My puppy turned one years old on 10/3/19! I am sitting here thinking about the day that Seth brought him home. My brain couldn’t process it. I didn’t believe that he had actually brought home a puppy for our family. I knew he had met Tanner. I knew that he had said yes. I just didn’t believe that he actually followed through and went and picked him up. I was anxiously home with the children waiting for him to come home with our big surprise. After fifteen years of asking Seth for a family dog, he had finally decided that the timing was right. We had just adopted two sweet kittens. It was the perfect time to introduce the kittens and our children to a puppy. I was in complete disbelief. One by one, Seth and I were making our dreams come true! My doggy dream was completed!
I have always been a sister or an aunt to a dog. This was my first time being a doggy mommy. I had no idea what I was in for. Just like no one quite prepares you for when you have a baby, no one had fully prepared me for what was ahead of me in this first year of Tanner’s life! It doesn’t matter how many puppy stories you hear. It doesn’t matter if your sister in law warns you to never get a dog. Someone like me will still take the plunge. You never really grasp something until you live it.
I knew what I was going to name Tanner when I saw him. It just came to me. He looked like a Tanner to me. I knew I wanted a name that started with the letter T. I had Max, Ella and Lillie and I wanted a T to finish spelling MELT. I had to check with Ella first to make sure he wasn’t going to be Harry, Potter, or Hamilton. My family loves Harry Potter and Ella’s newest obsession at the time was Hamilton. I couldn’t believe that my family was on board with my wanting a “T” name. There was no fighting over his name. I used to joke with Seth that we needed to have a fourth child so that I could spell Melt. Tanner fits the bill. My brother told me that after loving the show Full House for many years that my subconscious chose the name Tanner. The family on Full House’s last name was Tanner. DJ Tanner was one of the daughters on the show and everyone used to tell me that I look like her. Not only did I choose their last name, I also picked the same dog that was on the show. Comet on the show Full House was a beautiful Golden Retriever. In my defense, Seth is the one that picked a Golden Retriever. I wanted a Labrador. I let Seth pick what kind of dog we would get, and he did a great job. A Golden Retriever makes our life more golden. He is a golden choice. Tanner is my first Golden. I have a strong feeling he won’t be my last!
Let’s be brutally honest and let you know that the first year of a dog’s life is NOT easy. This is why Seth told me that he wanted to adopt a one-year old dog. He is a very smart man, but who can resist the precious face of a puppy? Not only did I want to bring a puppy home for my children, I also wanted to bring a puppy home for my little kittens. A little puppy is a lot less intimidating to little kittens and to my girls. Ella was very afraid of dogs before we got Tanner.
Seth came home with Tanner at night. I spent that cold night running outside with Tanner to teach him to go potty outside. I spent the first two weeks of having Tanner potty training him. Forget having any sort of life when you bring a new puppy home. Tanner was seven weeks old when we brought him home. My life became taking Tanner outside in the freezing winter every twenty minutes to have him go potty. My super smart boy caught on pretty quickly. I brought treats outside and gave him a treat and made a big party every time he went potty. I took him outside all day and all night. He would ask to go out a few times each night. I was back to newborn land. It did get easier. During the day he went from 20 minutes to building up to every couple of hours gradually. At night it took him a month or so and then he could sleep through the night. He was much easier to train than my babies were. My babies didn’t let me sleep for a very long time. The good news is he potty trained well (that was a long couple of weeks), but the bad news is that I don’t recommend bringing home a puppy in the winter. I devoted the time and the result was a potty-trained puppy. Hard work tends to lead to good results.
We brought Tanner home the night before Thanksgiving. We brought him to Thanksgiving dinner and my brother and his family were in town. My brother has had a few dogs and quickly started showing me how to train Tanner. Tanner learned sit very quickly and we just kept building on that. We also read puppy books and got my friend and dog trainer Tim involved to train Tanner (and to train us too). Tim helped us so much through Tanner’s first year. He not only came over and did sessions with Tanner and us, he also gave us the words of encouragement we needed when we would message him. He also has a fabulous doggy day care. Tim and his wife Lisa own Canine Capers in Hamburg. I wish it was around the block. I used to take Tanner once a week. I want him to be well socialized and I want an outlet for his energy. I need to get back to taking him once a week because he loves it there so much. I walked into a dog place near my house and it was so cold and unwelcoming. I walked into Canine Capers and the feel was completely different. The staff are all so warm and welcoming. Tim will tell you that he treats every dog like his own. Tanner has a safe welcoming place to go to when we go out of town. Tim and Lisa don’t know how much they mean to my family. The way they are with Tanner means the world to us. Their golden retriever Spencer is the sweetest dog and is Tanner’s buddy. They recently added another puppy to their family too. With all of Max’s soccer tournaments, we couldn’t have a dog without people like Tim and Lisa in our life.
