Juno is the ancient Roman goddess of love and protection — and the name of our new dog.
My husband and I love the name Juno — how simple it is, the way it sounds. Plus it can easily be turned into the adorable nickname of “Junebug.” But if we had waited to name our puppy until we knew her a little bit better, we might have settled on something else.
Is there a goddess of mischief, song, snow and spunk?
Still, we think Juno is a good fit. Our boxer-husky mix is certainly loving, especially when my husband Derek arrives home from work. She squeaks and grunts with excitement, and her tail wags so hard that it shakes her whole body.
Juno joined our family on a sunny day at the end of November. At just over 8 weeks old, she had a big belly, stubby legs and wide blue eyes. Tan stripes were just starting to show through in her dark brindle coat, and the white stockings and markings on her face were adorably irregular.
Since then, she’s grown like a weed. Each morning when I wake, Juno actually looks bigger to me. In no time, she’ll be 70 to 75 pounds — that’s her estimated full grown weight.
Like all puppies, she eats and drinks a lot, and therefore pees and poops a lot. Working from home, I’m able to bring her on multiple short walks a day, but still, I don’t always catch her before she piddles on the floor. It’s a work in progress.
Even though I’m home all day, every day, it’s still a challenge to care for a puppy, especially while trying to do other things like write this column. To help me out, my husband, Derek, designed a nifty gate system that allows me to close off certain areas of the house. We’re also getting her used to a crate, and we’ve supplied her with oodles of toys. Still, there are some days when I happily hand Juno off to Derek when he arrives home from work. “She’s your responsibility now,” I’ll say. I imagine similar exchanges happen between parents of toddlers.
We chose the unusual mix of boxer and husky (also known as boxsky) for a few reasons. First, Derek grew up with boxers, and he loved their goofy, loving personalities. Second, we thought a northern breed like a husky would thrive at our home in the woods of Maine, where we get plenty of cold weather and snow. Based on those breeds, we expect Juno will require plenty of exercise, which will keep us on our toes — just what Derek and I both need.
With all that said, each dog is an individual and you never know exactly what traits they’ll develop as they age. So far, we’ve learned that Juno loves snow — will dive headfirst into it, in fact. She also enjoys finding outdoor treasures like sticks, acorns and lichen, then stashing those things away in a hole or at the base of a tree. And she seeks out and follows animal tracks, which makes keeping her on leash a must. (Puppies should be kept on leash anyway. They can easily be lost.)
I’ve also discovered that Juno has many vocalizations to express herself. She barks, whines, grunts and squeaks. She’s quite the drama queen.
The other day, someone asked me if her personality is similar to our beloved dog Oreo, who we lost earlier this year. I replied with a resounding “no.” She’s entirely different. Juno has far more sass and confidence, and Oreo was more loving and protective. Yet some of the things that Juno does remind me of Oreo — the way she lays her head on my neck when we cuddle and her general excitement to be outdoors.
Our plan is for Juno to join us on many of our outdoor adventures, like Oreo did. But right now, we’re preparing by making sure she has all her vaccinations and treatments to guard her against diseases that can be picked up in the wild, such as tick-borne diseases. We’ve also enrolled her (and us) in puppy training so she can learn basic obedience and polite leash walking. And we plan to sign her up for puppy daycare once a week so she gets used to being around other dogs and people — something that can be important if you’re spending time on public trails and at other outdoor destinations.
We’ll do our best to raise a happy, adventurous dog, taking to heart the advice of professionals that we trust such as our veterinarian and certified dog trainers. It’s funny. Even after being dog parents to Oreo for years, we have so much to learn, especially about raising a puppy (since Oreo was 7.5 months old when we adopted him).
As we focus our energy on this spirited little dog, we continue to mourn Oreo. Sometimes I sit by the box of his ashes, which sits on a bookshelf in my home office. But more often than that, I think of him when I’m outdoors, taking Juno for a walk down our snowy road. And it may sound silly, but I think of him watching over her, like a big brother, guiding her to all the tree stumps to sniff and boulders to climb.
Aislinn Sarnacki can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter: @1minhikegirl, and Instagram: @actoutdoors. Her guidebooks “Family Friendly Hikes in Maine,” “Maine Hikes Off the Beaten Path” and “Dog-Friendly Hikes in Maine” are available at local bookstores and wherever books are sold.