Our Biggest (Best) Mistakes: Buster and Indy

We adopted two puppies in May 2015. What follows are lessons learned from this event, and why it is not recommended if you want to have nice things.

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Indy’s 1st Birthday – please note Buster in the bottom left.

Disclaimer 1: I don’t have children. My two four-legged rascals are the closest thing. I can only imagine the destruction children cause…oh, and all the love and joy they bring as well…

Disclaimer 2: I whole-heartedly admit that we did not properly train Buster and Indy, which is 100% on us. If you are smart and you train your puppies, you can probably still have nice things.

 

Two is definitely more than one.

When I was little we had one dog, a black lab named Kallie. We had her from the time I was in elementary school through early high school. My parents primarily cared for her, so it wasn’t until our dog, Lola, came to live with me when I graduated from college that I truly understood what it meant to care for a pet. Lola was easy though. She was around 6 or 7 years old by the time she came to live with me, so she was well behaved and more or less trained (I had to train her to stop chasing squirrels once we moved to Chicago – this made for interesting walks in Lincoln Park).

I did not realize how much dogs cost and how much they consume until we adopted Buster and Indy. Double everything: food, vet bills, walk or daycare costs, boarding costs. This is not something you think about when you see a cute puppy at the pet store. For awhile the cuteness makes up for it, but when you realize you’re spending more on food, treats, poop bags, medication and other dog items than you are spending on yourself, you start to wonder where it is you went wrong.

Apart from cost there’s double the mess. More dog hair, more messes inside, more messes outside. If you’re a total push over like me: less room on the couch and less room in bed. (I know, I know – these are 100% my fault and I shouldn’t complain). With two dogs, there’s double the mess to clean. Invest in a good vacuum cleaner. And lint rollers.

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You cannot have nice things.

Even if you think you have eyes on the back of your head and you see everything – you don’t. And you won’t see or hear everything puppies do. Puppies are sneaky little a-holes and they will find things to chew that you didn’t even think were chewable. PSA: everything is chewable to a puppy.

There are the obvious items: shoes, socks, underwear, towels. The random things you realize they are drawn to so you put them away or up high so they can’t get them anymore.

Then the not as obvious items: carpet, couches, chairs, rugs, blankets. These are things you can’t really hide from the pups, and you’re somewhat befuddled as to why they want to chew them in the first places. Especially, when after the initial stages of chewing, you’ve purchased multiple toys and bones that are given to the puppies specifically to satisfy their non-stop destruction.

Then the really not obvious items: stairs, wood trim, side tables, storage baskets, phone cases, headphones, pens, glasses, notebooks, books, Fitbits, razors (no one was injured – amazingly), toothpaste, lip balm, thank you cards…the list goes on.

I can’t hide the stairs.

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It essentially becomes a game of:

Puppy: “Oh, you think I can’t chew that?”

Person: “No, and you really shouldn’t.”

Puppy: “Oh, ok.”

::ten seconds later::

Puppy: “I can totally chew this ____.”

::item destroyed::

If you get one puppy, expect to have some destruction and to have to keep an eye on the puppy majority of the time. If you get two puppies, expect total destruction and hide the items you care about most. Behind locked doors.

 

“We got two so that they wouldn’t be lonely.”

Um. Bullshit. Take the dog to daycare if you’re worried about it being lonely.

 

Ok, so, Buster and Indy do totally love each other and it was utterly adorable when they’d snuggle as little babies. They each had a littermate when we adopted them – Buster was in a crate with his brother, Indy was in a crate with her sister. So we knew they were used to being with another dog and we figured it’d be comforting if they had each other, especially if we are gone during the day.

Yes, they burn off energy by playing together. But when Buster and Indy play together it is wrestling, biting (in a playful way), lots of noise-making, jumping and running. Buster is around 70 pounds. Indy is around 90 pounds. That’s a lot of pounds wrestling and jumping around.

Our plan was to crate train both dogs for when we weren’t home. Lola was crate trained and her crate was a happy, safe place. She’d often go lay in her crate while we were home to take a nap. We bought a second crate and planned on crating Buster and Indy separately if we’d go out. I also had read it was important to give two dogs their own space, not to crate them together (they don’t want each other’s company all the time).

