Why I Almost Surrendered My Puppy, And Why I Didn’t

Maddie in snow

Today’s Blog Post is written by a Canine To Five Customer, Kate, about her experiences in our Every Day Puppy Program with her dog Maddie.

I adopted Maddie on a whim. My nieces were stating their case for why I should get a dog while showing me the Petfinder listing for a litter of pups. Petfinder ­­– the Internet’s black hole of cuteness.

The listing said there were 7 Dachshund/Beagle mix puppies available. I lived in an apartment, so I figured that would work.

I didn’t have anything else going on that day, so I went to check out this cuteness close up.

I met up with the litter of pups at their foster’s house, and in the living room I was suddenly at the bottom of a puppy pile. I was holding little Augie, the calmest pup in the litter, when the brute of the bunch busted through the pile into my arms and lion-pawed Augie in the face, knocking him to the floor.

Meet Maddie.

My thought at the time, “OMG, she wants to go home with me so badly! So cute!”

For those playing at home, I count at least 8 major things I did wrong from the above.

I’ve been thinking about my first few months with Maddie lately after hearing from a dog rescue friend that February and March have the highest rate of puppy surrender during the year. Puppies given as holiday presents = bad idea.  You hang in there for a month or so hoping for things to get better, but without the knowledge, preparation or assistance, it gets worse. And owners start to give up.

On this side of things, it’s easy to look at owners surrendering puppies with frustration. They’re puppies – they need patience, consistency and commitment. But I also understand the other side of things. The side that isn’t prepared for what they’re taking on. I get it because I very nearly surrendered Maddie.

The first few days with Maddie were great, but then reality set in. She was 15 weeks old, which meant she couldn’t physically control her bladder beyond about 3 hours, and I worked 9 hours a day. There wasn’t anyone around to let her out during the day, which meant I was setting her up to fail. A week of this and we had the beginnings of a behavioral problem that I created.

I took her to the vet for her vaccinations. I sat confused and embarrassed while the vet laughed looking between Maddie and the forms I filled out. “They told you she was a dachshund mix?” he asked. “And you believed them?”

Dachshund/Beagle Mix was crossed out on the form to make room for Labrador/Beagle Mix. (Oh. Shit.)

Days were spent at work wondering what mess I would come home to that day, and evenings were spent trying to burn Labrador puppy energy.  She even chewed my copy of “How to be a Pack Leader” by Cesar Milan.

Maddie Chews Cesar Milan

Maddie Chews Cesar Milan

I decided to surrender Maddie the same week Canine to Five Detroit offered everyone at my office a free week to try out dog daycare.  After trying it, I was hooked. (So was Maddie.)

I enrolled Maddie in the Everyday Puppy Program. She came home every day with her crazy energy already released, and was able to focus on training. The older dogs and handlers at Canine to Five helped with her training and within a couple weeks she was fully housebroken.

In the first year, the staff and handlers of Canine to Five were an important part of both Maddie’s and my training, not to mention the support I needed to get through that puppy year. Obviously I never surrendered Maddie, and I couldn’t be more grateful for what the Puppy Program did for us.

Maddie as a baby, and as a full grown dog lady, in her favorite green chair at Canine To Five.

Maddie as a baby, and as a full grown dog lady, in her favorite green chair at Canine To Five.

If you’re reading this, then you’re likely on the other side of the “Puppy Problem.” You know that with some time and trust the friendship you develop with your dog is invaluable, and worth every accident on the carpet or chewed shoe during the learning phase.

Plus, there’s DogShaming.com.

Being a beginner at anything generally sucks, so help all the new puppy owners out by letting them know about Canine to Five’s puppy program. Sometimes the difference between a surrendered puppy and someone’s future best friend is a little help to get them started.

PUPDATE: Five Years later, Kate and Maddie are still together and happy as ever. Both are sporting a few more grays and leveled up their “City Girls” status living in New York City, but now—having successfully marked all of Central Park as her own—Maddie is excited to be back in Detroit with her Canine to Five pack.

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