This past weekend was an eventful one for Chris and I. We welcomed a new puppy into the family, Teddy a 4 month old Labrador Retriever!
We had been talking for a few months about adding a new dog to the family. Our golden retriever, Cali, is getting close to three years old, and we wanted a companion and playmate for her. We had planned to wait until the weather started to warm up, since it just makes EVERYTHING easier! Over the past few weeks I have been perusing Petfinder (a website and app that lists adoptable pets) daily, looking to see if there were any pups that matched what we were looking for. We wanted a young, active, smart, and playful dog that would get along well with Cali, our two cats, and the other animals at the farm.
Two weeks ago we had friends visiting for the weekend, and they brought along their yellow lab, Maple. Maple is full of energy, has lots of stamina, and is so sweet! She did so well staying with us at the farm, and Cali had a blast playing all weekend long. The weekend with our good friends and Maple made me all the more excited about the possibility of finding a second dog.
“Sweet Sam is a 4 month old purebred yellow lab with AKC registration paperwork looking for his forever family. Sam lost his family due to unexpected health issues within the family. Sam is an energetic happy go lucky boy looking for an active family with a large yard to run and play in. He would do well with another active playful dog in the home as well. He is good with dog savvy kids 5 and up, housebroken, crate trained, loves to play, rides well in the car, walks well on a leash and knows his basic commands. Sam is micro chipped, vaccinated, de wormed and current on parasite preventions.”
Based on the description, he sounded like the perfect match for farm life and for our family. The next evening I showed Sam to Chris and asked Chris to read the description. He gave me the go ahead to submit an application. I was so excited about Sam, that I was nervously shaking while filling out the application. Shortly after submitting the application, the adoption organization sent me a response that read: “Well I couldn’t have written a better application myself. You’re everything we’ve been looking for, for him! Did you want to meet him tomorrow, or a day this week?” I was over the moon excited to hear we met and even exceeded their expectations. We scheduled a time the very next day to drive down to the rescue to meet Sam.
That night I told Chris I knew I would have a hard time sleeping, to which he responded, “why?” Well, of course it was because I was just so excited to meet Sam! Whenever I have anything on my mind I have a hard time sleeping. I remember being 6 years old and lying awake all night because I was so excited about starting 1st grade. It was the same thing last Friday night, lying awake thinking about Sam, and how he would be with Cali, and how we would arrange our work schedules, how excited I was, etc. etc.
Saturday morning Chris and I drove down with Cali to Seneca Falls, NY, where the rescue is located. The rescue is about an hour drive away, and we spent the whole time talking about Sam and the decision we were potentially about to make. In my excitement, I had sent Sam’s picture to a number of close friends and family members. To some, the idea of us adding another dog to the family wasn’t surprising, and they were excited for us. However, I did receive some push back from a few. I think it is hard for a lot of people to understand our lifestyle. I imagine many people wonder why we would want to be so tied down to so many animals, and by the time, financial, and emotional commitments that our lifestyle brings. For us, the joy, love, and companionship that come with having a lot of different animals around makes the commitments 100% worth it! Plus, once you have a farm with so many different animals to care for, adding one more really doesn’t change a whole lot. I’m sure there are those of you out there that can completely understand this lifestyle and the joy that it brings.
We arrived at the rescue, which is located at a K9 “resort” that has boarding, daycare, grooming, training, and a small store. The place was clean, well-kept, and not at all stressful. A staff member led us into a small room where we waited for someone to bring Sam in to meet us. Ten or so minutes went by and I was anxiously waiting, again shaking a bit due to nerves and excitement. My biggest fear was that we would fall in love with Sam and for some reason not be chosen to adopt him. When they brought him in, Cali was super excited to play. The two dogs ran around for a bit, figuring each other out. Eventually they both settled down and we had some time to spend with Sam. Honestly, you can’t really get to know a dog in less than an hour, but we were quickly able to tell that Sam respected Cali’s boundaries, would make a great playmate, and loved people.
After a little while, another staff member came in and told us that Sam was ready to go that very day and that we could take him home with us. We were both pretty surprised, but so excited! We talked with the staff member a bit about Sam’s background and history before coming to them. Sam had been purchased, along with his brother, from a lab breeder in the area. After only having the pups for a short time, the family encountered unexpected health issues, and brought the two pups to the rescue. The staff member also handed us his paperwork, including his AKC registration, and all the records of his shots. We received a “goodie bag” with food, toys, treats, and even were given a leash and collar to take him home with, since we hadn’t brought one with us. We paid his adoption fee and then took an adoption photo before heading home.
