Ziggy Tails: Season 2 Episode 2 Happy Birthday
Wow! You've come along way pup! Who knew what joy and lessons you would teach us, me especially. I can't believe you are one year old. Look how you have grown!
It must have been so scary for you to leave your mommie and littermates. But you never seemed to miss them at all. You adapted to the travel crate like it was home. Adventure runs in your blood. And what an adventure it has been.
1st Year Summary
In September of 2020 our last pet crossed the rainbow bridge. As sad as we were to lose our beloved Barney and wonderful black lab of 13 years, and the summer before that, our two cats of 12 years, we had decided we would remain pet free. That would allow us to have control over our schedule and to also save a little money. But the heart wants what the heart wants and life just isn't the same without a fur baby or two warming the emptiness of a house. So the search began.
Believe it or not, I prefer felines, but I didn't want any more cats, I was tired of hairballs and cat litter, so I became a regular client of the humane society's web page looking for the right canine to join our family. After several visits and even one take home trial, it was clear I could not handle the "luggage" that often comes from a shelter pet. Even though that is where we rescued our dear Barney and so many other lovely animals. I just wanted a clean slate. So, to the internet I went looking for puppies. It was a toss up between a King Shepherd and an Australian Cattle Dog/Blue Heeler. The ACD won. I needed a compact, trail-hardy dog and this breed fit the bill.
No amount of research will prepare a first time Australian Cattle Dog owner for what they are about to face. I thought I knew. After all, I wanted an active dog and a clean slate. Hmm, but being 55 years old, not 100 percent healed from a bout of depression - but does one ever completely heal from that, and not having had a puppy in over 13 years, I was in for a shock. I swear, if this breed wasn't so darn cute, no one would ever want one. First they steal you heart with all that cutest. With one look you are hooked. Then they steal your sanity and life will NEVER be the same.
For those of you just joining this blog, or for those who have forgotten, a month and a half after getting Ziggy, we also rescued a cat who had four kittens, raised those to eight weeks and kept mommie and one kitten. So much for no hairballs and no cat litter. About three months into our new family dynamics, I was struggling and I was worried I had taken on more than I could handle. It was all so overwhelming. I had a melt down. I put the cats in jail - a room for self-containment. I put Ziggy in his crate - he needed a nap anyway. And I gave myself a time out in a separate room where I bawled my eyes out wondering what I was going to do.
Life was insane. I had no control. The animals, mostly Ziggy, were controlling my every waking and even non-waking moment. I had flashbacks to being a new mom with an infant who would not sleep more than an hour or two at a time. I had no idea what I was going to do. I was doing all I thought I could and nothing seemed to be helping. I was seeking a professional trainer, I belonged to several specialty ACD Facebook groups and I was putting in the time with Prince Ziggy. I wasn't giving up, but to be honest, A tiny part of me deep down inside was truly afraid I was going to have to re-home him. And that was the worst feeling of all.
I never used to be one to ask for help. I am a recovered know-it-all, well most of the time recovered. Sometimes I fall off that wagon. But I didn't last summer. I knew I couldn't do it alone. While I was in my time-out, I wrote a heart-wrenching post to the main Facebook ACD group I belonged to, screaming for help. And I made another training session with my favorite trainer, Jason. The outpouring of replies and encouragement only made me cry that much harder. I read all of them and took each one to heart. The underlying message was to hang in there and soon the magic will happen. What magic? All there was was misery!
Sure, there were good days and adventures, I even wrote about several of them. But they were few and far between the blood - literally from being nipped and scratched - sweat, and tears. Every decision I made, every act I did, wherever I went, all depended on Ziggy. All hands on deck and all eyes needed to be on that cute little furball.
I made it through that lowest of lows by continuing to focus on the basics, to keep my head on level, and most importantly, not to enable Ziggy. That was my biggest mistake. I was giving him all this time and not giving myself the time I needed. If he stirred, I was there. If he barked, I was there. If he wanted to play, I was there. I was letting him set the schedule and the boundaries. There was more to it than that, but for the sake of not writing a novel, that summed it up.
