Nothing like the end of a year and the beginning of a new one to cause us to do some accounting–of things accomplished, and things desired for the future. This morning I was doing a different kind of accounting, looking at book sales as much out of curiosity as anything else, and discovered that the best selling book from my website for the last four years is Love Has No Age Limit. It’s sold over 48,000 copies in just the last four years. (The Puppy Primer is close behind, at over 44,000.)
I gotta say, that made me really, really happy. Dr. Karen London (see her columns in Bark Magazine) and I co-wrote the book as a labor of love for all the wonderful people who adopt adult or adolescent dogs. It seemed to us that there were lots of books on what to do when bringing home a puppy, but not about older dogs who have had other homes, and possibly other loves, in their past.
Both of us have brought adult dogs into our own homes, and, in spite of all of our training and experience, felt moments of primal panic. Who among us has not adopted a dog, and asked ourselves at one point in the process, usually around 3 AM, “What the hell have I done?” So we wrote a book about how best to help a dog transition from one home into your own, and kept the price of the book as low as possible in order for shelters and rescues to give it away for free if they could.
It starts out with two short stories from our own lives:
Bugsy was in trouble when Karen first met him. Half Black Lab and half handsome stranger, he was a 60-pound, two-and-half year old who sometimes sat on cue but had no other training. More problematically, he barked at visitors, lunged at other dogs when on leash, chased cars, and would sometimes take off if he got loose outside. After Karen adopted him, patience and consistent training allowed him to progress so much that he became her demo dog in training classes, assisted her in treating dogs who were reactive to other dogs and took long, off-leash walks in the country.
Bo Peep was going to be put down. A young Great Pyrenees, she was born with structural problems and couldn’t stand up on her hind legs. She dragged herself forward by her forelegs, pushing the straw on the barn floor behind her like a seal through water. That’s when Patricia took her in, wondering what in the world she was thinking. One year and three surgeries later, Bo Peep was a healthy and happy sweetheart of a dog who was loved by people, other dogs and the sheep she gently guarded for the next nine years.
The book goes on to describe how to prepare for the new dog, what to do (and not to do) the day of “homecoming,” how to handle the first few days, establishing routines in the weeks to follow, getting to know each other, and behavior problem solving 101. We are both gratified at how well it’s done, it feels great.
Here’s what I’d love to hear from you: What is YOUR story of your adopted dog’s homecoming? What did you find helpful? What did you wish you’d known? I’m pretty sure that a lot of readers are going to love hearing the stories of people who write in. Can’t wait.
MEANWHILE, back on the farm: It was Maggie’s seventh birthday January 3rd. Holy moly, hard to believe. She got her absolute favorite food–vanilla ice cream. Although I’ve never tested it beside chicken or steak, so who knows really. Here’s a terrible photo of her eating her ice cream, which took about .000001 of a second and made taking a good photograph impossible without 3 hands.
Here she is just a month after we got her, at about 15 months of age. How time flies! It is with complete and utter objectivity that I claim she is the most gorgeous dog in the world. (Do not tell Tootsie I said that.)
Maggie didn’t get to come, but Jim and I had a wonderful New Year’s Eve afternoon at Olbrich Botantical Gardens which has a large indoor conservatory filled with tropical plants. Orchid season is just beginning, and it was a such a treat to see color again:
This carnivorous pitcher plant caught my eye, such amazing, innovative creations!
May the new year be full of amazing things for you too!