The car ride home was quite loud, with a lot of barking coming from the little pup, almost the whole way home. During our drive we talked about changing Sam’s name. Since he is so little, he hadn’t really learned his name yet, so we were able to pick out a new one. Immediately, I suggested Teddy. It’s cute, short, and comes with a whole lot of possible silly nick names: Teddy bear, Ted, Theodore, the list goes on. When we arrived home we gave Teddy time to acclimate to the house and our other indoor critters. He met Junior, our two and half year old sassy tabby cat. Teddy was terrified of Junior at first, I don’t think he had ever seen a cat before. The first day our other cat, Piper, didn’t come out at all to see him. She tends to be more reserved with new people and new animals, and likes to stay in a safe spot until she adjusts. We also took Teddy on an afternoon walk, and he impressed us with his ability to walk well on a leash. He also is very well behaved off leash!
The first night Chris and I made the mistake of leaving Teddy in a crate for a few hours while we met up with some friends. This was a bad call, but the plans had been made in advance, and one thing I do not like is flakiness, so I did not want to cancel the plans. We had a great time out with friends, but we arrived home to a horrendous smell and a mess. Teddy had been so anxious that he pooped all over the crate. This was completely our fault, we shouldn’t have expected him to be calm and ready for that, his first night in a new home. We spent the next hour or so cleaning up the mess. Chris decided to sleep downstairs on the couch for the night to see how Teddy would do sleeping next to him. The good news is that Teddy is great at sleeping through the night, he doesn’t make a peep, but that first day we did discover that Teddy has some separation anxiety, which makes a lot of sense. At four months old he has been in four different settings: the breeder, his first home, the rescue, and now us! That’s a lot of moving around for such a young little guy.
I took the day off on Monday to spend time with him and to create a plan for when we are not home. Teddy even got to meet my in-laws pup, a collie-shepherd mix named Tucker (pictured below).
Over the past few days we have worked on slowly introducing the crate to help with the separation anxiety. We are feeding him in the crate and giving him peanut butter in a Kong to make it a positive experience. He also slept in the crate the last couple of nights and has done great. This morning was the first time he was in the crate for a period of time without barking! It was very exciting for us. Those of you who have crate trained pups can relate to the feeling.
This week Teddy has been going to doggie day care all day while we are at work, which will hopefully help with his separation anxiety. He LOVES it, and we are glad we are able to do that for him while we get him used to a new schedule. Soon we will transition to using the crate at home and stopping by mid-day or having someone else stop by to let him out. Eventually, we hope he will be able to stay in our “office” with Cali, which has a doggie door attached and a large dog run. That way he can be home all day and still have access to the outdoors to go to the bathroom and play.
Despite the challenges of taking on a new puppy, Teddy has already brought so much joy into our home! The cats already tolerate him and even seem to like him, Cali loves having a playmate, and he is already turning into the best little farm dog. We have also introduced him to all of the farm animals: our goats, chickens, and horses, species he may have never come across if he hadn’t come to live at the Sunshine Farm. At first Teddy wasn’t so sure about our paint horse, TJ, but now he seems very confident and curious about an animal that is WAY bigger than him! The video below shows the two of them yesterday.
Quick Facts About Teddy:
- He is a purebred yellow lab, with AKC paperwork and all!
- He is 4 months old, born in late November
- He does not like when you leave him, he wants to be by your side, all the time
- He loves chasing leaves as they blow in the wind. I’m guessing his favorite season will be the fall!
- He loves other dogs, and so far gets along with any dog he meets
- He is very smart! Just yesterday as I was taking the peanut butter out of the cabinet, he ran into his crate to wait for me to give it to him. I think his first family taught him a lot during his short time with them.
- He is an EXCELLENT retriever! A few minutes after we arrived home with him, I threw him a ball, he ran to get it, brought it back, and dropped it down right in front of me. Watch Teddy retrieve in the video below.
- He is the first dog I’ve ever adopted from a rescue (growing up, and as an adult), and I 100% recommend it to anyone!
I have also started writing a post about the rescue vs. breeder debate and my feelings on it. I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions as I put it together! It is certainly not a black and white issue.
Thank you all for reading about the newest member of the Sunshine Farm family! We hope you love him as much as we do.
All my best,