The little rat is seven months old today (and after today, I've realised, she'll almost be a year old by the time I'm back at university!).
I know there are a lot of things I've done wrong with her, my first puppy. She doesn't seem to have any ability to 'hold' herself toileting-wise when there's nobody around to let her out when she wants to go; she has some fear issues with big, bouncy dogs; and she still barks at kids and some adults. These things make me feel like a failure sometimes - if I'd put her in her crate every time she was sleepy, maybe she wouldn't have crate anxiety and toilet training would be well underway, and if I'd encouraged her to be friendly to strangers maybe she wouldn't bark at them. But I was selfish, and didn't want two dogs that ditched me with no notice to hare across the park to see a stranger. She's at a point now where she will accept food from (some) strangers, and we are working on her barking. But maybe it isn't entirely 'my fault' - Lola's mother barks at some strangers, and her brother used to be even worse than Lola at barkiness.
But it isn't all bad. Lola is my go-to dog for outdoor ventures; she's keen, attentive, intelligent and pretty eager to please (and I don't have to fight a scent hound brain constantly - I can't compete with even the most mundane of smells for Jess). The trainer at Trinity Training commended Lola's intense focus on me, and the trainer for Puppy Foundation at Reedyford Dog Training noted that I am making the effort, and that the barkiness is our biggest issue really.
She knows a lot of tricks - some things that might seem pointless to a lot of people, but are one of my biggest passions. I'm hoping to do dog sports with her; things like rally obedience, the freestyle variant of heelwork to music, and maybe agility if she grows up to be structurally sound.
I love seeing how far she's come. She was cute as a baby - but I think she's even cuter now. She's a clever dog, learning things in a couple of sessions, and she isn't afraid to experiment to see what I want (whilst Jessie will, but not often at all).
I probably won't get another puppy for a couple of years at least - I think my next dog will be another rescue - but it's been not been as hellish as I'd imagined it would be. I have no compunctions about saying that Lola isn't just a dog - she's my soul.