Puppies are exhausting, painful, destructive little shits, and boy do I love them!
It’s funny how many people will inform you how difficult raising a puppy can be once you adopt one.
I feel like a vegetarian who has been queried for the umpteenth time by some wannabe nutritionist about how one can possibly get enough protein in his or her diet to remain healthy. (I feel for ya’ Mat, Sarah, and Vanessa!)
“Whoa. A two month-old lab husky mix? You know she’s going to be quite the handful, right?”
Uh, no. No, I didn’t. Why don’t you fill me in while I pick up this pile of poop with my hands, take care of my girlfriend who is plastered in scratch marks and love bites (gotta love those razor-sharp puppy teeth), chug some coffee to keep awake after the multiple midnight/dawn potty runs, hide every item I own that I don’t want shredded to Enron shredding security standards, and play run-in-circles around the patio because she (my puppy, not my girlfriend) hasn’t yet received enough vaccines to play in public.
Go on. Enlighten me.
Of course, all of these folks are sympathetic and well-intentioned and yet sleep deprivation has a way of making me a tad cranky.
In reality my girlfriend and I adore the newest addition to our “family.” Shado is a sweetheart and even when she gets into mischief she can melt our hearts instantly with just the slightest tilt of her head and a longing, “can-you-really-stay-mad-at-me” face.
Damn you, Shado!
Growing up, I always wanted a dog but the timing was never quite right. When I was a kid my family didn’t have much money and we rented rather than owned our homes. A dog, according to the landlords, was a no-no. During college and graduate school I would have made for a terrible pet owner; raising a puppy is teaching me that the easiest animal abuse to commit during even a manageable work schedule is neglect, and college did not provide a manageable work load.
Raising a puppy comes with multiple rewards: that hyper-wagging tail and lapping kisses when I arrive home after a long day at work. Hours of entertainment value that is substantially cheaper than anything else there is to do in South Orange County, California (seriously, watching her frantically chase a sliding ice cube across the patio could keep my attention for quite some time). Fun side note: Cold or frozen water is like crack to the Husky part of Shado.
Not that I know what crack is like.
But yes, the well-intentioned cautionary advisers are correct: Raising a puppy is difficult. Fellow iPinion columnist Christy Sillman, who has raised both a puppy and a baby, insists that the former took more work, and added one word of support to her claim: diapers. However, check out Christy’s “The Tale of Flying Poop Boy” to see if she really makes a compelling argument here.
Speaking of diapers, don’t even get me started on house training! God forbid some random dog in your residence months or years prior peed on your carpet; your pup will sniff it out and update your living room’s sewage supply accordingly. She thinks she’s doing you a favor here. You can almost hear her little puppy thoughts: “Ahhh, it looks like you’re long overdue for a pee update here. Let me get that for ya guys. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. There ya go. You can thank me later.”
My girlfriend and I moved into a dog-friendly apartment unit and after we had previously “successfully” housebroken Shado for one full week at a residence with tile floors and hence no residual pee aromas, she (Shado, not my girlfriend) found our carpet-covered new home to be an invisible testament to all former canine tenants. My girlfriend (a criminal justice major with a forensics minor) actually pulled out a blacklight and exposed the rampant dirty deeds of past doggy tenants.
Either that or she uncovered the work of Irvine’s sloppiest murderer. Or sex addict. Or sex addict murderer.
In the past couple of days, however, my girlfriend has made huge strides in training on a host of other behavioral issues. Indeed, Shado is one bright pup. In a very short period of time she’s learned “shake,” “sit,” “off,” and “jump.” During breaks at work, I watch videos my girlfriend has taken of their training sessions and during even my most exhausted of moments I find myself grinning widely.
I have to admit, most of the credit for Shado’s positive progress goes to my girlfriend, who works nights and therefore spends from dawn (literally) to dusk (literally) molding our pup into an obedient, amiable, and respectful member of our family.
And when I get home at the end of every workday I am rewarded with a wildly wagging tail from the pup and a hug and a kiss from my girlfriend. Life really couldn’t get much better than that.
Then my girl — covered in scratch marks, doggy hair, grass, and dust — points me in the direction of the dog food and the plastic poop bags, sighs tiredly, and announces, “your turn now.”
I’m thinking Shado may not be the only one due for a treat.
After only a few weeks with Shado I can affirm that I love both my girls sincerely and I definitely couldn’t imagine life without either one of them.
Oh, and did I mention we’re adding a second dog later this summer?
To be continued …