Year 1 with the dog

Micro’s first day at with us at home, still looking lost and worried

Warning: long post, lots of dog content!

One year ago (at 11:30am exactly) we went to the RSPCA  at South Godstone and picked up our little Micro. At this point he was still called Rudy. He didn’t answer to that name, so we thought we might as well call him Micro, since we didn’t think he looked like a Rudy. Skinner (after the psychologist B.F. Skinner) was also a contender for the name, but somehow lost over Micro in the process.  We picked the puppy up, put him in his new crate and drove off, somehow slightly surprised (despite many weeks of preparation) that we now had a little doggie.

At home

At home, working, adjusting to working with a dog on my lap

Why a dog, you ask? Some years ago, we nearly got a cat, but the breeder called us the day before we were supposed to meet, telling us that she had sold the entire litter to other people. Grit being allergic to cats, we selected a breed that is supposedly better for those people. Since it fell through, we didn’t feel like we wanted to try another time. We talked about it, but that was it. And then I started to go through hell with my PhD (that would be stuff for another post one day maybe, but if you really want to know right now, google PhD problems, you’ll find it at the top of the list). My health, not the most stable anyway, started to degrade seriously. I know that some people  with that illness never recovered from their set-backs and I was really worried. (comment from G: understatement of the year! M was so unwell that she wasn’t sure if she’d ever recover or ever be well enough to make life plans again. It does make you re-evaluate what you’re waiting for, and sometimes the outcome of those deliberations has to be ‘now or never’) I remember standing at the bus stop and saying to G ‘What are we waiting for? Let’s get a dog!’ We have a walk-in kitchen – no way we should get a cat that I could  then pick up from the counter-tops every 5 minutes 🙂 So, we didn’t take that bus. We turned round instead and walked into the vet’s office next to the bus stop and asked what would be involved, and how we could start the process of adopting a dog. The vet’s nurses were quite lovely and told us we needed to have permission from the landlord (in writing), and then find a dog (either with Battersea dogs & cats, dog’s trust or RSPCA) that we would like.

So, we proceeded to get permission, which was granted without a problem and then G looked for dogs everywhere. We had a few months to get organised: we knew, we had to wait until I had the upgrade exam (that was my final marker before taking a decision about how to proceed further with the PhD). That unfortunate event (no further details right here right now) took place mid-December. We had flight tickets to go home for Christmas, so I only started to be really part of the dog-searching process process in the New Year.

Taking Micro to the dog park

G had sent me an email before Christmas though (to cheer me up) with a dog selection and ‘Rudy’ was in it. He was really the only dog I immediately liked – but I didn’t want a puppy or a male dog….(yep, I know, famous last words) We found a female dog online we wanted to visit the first weekend in January 2014, but when we arrived there had been some miscommunication within the RSPCA team, and that dog had been promised to someone else. To say we were disappointed would be an understatement. However, we talked to the person in charge that day to see if there might be any other dogs looking for homes, that would suit us and our specific lifestyle. She asked us how our usual schedule was, how many dogs we had before, what we could offer a dog, and she thought we would be fit for a puppy (big surprise!!) and asked if we wanted to see ‘Rudy’. Yes we did 🙂

Micro's first time at the beach

Sand on the nose, no ears: Micro’s first time at the beach

‘Rudy’ had been found in an abandoned house/garden before Christmas, together with 3 other dogs, one was believed to be the father of the 3 youngsters, ‘Rudy’ was the youngest, and no potential adopter (is that a word?) wanted to see him up to that point. There we were: one member of staff went to get the puppy and then he was there, so cute, but with this lost, scared look in his eyes. They were super nice and let us sit with the dog for over an hour on the floor of their vet’s office. He (the dog, not the vet) was very playful and interested in us, especially fond of the Velcro on G’s jacket (Velcro was actually another contender for his name). We walked out of the vet’s office to set the adoption process in motion and had the hardest time to leave the dog behind. At that point Micro was not really concerned with people, they came and went and he didn’t seem to miss them once they were gone – completely different with dogs though, as I learned when I started taking him to the dog park. I could have left: as long as he had doggie friends, he was fine.

We got a house visit from a member of RSPCA the next week, and got approved immediately (YEY!). Grit took a week off from work – a sort of a ‘puppymoon’, as someone at the dog park called it later that year. They also had just started the adoption process. We could have taken the puppy with us on the day of the approval, but I was so scared to do something wrong with the dog (or in another words, a piece of little chicken shit to mess up the dog, since it’s my first one), that we only visited him again for a few hours and waited another five days, until G’s holiday, to pick Micro up.

It’s really the best thing we have done last year. Why a rescue dog and not one from the breeder? Well, personally I prefer a cross over a pure breed, and G didn’t mind. It’s definitely more ‘work’ with a rescue dog. Generally speaking,  they all come with their issues, and you need to work with them and work out how to help them get through these (lots of work, as I said). We watched countless videos with dog trainers – and yes, also with the ‘dog whisperer’. The most important thing I took away from that was that you can ‘tune into the dog’s energy’, which – if you ever have done any Eastern form of sport or medicine – should come very easy to you. We had one lesson in a puppy class – definitely not the ‘positive training’ kind of person (although they had advertised themselves as that), and neither the dog nor us were happy at the end, so we never went back. I found a lot of great tips with Zak. And we have a fantastic dog walker really close to us, even though it wasn’t love at first sight for Micro, we were finally able to let Micro to go with the pack and he came back so zen, it was great!

Micro with his friends Trudi and Squeeky

Having Micro has forced me to go out and talk to people – I never talked to so many people in 12 years of living in London! – in my darkest days, when I thought I completely messed everything up (PhD, life in general, you know the whole thing). My natural instinct would have been to hide under my blanket and never come out again. Not so much luck with a puppy that needs to be taken out every 2 hours and you need to have high positive energy to make him think the outside is fun and (please) follow me there. I learned a lot about dogs that year, made new friends and I’m very grateful for it. Here is to (hopefully) many more years to come!

Micro and his friend Austin unusually asleep




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