The Joys Of New Dog Owners

by Houndstooth on

If you read Bunny’s post yesterday, you might have noticed that she mentioned that we saw a Beagle named Max meet his new family at the dog park.  Watching him meet his new family was equal parts heartwarming, humorous and it made me cringe a little.  It also reminded me that you can’t take anything for granted.

As the woman who was fostering Max entered the dog park with her two large Great Danes, she mentioned to us and the other woman in the park that he was meeting his new family soon and she wanted him to be able to burn off a little energy first.  That seemed like a reasonable enough idea to me.  I know a lot of dogs’ chances with potential adopters are blown when they come out of a kennel or crate with a lot of pent up energy.  Letting him burn off a little steam seemed like a fair idea.  She also told us that she knew his coat looked bad, but that it was due to allergies.  The poor dog was nearly bald, so his allergies must be pretty bad, and I felt for him.

Max the Beagle, Comin' at Ya!A short time later, his new family showed up there at the dog park.  They tried hard to win him over, calling to him and coaxing him.  Max was much too busy sniffing around the park to pay attention to them.  He didn’t seem to care two figs about the Great Danes he arrived with, but he did seem interested in playing with Bunny and Morgan and he was really getting his sniff on.  It’s also a big park, so it was hard for them to stay in his line of sight to pique his curiosity about them.  The dog park wasn’t an ideal meeting place, but it also wasn’t the worst place they could meet, either, I suppose.  The dog was relaxed and happy enough, so at least they got a good idea about what he’s really like.

Then, I began to notice things.  I noticed that little Max wasn’t neutered.  Mr. Taleteller and I also saw a lot of signs that his potential family had no idea what to do with a dog.  The woman who brought him there seemed very kind, but I’m not sure she was a good reader of people.  I certainly don’t know Max’s story or history, but it seemed a little odd to me that she was sending an unneutered, allergy-plagued dog to a home.  Still, I was happy that a dog who could very easily be passed over was getting a chance.

Nice to Meet You, Max!At one point, I wanted to switch lenses on my camera and Mr. Taleteller volunteered to go get the other one out of the van for me.  As he got to the gate, two of the new family members got stuck between the inside fence in the park and the outside fence that prevents accidental escape if someone slips out the other gate with Max.  They were trying to coerce him to follow them back to the interior gate by patting their legs and trying to get him to come with them.  Max wasn’t taking the cue.  My husband watched for a few minutes and then took Morgan’s leash off from around his shoulder where he keeps it fastened while we’re at the park and told them to try using a leash with him.  These poor people didn’t even know that you need to snap the leash clip on the D ring of the collar.  They clipped it on around the whole collar.  My husband is a much better person than I am (because I would have laughed at that point) and he told them where to attach the leash.  After that, Max just sat there.  Mr. Taleteller told them to take a few steps and Max would follow — and he did.  They were so pleased that they managed to communicate this with the dog.  My husband also reached into his bait bag and gave them a few treats so they could start really making friends with him, too.

It struck me that we are all beginners in something at some point.  Some of us pick things up more intuitively, but we all make clumsy first attempts.  This family seemed truly happy about having their first dog, and I foresee many new firsts in their lives.  My husband predicts that Max is about to become his own ringleader in the family.  He might be right, and I hope that Max takes them on a wonderful journey they never expected.  While I can say that I hope the woman who was placing the dog learns a lot of lessons, too, a part of me realizes that rescue people have to start somewhere, as well.  I give her credit for getting off the bench and trying, and I’m sure Max does, too.  It also gave me a few fond memories of our own mistakes as new dog owners.  There’s something special about your first dog, both as a child and as an adult, that marks a golden era in your life.  I’m glad we got to see Max start his beginning and realize how far we’ve come.

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  • I cringe now at all the mistakes I made the first few years of Chester’s life…and of me being a first-time, single dog owner. He turned out alright though despite of me. Now when I see other people making those mistakes sometimes it annoys me a little (like letting your off-leash dog march right up to my clearly anxious dog and stick it’s nose in her face) or makes me want to “offer them a tip”. I remind myself that I was there once too and that there will always be people at every point on the spectrum. Heck, I STILL have a lot to learn after 10 years 🙂

  • A foster going home with bits? Wow – that’s a surprise. Makes you wonder what sort of foster group she fosters for. Mind you, I have nothing against bits, and I have the boys to prove it 🙂 but I certainly wouldn’t bring an adult dog with bits to a dog park, as a surprising number of bit-less dogs take issue to a dog with bits.

  • So true that we’re all new at something at many different moments in our lives. Even having grown up with a house full of dogs, Bella was my first dog as an adult, and luckily she turned out great in spite of some of my less wise choices. Honestly, having the two new dogs, I feel sort of like I’m back at square one – I still worry that I’m going to screw them up somehow!

  • sara, oreo and chewy

    We can be so quick to judge people, especially when it comes to “dog knowledge”. Your post is a good reminder that we were all there once ~ clueless 🙂

    When I got my first dog, I called my landlady, because part of our carpet was always soaking wet. I thought maybe there was a leaky pipe under the floor. SHe came in put her hand down, smelled it and said, “Uh, your dog is using this as a toilet!”

    I was horrified and shocked! I never saw her pee inside, but I also left her home alone while I went to classes. I didn’t even know crates existed back then….

    Yes, we lost our security deposit on that place, but I learned a lot.

