More Changes to My Life

About a month ago, I adopted a puppy. He’s a border collie – pit bull mix. He & his siblings were surrendered to The Pit Bull Pen, a local animal rescue. I was more interested in getting an adult dog so I wouldn’t have to deal with puppy issues, but a few things worked against that plan. First, any dog I adopt needed to be proven cat-friendly or young enough to train to respect cats. The Pit Bull Pen only had one adult dog that fit that description. Second, based upon my conversation with a person working for the rescue, she decided a puppy named Frogger was a better fit for my lifestyle and desire to have a running & hiking buddy.

Jim & I went to meet Frogger at his foster home. He was living with one of his littermates, Squid. They were both adorable, but I fell hard for Squid. He may have been the runt of the litter, and he had an issue with his eye that hadn’t fully resolved itself. And Squid chose me.

I brought him home a few days later. Jim thought Trooper a better name than Squid, as the pup is going to accompany me on hikes; thus, he’s my “little trooper.” I liked the name Squid better, but Jim didn’t want a dog, and despite that he’s being quite the trooper in helping me deal with dog duties; thus, it’s fair to let him name the pup.

The rescue guessed that Trooper’s adult weight will be 50-60 pounds. He’s currently gaining a couple pounds a week and he’s already 26 pounds (at fourteen weeks). His growth weight will slow down, but I suspect he’ll be every ounce of that 60 pounds. I’m picking him up every day or two so it’s not a total shock when he’s full-sized. (If he’s injured while we’re hiking or running, I’ll need to be able to carry him to safety. I’m definitely going to need to work on strength training to accomplish that goal.)

The issue with his eye is thought to be an injury he suffered before being surrendered that wasn’t treated. His left eye is cloudy & I cannot see a discernable iris in it. He can see with that eye, but my best guess is that he sees shadows & shapes. I’ve seen him trip over things when he suddenly shifts direction to his left; that’s why I think he doesn’t see well. Fortunately, it’s my habit for a leashed dog to walk on my right side. That will put his “good” eye facing out, and his not-so-good eye on the safe side.

While the goal is that Trooper will be my hiking & running buddy, we haven’t been able to leave the yard. Parvovirus is really bad here, and the rescue made me promise Trooper would not leave our yard until he was fully vaccinated against parvo. (He had his last inoculation last week, but the vet recommended we wait another ten days to give him full protection.) I haven’t done any running – or even walking – since we brought Trooper home. And because he’s a puppy, I’ll need to ease him in slowly. It’s recommended we avoid any strenuous running until he’s a year old, and even with the hiking it’s going to need to be at his pace.

The advantage of easing him in is it means I’m easing back into my fitness routine. My body can use that kind of gentle resumption of training instead of my usual “let’s train for a 50K!” mentality. And because he won’t be able to run at a training pace until next August, I intend to make 2021 all about hiking. Our first trip out of the yard will probably only be around the block – and it may take an hour! – but I’ve decided I can maximize these walks by wearing a weighted pack while I’m walking him.

I’ve been working with Trooper on walking on a leash. I bought an adjustable harness early on, knowing it’ll likely end up being too small. But I want the harness to feel “normal” to him.

So far, he’s only been in the truck on five occasions: the trip home from Petsmart the day I adopted him, a couple of errands (to get him accustomed to being in a vehicle), and two trips to the vet. It hasn’t gone well. When we got home from the vet last week, he refused to get out of the truck. He seemed genuinely fearful. I had to carry him into the house. Once we were in the house, he relaxed & jumped out of my arms. I know this is temporary, but I feel so sorry for him! I’ve read that some pups enter a fearful phase at four months, and that may be part of this. Also, being confined to our house & backyard hasn’t broadened his horizons much.

Last Saturday, I took him out to the front yard. It might as well have been another planet. He refused to walk on pavement. I carried him to the far side of the driveway & we slowly walked back. He was happier in the grass, but he was afraid to approach the street. It took about ten minutes to get from near the fence to near the sidewalk. We’d walk a few steps, he’d flop down, and once he was comfortable we walked a few more steps. It took lots of encouragement & several treats to get him out close to the sidewalk – close to, not on.

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