The day your pet arrived

NICK BARNETT
Last updated 08:46 18/10/2012

Do you remember your pet's first day in your home? Of course you do. But it helps if you take a picture.

Here's what I remember:

Merrick: We picked Merrick up from the SPCA, where his sweet-natured tabby massiveness had seduced us. He was curious about the new place he was released into - we didn't open up the whole house for him, just part of it so he didn't get overwhelmed. He gravitated quickly toward the bed in the main bedroom; I suppose it was a comforting spot in a manageable space, and it was where his new human companions seemed to relax. That's where I took this picture of him.

Merrick's first day

On that first day and in that first week, there were no claws or cries. But there were a few attempts to squeeze out of windows or dart out an open door. Merrick escaped twice into the garden, and I remember having to find him and urge him back toward me - we were following the suggestion that a new cat stay indoors for at least the first week, then be introduced to the outdoors under supervision.

He turned out to be a homing cat, so we didn't have the stress that some new cat owners have of losing their pet within days of taking it home. But he did hide under a table the first time he heard rain patter on our skylights - and every subsequent time.

Phoebe: We drove to the breeder's place in the country and brought 14-week-old Phoebe home, literally in our arms. First my partner held her on his lap as I drove, then we swapped places. Phoebe was fearless of the car and the whole experience. She took an interest in the piping and stitching of my trackie jacket, and pulled out a loop of the piping's innards with her teeth. I've never been able to get that loop back where it was.

At home, Phoebe treated the whole space as a playground. Nothing bothered her. Everything was a game, though she made no noise. Her first toys were a sausage-shaped creature with a squeaker and a fuzzy stuffed dog that was twice her size. I snapped her that evening:

Phoebe's first day

I thought she was the greatest thing in the world and couldn't take my eyes off her. I'd grown up with cats, and had never spent so much time with a puppy, much less such a tiny and cute one, and everything she did was new to me.

How would Merrick react? As the puppy skittered around the furniture, Merrick stayed on a couch, stone-still with saucer eyes. "What the hell is this?" he seemed to be asking himself. But he just watched, never hopped down to investigate, and never caused a fuss.

Our plan was to crate-train Phoebe from the start. But on that first night, she slept on blankets in an open box next to our bed. Her sleeping was periodic and for short periods; I somehow managed to sleep myself that night, but my partner was awake the whole time and was wrecked for the next couple of days. But the rest is history - and blog-fodder.

Connor: Our wire-haired pup had to be picked up from the airport after what must have been a scary flight for him. As he rested in my partner's arms and I got my first look at the seven-month-old addition to the household, he seemed numb and shocked. On the floor he looked like a scruffy tadpole, with a huge head, oversized front paws and a pair of spindly hind legs. His little short-lived scrotum looked like a sultana.

That day, I took this photo:

Connor's first day

Phoebe, who'd been with us for a year at that stage, fell in love with Connor instantly. She nuzzled at him, licked at him, leaned on him. It was a love-bombing to which Connor eventually succumbed, two days later. And since then? More history, more blog-fodder.

How was your first day with your pet? A disaster or a dream? Were you on hand with a camera?

And thanks to reader David, whose email and photo sparked the idea of reminiscing on the blog about "pet first days". David sent this picture of Lilly, taken moments after she burst through the base of her cardboard carrier on reaching her new home. It looks as though she adjusted well and quickly...

Lilly's first day

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