We are coming up on a very special anniversary, and I have found myself reflecting a lot on this wild ride we have been on.
In March 2014, I hung up the phone feeling excited with an edge of determination. I had just seen an ad on Craigslist about a litter of Golden Retriever puppies that were three weeks old and as they would be needing forever homes, the breeders were accepting applications and deposits. After an affirmative from D, my significant other, we talked with the breeders and after careful consideration decided to place a deposit for a pup of our own. It was a mad dash to the bank (because I’m a competitive nutcase) where we placed a hold for our future golden-baby and with relief, were informed by the breeders that we had the pick of the litter.
The day was clear, the sky was blue, and our hopes were high, so dutifully, we shelved any nagging concerns about what puppy ownership would be like and bathed in the excitement. Let’s cut to the chase; I’m an organizer, a planner, and I love everything being in order. The Kon Mari method is my bible. How hilarious it must have been to everyone we told that we were going to be puppy parents: two full-time working adults living on the top floor of an apartment complex in Alaska would be committing to a life with a puppy. The paws, the teeth, the chewing, the messes, and the mischief. I don’t like to half-ass anything.
When the litter reached their six-week milestone there we were, getting lost twice and winding down a forested neighborhood, before pulling up to a fresh looking home overlooking a large green yard with three happy Golden Retrievers wiggling with delight and eager to greet us. We met the breeders and they showed us to a comfortable, clean and well-housed outdoor kennel where the puppies ran to investigate the newcomers. Gulp.
We had decided we wanted a male, so the fluffballs were separated by gender and we were swarmed by exuberant and curious golden bodies and cool wet noses. It was easier to pick our boy than we thought. Though all of the puppies were overwhelmingly sweet, we were each drawn to one of the boisterous brothers. With mom and dad playing fetch athletically in the yard behind us, it was impossible not to be impressed by their color, coordination, and flair. The breeders talked of the dogs like they were family, and it was obvious they were well treated, well mannered, and thoroughly cared for.
Klaus honestly picked D; he made sure he was king of that dog pile and made it clear that D was his person. He was playful, alert, yet sweet and snuggly – our perfect blend. He was given a special collar and the #1 to distinguish him from his brothers and we were told we could pick him up in two weeks, on his eight-week birthday.
When the pick-up day finally came, I was a bundle of nerves. At the time I didn’t handle stress very well and I was suddenly hyper-aware of what we were about to do. Everyone was giving me advice, I assume on a level only comparable to what to do (or for the love of God NOT to do) when you’re pregnant and whether or not to vaccinate your children. I wish I had the laissez-faire attitude that D possesses but then there wouldn’t be any humor to our life.
From that first day, I can say that I have a sliver of an idea of how parents feel. Emotions and reactions ranged from clapping because he pottied outside and not on the rug! Breathing a sigh of relief when we managed to successfully bathe him! Celebrating with glee when he only woke up once during the night!
Our first night with Klaus was an exciting and comfortable success, but then D left for two weeks of training and it was just me versus a 5-pound golden baby. Terror, dear friends. Terror.
Klaus and I had a rough go of things at first. Potty training was more difficult being on the top floor of an apartment complex, but we muddled through. He and I didn’t connect emotionally at first and I was searching for ways to understand his puppy-brain without stressing too much. At that point, I was meeting his basic needs and implementing training, but I wasn’t enjoying him which made me feel like a monster. Which as it turns out isn’t an uncommon feeling.
Slowly but surely, we figured each other out, though, but that’s a story for a later date. In the meantime, check in on Klaus’ adventures on Instagram at @goldennorthklaus
+ We have since adopted two cats and one retriever. I have volunteered in our local animal shelter and we are pro-adoption!