Harper is not the first dog I’ve ever had, but she’s the first that was really mine (instead of being a family dog). She’s my best pal, my protector, and the best big sister Pippa could ever ask for. She is calm and caring with the puppies I foster, and keeps all of the rest of the pack my family has in line. She probably is the real boss in the house and only listens to me to amuse herself.
Let me preface this by telling you that I had just bought a house and moved out of my apartment in October, specifically for the purpose of getting a dog. Having a puppy in an apartment is difficult at best, and impossible when almost no apartments where I was living allowed dogs. I rescued Harper when she was really small from the local animal control. They thought she was a border collie-husky mix (a better guess as she’s grown is a border collie-malamute) and about 11 weeks old when I got her (since then I’ve seen a lot of puppies and I put her a little closer to 9 weeks, but no one really can know). The very first day the 8 pups in the litter were available I went up with my mom and sister during my lunch hour. I had planned to get a little boy, as in my experience they are usually a little more chill, but out of the 4 pups that were left, she was the only one that was brave enough to leave the kennel when the door was opened. You might think she ran over to me and it was love at first sight… but she just wanted to visit the big quiet white german shepard next door. I was still hooked though, so I picked her up and headed out!
I actually get a lot of questions about how she got her name. I’m a big reader, so most people who know me have some really awesome guesses, but so far I haven’t had anyone get it right. The most common first guess is that she’s named after Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird). Great guess, but not my inspiration. Next I’ve heard guesses of her being named after Harper Collins (a publishing company). I laughed pretty hard the first time I heard that one! You’re probably thinking now that I was misleading you about having a literary inspiration for her name, but I promise I’m not! When I was still pretty young, my dad got me hooked on an author named Anne McCaffrey – specifically he had me start reading a book called Dragonsong . In her books about dragons, on a world called Pern, the teachers and advisors use music to do their work, and their title is Harper. I love music, I love dragons, it was really a simple choice to me.
Harper was also beyond easy to train – I do NOT know how I got so lucky! She learned tricks, house rules, and all about her world so quickly. She knows a bunch of tricks, has done a little bit of agility training (though she didn’t love it so we stopped), and learned to pull people on roller blades (not me, I am far too clumsy). But there was something missing. My sister lived with me, and we found her a great young dog at the local Humane Society. So Harper became a “big sister” for the first time to nine month old Castiel when she was just shy of turning 2. You’ll all meet Cas eventually, but he was a shy pup that we’ve done a lot of work with, and now he’s friendly and happy. When we got him he was very shy but LOVED Harper. In turn, she really taught him how to be a dog. I don’t think he’d had the chance before.
Anyway, fast forward another year, and Harper and I made the move from Wyoming to Colorado. The first year was in an apartment. Thank goodness Harper is so good tempered, because I know not having a yard and waiting for me to go to the dog park was hard for her. We got another house as quickly as we could, and a week before I closed on that, I brought home Pippa. That really was love at first sight.
Harper really is the best dog to help me socialize and teach young puppies – she was born to be a big sis!