New dog, new tricks
Updated: Sep 30, 2019
Is there ever a good time to get a new puppy?
I sat on the sofa holding a bag of frozen peas on my dog's leg as he whimpered in pain. This was the 5th night in a row that I was up with him. Petting his head which lay on my lap, my heart ached. The biopsy results would be back in a few days and although the vet hadn't ruled out an infection, the symptoms leaned towards a more serious diagnosis. It wasn't even a week after we received the call that he had bone cancer that our first dog, the puppy that grew up with our babies, let us know that it was time.
Everyone said I would know when it was time to let him go.
So, I realized I talk to myself.
The next Monday, my husband went to work, my kids went to school and I tackled my day as usual. Or so I thought. Every few minutes I would turn to look for the furry face that followed me around for the last six years. I realized that I talked to him, all the time. Nothing important, of course, no life-shattering discoveries or discussions between me and the dog. I'm going to the store, be back soon, love you... bounced off the walls of the empty mudroom, and I was devastated. So, I took my grief where any normal person would - to the internet. And, I began my search for a puppy.
So, here's the thing. I was highly advised NOT to get another dog so soon. My mother (whom I have come to learn is rarely wrong) gave an emphatic - don't. My sister (the dog whisperer herself) advised against it. My oldest son (the favorite of the dog we just lost) wasn't keen on the idea of replacing our loss with a pup that could never measure up. My youngest son was indifferent, and my husband deferred to whatever I thought would be best. This all translated to - we are getting a new puppy!
After much deliberation, countless hours of research on breed and a few pros/cons lists. We welcomed this little pup - 8 weeks old, 14 lbs, and a sweet soul, to the chaos of our household on December 17th. I convinced myself I was ready. I had it all handled. I was a woman on a mission of raising a puppy. Then...
I hit the wall. I was utterly overwhelmed. Similar to forgetting labor until you are moments from pushing another babe out - you forget the pain of training a puppy. The every 2-4 hours outside, the crate training, the whining in the middle of the night - and all of this during the height of one of the coldest and longest NWPA winters. I spent the day in a down bathrobe. I wore my Uggs from morning til night to make the quick scoop outside easier. We shoveled a circular path in the backyard so he could manage the constant snowfall and had somewhere to run. If it wasn't below 20 degrees almost every day I would have thought I was in hell.
I honestly thought I had made a mistake
But, the boys were in love. Sure! They were at school all day while I wore a wool hat and smelled like liver treats. The return policy for a puppy really isn't valid. The excuses were only mine. They refuted each one. I surrendered. I put on my big girl snow pants and settled with the fact that this pup was now ingrained in our family. Then...
I fell in love.
I mean, it took a while. It took warmer weather. It took no more accidents in the house and a routine that included sleeping through the night in his crate without a peep. This love included diligent puppy training. It took wearing a fanny pack filled with puppy treats so I could catch good behavior. It was and still is walks every damn day - in the snow, rain, sun and wind. But this puppy!
He is everything to this family. He is intuitive to our needs. He fits in perfectly. He is loving but a pest. (kind of like my kids) He listens without responding. (kind of like my kids) He has filled the gap.
Maybe getting a puppy is like having a baby - there really is never the perfect moment. As long as you have the time and energy to devote to the training, because, as I've said before, perfect is overrated.
I'm going to the store, be back soon. I love you.
Love and luck,