Introducing Ferris! He’s my 18-week-old Pomeranian puppy.
There’s so much to say about this. Such a whirlwind of emotions: Joy, nostalgia, guilt, amusement, frustration… And that was just in the last 20 minutes. So much has changed for me since I lost Bliss and even since the last time I wrote on this blog. My life doesn’t resemble what it did before. Not to get into too much detail and make everyone all uncomfortable and squirmy (don’t you hate it when you ask people how they are and they actually tell you how they are?), but seriously, almost everything has changed since I posted in July of last year.
But back to Ferris. After 20 months, I finally decided I was ready for a new dog, and debated whether or not I wanted another Keeshond. I love the breed. Bliss was everything I wanted in a dog and more. But there were a couple of issues. First, at 30-50 pounds, a Keeshond would be too large for the small place I’m renting, and second (and more importantly), I didn’t want to try to replace Bliss.
I’d considered a Pomeranian before I found Bliss, and revisited that idea. After meeting several, I found a little guy who met what I wanted in my next dog but whose size, color (he’ll get redder with his adult coat), and gender would be far enough removed from Bliss to help avoid comparison. I brought him home last week.
And here’s where I get honest with y’all (because if I can’t be honest, why bother writing?). It’s been a bit of a struggle.
Ferris is freaking adorable. He’s smart, bouncy, active, and alert. I chose him because although he was initially a little aloof, when I picked him up he nuzzled under my chin and gave me little doggy kisses. I saw how he acted with his owners (playful and attentive) and I knew that with socialization, he’d come out of his shell a little. But although he can be affectionate, now that I know him it’s not necessarily how I’d first characterize him. “Feisty” would be a better word.
I began to get concerned when I saw a couple of instances of resource guarding. He only did it twice, but of course, my mind unfairly harkened back to Bliss whom we could never get to growl outside of playtime. This little dude at 17 weeks was already doing it. Family and friends told me it’s just a “puppy thing,” but I know better. This is the kind of thing that can escalate quickly and become a real problem later. In our first vet visit, I brought it up. Although he was gold with the vet, an assistant abruptly stuck her head in the room and Ferris started growling and barking.
“Yeah,” the vet said, “you may have an aggression problem here. This is going to need constant attention, and probably an individual trainer.” She went on in that manner until she saw my crestfallen face and stopped, saying, “I’m sorry. Probably not what you wanted to hear.” It wasn’t, especially on that day (again with the personal things, but just know that date was significant and hurtful). I took Ferris back to my car and bawled until I damn near dehydrated.
I already had a training class scheduled, but thought a trainer visit couldn’t hurt. She came over on Sunday and evaluated Ferris. She didn’t see the same thing the vet did. “Well, resource guarding isn’t great,” she said, “but it’s early enough to deal with. I don’t see aggression. He’s a pretty independent little guy, and he’s never going to be a dopey, wiggly-with-strangers type. But he may get more outgoing with socialization.” I was okay with that.
But here’s the thing. Here’s the really honest, I-suck-as-a-human-being kind of thing. I haven’t really bonded with Ferris yet. I enjoy him, I think he’s adorable, but… But. I knew he wasn’t going to be Bliss, but then… you know… he wasn’t. Bliss was pure sweetness through and through. Ferris is sharp and wily. Bliss just wanted to be near me. Ferris wants to see how much he can get away with. Bliss needed me. Ferris needs what I give him. I play with him, I give him tons of affection, we’ve begun training, and I’ve gone above and beyond what a puppy needs. But it just doesn’t feel the same.
And it’s so unfair to Ferris. So, so, so unfair. Bliss had the advantage of following a real problem dog (he was neurologically impaired, had seizures starting at 11 weeks, was aggressive, and died at 2 years old), so anything she did was an improvement. And her sweet nature was so irresistible I bonded with her instantly. Ferris looks sweet, but he’s actually kind of edgy. He’s just a little harder to connect with.
But then after some significant soul-searching I realized I’ve put way too much pressure on the dude. Not only did I expect him to be Bliss (yes I did), but Bliss without all of her own set of faults. I also expected him to take care of everything else that’s going on in my life and make me instantly happy. Because if a puppy can’t make me happy, what can, right? Wow. That’s a huge burden for a 4-pound puppy.
So I’m giving him (and myself) a break. We’re working on what we can work on now, and I’m forgiving myself for feeling the way I do. I’m celebrating his victories and his differences, and trusting that all good things take time. Amazing things take time plus faith plus work. Lots and lots of work. I think we’re both up for it.
…And now excuse me while I deter Ferris from taking the drapes down.
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