Many of you probably already know we got a puppy because Brad already posted a picture on facebook. It’s true.
If you want the short story: we have a dog. It is a four month old Jack Russell Terrier. His name is Maxwell, he also goes by Max.
Here is the longer version. (And it’s long)
For years, our daughter Ellianna has been wanting a dog. She has begged. She has bargained. She has tried to “prove herself responsible”. She has really wanted one. Brad and I are NOT dog people. We think puppies are cute, but have had no desire to own one and take on the responsibility that comes with it. We have discussed many times over the years if we should get a dog or not and why.
We kept landing on no for the answer. We eventually began to consider it based on where we live now. We have a lot of outside space and are home most of the time. We have all tile floors, which is no small thing with an animal living in your house…and potty training. So, we began to wrap our minds around us, as in the Carter family, getting a dog. We finally landed on, it would be nice for the girls to have a dog since they all really want one and we will try really hard to like it too. That is where we are right now. Trying REALLY hard!
We decided to “give” the girls a dog for Christmas, however, we were in the States. So, no biggie. We gave them some dog essentials like a leash (called a lead here) and a collar. And don’t forget the “how to take care of your dog” book. Perfect. We were all set.
Christmas morning came (the girls had NO idea we were even considering it) and the stuff was all set out to surprise them. Brad and I were all excited that we were totally getting the “best thing they could ever want”!! They had no idea why there was a leash, collar and dog book. I mean, none! They were clueless. They saw those things first and just went on with a bewildered look. They finally concluded the collar was for one of the stuffed animals they got for Christmas.
At this point, Brad and I looked at each other and instead of being disappointed, we realized we still had a way out. We were not as committed as we thought we would be. We could just go along with the bewilderment and move on.
But, in my heart of hearts, I could not do it. We finally just had to tell the girls we were going to get a dog when we got back to Swaziland.
I don’t know much about dogs, but I had heard and read that Jack Russell’s are like snake dogs. They will find snakes and then warn you or kill it or something. So, being a little concerned for my children who roam around campus, I thought this would be a good breed to get. I am of the opinion that if you are going to get a pet it should give back to you in some way. Chickens, eggs…cows, milk. So, this was the way this dog could give back to us, it would ease my mind and, in theory, help to keep my children safe if they came across a snake. I gave in.
I thought it would not be a hard job to find a dog when we got back to Swaziland. I had seen them advertised before we left. It turns out, I was wrong! I thought we would get one the first weekend we were back.
After searching high and low I figured out there were no Jack Russell’s in Swaziland. I called around all over and everyone kept telling me we would have to get one from South Africa. Really? Get a dog from another country!
I was beginning to think maybe a Jack Russell was not the kind of dog we should get. I searched some classifieds in Swaziland and found a King Charles. I got really excited, because for as long as Ellianna has wanted a dog this is the kind of dog she wanted. She saw a King Charles puppy once and that is when this love for dogs all began. So, I thought, no big deal. We will just get this KC puppy and go on. Well, after several email exchanges with someone, I figure out this is a scam. There is no puppy…and the guy emailing with me is in China. And I only thought South Africa was far away.
Next I found another type of dog. It turned out to be a scam, just like the first one. I’m not sure who would actually fall for this kind of thing, but I guess people do. Readers, be very careful!
After searching the animal shelters and many more phone calls, I finally found someone who had a Jack Russell…in South Africa. I was so excited I finally found one. It was mid-week, but after talking to the lady I just knew we would drive there that Saturday, get the dog and be done with all the searching.
The lady sent me a picture of a real dog, named Chocolate, and we all agreed he was cute and we would try to get this dog. After asking some questions we figured out we had to have some papers signed to get the dog across the border. No biggie, the lady said she would just take the papers and have the vet sign them and we could come get the dog.
Without going into all the details and multiple delays, the short story on this was the vet would not sign the papers until he got a rabies shot. No biggie, right? the lady would just take him in and get the shot and we would be able to go get him. Well, one problem led to the next and as it turned out, we had to wait for 30 days from when the dog got his shot so he could be checked again. So, what was going to be a weeks wait turned into over a month of waiting.
We had lots of disappointment and time to work on our patience over the past month, especially. It was hard, and good all at the same time.
Finally the day came when we knew the papers were signed. We set out to collect our dog, once named Chocolate. It was a long drive, about 4 hours one way. Much of the way there I was having like hundredth thoughts, or maybe even thousandth thoughts…like second thoughts, but much more than just second. I was still not sure I wanted to have a dog (read responsibility) join our family. But, it is for the kids, right?
So on we went, in the pouring down rain. We finally arrived and laid eyes on Chocolate for the first time. He was cute. So were the other 20 or so dogs these people had. They live on a farm and have several different kinds of dogs. We got a chance to ask questions and play with the puppy for a little while. The whole time we were there I felt like I did the first time I was bringing a baby home from the hospital. Like, someone is really going to trust me with this animal that I know nothing about. But, they were. We said our goodbyes and we were off.
The way home was much better than I expected, in some ways. The dog, now named Maxwell, was so mellow we kept wondering if something was wrong with him. Was he sick? We had never seen a puppy so calm. He did great. We even crossed the border without any problems…or having to show the papers. The thing that made the trip difficult was the fog on the road. We were driving through mountains where it had rained earlier, in the dark and it was so foggy you could not even see the lane next to you. Driving in Africa at dark is not the same as driving in the US after dark. Cows roam the streets along with other things. I just kept thinking that if a cow was in the road we were gonners. Thankfully, we made it home safe, but it was rough…and I was not even doing the driving. It was so stressful! But the dog was great!
We finally made it home about 10pm at night to find out the storm had also come to our house and the electricity was out. We also learned we should not leave our windows open if we are going to be gone for so long. Ellianna’s bed was completely soaked with water. We each got our flashlights and made our way in, but not without a commotion from some other resident dogs on campus. They wanted to make sure we knew they were here first and our little dog was not welcomed by them!
The first night Max did great! He was still calm and probably overwhelmed by the Carter’s. I mean, who’s not? He woke up the next morning and was a playful puppy. The girls have had a lot of fun getting to know him and trying to all be in charge of him. I think Annie thinks he is just a baby and wants to carry him all around. The other kids on campus have come many times to play with him and seem to have lots of fun.
The second night when we went to put him in his cage he cried for over 3 hours. This is the real moment Brad and I knew we had made a terrible mistake. What in the world were we suppose to do with a crying/barking dog? What was our flat mate going to think about us in the morning? I was so embarrassed to even think about it. Eventually, I put the dog outside, in the rain and prayed no other dog or other animal would get him. He cried for a few minutes, but then went to sleep. It was rough.
After some counseling from some very kind facebook friends, we learned we should just let him cry and he would get over it. So, the next night I was all prepared for misery. He did cry, but only for about 15 minutes. Much better!
In a bit I will be putting Maxwell in his cage for the night. Wish me luck! Hoping he learns to love it tonight!
Brad and I are trying really hard to learn to love this dog. He is fine when he is not barking and pooping and stuff. I’m sure it will happen, I hope it will. But, it sure does make me happy when I hear the squeals of delight and laughter from our three precious girls. I guess it makes it all worth it. Wish us luck!