Jun 2 2011 By Lucy Cork
scruff LC Image 1
What a week. I was err-ing on the cocky side on Sunday morning after Mr Scruff's first night at home. I'll admit it. I thought I had either selected the most intelligent, fast-learning and gentle puppy in the world or I was a masterful trainer with a natural flair - a dog whisperer of sorts.
Ok, I got extremely carried away. We had one night of idyllic behaviour with no signs of distress at being away from his mum in a strange place, and no accidents (miraculously). Night two was a very different story. It was very messy, sleep deprived, the floor was mopped and mopped again, and I had to throw out a pair of trousers that got in the way.
Day three? Well it involved a bath of milky tea and a brush with a pop star...
One of my favourite quotes, by Franz Kafka is: "From a certain point onward there is no longer any turning back. That is the point that must be reached." This is how I felt when we drove over the Severn Bridge on Saturday morning and I know Simon was thinking this too. Putting blind faith in my trusty sat nav, we finally arrived for the big meeting.
This was it! The door opened and Ceri the owner stood in the doorway. It was lovely to meet her after months of long-distance communication. "This...is your little fella," she said. Within seconds he was at my ankles, wagging his inky black tail. I scooped him up and carried him inside.
Before we got in the car to head home, Simon took our first picture together.
The journey home
I knew this part was important. It would be the start of our bond - he'd know I was there to protect him and I wanted him to feel safe in my arms. I bundled him up in a blanket smelling of his former home and carried him in my lap as opposed to putting him in a crate or box in the back seat as is often recommended. If I was going to be any kind of an owner, I knew I had to do what my instincts were telling me. I threw textbooks and pearls of wisdom aside.
He barely made a wimper all the way home and left no mess in my lap. Bonus. We had lots of cuddles and photographs together when we got inside. The occasion was marked. I was a dog owner.
The next few hours are a bit of a blur. As I write this I realise I havn't been out of the house for four days straight. I feel like I stink and I am bordeline obsessed with housetraining Mr Scruff. Its the first thing I think about in the morning and last thing at night. I watch him like a hawk every minute I'm awake and set my alarm every two hours for those I'm not - to take him outside and to check he's not a dream. It is such hard work, I'm tired and overly conscious of doing something wrong, of confusing him and moulding bad habits. I'm fearful that every mistake he makes is my fault and causes damage that will take days and days to put right. I really need to relax, but I have been told the importance of these first few weeks and I need to do a good job. Our future happiness depends on it.
Bathing in stardom
We've had a few friends and family members visit, and he has greeted each person with a tail that wags so hard he loses balance. One unexpected encounter was the aforementioned pop star. Whilst I was encouraging the little scruffbag to relieve himself in an acceptable place, I uttered my highly embarrassing command word, 'wee-wees' hoping no pedestrians were in earshot. They weren't. Phew. But a certain, former reality talent show star, was about 10ft away. Brilliant. He appeared to be helping my next-door neighbour to load a hire van with some clothes. He didnt acknowledge either of us - perhaps he didn't hear me. Perhaps he did. Mr Scruff did a successful wee in the correct place like a little show-off.
To add to the day's antics, our friend Ed visited later on and Mr Scruff decided to take a flying leap for a trouser tassel and landed with a spectacular splosh in his mug of tea which had been laid closeby. I wish I had that on video for you. (He was unhurt - the tea was only warm...)
Just a dog?
Today I am meeting with a few local puppy trainers. The last few days have conjured many more questions than I anticipated given how prepared I thought I was. I hope someone understands how it feels to have the future happiness of the three of us in my hands. I know he's just a dog but I have been overwhelmed with emotion since Saturday. Am I doing anything right? What if I'm not? Why is he crying like he is in pain? Do I scold when he 'goes' in the wrong place or just reward the good behaviour? Do I close the door of his house at night and teach him to hold it and how do I ignore those painful cries? How do I teach him the hierarchy of our house? Does he know what I'm thinking and can he tell how anxious I am? Is it making him anxious too?
I just got a text message. It's from someone who knows my innermost insecurities. It reads: "I hope you get some sleep tonight with Mr Scruff. He is very lucky to have someone like you looking after him."
Must find some confidence. And the right expert.
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Click here to see more pictures of Mr Scruff