Oh, Stormy. My rough and tumble first born. The one who listens very well, but likes to talk back while she is doing it. The one who jumps on us and barks if we want to cuddle in bed for too long on a lazy Sunday morning. My little girl who always wants to be near us and loves licking feet. The one who will let me use her as a pillow whenever I want. The one who is always ready to defend us from scary things like fireworks, weird cats, delivery men, and the neighbors cleaning their pools. This is the story of how she came to be part of our family.
How Much Is That Puppy In The Window
My husband had wanted an Australian Shepard for as long as I can remember. When we started talking about buying a house, he started talking about getting an Aussie. I made it pretty clear that I was going to buy him a puppy for our first Christmas. I had even started planning how to surprise him with a puppy on Christmas morning. But, my impatient husband could not wait quite that long. Towards the end of our first summer in our new house, he started looking at puppies online. And then, before I knew it, he fell in love with a litter online.
We made an appointment to drive out to North West Surprise and meet the puppies. The couple were Aussie breeders who were very passionate about breeding healthy working dogs. They had a small ranch that they used their dogs on. They were more than happy to answer any questions we had. It was then time to see the puppies! They were rambunctious, fully of energy, and loved to pull on shoelaces. We spent time playing with the different puppies, but my husband knew exactly which one he wanted. The one that ran straight up to him when he crouched down and bit him in the beard. I should have known I was in for trouble.
Bringing Home Puppy
After weeks and weeks of waiting, we finally were able to bring her home! She was soooo small. Smaller than our cat! She was full of cuddles and nibbles at that time. She was so precious. My husband had her name picked out before we even picked out a puppy, Stormy. Because her coat looks like a storm.
We thought we were prepared to bring a puppy into the house. We bought toys, puppy food, treats, a kennel, and even a clock for her to sleep with to mimic her liter mate’s heart beats. But we could not have been more wrong. Not only was this our first puppy. But she was an active breed of dog. And, she was from a working line. (Read: more energy than a typical show breed puppy.)
For all the joy we had playing with this adorable puppy, as she became more familiar and comfortable in the house, the more we realized we had no idea what we were doing. She had so much energy, and we did not know how to get it out. She was just always on. And when she did finally fall asleep, we would tiptoe around doing everything we could not to wake her up. I had a particularly hard time with her, because she would not play nice with me. Every time I would step foot onto the grass, she would attack my pants. We had chairs around the yard for me to stand on to ignore her when she acted up. But then she got bigger and could get me on the chairs. If only we had known what we know now.
Now The Real Work Begins
We kept trying different things, and different things, and different things (seriously so many different things), until finally, we found the right combination of tactics that worked! There were two specific things I think were the most beneficial. 1. A set schedule. 2. A variety of playing and training methods.
We had to put ourselves and Stormy on a schedule. This helped so much! She knew when she was going to eat and when it was time to play. She knew when it was time to train, relax, and sleep! Eventually, she started associating the different areas of the house with the different activities rather than the time. This was the real turning point for us. She realized, oh, we are on the couch, it is time to hang out and eat a chew. Oh, we are in the backyard, lets rage! Our friends would laugh at us if we said we couldn’t stay out late, because we had to play with our puppy. But in the end, it was well worth it! (Plus, if we didn’t, she would wake us up at midnight and we would have to take her out to play. True Story. Happened a few times…)
The second key piece to our puzzle was playing and training with her. We started just trying to play with her and teach her basic commands like sit and stay. Then we realized this little puppy needed to be worn out both mentally and physically. So we started incorporating training into her play time. This would look like making her sit before throwing the ball and would eventually turn into Frisbee training!
Growing Up Stormy
Granted, this did not solve all of our problems. She still had a good deal of growing up to do. But, we no longer were questioning if we would have to give her away. She was ours to keep. And, we are so glad we figured it out! I am sure that if we got another active breed puppy, we would be prepared this time! In honor of her staying with our family, here are a couple short stories from when she was a puppy.
- We originally tried to keep Stormy in the bathroom behind a puppy gate. She was so small, she could not jump over the gate, so we thought we were fine. She barked and barked and barked, but we left thinking she would quite down if she could not see us. Our roommate at the time was working the night shift. He came home from work to find Stormy sleeping in the living room. She had managed to climb onto and over the baby gate! We still have little puppy scratch marks on the doorway from her jumping out. Solution: We got her a exercise pen to leave in the middle of the living room. Not a peep.
- We would transport said exercise pen upstairs every night for her to sleep next to the bed. We just couldn’t get the crate training thing down. One night, we came home super late and were too tired to lug the thing upstairs. We let her sleep on the bed that night and she will not settle for anything less every since. We tried to put her in the pen the next night and she barked and barked and barked until we let her on the bed. So, now, she sleeps at the foot of our bed every night. Not so bad since we upgraded to a King size!
- One day I was hanging out in the kitchen. It was wayyy to quiet, so I looked around the corner for Stormy. Someone had left the bathroom door open, and she had dragged toilet paper all the way into the formal living room. I followed the trail all the way to her and she just laid there staring at me smiling.
- To get her excited to play with different toys, we would hide behind objects in the yard. (Usually the chairs left over from me trying to get her to stop herding my pants.) We would hide behind something, and poke our head out, and hide again until she got really excited. Then, we would throw the toy and she would chase it. Well, she caught onto this pretty quickly and decided she would be the one to hide. She ran behind a chair and stuck her head out to peek at us. When we saw her, just hide behind the chair again! We laughed so hard we had tears in our eyes.
We had a hell of a time raising this little hell raiser, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It was a great learning experience for us. And we now have an amazing dog that is an irreplaceable part of our family. We absolutely love herding dogs and active breeds. We do not claim to be experts, but if you have any questions, feel free to reach out! My husband and I love helping others with the tips and tricks we have learned over the years!