  • Glad Max is getting a new home to be apart of . I hope they take good care of him. Mr. Taleteller is a kind man and maybe gave them the good start they needed to help Max.
    Blessings,
    Goose

  • It’s easy to forget when you’ve lived with dogs for so long. Mum says she just has to think how she would freak if someone left her in charge of a baby… hehe! Deccy x

  • Like sara, oreo, and chewy said…this is a good reminder that we were all there before. While I had dogs before, Miss M was my first dog I had by myself as an adult. And many, many mistakes were made. The rescue group has a foster-to-adopt period where I had her for 2 weeks prior to adoption, and I was always so afraid they would take her back thinking I wouldn’t be a good enough owner. Of course they never did, though I still wonder why they did have the trust in me that I could be a good owner for a crazy pooch like Miss M.

  • I bet you could get hundreds of comments sharing all the dumb things we did with our first dogs.

    It sounds like Mr. Taleteller was a gentle teacher. I hope this family comes back to the park (after getting the pup neutered) so they can learn from others.

  • This is a great story and we have all been there before for sure, but I think I was like 1 day old when I got introduced to my first animal. We hope things work out for Max and his new owners, seems like they have a lot of challenges ahead of them for first time dog owners. As far as Max being neutured I thought all rescue/shelter dogs had to have this done before they could be adopted. I sure hope they also get some help to treat his allergies appropriately. Sniffs, The HoundDogs

  • I hope that the family takes Max back to the dog park so that you can see how he is doing. It sounds a little scary. I guess if they never had a dog before, they wouldn’t know things we think are second nature. I have had dogs in my life since I was four, but having a greyhound was a whole new world to me. I hope things work out for Max.

  • I didn’t have dogs (or pets) until was an adult. Good thing I met my wife who is very dog savvy.

  • I’m sending good vibes that Max has a successful adoption and they all learn together. I am surprised (super surprised) that he wasn’t neutered!

  • Cindy Gingrich

    Too embarrassed to mention all of the screw ups we’ve done and are still doing…..
    I have a specific question about Bunny in the photo of her and Max nose to nose. Was she tail spinning? Our girl Molly uses that move to flirt and / or get something from our boy Gus and others. I find that all of the things she does (which are new to me, as she’s my first grey) are being done by other greyhounds. Just wondered…thanks!

    • She definitely has a specific tail posture when she meets new dogs. Sometimes it will helicopter and sometimes it’s more controlled. When she meets other dogs, it’s the only time she does it.

  • What an interesting observation. It makes me wonder if I’d even recognize the person I was when I brought my first dog home. Probably not! The fact of the matter is, I didn’t do a whole lot better with the second or the third dogs (Ty). It wasn’t until we found Buster that I really had to figure things out. He was a tough dog in the beginning – seventy pounds that had apparently never been on a leash, didn’t know how to climb stairs and got pushy enough to knock me down when I tried to stop petting him. Four years later, we’ve both made a lot of progress. I guess we all have to start somewhere.

  • Shine Jake

    I sure hope the family ends up knowing more than they used to eventually, and Max seems like a rather swell dog.

  • Like some of your other readers, I’m surprised the dog wasn’t neutered. The foster sounds almost as clueless as the prospective family, to be bringing an intact dog into a dog park (unless that’s allowed in the States?). Not to mention, to be handing over a dog with what looks like quite a serious skin condition/allergy to a family of newbies seems like a disaster in the making. Even with the best intentions, they’re probably going to find Max a challenge 🙁

  • Stella

    The thing that occurs to me is Why? If you have never had a dog and know so little about them, why adopt this dog, now? Someone in your family wants a dog, one of the kids maybe? One of the kids acting up and they think maybe a dog will help fix him up. But its not likely a dog will do anything but create some problems in a home that Has Never Had a Dog Before. I sure hope the foster filled them in on all the important details of dog ownership, but why do I feel like she didn’t?
    Yes, this brings me back to two terrible mistakes I made dog-wise many, many years ago and I wish the Family and Max all the good luck there is!

    Jo

  • There are so many reasons why people adopt a dog. One, dogs look cute. Two, dogs could be best friends for human. Three, dogs can keep one’s house from robbers. Four, people are too lonely and can not be friends with other people. Five, they just want a new family member. Six, it is the right time to have pets.

  • This is so sweet. And how sweet of your husband to help them with the leash. We were all there once, or twice …:)

  • This picture is amazing I too am very into pet photography it is so fun!

  • Sorry my comment was suppose to be on the post above with the dog reading the book. I am used to the blogger style blog where the comments are at the bottom Lol I’ll have to get used to this!

  • I probably would have laughed too, but I too was once a first dog owner.. I’m sure we did soo many things wrong thankfully between the Guide Dog Foundation and blog friends we were soon set on the right path. Hopefully this new family will have a mentor of sorts to help them along. 🙂

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  • Hmm.. seems everyone’s a little niave but I suppose everyone has to learn somewhere.
    I can’t believe they wouldn’t know to clip a leash to a D ring on a collar though… that seems a bit daft! Surely even non-dog people know that?
    Hope they get mentored and in the end Max is happy with them though.

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  • Thank you thank you thank you so much for this post. I actually have tears in my eyes from reading it. As someone who volunteers in rescue, I can’t thank you enough for how kindly you spoke of the rescue volunteer in this story. Yes, everyone has to start somewhere and it would be wise for most of us to remember we’ve been new to something once upon a time as well.

    I hope Max and his family have a long and wonderful journey together. Given he’s a Beagle it’s at least bound to be entertaining. 🙂