Maple and I walk a lot. Often children cling to their parents as we cross them on the street. (Not that Maple is so scary but not all kids have had much exposure to dogs.) On one particular day, Maple and I spied a mother, father and a little girl who could not have been more than two years old. Her parents were holding her hand as they approached. The little girl then let go of her parents and came running with her arms wide open as if Maple was her long lost pet. She wanted to hug her. As she drew closer I thought to myself, "perhaps I should move Maple out of the way….what if my dog does not react appropriately?" They say you can never predict the behaviour of an animal. Still, I decided to wait it out and see. The little girl wrapped her arms around Maple and gave her a giant hug. In return Maple sat down and licked her all over. It was so pure, innocent and beautiful. It was my proudest moment as her owner. Maple had risen to the occasion.
If dogs could talk, Maple told me she loved me yesterday. When I decided to sit down on a bench, she hopped up and then to my dismay put her head into the crook of my arm so tight…it felt like a hug. Although I believed it impossible for me to love this dog more than I already did, my heart almost exploded. We pet her and hug her all the time but we try to keep in mind that she is, after all an animal, evidently with a lot of feelings. Surprisingly more than some humans I know.
Before Maple came into my life I was actually afraid of dogs. Then why did I get one? Well, my reasoning for getting a dog was a combination of many things. Firstly, I was at a place in my life when I wanted to do something completely outside of my comfort zone. A dog seemed like a great new challenge. Actually it was either a dog or a nose ring. Luckily for everyone around me, I chose a dog. A nose ring would probably not have been that appealing. (I still kind of want to pierce my nose though)
My journey to acquire a dog began when I grew a fondness for my girlfriend’s golden doodles, Penny and Ginger. They were so friendly and fluffy and seemed to add so much to her family. Members of my husbands family had also purchased golden doodles and they seemed very satisfied. As a small experiment, I dog sat for them and it went well. Soon after, my twelve year old son began to express an interest in getting a dog. We then did some preliminary research. Only, I then needed to convince my husband. It took a little extra work but I promised to be the primary caretaker for our animal. We then set out in search of our little Maple.
We found a breeder in Southern Ontario. I specified to her that I wanted a smaller, female golden doodle puppy. She mentioned that she would only have one available in six months. That seemed like a good amount of time to prepare psychologically for the animal that was coming to live in my human habitat. Then three weeks later the breeder phoned me to say a puppy had become available. Without her knowledge, one of the dogs had been pregnant and there was an unexpected litter. Sometimes the universe sends us messages. I just knew MY dog was in that litter.
We picked up Maple the day after my eldest son’s twelfth birthday. What a great present. Although I had seen pictures of the pups, she was even cuter than I had expected. She looked like a five pound stuffed animal. While my husband and son went moto cross racing, I went and picked up the dog with my two other children. We got caught on the 401 in a street closing due to an explosion and what was supposed to be a forty five minute drive ended up taking two hours. There I was alone with two kids and the my new pet. Someone told me that this was also a very good sign. I believe in signs.
The first year was not easy. There were times when I asked myself, “what have I done?” Maple Christened every one of our carpets with poop, pee and vomit. She chewed up my hands with her baby teeth. She attacked me while I attempted to walk her and tore holes into my clothing. Emergency trips to the vet were made on a regular basis. All this for an animal. But she was cute and cuddly and sweet and she made us all so happy with her puppy face.
Maple has become my loyal companion, she gives so much yet only expects food, water and exercise in return. That’s how simple our relationship is. Simple and beautiful.
Two years ago, I would have never stepped foot in a dog park, now I pet the dobermans and give treats to the pit bulls. They lick my face.
We walk three times a day in rain, sleet and snow. Everyday I go out with my dog I meet all kinds of dog owners,. We might all be from different walks of life but we all have one thing in common, our dogs.
A very important part of our dog experience was finding a name for our pet. It had to envelop all the things we hoped our dog would be. There were a lot of bad dog names out there so it would have to be perfect. After all we were naming another member of our family.
It turned out, her name came to my oldest son while we were eating breakfast. My husband asked my kids if they wanted Maple syrup on their pancakes. Our son just said, “That’s it! Maple, that’s going to be the name of our dog.” We agreed, he had come up with a great name. It was short and sounded good when you screamed it a few times, “Maple, Maple, Maple.” Also, it went perfectly with her colouring. But most of all it represented sweetness and that’s just what she is, the sweetest dog ever.
Our family goes away often. Whether it is for a weekend or a week, we leave town about six times a year. Often it doesn’t make sense to take Maple with us. From day one, it was crucial that we find her the perfect place to go when she cannot be with us. In the beginning, the idea of leaving her with strangers made me very nervous.
Finding a kennel is easy, finding a good kennel is not. My friend gave me the name of her kennel. She mentioned that they only take the dogs out a few times a day to play. It didn’t sound great and I was far from thrilled but I needed to find a place for her to board. Luckily when I called them they were full. They gave me the name of another kennel. It ended up being a wonderful place, Maple’s home away from home.
Although it’s been almost two years, I still find it difficult to leave her at the kennel. Sometimes I feel sick the whole car ride home after dropping her off. Still, I take comfort in the fact that she runs in circles and her tail wags like crazy when we arrive there. She never seems traumatized when I bring her back home which is another good sign.
