Saturday, 22 September 2012

Adventure in Socialising

I randomly got a text from my mother today encouraging me to take Nico down to the High Street where she was out with my aunt to socialise him. At first, I didn’t want to. I would have to find trainers, get off my backside, go outside into the real world where people are and really, it was a large pile of DNW. My anxiety wanted to say hell to the no but, then I thought about Nico. It would be good for him, and he had been pretty rowdy this morning so it might calm him down. I thought about it a little more and decided to take him down. So, I bundled him up in his blanket and nervously left the house. He isn’t old enough to be allowed to walk himself yet but socialising with sounds, smells and people is encouraged.

I didn’t want to go. It was the first time my anxiety was really an issue with Nico and the first time he booted it in the face for me and let me do it anyway. It was for Nico, so I did it. This is one of the reasons I got him in the first place. At first, all we got were some looks as people tried to work out if that ball of fluff they could see was alive. He was silent the majority of the time and it wasn’t until he had nearly reached the main street that it happened. Someone came up to us.

I was walking, then suddenly a woman was smiling at me and reaching for Nico. My first reaction was panic to be honest. He is a purebred dog and he is worth a lot of money to someone who doesn’t care about him so much as they just see pound signs. However, the woman just started petting him and asked how old he was. I was pleasantly surprised to find I was able to respond fine and hold a very quick conversation with her while Nico lapped up the attention. She wandered off and I made my way down the street feeling proud of myself. I had talked to a stranger and there was no panic attack in site. Nico looked up at me for a second and I convinced myself he was saying well done.

Many people came up to us on my way to meet my mum. Most wanted to pet Nico, ask how old he was, what breed, and comment on how cute he is. (so proud, so proud. Yes he is :3) I coped pretty well considering the number of strangers I was having to deal with and though my stomach lurched at times, it felt good to have Nico in my arms like a warm balm, protector against the scary people. He was very well behaved and we made it to our destination without any crises. It showed me that yes, he is going to be amazing for me in the future, because he already is and he isn’t even a grown boy yet. (Though he is a fast growing boy with a love of yogurt pots) We got home with me feeling proud and Nico feeling tired. He went off for a well deserved nap and I returned to my room to lurk and be proud.

Also of note is that the walk took a mile and even if it was only me walking, it was most definitely our first mile to Mordor. Look at us go~

Nico and Sam :3

Monday, 17 September 2012

the plotting stage

When I told people that I was going to be getting a dog, the statement was usually met with disbelief. I’m known to be very much a cat person. It threw people and they were not sure, but still interested about what I would end up playing mummy to. I looked at rescue dogs, but in the end it was decided that for my first dog it would be best to get a puppy that we knew all about. There would be no skeletons in their small closet and it seemed like a sound plan, even if I felt terribly guilty about not giving a dog that was in need a home.  I settled on the Lhasa Apso breed for several reasons.

They are known to be quiet dogs that don’t bark without good reasons. Though they are active enough, they are not overly so which is perfect for me considering I struggle with health problems that leave me chronically fatigued. The small breed fits perfectly into my home with my parents and cat. Though some dogs would be welcome here, there is just no room. Reading the temperament information, I fell in love with the little dogs and couldn’t wait to find out more.

It turned out the family knew someone who had one and who in turn knew a breeder. I was wary. I had wanted to home a dog that couldn’t find a home and handing over a lot of cash for a purebred puppy didn’t really fit with my original idea. A phone call was made and I was informed she had puppies alright. Right now. I was thinking a few weeks, months down the line, but it wasn’t to be that way. So, three days later I was bringing little Nico home. When I called, there were three boys and when I went to get him he was the only one left.  He had been left behind. The runt so to speak, and yet I couldn’t see why. He was bursting with personality and was beautiful, adorable, and loving from the start.  I was offered another dog that was female and half poodle but Nico had my heart and home he came.  

The first week has been trying. In a lot of ways, it is like having a new-born baby around. He sleeps a lot and then when he is awake he demands most of my attention. He needs to be settled into a routine and showed how things are to happen around the house. I am demonstrating that I am the alpha of our little pack and while it sounds amusing, it sure is draining. My fatigue has been a real problem, especially with Nico waking up during the night and needing reassurance that he is ok, needing me to get up and put him back to bed.  My brain is always active and that takes its toll. He is full of energy and the only way to get rid of it is to play, as he is not allowed out yet.

When he is allowed out though, I have all sorts of new adventures planned that are a little more elaborate than teaching him when to come to me when called (a day’s work by the way). I’ve decided we’re going to take two challenges.  First, we’re going to walk from Surrey to Hogwarts, or more specifically we’re going to walk the same number of miles it would take to get from the town nearest Harry Potter’s home in Surrey to Dufftown, the nearest known town to Hogwarts. Sounds geeky right? I know, ain’t it awesome? Basically, I’m going to keep note of all the distances I’m covering with him (around my town and nowhere near Surrey) and add it all up until we’ve covered the  585 miles to Hogwarts. I plan to do this from mid-October, when Nico is allowed out on walks, to mid-April. However, I’m far too geeky to only have that going on. At the same time we’re walking to Mordor…from the Shire. Hobbiton to be precise. That is a whopping 1382 miles which I think will take us a couple of years but I am sure that it will be fun. I can track when we get to landmarks like Rivendale and the mines of Moria. Who ever said walking a dog was boring? I hope that it will also give me lots of motivation and belief in myself as I make progress.

Nico doesn’t know what he has been signed up for but so far, he seems full of energy so I don’t think he will mind too much. A few short walks a day and we will get there. It is rather symbolic because we are truly off on a journey together. Nico is at the start of his life and I’m starting a whole new version of Sam as a dog owner. I’m training him with a class not because I believe he will be hard to train but because I need to be trained! I want him to have the best quality of life, full of fun and tail wagging and I’m going to document our adventures here. You can laugh, cry, despair and maybe even shake your tails with us :)

Nico and Sam :3