Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sit! Good Mommy.

I didn’t want a dog. At least not this year. Maybe next year or even the year after; when we’ve moved and the kids are bigger. Just not now.  Now is a terrible time for us to get one. Especially a puppy.

And I loved my Woody dog, who died a year ago. But if I’m being totally honest, as much as I miss his woofy presence, I do not miss the work. And the mess. And the cost. Because make no mistake, I've had dogs my whole life and they take attention and focus and money and time and love. I don’t really have any of those things to spare at the moment. I’m so overwhelmed on most days by the responsibilities that I already have, that I feel like I can’t take on one more thing or I will lose my mind.

But my husband and children wanted a puppy. And nothing like reason, logic or consequences was going to dissuade them. So basically, I was overruled.

This is Brady.
And that’s how I got my fourth kid. This dog that I did not want. His name is Brady. And now that he’s here I love him so much that it’s embarrassing. Within an hour of his showing up at my house I went from “How could you bring this creature here when I specifically said I did not want a dog?!” to staring into his dark brown eyes and holding his baby, furry self and falling in love.

An hour after that, I was standing on the front porch like Rafiki in The Lion King, holding him up to the neighborhood and proclaiming his awesomeness. I still tell my husband that I’m not sure we should keep him, but that’s just because I have no desire to be the one who takes him out for his 6am whiz.

So these are some of the very valid reasons I did not want a dog, and why I think now that maybe, possibly, I was a tiny, little bit wrong.

I do not need one more critter who lacks basic bladder and bowel control to live in my house.
I’m currently potty training my two year old. It’s a pretty disgusting process (Mini eats a lot of fiber). Though I am dedicated and consistent, I am also up against someone who is extremely strong-willed and defiant. Puppies are comparatively easy to potty train. And when they have an accident, they at least feel bad about it.

But there’s the added unexpected benefit that Mini is now helping me to train the dog. He shoots a deuce and she praises him and gives him his freeze-dried liver. Then she goes inside and does the same and gets a Hershey’s Kiss. Then Brady praises her by jumping all over the bathroom in a wild puppy rumpus of enthusiasm for her accomplishment and kisses her face. See? Positive reinforcement. This dog is actually going to train the kid for me. Epic win.

Puppies create gigantic messes and you have even seen our house?
This puppy will eat anything; Lego mini-figs, staples, corn cobs, yarn, plastic sandwich bags. It doesn’t even have to be edible, he will eat it. Thank goodness he appears to be part goat because in spite of my fears of imminent death or the need for costly canine GI surgery, everything has passed exactly as it should. Which is both deeply horrifying and a huge relief.

Here’s the upside to owning an 11 week old Labragoat. You are forced to become obsessively tidy or risk finding some pretty interesting things on the front lawn. Also, this may be the one thing that has ever motivated my kids to consistently pick up their toys. It’s like magic.

The dog will be totally wild and uncivilized.
The dog responds well to training. He already knows several commands. The children, however? Unrepentant howler monkeys who only occasionally remember their good manners.  Also, last week, Mini Me caused major property damage because I took my eyes off her for three seconds.  So far the only thing the dog has damaged is a Lego Mini-fig and technically, that still could have been used if I were a different sort of person.

I will be the one taking total responsibility for this animal because the kids are too young and you are always at work.
Yes, I am the primary care giver to this dog. But the rest of the family is actually pulling their weight where puppy care in concerned, because this was all their idea and so they have to. But honestly, the kids are helpful with minimal nagging and my husband realizes that once he gets home, he is on duty. Also with minimal nudging. At least for now. But I swear before all that is holy, that I will not let them off the hook.

My friend Laura recently told me she had only ever used 50% of her considerable arsenal of YNS (Yenta Nagging Skillz). She was like, “You do NOT want me to see me use 100%. No one needs to see that.” I may not have Yenta skillz but I have Shiksa skillz, specifically Irish Catholic, guilt-inducing nagging skills. And I am not afraid to use them. To use the Spinal Tap Maternal Nagging Scale*, where this puppy is concerned – I have only had to go to 3 or 4. I prepared to go to 11.

*The scale exists. You can see it here.

I told you. Don't EVEN mess around.
 Have you even thought about the cat? What about his feelings?
Bandit is 14 years old and sort of a dick. He has the personality of Kim Jong Il (and sort of looks like him, too). He is not amused by the addition of a dog to our household. Do you think it’s wise to provoke a North Korean dictator? Even if he is a cat?

But then, it turns out that they sort of like each other. They like to sleep in the same room, on their backs with their bellies in the air and their paws flapping around. And of course, watching the cat trying to dominate the puppy is perhaps the funniest thing in the entire world.

So I guess all this is to say that I was totally wrong. We needed a dog. And even though I sometimes pretend to my kids and my husband that I'm ambivalent about Brady, if I could I would put him in the Baby Bjorn and bring him with me wherever I go. So I guess I could handle one more thing, after all. And I guess I did have room in my heart for another little critter that poops in my house.

Oh no. Did I just really write that? Maybe this puppy is a gateway drug for other things. Like new humans.


(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

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