Dog Tired

Bad dayI thought we could handle it. I thought it was time. I thought it would be fun, and cute, and therapeutic. I was wrong. Very, very wrong.

My daughter’s been asking for a dog since she learned to talk.  She loves dogs. Every time we see someone walking a dog, she asks if she can pet it. Every time she sees a picture of a dog, she goes on and on about how cute it is. Every time she thinks about a dog, she asks when we’ll get one. And we’re dog people, so naturally we planned to get a dog.

We waited for the kids to get old enough. My daughter’s almost seven and my son’s almost four, so we figured they were ready. We made a plan. We would get a doggie door. We would build a fence. I’d done the due diligence. I was ready. We were ready.

I started to look for rescue dogs to adopt. I looked for a poodle mix that was medium-sized. We wanted a smart dog who didn’t shed and would be good with the kids. I would have loved a small dog but we have huge hawks in our backyard and they’ll attack any animal smaller than twenty pounds. It’s true. I looked it up.

It doesn’t sound like such a big task, but finding a rescue dog who’s a medium-sized-poodle mix isn’t that easy. Most mini-poodles mate with other small dogs, and the standard poodle mixes were too big for us. There are very few mediums out there, and when you find one, it’s gone in a matter of days.

The other big problem with a rescue dog is that a lot of them aren’t good with kids. And even if they are, some rescue groups won’t adopt to families with small children.

I wasn’t getting anywhere, so I got obsessive. Every day I scoured the adoption sites – they say if you save your search, they’ll send you updates when a dog comes available, but they don’t. We went to the shelter on weekends. Nothing. I applied for at least six dogs online, but they were either adopted before they read my application or they picked somebody else.

We went on vacation and I’d laid off the search for a few days. Out of curiosity I signed in and there they were – six poodle-mix puppies that were supposed to grow to medium size. I contacted the rescue and they called me. They CALLED me. This was it. I could feel it.

This particular rescue was based in South Carolina, but the volunteers drove up and down the East Coast every weekend to meet adoptive families. I wanted to wait a week, but they wouldn’t hold a dog for me, so, fearing I’d miss this opportunity, I made arrangements to meet them on the drive home from vacation.

We drove from Virginia Beach to Northern Virginia for seven hours that day, through stop and start traffic, detouring on I-95 instead of taking our stress-less route home. My daughter was excited, but after seven hours, she was just whiny. When we got to the parking lot of the PetSmart, the volunteers were there with the tiniest, sweetest little puppy, and by that time, we’d committed so much effort and hype, we had to adopt her.

It went down like a drug deal. We met people we didn’t know, gave them money, signed some papers (okay not exactly like a drug deal)  and they gave us the dog in the parking lot.

We we took her inside for supplies. We got a pet carrier, a harness, leash, wee-wee pads, food and we headed home. My daughter wanted to hold her for the hour’s ride, but for the puppy’s safety we insisted on the pet carrier.

When we got home, we all fawned over the puppy. She played, slept, peed, pooped, ate and did everything puppies do. At bedtime, we brought her to our bedroom in her carrier, where she slept until 4:30 a.m. when she wanted to go out. Following the advice of a pet blogger, I took her out and put her back in her crate, where she slept until 5:30, at which time my husband got up and took her. He wasn’t scheduled to wake up for another hour, but he stayed up with the dog.

After several days and much discussion, we decided that I’d get up with the dog because I could take a nap every day. And I did. And after a week and a half, I couldn’t do it anymore. So we moved the dog to her confinement area to sleep and woohoo, no more wee-hour walks. But she still got up early. Ecstatic just to sleep through the night, I volunteered to wake up with her again, and I have. And it sucks. I’m exhausted. I can’t get any work done because I have to catch up on so much sleep. On the bright side, the dog naps with me, but I’ve had enough. Last night I had a full meltdown and this morning I broke down at my doctor’s office. I can’t take it anymore. It’s just not working. I lost what little freedom I had and now it’s like having another kid. And I did NOT want that.

After this morning’s meltdown I decided that we should hire a trainer. Right away. Or we can’t keep the dog. Giving the puppy up would be catastrophic for my daughter. We thought having a dog would be good therapy for her during meltdowns. I know I always feel better when a dog licks my tears. Speaking of tears, I’ve got to go now. I’ve got more to tell but it’ll have to wait until after my nap.

2 comments on “Dog Tired

  1. Geez Maria, you have such unrealistic expectations for the puppy stage! Perfection or give her back?? As a fellow dog-parent my advise to someone new to this would have been to look for an older, already housebroken dog that would give you the companionship your daughter needs without the “start-up” steps. I’ll pray you can work it out with a good trainer. Still, remember she’ll be a puppy for quite a while, patience is key …

  2. Thanks, Diane. It wasn’t my expectations. I’ve had puppies before. It was my memory. I just forgot how much work goes into raising them. I think it was a mistake to adopt a puppy, yes. I should have adopted a full-grown dog. But there’s nothing I can do about that now. I was at the end of my rope when I wrote that post. Since then, I’ve gotten some sleep and we’ve gotten some training instruction and I see a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m willing to work through this to keep the puppy, and it’s been much better. Thanks so much for your prayers!!

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