When we brought Tanner home, he hated the car. He whined and cried and was so scared. I didn’t know it was possible for a dog to be scared of the car. I had so many fond memories of my black lab Suzy jumping in the car. I decided to take him in the car every day and now he loves it. It’s amazing to look back on the last year and how far we have come. The days felt long but the year went by so quickly. How does that happen? We potty trained him, we car trained him, we crate trained him (that didn’t last long/he doesn’t need a crate anymore) and we taught him many commands: sit, stay, come, leave it, paw, down, fetch, back up, walk, move over, wait, off, ok, missile….I talk to Tanner like he is a person and he has caught on to a lot of words that I use.
Who knew that you had to teach a dog to walk on a leash? That wasn’t an easy process! Slowly but surely, we taught Tanner how to walk properly. He still wants to stop and smell everything if we let him. I tell Tanner that this is an exercise mission and not a stroll. I have built him up to three miles which is still a lot for him. Next is to build up to four miles. My friend Jen and I tried a four mile walk with Tanner. By two miles he was trying to tell us he was done. He doesn’t seem to like jogging. He seems to get too excited and out of control and doesn’t understand what I am doing. We still have a lot to teach him. Seth is currently working on teaching Tanner to jog with him. We really need to focus all our attention on not letting him jump on people. If I tell Tanner to stay down, he has times where he will listen and times he doesn’t. I remind myself every day that the key to success with him is time, patience and consistency.
I always loved Tanner, but I had plenty of days when I would say, “I can’t do this.” He went through an adolescent stage that drove me crazy. He went through a barking phase. He went through a digging and ruining my couch phase. The vibration collar that Tim recommended has been amazing. We got through the barking and the digging. Time to work on the jumping (with the collar). We have worked so hard this year to make Tanner a well-behaved dog. It is much easier to fall in love with a well-behaved dog than an out of control dog. Ella would cry and say, “We have to keep him. He is part of our family.”
Tanner is so lucky that Ella fell head over heels for him. Ella did not want a dog. Ella begged me not to get a dog. I had a feeling that when we brought home a tiny puppy that her tune would change. I’m not sure who loves Tanner the most, but Ella is way up there, neck and neck with Seth. Tanner is so good for her. She talks to him all the time. She cuddles him. He got rid of her fear of dogs. I knew that Ella was in love with Tanner and I knew I needed to work on him so that I felt the same way. I loved him but his behavior would aggravate me so much.
What Tanner has done for Seth and Ella amazes me. Pets are the greatest therapy. I see Seth hug him and cuddle him and pet him and talk to him all the time. When I come downstairs and see Tanner and pet him, I can’t help but smile. We have Tanner sleep downstairs because he was driving us nuts in our room. He moves around so much when he sleeps that he was keeping Seth and I up. You just have to find what works best for your family. I would love to sleep with him, but it just didn’t seem to work.
I know this is surprising, but I was slower to fall for Tanner. I think it’s because I worked so hard his first year. I always had deep love for Tanner, but it grew over the last year. I can see all my hard work paying off. I knew that it would. I kept telling myself that all my hard work would lead to a well-behaved dog. I knew that his first year was the best time to work on teaching him what was expected of him. Molding a puppy from the beginning is not an easy endeavor. I can tell you that I am super proud of everything that Seth and I have done with Tanner over the last year. I will say it again that I couldn’t have done it without Tim. I had no idea what I was doing. Seth says I should have read the puppy books before I brought Tanner home, but we tend to do things differently. Neither of us is right or wrong we just tend to go about things differently. I like to jump head-first into it and I always figure it out.
One year later I can tell you all that Tanner is one of my vey best friends. I talk to him all the time, I cuddle him, I walk him every day and he is my buddy. He is my baby. I still hold him like a baby. I am so thankful for my puppy. I am so glad that I stuck it out (there wasn’t another option) and it is wonderful to look at how far we have come. My advice is to absolutely get a dog but to know that it takes a lot of time and energy to get the results you want. It is well worth it. The biggest adjustment for me was that I had to be aware of the clock to know that I had a dog at home who needed to go outside. If you are a family that is never home, it’s probably not the best pet for you. If you are willing to put in the time, patience and energy, you can have a very best friend. Tanner is our first family dog. We couldn’t have chosen a better dog. Every month with Tanner gets easier. Today I celebrate my dog and I say Happy First Birthday to my Tanner Alexander Greene. Ella gave him his middle name (she got some Hamilton in there after all). We wanted his initials to be TAG. Tag you’re it Tanner. You’re our puppy and we love you dearly. Thanks for letting us be your family.