There are some things that I will scrimp on, and others that are non-negotiable, no matter what. One of them is my pets. Our animals are all pure bred and chosen for the characteristics of their specific breed. A pet becomes part of the family for many years and in choosing a dog or cat, I like to make as informed a choice as possible. Even if that means waiting for years in order to find an affordable Burmese cat at an animal shelter, as we did a while ago.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks are my dog of choice. They are wonderful family dogs and excellent guard dogs, fantastic running partners, intelligent and generally easy to train. when Sabi, our Ridgeback bitch died six months ago, I knew we wouldn't have the luxury of waiting too long before we needed to find another puppy as we live in an isolated house on a border farm and our other Ridgeback, Copper is aging too. So, when I heard of a good litter of Ridgeback pups, we had to bite the bullet to pay for our expensive puppy.
So what did I do?
I advertised our unused piano in the local bulletin and used the proceeds of the sale to finance our precious new canine baby. I am sad to see the piano go, but neither of my children have shown much interest in the instrument for all the years that we have had it.
So last Monday, little Hunter, 8 weeks old, became a part of our lives. He is a sweet, affectionate, eager-to-please puppy.... a beautiful bouncy boy dog that has fitted into our family so well.
A lot of people rush out to shop for a new puppy, but I carefully thought about what Hunter really needed before I threw any money in his direction.
He is growing so fast, so for now, he is wearing our fat Jack Russell's collar that no longer fits. I have another medium sized collar that he will wear next, and I am thinking of persuading my clever husband to make a large one for when Hunter is fully grown.
Pups need toys and things to chew. Every time Hunter is caught chewing on something forbidden, I try to swap it for something appropriate. Hunter was spoiled by Extravagant Dad with one small rawhide bone and a hoof from the vet shop, but they were rather a waste of money as he prefers my homemade or home found toys. He sleeps with Buddy, a soft toy dog that we earned from coupons. Buddy is looking a tad worse for wear since this pic was taken. Hunter loves chasing the cardboard tubes from the inside of toilet paper rolls, I put dog pellets in empty plastic bottles and he scurries around with this exciting toy. He also plays with pine cones, an old scrubbing brush, which he loves (I think it massages his gums), pieces of rope, sticks, large bones, the other dogs and of course, with us.
For a large breed dog, a good diet is important during their development to prevent later health problems, so I am willing to spend what it takes to provide him with a suitable brand of food, another non-negotiable particularly during the first two years.
Every pup needs a bed. Considering that our Jack Russell terrier thinks that he is a large dog, I donated his old bed to Hunter, not that he will fit into it for very long. It needed a little patching, denim offcuts did the trick. Puppies are notorious for shredding their beds, so I just couldn't justify buying a new one.
We had plenty of cheap grey blankets, leftover from our move, in storage some of which have now been donated to Hunter. I also made sure that the breeder sent a piece of cloth that smelled like his original home to help settle him at first. Hunter has attached himself to Copper, and is happiest with the warmth of friendship that the old man dog provides. It is really freezing here, so Hunter sleeps indoors next to a heater near my bed by night, and has the freedom of sleeping in front of the wood fire inside, or in the heated kennel outside by day.
This area is rife with dog-killing diseases like biliary and rabies, so disease prevention is not an option. I would have saved on our veterinary bill by buying the shots and injecting him myself, if he hadn't decided to swallow a piece of soft plastic. All's well though, and I hope to inject him myself for his booster shots. As far as tick and flea prevention goes, I have chosen to use a wipe on dip for now. I already had it in my medicine stockpile.
Every dog should be trained. Once the owner has been trained how to train their dog, I do not believe it necessary to attend formal classes with every new pup. As long as the dog is well socialized with other animals, people of all types and new experiences, and carefully taught the basics of obedience, the pup will usually grow up to be a pleasure.
Most of all, our pup needs lots of LOVE and AFFECTION and to learn to trust us, his new family.