The puppies had been born, all eight of them, and we had returned home to Andorra. We had shared a magical experience. Scary, but magical. Yet, still it hadn’t crossed our minds to actually have one of the puppies ourselves.
Slowly, though, the idea began to form in my head that it might not be such a bad thing after all. The things that were limiting factors previously no longer seemed so impossible to overcome.
- We don’t have the space
- We live in an apartment, so, no, there’s not a huge amount of space for a dog, but, having observed Jake and Ruby as long as we’d known them, it’s clear they don’t actually need a lot of space inside. They snooze their way through the day. They’re not massive Labradors, anyway. And one thing we do have is outside space in abundance. Just a few paces from our door are hundreds upon hundreds of kilometres of mountain walks, perfect for exercising a young dog.
- Additionally, we were hunting for a property in Spain at the time, and that would definitely have a lot of land, meaning that for half the year, they would have more than enough of their own space to wander around, even before we started out on walks.
- We like to travel
- Most of the time, we travel within Europe, so there’s no reason why a dog wouldn’t be able to do that, too. If it wasn’t convenient for the dog to come, we’d have a friend look after it, or else – once we’d found our Spanish property – would have someone come and stay there with it.
- To be honest, once we had found our property, we’d be spending most of our “holiday” time there anyway, doing it up, so there probably wouldn’t be any trips farther afield for a good few years.
- We have the ferrets
- Dogs and ferrets can get along just fine. They make good hunting partners, so, as long as introductions are done properly, there shouldn’t be any bother.
- I work long hours
- I work from home, though, so a puppy would never be left alone for long periods of time, and I was set up perfectly for toilet training and the like. Moreover, as the puppy grew and started needing more exercise, it would force me to get out of the house, which is something that I could go days without doing.
When I approached J about it, he obviously raised all these points, and I already had answers for them, but, since it would be a massive change for both of us, I let him have the final decision. It was a painful day or so while he contemplated it.
He said yes! YAY!
Well, obviously, or I wouldn’t be here writing this today.
We phoned our friends to see if there were any pups available in the litter, and there were! We were about to head away on holiday, so we arranged to go and visit on our return. Better than that, our friends were going to take advantage of our visit and take a few days of holiday themselves, so we got to look after all the pups for nearly a whole week!
They were just under six weeks of age when we went to visit, and full of bubbly personalities. Some were clearly more mischief than the others. I was slightly thankful that the one named after me (for helping out with the whelping) was spoken for, as she was a little monster, as were the two black boys that our friends were keeping.
In fact, we had three to choose from; one pale yellow boy, Jebs, and two black girls, Charlie and Georgie. We had no preconceived ideas about what sex or colour we wanted, so it really was a case of spending some time with them, getting to know them. Luckily for us, we had several days over which to do this. Yet still, by the time we were supposed to be leaving, we still hadn’t made up our minds. We had narrowed the choice to between Jebs and Charlie – sorry, Georgie, but out of the two black girls, Charlie had a little more “fizz”. But, a yellow boy or a black girl? There was nothing to choose between their personalities. They were both the right amount of mischief. J suggested we take them both, but I’d read about “Litter Mate Syndrome”, so knew it was a bad idea to house two littermates together.
In the end, it was little more than a coin-toss which made us decide to choose Charlie and so, decision made, we headed home, to return to collect her when she was eight weeks old.
Back she came with us, and she was everything we had imagined. Hard work!! I had read every piece of information I could find, joined up at wonderful Labrador Forum for advice, and thought I knew what I was letting myself in for. Well, there’s only so much you can learn from reading, and the rest comes from experience, as I’m sure any new mother will tell you.
Still, I couldn’t shake the thought of Jebs. We kept tabs on what was happening to him. He was maybe going to mutual friends of ours for a while, but then they decided it wasn’t the right time for them. When I got the phone call to ask if we knew anyone else who might want a pup (bearing in mind that this was rural France, where people don’t see the value in pedigree dogs with many Field Trial Champions in their ancestry, even when being sold for half the price they’d go for in the UK), I delved back into researching Litter Mate Syndrome. I devoured every article, especially those explaining why it was such a bad idea to take on two. Still, I came out believing that it could be done, with the right care. Of course, there were plenty of anecdotes of people having siblings who had no special attention whatsoever and worked out fine, but I’m the sort of person who reads the awful reviews of a destination to work out whether the things people are complaining about would bother me or encourage me.
In this case, I thought that I could avoid the major problems so we gave our friends a call and arranged to pick Jebs up a few days later, at the age of 14 weeks.
And that is the story of how we went from no dogs and no intention of ever having dogs, to two Labradors in the space of a couple of months. No months of research, just a lot of gut feelings and heart ruling the head. I wouldn’t do it that way again, but I wouldn’t change what I have for the world.