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Wednesday, March 28

It Takes a Village


I am by no means new to the pet parenting world, as I've had at least one cat since I started living on my own.  But, when I recently entered the universe of dog ownership, the parallels between the demands of properly raising a pup and the 24-hour care of a child suddenly made sense.  Whereas with the cats over the years, I could fudge it at times it was necessary, there are many times this is just not possible with a dog.  The beauty of it, though, is that I feel I have just the combination of a village to keep Tucker a happy and healthy puppy. 

One of the first demands that cropped up was the conundrum of a midday break from the crate.  My office is a mere 10 minute drive from home.  The problem, though, is that in my universe, it always seems that those red flag double top priority demands hit the Inbox, just as I am standing up to walk away from my desk.  To avoid this situation, I'm employing the use of an amazing service called Critter Sitters.  This is a business that's been around Wheeling for 16 years, and the ladies come to your home at the appointed time, let your animals do what they must, love on them, talk to them, let them get a drink, and then place them back where they belong for the afternoon.  Tucker has, thankfully, grown to love his crate as well as all walks of life, so this arrangement is working out perfectly.  His needs are tended to, and my workday remains accommodating to all.

I had to take him for his first non-routine vet visit this week.  It turned out he simply was having some allergies flair up, but after the visit (and a day of worrying), I was thinking about how much I love it that the veterinarian has all the answers I do not.  I watched in amazement as he took the less than few minutes to examine the issue, asked for the appropriate medications and tools and set to his work.  This self-assured response was in stark contrast to my 4:00am search on Google and Wikipedia to try to diagnose the issue.  Every time I walk away from K.E.Y. Animal Hospital, I am thankful that there is someone around who loves all animals to the degree that I love my own and also that that person just happens to be certified to handle these types of situations I am not.  I, of course, appreciate him on the routine trips as well, but it's those non-routine moments that really shake things up.

And then there are those moments (yes, even blessed Tucker has them) when some random puppy behavior crops up, and I have absolutely no idea how to change it.  I have stumbled across a plethora of information on dog behavior and training through books (mainly The Art of Raising a Puppy by the Monks of Skeet) and other internet resources (mainly those posted by Cesar Millan).  It astonishes me each time I type a randomly worded question into Google, and a zillion results pop up.  Granted, there are a lot of message boards and other not-so-useful resources, but I think back to pre-internet times and wonder how people did this stuff!    

Without all of these resources, puppy-rearing could be a lot harder and also feel a lot less accessible.  So, now when I hear someone utter the classic line about how it takes a village to raise [fill in the blank with animal, child, etc.], I will be in full agreement and have a much more solid appreciation for what that really means.

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