So this is the story of how we got Ernie.
We finished up at the 18 hour play project bang on time. We were to drive about fifteen minutes outside of Toowoomba to the breeder to pick him up. Three days of relentless heat was finally drawing to a close with a gigantic rain storm. For our final performance in the theatre, our brave young performers had to struggle over the sound of great dumps of water echoing along the roof. By the time we were driving out on our way to pick up our pup, the radio was telling us that many parts of Brisbane were flooded.
A quick phone call later, we discovered that our quest to get a puppy was under serious threat. Going out to the breeders was now not an option without a four-wheel drive. Their driveway was flooded, and we would likely be bogged.
I'd like to say we remained calm at this point. And truthfully, we did. Externally.
Internally, it was like the final act of a tragic romantic opera, performed with the full Baroque anxiety of unrequited love.
A separate plan was hatched. The breeder would meet us in Toowoomba and her parent's place, which she was going to attend to anyway. Success.
Ernie is a male, ruby, Cavalier King Charles. And when we picked him up, he was shivering. A lot. Fresh from a bath and standing in the cold wind, he showed no aversion to leaving his previous owner behind. Instead, he took to Em's arms as though she were the last blanket on Hoth, and snuggled his face in between her arm and body. As far as he was concerned, that was it.
Ernie had been the runt of his litter, and not expected to live. But due care in his early weeks now saw him blossom into a pup only a few hundred grams lighter than his siblings.
If we had driven home to Brisbane at this point, we likely wouldn't have lived, as my parents would have killed us both for leaving Toowoomba without having seen their new family member. Once inside their warm, quiet living room, we started to see some of his personality. Firstly, Ernie isn't interested in his environment. He's interested in humans. He will naturally gravitate towards who ever's closest. To get him to simply walk from one human to another covering only a couple of metres was a task we could only motivate to do by food. But within an hour he had grown more confident and started exploring with incredible gentle curiosity. There was no anxiety, or even avoidance, he was social and curious, just a little hesitant.
A couple of hours night time drive in the rain is potentially harrowing, but Ernie relaxed into my lap and slept for the majority of the trip. By this time, the rain and roads had cleared, and the whole trip passed without incident. So far, Emily and I were completely chuffed. We had expected to combat whining and anxious behaviour, but Ernie could not have been more relaxed.
Immediately after getting out of the car we put a puppy leash on him (the first time he would have worn anything around his neck). He retreated underneath the car, and we promptly heard the sound of a wet poo grace our garage floor. Satisfied, Ernie emerged, and followed us without incident to the door. We invited him to smell some of the wet gardens around the driveway. This was an attempt for him to get orientated and used to the environment. Once again, Ernie was only interested in us.
We crossed the threshold of the front door, turned and invited Ernie to follow us. This important step was met with a little hesitation, but it lasted less than thirty seconds. He seemed happy enough with his new digs, and after the quick elimination of some more waste, he became playful and alert.
Ernie's quick adaptation to a completely new environment was surprising, and we expected to pay for such stress-free playfulness with a sleepless night. Not so. We put Ernie to bed in his crate, which he approached without a care. This would be his first evening not spent without dogs by his side. Nevertheless, he didn't cry at all, waiting for us to wake up at 6am. He greeted us with a lot of energy, ate his breakfast, and promptly fell unconscious after about ninety minutes of high-energy activity.
Don't worry, this blog won't become a daily diary for Ernie. At the moment, we simply feel blessed to have a calm and happy puppy. At 18 hours in, we're yet to come across any troubling behaviour. Maybe tonight will be the difficult one, as he'll have more energy. Who knows? Either way, Ernie's made himself at home, and he's very welcome indeed.