Thursday, June 10, 2021

The arrival of Macallan Red

 I always forget how small puppies are. And how much they know and how little they know at the same time. And how the presence of one in your house suddenly elevates any existing dog to absolute Ph.D. status because they understand tricky concepts like how doors work and how not make matters worse with the perpetually annoyed barn cat. 

Introducing CedarWoods Macallan Red Label. His registered name is a departure from my previous literary-themed dogs and while I’m not a whisky drinker, it’s becoming a distinct possibility.

Raider, 9 weeks, with pet rock.

 His call name is Raider. Not the Williamsburg Raiders (the hometown high school mascot). Not the NFL Raiders football team. More like Viking raiders, right down to the red hair and fierce attitude. The dictionary defines “raider” as a fast-acting military strike force or one who enters a property with the intention of stealing things. Check and check.


Lately, I’ve started to associate his name with old war movies where someone shouts “Air raid!” then all hell breaks loose. Cuz bringing home a puppy is kind of like that.

Abandon all hope, ye gardener of green floppy things.

Raider came home to Iowa on Memorial Day weekend, the official start of summer. Summer puppies are great, right? It’s warm when you take them outside at 2 a.m., right? The night breezes are so soft and mild and it’s almost pleasant, right?

Not so much.


This year, we had a freak cold snap that saw frost and freeze warnings going out for our area the night Raid arrived. When he began rattling around in his bedside crate at 3 a.m., I shoved my feet into shearling-lined slippers, pulled on my flannel housecoat and out we went to answer the call of the wild. 


I stood there shivering as 30-degree breezes swirled under my housecoat in a most unpleasant fashion. Taking time to pull on sweats before our sojourn had been out of the question. Puppy bladders come with a two-minute warning and a minute and a half of that is gone when they decide to let you know a flood is imminent. 

On cat patrol. No indication the cats approve of being patrolled.

 The last few weeks have been a blur. The first thing competitive trainers want to do is start laying the foundation for that next showring superstar. While the delight of working with a breeder you trust to pick the right puppy for your goals ensures you’re ready to hit the ground running, the reality is that are about a hundred things the puppy has to learn about living with you, your spouse, your existing dogs, the barn cats and the ghost who lives in the attic. (I think the ghost left after getting bit on the ankle one too many times. Banner is ready to go with him and The Farmer is spending even more time outdoors than usual.)


I call this process “Learning How To Live In This House Without Killing Yourself or Causing Anyone To Kill You and Make It Look Like An Accident.” These lessons began the first night and will continue for the foreseeable future.

Important things, in no particular order, are: how to go in a crate and not scream bloody murder when you discover you can’t get out. How to navigate doors, which trust me, will always open from the same side each time unless the house gets hit by a tornado and then all bets are off. How to eat properly out of a bowl without swatting it with a paw, sending tiny kibbles flying around the kitchen and finally endearing yourself to your canine big brother who, until this point, thought you were a waste of fur.


How to refrain from playing with things that are not toys, including but not limited to the tablecloth, the water bowl, the carpet, the rug in the bathroom, the tablecloth, my shoelaces, my pants while I am wearing them, the water bucket and oh hell, I needed a new tablecloth anyway.

We're keeping it? Seriously? It bites. I hope you kept the receipt.


Banner finds him intriguing but mildly annoying since Raid can’t keep his teeth to himself. And Banner is too much of a gentle soul to put the smackdown on him. I limit their play time and referee as needed.

Raider at 7 weeks. (Photo by Jamie Heberlein)

 It has also come to my attention I am seven years older than the last time I got a puppy. This has given me more patience and clearer vision as the little red demon spawn and I set off on this journey. It has also reminded me that I am seven years older. I can still get down on the ground to play with a puppy, it just takes a little longer to get back up. And some things are non-negotiable this time—like my morning coffee. And possibly a wee nip of the banshee’s namesake. But not at the same time. Probably.






1 comment:

  1. I always smile when I see an update from you, but this one was wonderful. Our current dog we got at 10 months old and I realized it had been 16 years since our last puppy.(The one in between had been a rescue dog .)but 2 1/2 years old I had forgotten what puppies and teenage dogs were like and like you 16 years older and I can't get off the ground anymore. Granted he is so much better now 7 months down the track.
    Thank your for your entertaining reds and good luck with the red terror.