Tanner not easy to raise but easy to love

By SUSAN RIDDELL Dog Lover Published:

Ive never been that much of an animal lover.

I enjoyed pets owned by my friends in the past, but never got all giddy over a cute little puppy or kitten.

Dogs would often pass by with their heads out the windows of cars and I wouldnt think twice about it. Heck, the only pets I ever had growing up were some gold fish and a tiny frog given to me as a birthday present.

A stray cat showed up once at The State Journal and stayed for several weeks. Though I played a part in naming him, I didnt care much about him aside from making sure he wasnt under my car whenever I left.

But all that changed the day Tanner entered my life.

In August of 2004, some pug-owning friends of mine and my husband, Mark, called asking if wed be interested in taking in an 8-week-old pug in need of a good home.

We thought about it for a few minutes and decided to go for it.

I made a long list of potential names, many based on my love for sports Glavine, Maddux, Brett and Duke to name a few. Other names were based on places Mark and I had been like Fairbanks, Dallas and Durango. After much debate (Mark forbade Duke, after all) we finally settled on a name, Moab.

Moab, Utah was one of the first places Mark and I visited as a couple, and we could call him Mo.

The next day we drove to Lexington to pick him up and Ill never forget turning the corner to see this tiny little creature. It was very much love at first sight.

With a light tan coat, he was so small and curious and sweet and, most importantly, he was ours. Weighing in at five pounds, he had worms, fleas, and sores all over his body, and you could tell he was in need of some love and a trip to the vet.

Our friend soon pointed out the puppys new name sounds a lot like no and probably wouldnt be a good idea. With that in mind I went back to the list. One name just jumped from the piece of paper at me.

Tanner.

Mark and I left with Tanner and went to the nearest pet store to load up of toys, food, and leashes. We were so proud to show him off. In the store a bunch of kids noticed Tanner and how sweet he looked. Watching other peoples eyes light up at the sight of him brought tears to my eyes. Thats how I should have been all along, I thought. Within an hour this little puppy had enriched my life like you couldnt possibly imagine.

After a trip to the vet the next day, it was time for the fun to begin. For those whove taken on pet ownership you know training and raising a puppy is a monumental task. With Tanner, its something Mark and I struggle with to this day.

Tanner will be two in June but hes still very much the curious, precocious, energy-charged, eats-anything-that-fits-in-his-mouth, jumps-on-anybody-he-sees dog he was the day we brought him home. He is, however, about 90 percent potty-trained much to the delight of our carpet.

We have to crate him when were away from the house because hed find a way to get into trouble for sure if we let him run wild. Since we dont have a fenced-in yard, Tanner isnt allowed to run around outside unless were with him and hes on a leash.

Another problem with Tanner is his intelligence and that fact hes extremely fast. He knows when hes in trouble but he also knows you have to catch him before he goes into his crate. Let me just say thats not an easy thing to do, and Mark and I have the scars from his scratching us to prove it.

Needless to say, Mark and I have lost tons of sleep at night just having to deal with Tanner. Weve even had to leave social functions on occasions just to go home and walk him, and I have to leave work every day after deadline to walk and feed him.

Is Tanner worth it?

Absolutely!

He was worth it the first time I saw him, the first time he ran to the door when I said to him, Daddys home, the first time he snuggled up in bed to sleep with us.

Hes worth it every time he tilts his head to one side as if he understands me, and hes worth it every day I go home to walk him and I see his sweet little face. Its then I know hes just as happy to see me as I am to see him.

Tanner has completely changed my life. I dont just love him. I love all animals now. I notice dogs in other cars. I ogle at them and wonder how Tanner would get along with them. I also get excited about spending time with photographer Amy Wallots two cats, Oscar and Felix, whenever she leaves town and I have the pleasure of feeding them.

Still, I am partial to pugs and, yes, Ive been sucked in to the pug-paraphernalia industry. I have pug calendars, coffee mugs, magnets, T-shirts, jewelry. You name it, Ive got it.

All because of Tanner.

Sure, he still has a lot of growing up to do, but hes a wonderful dog with tons of love of give. Im just so thankful Mark and I get to be the primary recipients of that love.

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