I went to work and she did really well at home (which basically means she didn’t bug him all day). She got her paws on a random piece of wood in the house – she’s got a real thing for sticks – but other than that she didn’t do anything she wasn’t supposed to.
Tuesday – This was her first day coming into the office with me. I took her for a walk first thing and then she slept pretty much all morning in her pen next to my desk. A minor issue arose when I left for two hours in the middle of the day. I completely failed her by bringing her to a new place and then leaving her, and she made a bit of a fuss to my coworkers in my absence. She behaved really well when I came back, but I knew it didn’t set us off on the right foot. I felt so awful that I didn’t set her up for success. The evening went well though and again she fell right asleep in her crate.
Wednesday – Wednesday was a pretty uneventful day! I decided to start a routine of bringing her to work for only a half day and then letting her stay at home with dad the rest of the day (I’m so lucky I have that luxury). I had to go to reactive dog class in the evening so she was at home without me for the evening as well and she did fine. As long as I make sure she’s had enough exercise, usually all she does is lounge around with my parents. If she doesn’t get enough exercise, you can probably find her doing zoomies around the house/in the yard. This evening she had an accident inside though, something she hadn’t done yet while living with us. It was – sorry for the gory details – some pretty runny stool. Poor monkey had a stomach ache!
Thursday – Valentine’s Day! Johnnie joined me at work for the whole day because I didn’t have any meetings or anything to pull me away from my desk. She did well, but was a little antsy because we were both too lazy to get up for a walk that morning – bad foster mom! I took her for a jog after work because I was leaving her with my parents over night. She was “good as gold” for them, except she had another runny accident in the house :-(. I knew it was just because she couldn’t hold it since her stomach hurt so bad.
Friday – The upset stomach continued. . . I came home early Friday morning to a poor pup with a very messy crate. We (finally) decided to nix any treats or food except for some bland food the shelter gave us for dogs with upset tummies. She was at work with me in the morning and then when I finally got home that afternoon. . . it was the weekend! We went for a long run/walk in the rain and spent the evening relaxing and playing with toys. I was so relieved to finally have the ability to spend as much time together as we wanted without having to impose on my parents to watch her while I was at work.
Saturday – Freedom! We woke up early and joined the Animal Welfare League of Arlington’s Pit Crew on a walk along the Potomac River. It was the first time Johnnie would be in a situation with so many other dogs. She did great, considering. She had some trouble focusing when we first got there because of all the stimulation, but as the walk went on she got better. I had to keep reminding myself this is all new to her and she is still learning and I shouldn’t be too hard on either of us if she isn’t perfect! She wasn’t reactive towards any of the dogs and some other walkers commented on how well she did. I was very proud of her!
Afterwards we made a special stop to get Johnnie a new toy and then hung out at Mark’s for some R&R, and then headed out on another short hike just the three of us. At the end of the day I took her to the Foster Dog Alliance class given by Your Dog’s Friend. Again, I had to remind myself that neither of us are going to be perfect in class because it was OUR FIRST TIME. Johnnie is already a pro at sit, down and touch. We practiced “watch me” and four on the floor. Johnnie has some manners to still master when it comes to greeting people – I think that will be our biggest project. She was so wiped out from the day that she curled up in her crate on her own at about 8 and just slept there the rest of the night. A tired dog is a happy… owner :-).
Sunday – Another early morning for us at a group dog walk with B-More Dog! It was freeeezing but Johnnie was a trooper. I wanted to make sure we still had a good experience with so many other dogs so we stayed pretty separated from the group. I brought the clicker to this walk to reinforce some of the focusing tools we’d learned at the foster dog alliance class. She seemed to really love the structure and consistent reinforcement and stayed much more focused during this walk than the Pit Crew walk. People at the inner harbor LOVED her (I mean, who wouldn’t?). I was very happy with how well she did with so many people and other dogs.
We swung by an MCHS adoption event on the way home, but only briefly. Johnnie’s favorite place to show off is somewhere with space and places to get away from other dogs or scary things (cars, trucks). Events where we’re in a small store with narrow aisles and lots of other dogs are not exactly our favorite. Instead of pushing her into a situation where she wouldn’t happy (and therefore would be outwardly cranky – something not so nice looking to the public), we left the event early and on a good note. I had plans for Sunday evening so she spent from about 6 pm on at home with parents, mostly switching between snoozing and telling them she deserves parts of their meal.
Johnnie is such a special dog, and she shows that more every day. I know I made it seem like she’s perfect in the above description, and she’s close to it – but there are still things that we need to work on to make her the best dog she can be for her forever family. I’ll talk about this later in the week, but the worst part about the past seven days has been anticipating what might still go wrong – again, bad foster mom!
Right now my family and I are just enjoying the little things like watching Johnnie pounce after a squeaky toy or gently waddle over to you all groggy after waking up from a nap. I absolutely love her, and I know there is someone else out there who one day will too.
If you’re interested in adopting Johnnie Cash, email firstname.lastname@example.org.