Finally, the long wait was over and it was the day Archer came to his new “forever” home. For some reason, the forever bit is sounding a bit more ominous today. Unfortunately, Archer’s arrival coincided with a mini-heatwave in the UK and an England World Cup quarter final match. We had to arrange with the breeder to pick him up earlier in the day to ensure we could get back in time for the kickoff.
I’d got up early to finish digging the dog latrine I’d started digging earlier in the week, a work only exceeded by the building efforts of the Egyptians. By about 11am it was sweltering and my back was killing me from the unusual hard labour. The hour-long drive down to Folkestone in an air condition car came as a welcome relief. When we arrived the breeder lady had done a fantastic job of having everything prepared, including:
- vaccination details – including when the next set was due
- feeding – type of food and current schedule (7am, 12pm, 5pm, supper)
- worming details – Panacur 3, 5, 7 and 1/2 weeks
- flead – frontline
- microchip details
- pedigree details including his pedigree name
- Kennel Club registration details
- contact details if there are any questions
- a couple of days worth of his puppy food
- a sheepskin blanket with his mothers/siblings smell on it
- a rope toy
- all in a lovely bag with his first “grey” collar tied around the handle (nice touch)
The puppies were in the dining room where we had seen them before. It was sweltering and they were mostly all asleep having just been fed. The mother (and uncle) were eager to say hi as always and I went over and fussed with them. I was feeling a little guilty for stealing one of her pups away from her so I promised her (and his Uncle) we’d take good care of him. I’d like to think it translated.
We completed the paperwork and said our goodbyes, promised to send photos and keep the breeder up to date with his progress. Wen got in the back of the car with Archer, and we buckled him up with a car leash. I went to get in the car and in doing so something went twang in my back, I didn’t think anything more of it.
Archer and Wen were very docile on the drive back, we had the aircon on full (music off) and they dozed most the way, stopping en route to pick up some more of his puppy kibble.
As soon as we got home we got him out of the car and straight to the dog toilet, guessing he’d need to relieve himself. I went to get out of the car and my back spasmed doubling me over, I struggled to get around the car, get Archer out and carry him through to the toilet. All the time my back giving out every couple of yards, not quite how I imagined this precious moment.
We reached the toilet and in one last effort I lowered him down onto my handy work, my back finally giving out. He wandered off a few yards and peed on the lawn, I raged silently at the rejection, luckily the sun had already bleached the grass to yellow sawdust.
Wen followed me out after dropping Archer’s stuff off and as usual, had two cats in tow. They got within a few metres of Archer before realising he was a living breathing animal. Their reaction amazingly was very subdued, they backed off slowly to a more comfortable distance and proceeded to scrutinise him from afar. Not all together impressed but not aggressive either. I think we were hugely lucky that their first meeting was on outside on open ground.
I was not feeling quite so lucky, Wen had to help me back up and into the house, where we bought Archer into the living room and he crashed out again. It was 30 degrees by this point (with the fan going) and there was little respite especially if you happened to be wearing a lovely fluffy coat.
We had family round to watch the England game. Archer slept throughout the whole match, good boy, laying near the door where there was a slight breeze. He even managed to sleep through the cheers when England went 2-0 up, I was jumping up and down throughout the entire match like a frenetic meerkat as my back continued to spasm.
After the game, we fired up the BBQ and headed out to the patio (under the gazebo) where it was a little bit fresher. Poor Archer was still struggling with the heat and I was by this point having to hand over BBQ’ing duties as the family were getting tired of my shuffling hunchback pace and occasional muted screams.
Archer’s contribution to the BBQ was to drop a truly stunning turd at least as long as he was (he had clearly been well fed) in the middle of the patio, he had tried to make it to the grass area, bless him, but we had cordoned it off. I can tell he’s going to have a great sense of timing already.
We finished the BBQ, Archer had spent the last half awake and burrowing behind me on the sofa. I’m sure he was trying to help with my back, but he’s a rubbish masseur. The Russia/Croatia game was at the halfway mark and we finished watching it before the family made their excuses and headed out.
The first night proved difficult partly because of the pup and partly because my back continued to spasm at the slightest provocation, often sending me sprawling. There are only two rules to a pup’s first night we knew them and they were the cornerstone of our strategy:
- ignore his whines, because he will whine it’s natural. If we give in all he will learn is that he gets what he wants when he whines.
- never, ever let him in your bed, ever! It sends all the wrong signals and you might as well go sleep in his crate for the use you’ll get out of it.
We had decided to put him in a pen in the bedroom with his bed and blanket (so we could hear him if he had a real problem) turned off the lights and went to sleep. Of course, he started crying 2 minutes later, first as a low sad whine and finally as a yelping scream of desperation.
We gave it 10 minutes before giving in, mostly because it was 1 in the morning and with the heat all the windows were open. In the UK opening a window passes for aircon at the height of summer. So although we would have been willing to put up with his crying, it’s fair to say most of the neighbours would not be enjoying his performance.
We took him out of the pen and comforted him (see Rule 1), we were all exhausted and at this point and if getting some sleep meant kicking a pup a few times in the night so be it. We put him on the bed (see Rule 2).
They say no plan survives first contact with the enemy but this was a complete rout. We can at least take some solace in not being the only generals to have our plan scuppered by the weather. Who would have guessed at a mini heatwave in the middle of summer, in the UK it’s unthinkable.
Once on the bed and after a bit of kicking and biting (him not us) to set some basic guidelines he finally settled down and went to sleep. We amazingly managed to make it through to 5 in the morning. I rushed him downstairs to the toilet and he did his first pee of the day on target on the AstroTurf. What a glorious sunrise and totally worth getting up at the crack of dawn and crippling myself for.
Things can only get better as the old D:Ream track goes!