Whether it is a new puppy, a new special someone, a new boss, a new commitment of some sort where we jump right in gung-ho to do our very best, we want to succeed! But we begin to burn the candle at both ends. We feel we are doing everything we can, but nothing is helping and we aren't making any progress. If you are like me, you let the zeal of that "something" new wear you down to where you can't think straight. If you continue in the same mode, the rut only becomes deeper and deeper. A good, - go to your room - moment is a great way to stop the candle burning. It is a time to breathe and rethink what needs to be done. And most of the time it might just be as simple as you need a break and time for yourself, like I did.
It's hard to believe that it's been ten months since we drove little Ziggy home from Missouri. I say it now, cuz the pain from those trials is a distant memory, kind of like childbirth, but we wouldn't want life without him or his sibling cat sisters. And yes, the magic does happen. About a month ago it started happening. Every day we are able to trust him more and more. We still use gates in the house, but slowly he has shown us he can have more free roam at times. He is starting to entertain himself with acceptable activities while we work. He is more gentle with the kitten and doesn't have to be monitored as much. His training has exploded by leaps and bounds. Ziggy has gone from a puppy that had zero attention span and almost seemed neurotic at times, to a semi-trained happy dog who is eager to please, aka the magic. Besides his basic obedience which he is going great at, he has also learned many tricks. Our favorite is the biscuit on the nose.
I am sure it hasn't been easy for Ziggy adjusting to life at our place either. After all, his breed is one of hardheadedness, stubbornness, and freewill. But they are loyal dogs and love their people. For his 1st birthday he deserved some treats. He is always showered with hugs and kisses and belly rubs but his day was filled with lot of yum-yums, starting with breakfast, then snacks, and more snacks and a raw beef supper, sweet potatoe, greenbeans and carrots. And yes, I feed him at the table.
Ziggy is a serious pup. His eyes are filled with intent and meaning but he is also very happy and a goofball. Each day brings new surprises with him and we look forward to our adventures whether we are playing fetch from the couch cuz it's too darn cool out or to hiking the miles somewhere. We hope you continue with us on our journey.
I know this is a long post, but a pup only turns one once. I wanted to add one more thing. This is a copy of a post from an unknown author from one of my Facebook groups. It sums up Australian Cattle Dog ownership to a "T". Enjoy.
Congratulations on acquiring your Heeler. Please find the instructions for your particular model listed below:
Although your Heeler comes fully assembled, due to particular issues during production, we do occasionally have issues with components such as screws. They invariably are either loose or missing altogether.
Mode 1: This is the sleep mode, activated for part of the day as the Heeler ages. This is normal and you should not worry about it, just accept the peace and quiet while you can.
Mode 2: Anarchy. Although we have tried to ease the effect of anarchy mode, it’s not always possible. There are inherent issues with the timer settings of anarchy mode in regards to there being none. Should your Heeler suddenly go from comatose to running around the walls, we cannot stop this feature.
Energy consumption: This has been an ongoing issue as their energy consumption is too direct. We have tried to put baffles, non return valves and diversions in place but none seem to work adequately. Safe to say what goes in comes out, in both solids and gas. The gas, although noxious, can only inhibit breathing of the owner for up to ten minutes.
Naming: Your Heeler comes untitled as we feel owners should use names of their own. If you are unsure, we have listed below a few names our owners like to use:
What are you doing now
You’re kidding me
Is that yours?
Don’t you dare
Put that down
Get that out of your mouth
Software: Your Heeler is pre-installed with the highest software and hardware. This includes the loyalty chip, cuteness chip and, of course, the highly popular mayhem chip. They are all running on the What-the-hell operating system 12.2. Although this has been in circulation for many years, we have found it simply cannot be improved upon.
Should you have any queries you can reach us on 1800-what-did-I-do
We hope you have many years of enjoyment with your Heeler. Please be aware that by the time you have read this, your warranty will have run out.
Unfortunately, we do not renew warranties and we do not offer refunds or returns...ever. It’s your problem now.
Emily and Ziggy