As we drove towards home, me with one eye on the road and the other on the small, curious, silky black pup on Matt's lap. She watched us with wonder. I was painfully aware that this would be a tremendous transition for her. What a turn of events for her short life! Sometimes the sap in me thinks about the separation between litter-mates and mother. Maybe mom is done with mothering. Tired of being tugged and climbed over. Tired of licking and minding and herding each wriggling pup. Maybe a part of her is relieved to have them go, but I can't help but think there's a shade of sadness in each goodbye. The pup is almost certainly inconsolable the first night away. Poor lost pup. I was determined to keep this little sprout busy so she'd sleep peacefully through her first night with us.
The day was bright and sunny, and the melting snow made the roads glisten. We decided to stop at The Christmas Tree Shops and Pet Quarters to get a couple of last minute supplies on the way home. As we cruised along, Little Black Pup climbed into the folded softness of Matt's jacket. The jacket had been placed on the truck's console, between the two seats. No sooner had she settled in, that she fell into a deep sleep. Her morning must've been a long one. Attending to the usual puppy business and then a bath before meeting these strange new people that couldn't take their eyes off of her. I know puppies snooze at the drop of a hat, but I took it as a good omen. You wouldn't fall asleep around creepy strangers, would you?
We needed some new bowls for her raw feeding, and a new bed. I'm not entirely sure why we didn't have these things before bringing her home. And I'm not sure why she'd need large dog bed right away as we both knew she'd be sleeping with us...I think we were both putting off the meeting with Arwen and Raven. Dreading it, even.
I stayed in the car as Matt bought what we needed. I stared at the sleeping pup. Her eyes were shut and her body curled tightly, her breath came evenly. Her tiny puppy chest rose and fell with each new breath. She stirred when he returned with our goodies and we knew the inevitable could be put off no longer. I started feeling sorry for the Little Black Pup (LBP), having to meet two unknown resident dogs who would ultimately decide her canine status. I started feeling protective of her, that soft skin and tender belly. Those flappy little ears. Although I hoped for the best, I was worried.
I carried her up the 3 flights of stairs, her eyes wide. More new smells. Our apartment was strange, as are most made from older divided properties in New England. It was a large home, divided into 3 separate apartments, one on each level. Opening the back door to our apartment on the 3rd level, you were faced with yet another set of steep steps that would bring you directly up to the hallway of our apartment (there wasn't a door, or a gate that would stop you from tumbling to a horrible death). We had set up a doggie gate at the top, in anticipation of her arrival.
Matt took LBP and held her in the spare bedroom. I was tasked with opening the girls' crates. We held our collective breath. The girls raced in to find the source of the new scent. Matt held her tentatively so they could smell her. Raven took a few sniffs and walked away. She showed initial curiosity, but then gave the appearance of losing interest, choosing instead to smell the rest of the room. Arwen was the one we were really concerned with. Would she accept this new baby dog into
Arwen sniffed her in earnest, eyes wide. She sniffed her ears, her eyes, her snout, her soft little body, and of course her tiny poop chute. No inch of her was left unsniffed. She would not leave her alone. I considered the possibility that my predator dog was trying to initiate a chase by following her so closely with that snoot of hers. LBP almost seemed annoyed. Nervous, excited, and annoyed. Arwen was unfaltering. She followed her around, and then finally did a play bow. Exhale.
The next few hours followed with the usual dog playtime, Nyxie decided that she preferred soft, round toys. Toys she could chomp and squeak. Arwen mouthed at her, pushed her, prodded her, sniffed her. Certainly in her eyes, we'd brought home a wonderful offering - one fit for a queen. When it was feeding time, we set down her shiny new bowls and placed in it a raw chicken neck. LBP was ravenous and it disappeared into what was later referred to as her "chicken hole". We joked that she was quite the little chicken hawk...
Another was set down, and again, it disappeared as though by magic.
We finally settled on a name for LBP. We named her after a beautiful black (purple really) dragon from World of Warcraft, the same game we were playing the night before. Onyxia, shortened to Nyxie, or at that point, Baby Nyx.
Against all the conventional wisdom that says you should crate train your pup from the 1st night, I thought of an alternate strategy. I leashed her, attached the other end to my wrist, and we let her sleep on the bed. I could feel her stir and get up if she needed to relieve herself, but she was not allowed free reign to soil the carpet. I'm a light sleeper, so this strategy worked safely. She quickly learned to whine if the urge struck her in the middle of the night.
So after a long voyage with strangers at the helm, after meeting and playing with her new sisters, and after eating her usual dinner, this time from shiny new bowls, Nyxie fell asleep. She slept deeply, drawing each breath into her tiny body. Content, she stretched her body lengthwise as puppies do, her body pressed against mine. I watched her chest rise and fall and knew that her tiny little puppy heart already held mine utterly.
To be continued...