Our Pet Parent Journey and Meet the Puppy

For many years, we have been a family with 4 dogs. Our beloved Cooper passed away in 2022 and last year, our sweet 16 year old Beagle, Sox crossed the rainbow bridge. They were our last two dogs. For me, the house and property seems so empty without our canine pets. My husband is at the stage where he would rather travel and be untethered to pet responsibilities, but this is the same man who just came home with 15 baby chickens. Hmm. Today’s post is about our journey to finding another dog to add to our family.

Cooper and Sox

Akbash Dog Breed

With so many dogs to adopt, you are probably asking why we would fly across country to Knoxville, Tennessee and drive 2 more hours to get to a dog from a breeder?

Cooper, an Akbash

The Akbash dog breed, originating from Turkey, is a magnificent and imposing shepherd known for its exceptional guardian instincts and unwavering loyalty. Sometimes confused with the Great Pyrenees, the Akbash also commands attention with their striking white coats and confident demeanor.

Akbash dogs actively excel as livestock guardians, fearlessly protecting their charges from any predator. Their vigilant nature makes them an integral part of farm life, ensuring the safety of flocks and herds. With an acute awareness of their surroundings, Akbash dogs constantly monitor the perimeter, deterring potential threats with their authoritative presence.

The perfect family dog

Akbash dogs are gentle and protective towards their family, but they can also be suspicious and protective of strangers. They are independent thinkers and need to be trained with a firm but gentle hand. Akbash dogs are brave and courageous, and they will not hesitate to defend their family or flock from danger. They are also very loyal and enjoy spending time with their loved ones.

Lightning, an Akbash

To date, we have had 2 Akbash dogs~Lightning (2001-2009) and Cooper (2012-2022). Both dogs did an excellent job of protecting our other animals as well as our family and property. This is not a common breed and with our situation, the Akbash dog is the best choice for us.

Our Property

We live in a very metropolitan area, being the 5th largest and fastest growing city in the U.S. In spite of the growing density around us, we have two sublime acres with national historical status 10 minutes from downtown Phoenix. With all the amenities of a big city, we also have a unique blend of city problems (crime, drugs, homelessness) and rural issues (like coyotes, foxes, raccoons and birds of prey).

Cooper on patrol

The Akbash dog is a very large and imposing breed, but a lovable family dog. I always felt safe having Cooper patrol the property and we will never know how many potential threats he dispelled during his nearly 10 years with us.

Three Creek Ranch

In December, my husband, Scott did the research to find this special dog. Three Creek Ranch in Blackwater, VA has high marks for breeding Akbash dogs. The timing is perfect as they are having a new litter born in mid-January. Ten puppies make their way into the world on January 15th~8 males and 2 females.

New litter

We explain to the owners our current property situation and the type of disposition we are seeking in a new dog. Typically this breeder does not release the dogs until 12 weeks old, but socialization skills take place between 8 and 10 weeks. They are agreeable to let us come and see the dogs after 8 weeks. Since this dog will not be on large acreage, it’s important to us that he can adapt to life here.

How to Transport?

The thought of putting this puppy into a crate and using Federal Express for shipping just doesn’t set well with me. Initially we had hoped to find an RV that we could drive one way, allowing us (and the dog) some room in a future cross country drive. But, one way RV rentals are difficult to find and when we did, it was cost prohibitive.

Puppy pile

We decide to fly to Knoxville and then rent an SUV from Avis, which is a brand new Toyota 4-Runner with only 170 miles on it.

Our First Night in Knoxville

Have you ever heard of the Graduate hotels? Launched in 2014 by a Nashville-based real estate company, these hotels are located in college towns and reflect the culture and charm of the nearby university. Our first night in Knoxville we stay at the Graduate hotel near the University of Tennessee.

Check-in area at the Graduate Hotel

Our room is absolutely ADORABLE! I am so impressed that their designer can blend multiple colors and fabric and wallpaper patterns and make it all work together.

Love the cross-stitched pillow and headboard

The University of Tennessee’s colors are orange and white, which is reflected in many of the room’s elements. A sweet, cross-stitched pillow is a homey touch as is the dog faces on the lamp bases.

Charming details

An old-style telephone, coffee station and repurposed vintage furniture make the room charming and playful.

Decorated with University of Tennessee colors

The lobby is a cheerful gathering place and the staff couldn’t be nicer. Being impressed with this hotel, I do a little research. The Graduate brand has 31 hotels. Hilton Worldwide recently purchased them. Let’s hope they do not ruin the ambiance and uniqueness of this fabulous hotel chain. We truly enjoyed our stay there and highly recommend checking out The Graduate Hotel.

Three Creek Ranch

The next day, we make the 2 hour drive to southwestern Virginia to Three Creek Ranch. This rural, quiet ranch is on 130 acres and we meet the owners and of course, Mom, Dad and all the puppies. I’m trying not to feel badly about removing this puppy from his family and bucolic setting.

Meeting Mom

One puppy separates from his siblings finds his way to my shoes, plops down and starts eating my laces. For the rest of the time, he follows us around, appearing rather independent. You could say he picked us as his pet parents.

Puppy Love

With a new car crate, dog toys, food, pet pads and numerous blankets and towels, we start our drive across the country.

Our new puppy

After much discussion, we pick the name Finnian, Finn for short as it means “white” in Irish. Finn will be pure white after his loses his puppy coat which has a bit of grey in it.

Finnian at 9 weeks and 23 lbs.

The Drive Across Country

The most challenging time for Finn is getting into a car (for the first time), getting into a crate (for the first time) and being away from his siblings. But once we get onto straight roads, he calms down and snuggles with the very large stuffed bunny we bought as his companion.

An excellent traveler

Kudos to my husband for being a person who can happily drive for hours. I, unfortunately, am not great at sitting for long periods of time. But we stop frequently to let Finn do his business and British mysteries on Audible make the drive interesting.

A roadside stop

At the end of the long days we stop at the Residence Inn by Marriott as they are dog friendly. However, Finn has not received all his shots yet so we are very careful not to let him on the ground in places where many dogs have been. We make the trip home through Tennessee, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico and finally Arizona in 60 hours.

Wild storm in Texas

The dog does so well, sleeping for long periods of time and trying to get used to us and all the new sights and sounds he is experiencing. Soon he will grow and be as big as Cooper, weighing in at 125 pounds.

What We Learned

Finn at home

Finn’s temperament is sweet, loving and he is adaptable to new experiences. Sometimes the thought of taking on the care and keeping of a pet can be overwhelming, but in this case, the benefits are well worth it. Our heart are expanding with new love for a puppy. It has only been 11 days since we’ve been home, and I cannot imagine life without this sweet boy.

Finn and his chicken
Puppy plop

If you haven’t driven across country, it is extraordinary to see the USA’s beauty and diversity. Open spaces, big sky and everyone, literally everyone, was so kind and warm to us. We saw hardworking people taking such pride in their jobs, as well as their cities and states.

Finn on a walkabout

America is not what is shown on the nightly news. The conflicts and issues in some of our big cities are not representative of our country. Having four days away from some of the nonsense and to be with solid, genuine, and caring people is a good reminder that we are one country, made up of many different kinds of folks. A diversity of viewpoints and ideas is a good thing and should be celebrated, not criticized.

Finn with his friends.

With a renewed sense of patriotism and an adorable puppy, life is pretty good. Thank you for all your well wishes and I know Finn will be a big part of all our lives.

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