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“You can’t contain me.”

Indy had (and still has to) be coaxed into her crate and barks incessantly (our neighbors love us) half the time.

Buster managed to escape his crate every time we’d leave. Not sure how he did it, but he did. We tried putting a gate in the kitchen doorway so that he was only confined to a room, not a crate – he escaped that too. But, to Buster’s credit, he never destroyed anything once he was free. He’d often lay on the couch or on the landing of our stairway.

Point is: they don’t keep each other company. They are good at playing with each other and for taking cute pictures. If you think getting two dogs is a good idea because the dog needs a companion, just take it to daycare so it can play with other pups.

 

Patience.
I’m a pretty patient person. I get a little testy here and there, but overall I’d say I’m pretty patient. My husband is amazingly patient. It takes a lot to push him over the edge. Buster Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 7.00.07 PMand Indy have tested our patience, resulting in lost tempers, time and time again.

How could these little angels cause two patient people to want to punch holes in the wall? Oh ya know, the barking, fighting, wrestling, chewing, not listening, running away, generally bad behavior. And, like babies (I imagine), when you initially get puppies you are sleep-deprived. Pups need to go outside frequently to go potty, plus you’ll wake up in the night hearing an odd crunching sound only to realize Indy has
helped herself to your headphones for the 50th time. Or that Buster has decided it’s definitely a good idea to shred his dog bed. Or that Indy brute forced her way into the closet so that she could get out the shoe of yours she loves so much.

They are constantly misbehaving, they are destroying your home, they have no respect for your schedule, and you are not getting much sleep. All of this leaves patient people feeling a little harried.

 

Unconditional Love.

20160823_182401Awwwww.

Yes, through the destruction and frustration, even as your checking account dwindles to nothing, you do learn just how much your pups rely on and love you. And how much you care and love them.

Buster wasn’t planned. After talking about adopting puppies after Lola passed, we talked about two female beagle puppies. That’s right: two, females, beagles. Not at all what we ended up with. (When the shelter says, “beagle-mix”, don’t believe them.)

We looked online at a few shelters in the area and picked out a few puppies we were interested in, but puppies go fast. We’d look online Tuesday evening and then I’d call Wednesday morning and they’d already be adopted. We were able to “reserve” Indy – we went to the shelter, met her, got to hold her and pet her and then confirmed that we did want to adopt her. Her shelter held on to Indy and her sister a little while longer before we could bring her home.

We also found some cute baby pups at a different shelter, so one day I got off work early and decided to go to the shelter and see them in person. When I arrived they told me that none of the girls we were interested in were there anymore – they had all been adopted. I decided to take a look around and lo and behold – there was my baby Button.

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I took him into a playroom and he chewed on my shoe and pants hem – good boy. I texted Jonathan some pictures and asked if he wouldn’t mind having a boy. Obviously he didn’t have much of a choice. I was bringing Buster home. Can’t say no to that little face.

Buster was an only pup for about a week, then Indy came home. Total chaos ensued and about a year and a half later, we’re all still alive. Our home is mostly destroyed and we’ve thrown a lot of things out and replaced things. There are toys everywhere and we are constantly stepping on dog bones. We have lint rollers all over the place so that we look presentable when we leave the house. My car is covered in dog hair (even with a hammock in the back seat) and the windows are covered with nose prints. I constantly have to put the couch back together because it is a fun toy to jump over and wrestle on for the dogs. And just this morning Buster decided it would be fun to chew a Sharpie, so currently there are Buster paw smudges in a pattern on the carpet so you can follow the trail of me chasing him in order to clean him off.

All said though, we love our bad dogs. Our home wouldn’t be complete without them. There’s nothing else like a doggie’s love for you and as frustrated or upset as I get, all it takes to bring me back down is a little nose-nudge from Buster or a little paw-high-five from Indy to make me realize it is all worth it.

 

If you’re in the Chicagoland area and you’re interested in adopting a dog (or cat!) please visit these shelters. We adopted Buster from Wright-Way Rescue in Morton Grove and we adopted Indy at Heartland Animal Shelter in Northbrook.

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