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I’ve never thought of myself as a dog person, but we adopted a puppy this week. And, you know what? He’s completely adorable!

Meet Aleksander, our Lab/German Shorthaired Pointer puppy:

Aleksander, Lab/German Shorthaired Pointer, Oct. 7, 2010
Aleksander, Lab/German Shorthaired Pointer, Oct. 7, 2010
Aleksandr, Lab - German Shorthair Mix, Oct. 7, 2010
Aleksandr, Lab – German Shorthair Mix, Oct. 7, 2010
Aleksandr and Daughter, Oct. 8, 2010
Aleksandr and Daughter, Oct. 8, 2010
Daughter's legs and Aleksandr, Oct. 8, 2010
Daughter’s legs and Aleksandr, Oct. 8, 2010

While the pics above show Daughter with the puppy, Young Son is the one who spent a three-hour car ride last Saturday convincing us to get him a puppy. One of his points was that he is lonely now that Eldest Son and Daughter are away at college. Who can argue with that? He also said he’s wanted a dog as long as he can remember … at least a decade. I pointed out that he would have been about five then and he said, “Yeah, well I can’t remember from when I was five.”

He has wanted a dog for a long time and we’ve always said we didn’t have the time or money, plus we have three cats. If we need to leave the house for several days, we can put down plenty of food and water and provide clean litter and the cats will be fine. A dog needs to be checked and taken out.

During the conversation, we texted Eldest Son and Daughter to see what they thought of us getting a dog. Eldest Son replied with “ummm what?” Once he knew we were serious he told us he didn’t mind. We were nervous about Daughter’s reply because she has been very clear that she can’t stand cat hair on her clothes and she’s not going to have pets when she’s on her own. Her first text to us was “we have 3 cats ….,” which didn’t seem to be boding well. When she found out we were serious, she replied with “that’d be cool!”

After being worn down with sound arguments (he should be in debate!), we told Young Son we’d consider getting a dog. He would have to do research on the cost and various breeds. So who jumped right into research? Erik and I.

Sunday morning, Erik went online and took a bunch of tests for determining the best breed for our household. He got me involved, too. One test suggested a mixed breed, which is what I thought would be best for health reasons. Most of the other tests suggested an Anatolian Shepherd Dog as our #1 choice, with Golden Mountain Dog 2nd, followed by Golden Retriever, Collie, and Lab. As Anatolian’s and Golden Mountain Dogs are difficult to find in our area and Anatolians are the size of small horses, we passed on that breed. Erik has always been keen on Golden Retrievers and I grew up with Collies, so we looked for Gollies (a cross between the two) online.

Erik continued his research the following day, visiting the local vets to find out prices on spaying/neutering and shots. We all made a list of supplies we’d need for a puppy and Erik and Young Son priced them online and at a local store. Meanwhile, I researched crate training. Daughter kept in constant communication with us about the possibility of getting a puppy and even helped with research.

The same day (Monday), Erik went to the local Animal Humane Society to see what they had. There were two litters of Lab mixes, one comprised of two four-month-old females, the other comprised of two males and one female five-month-old puppies. The puppies had all had their first round of shots and most of them were spayed or neutered. Only one of the young females needed spaying, and she was due for that Friday (today).

Erik wanted to take Young Son and me to the Humane Society to see the puppies, but Young Son didn’t return home from school in time, so Erik and I went. I was leaning toward one of the younger females, particularly because I thought their small size wouldn’t intimidate the cats. The older puppies were already bigger than our cats.

Young Son visited the Humane Society after school the following day. He overheard the staff say that the younger puppies were a mix of Lab and Rottweiler. He didn’t like them as much as he liked the older puppies. We all returned to the Humane Society later and spent 45 minutes outside with the older litter of pups.

All of them were beautiful dogs, but we noticed that one of the males would come up to us briefly, sniff or lick and then take off. He didn’t seem to want us petting him, not a trait we wanted in a dog. The other two came right up to us and wanted us to pet them. The female pretty much tackled us every time she came over. It became obvious with observation that she was the dominant member of the pack. She wasn’t afraid to tackle the other two if they took her toy bone. The other male was affectionate, but calmer than the others. He didn’t show any fear of us and his tail was wagging constantly.

Toward the end of our visit, we met another sibling from this group, one that had previously been adopted out, but was returned due to a minor illness that the owner couldn’t manage. This dog looked nothing like the others, who were primarily black. He was white with black spots in a German Shorthaired Pointer pattern, which is how we found out the mix.

Erik and I would have been happy to choose either the female or the calmer male, so we let Young Son make the final decision. He liked both, too, but he really wanted a male dog, so that’s what he chose. He had the name picked out – the Russian form of Alexander: Aleksandr, which means “defender.” Aleksandr’s Humane Society name was Tom, which I like, too, so I’ve been thinking of him as Aleksandr Thomas Warner. (It’s the writer in me.)

We paid a $25 non-refundable deposit on Aleksandr that evening to hold him and then got to work preparing the house. We decided to use the front entry as his room and safe spot, which meant moving a large bookcase and all of Erik’s Chuck Taylor tennis shoes. (Yes, he has an obsession.) Erik picked up a crate, collar, leash, food, and toys. He bought one only one dog bowl because Young Son had purchased one years ago, which he periodically ate cereal out of. (Stainless steel dog bowls make great cereal bowls.)

We arranged to pick up Aleksandr on Thursday (yesterday).  I left work a little early in order to get to the Humane Society before it closed. As I was walking to my car, I got a text from Daughter that said, “puppy? puppy yet? can you tell I’m a little excited?” I told her she was starting to sound like a puppy.

Young Son and I arrived at the Humane Society and staff there retrieved Aleksandr while I filled out the necessary paperwork and paid the $125 balance on the adoption fee. Aleksandr was the only puppy without a collar, so I was worried about how he’d react when it was put on him. He didn’t seem to notice at all. We attached the leash, but had to carry him out of the building because he’s not leash trained yet.

The poor little fellow was shy and nervous when we got him home, going immediately into the crate we had placed in the front entry. I added a blanket to make him more comfortable. He eventually joined us on the couch for a while, snuggling in and letting us pet him, but his nose was warm and he seemed to be breathing hard. At first I thought this was because he had been separated from his littermates – he did appear to be pretty glum.

Eventually I remembered he’d had an immunization right before we took him home. We did more online research and talked to a friend who’s done a lot of dog training and we discovered that immunizations can cause low-grade fevers in dogs, just like they can in humans. Our friend also said it isn’t unusual for a dog to be sad for several days after being separated from its siblings.Considering what he’s been through the past 24-hours, a major life transition and a shot, it’s no wonder he’s been snoozing a lot and skittish about exploring much.

He’s perked up quite a bit this evening and we’ve all taken him on short forays around the yard to look and sniff. He’s doing well with the leash and the collar. There’s been one accident in the house, which isn’t bad. He’s a lovely dog with an irresistible demeanor and face. I think he’ll fit right into our family.