This isn’t how it was supposed to go.
When I brought Kyu home as a puppy, I got started with him right away. Building a bond through play and snuggles. Starting him on some solid training foundations. Having fun as he explored the world, grew, and developed. We have a pretty strong bond now (though it is often tested with his GI struggles).
My plan for Kyber was different. Similar but different. I hadn’t planned on doing much training with him. Just laying foundations like following food in my hand, learning location specific markers, puppy conditioning, and husbandry behaviors. I wanted to focus more on relationship building and important life skills versus training sports skills. Reality hit hard, though, after his injury. Pretty much all my plans were shot to hell.
It’s really hard to enjoy your puppy when he’s essentially confined to a crate for 8 weeks. When all the fun puppy stuff he should be doing (playing, discovering how his body moves, exploring the world) is forbidden. Don’t run. Don’t jump. Don’t move fast. Don’t don’t don’t don’t. So much stress and frustration for us both. How to build a strong relationship when you are essentially the fun police? When you can’t really do anything with your puppy. It’s almost like not even having a second dog.
There are advantages. He can’t get into as much trouble when confined (though he has still managed because puppy!). I don’t feel as overwhelmed by all the things I need to do with a puppy because I literally can’t. I’m also not a huge fan of the puppy stage; I much prefer them when they’re “trained” adults. 😉 But all that cute time and watching them grow and develop was missed because he lived in a box.
He’s 6 months old now. We pretty much skipped over puppyness and are right into adolescence now. Now it’s time to be an obnoxious brat for the next year or so. Now it’s time to forget all the skills I never got a chance to teach you. Try and be independent when you still have restrictions on your activity. Be a shit with Kyu because you guys barely had a chance to build a relationship and you still can’t really interact now. Spend most of your time out of the x-pen doing PT to rebuild the muscle lost and return regular function to the broken leg. It’s trying. It’s hard. It’s unfair to us both. It sucks. This isn’t what having a puppy is supposed to be.
His leg has healed well. The surgeon is really pleased with the progress. But life is not back to normal yet. It’ll be a slow, six-week journey (on top of his 8 weeks of strict confinement) towards a return to normalcy. Gradually increasing walking distance. Continued PT work. Removal of the surgical hardware. Two months down and still over a month to go.
He’ll probably be fine. Physically. Mentally. Behaviorally. Our relationship will probably turn out alright eventually. But it’s hard to see that on this side of things. Knowing how all your plans went to hell in one freak accident. Knowing that this is the third dog who’s future in dog sports is in jeopardy. It’s hard to cope with it all.