Maple had been running off leash often in a wooded area for a few days straight. There were lots of other dogs for her to interact with. Although I’ll admit my efforts were limited I did try to discourage her from devouring every stick in sight. She still managed to eat a bunch. One day I noticed that her poo was spotted with blood. She seemed fine so I resisted my inclination to panic. It seemed to have been a one time occurrence. A few days later I dropped her off at the kennel and we headed off for a ski holiday.
When I picked Maple up, the lady on duty mentioned that she had vomited a little bit. Fatigue she had said. It sounded a bit weird since Maple can run day and night and never gets tired. She is, the Energizer Battery of dogs. Upon arriving home, Maple did seem a little lethargic and even led me to the door after her final nightly pee. It turned out that she had some more business to attend to, this time poo, the mushy kind.
If I was even the slightest bit worried that she would have an accident in the night, I didn’t act on it. When she came into my bedroom at 1:00a.m. wagging her tail, I led her back into my son’s room to sleep. The next morning, there were some presents waiting for me by the front door on our carpet. I could have kicked myself for not getting up to take her outside. She was trying to tell me something, I just wasn’t listening.
It took an hour an a half just to remove Maple’s little gifts off the carpet, but it still wasn’t clean. Scrambling I called the carpet cleaners and declared a toxic emergency. They told me they could come on Thursday. That seemed like a very long time since it was only Monday. I told them to keep me in mind if they had a cancellation. An hour later, they called me to tell me they did. All of a sudden I felt pretty lucky. The carpets got cleaned the same day.
Not sure what is wrong with Maple. She still has the blood thing so I am going to the vet to find out tomorrow. I’ll keep you posted on my next post. (ha. ha.)
This morning I woke up worried. My husband got out of bed first and the kids were already awake. Hoping for the best I lay in bed listening for any alerts indicating that Maple had made the carpets her personal WC. It was quiet, a good sign. Not knowing what to expect I slowly made my way downstairs. Nervously I scanned the living room to ensure the coast was clear. Maple lay asleep in the exact same spot as I had left her the night before. It turned out that the carpets had survived the night and would live to see another day. Already the day seemed better than the previous one.
Surprisingly, Maple did not even go to the bathroom (2) on our walk. She seemed back to herself. Questioning whether to keep my vet appointment, I made the executive decision to go. I probably would have cancelled but the bleeding still had me concerned.
The vet told me that I should have just called her. That although for a human being, bleeding from one’s butt should cause great concern, for a dog it just meant irritation. She then pacified me and sent me on my merry way. She did tell me that if I wanted to avoid expensive operations, it was a good idea to keep the dog away from sticks. Apparently they can pierce their insides.
The good news is Maple is her good old self and my carpets are clean.
Although she is already two years old, Maple is still a puppy. I have heard that Golden Doodles do not mature until they are three but I have also heard that sometimes Golden Doodles never mature. We love our dog but I am really hoping that she still has some maturing to do.
Early on, when Maple was really young we kept stuffed animals, balls, bones and ropes around for her to play with. For a while these were great stimulation for her. As she grew older we encountered problems with almost all of her playthings.
1. The Stuffed Animals: Sure, these were great when she had an underdeveloped jaw but as time passed and she grew stronger, so did her bite. All of a sudden Maple could tear apart any stuffed animal within the first half an hour of having it in her mouth. We needed to be cautious about the stuffing. Stuffing could be lethal for a puppy. Before long we had to protect Maple from those cute bunnies and teddy bears.
2. Balls: Maple loved to play fetch and it was a great way to keep her occupied. Still, when we began throwing tennis balls around the living room, Maple developed a new favourite game. She began to hide the tennis ball under the expensive living room couch. What later transpired had us less than thrilled. We noticed that she had managed to claw through the stitched thread that held the fabric together at the bottom of the couch. Fetch and other ball games were banned from inside the house.
3. Bones: When Maple was really young the only bones that occupied her were the "bull's penises" (I am skeptical if these are truly authentic Bull's penises or just a thin bone made of beef) It used to take her a half and hour to get through one. These bones cost $5 and although they served as great dog sitters when I couldn't play fetch with her (only outside....!!) it soon became apparent that although Maple had become the most docile dog in history, soon not only would Maple be living at a dog shelter, our family would have to move to a homeless shelter as well. So I vowed to stop buying the bulls penises and started buying fresh fruit for the kids again.
4. Ropes: Dogs only want to play tug of war with these ropes. They cannot play with them independently. Also, I have read that if the dog wins tug of war they feel they are dominant over their owners. Really, it was hard enough to discipline her already. Ropes had a short shelf life in our house.
For months we resolved ourselves that Maple just needed lots and lots of exercise and if we pooped her out, she wouldn't really need any toys. What we didn't realize was that were pooping ourselves out too. We were back at square one. Maple needed entertainment, she need some toys.
The Toy From Hell: At the pharmacy I found this cute purple squeaky rubber dog. I couldn't resist...it seemed like the perfect toy for our perfect, well almost, perfect pup. I arrived home and couldn't wait to give it to Maple. What I hadn't realized was how loud the squeaker really was. It began to drive our household mad. Maple became so obsessed with it that when we tried to take it away from her she went mad. Now we were all going crazy. Somehow we finally managed to get it away from her. I wanted to throw it out but instead I ended up hiding it. One day I pulled it out from it's hiding place (a kitchen cupboard) and Maple saw. From that moment on she began barking at the cupboard non stop. The rubber dog became the toy from hell. It has taken a month and a half for Maple to forget that evil toy. All I want to do is forget about it. Some nights I still wake up in a sweat hearing that squeaky plaything!
I swear, I am swearing off toys for a while!