Thursday, January 17, 2008

Dog Days

We got a dog this summer. After debating about whether to have a third child, or get a dog, and the dog won out. This dog practically fell in our laps. My husband and I are people of little action, which explains how we woke up one day realizing our baby girl was over 6 years old. I was afraid that unless a dog fell out of the sky, we would never get one. Well, my sister called one day and said her next door neighbor wanted to give away two chocolate labs. My sister was up for one, if we wanted the other. Did we ever! This dog would be free, would be almost a year old (yay, no newborns!), and could play with her dog sister whenever my sister and I got together.

We should have felt forewarned when we called the dogs’ vet and the lady at the desk said, “Dallas and Shadow? I remember them. They are crazy!” Great. Anyway, we drove to my sister’s 4 ½ hours away and brought home our sweet puppy, Shadow.

Shadow was already crate trained, and we had every intention of keeping her in the crate when we weren’t home, restricting her to certain areas of the house, and letting her spend large amounts of time on a dog run outside. That first night she missed her sister and crate-mate so much she barked all night long. My husband slept on the cold floor next to the crate. The next day I left town for a girls’ weekend away. When my husband called me he shared the good news: “Shadow isn’t barking all night anymore,” and the bad news: “She’s sleeping in our bedroom.” Tim was so taken with having a dog, especially a big dog, that I’m lucky she wasn’t sleeping in my bed and on my pillow by the time I got home on Sunday.

Getting used to having a dog took some time. After one pee in the house incident, my husband moaned, “I just want to send her back!” He was seriously fed up. I was fed up when we hired a dog sitter later that month. Shadow was still using the crate sometimes during the day. While the pet sitter was out, Shadow broke out of her crate, injured her head on the metal, opened the guest room door and peed on the pet sitter’s bed! Ugh. When it became clear that the crate thing wasn’t working out, I decided to give her better accommodations by locking her in the bathroom while I ran errands. I figured she would be grateful to have so much more space, her food and water bowls, and a comfy place to rest. Ugh. When we got back, the water was running, the towels were shredded, there was broken glass everywhere, and my bamboo plants were eaten. She had trashed the bathroom.

Six months later we are doing great. Shadow is truly a member of the family. She hops in the minivan to go with me to drop the kids off at school and pick them up. She has a cozy dog bed that alternates between our bedrooms and the kids’ rooms, and the crate is gone forever. She won the battle, but we are all enjoying our new family dynamic.

Having a new dog reminds me a lot of having kids because BK (before kids) my husband and I had very firm beliefs about how the experience would go. We knew our children would be well-behaved, we would follow all the child rearing books about how to avoid common pitfalls and, in a linear fashion, raise wonderful people. We would let our kids cry it out, they would sleep through the night, and they would eat nutritious meals each day. They would be polite, and of course, gifted. Before long, with both the kids and the dog, we realized life was messier than we had anticipated. Our plans didn’t hold up in the face of day to day reality. We gave in on the issues we once thought were biggies and stubbornly dug in our heels on trivial matters. We’ve been disillusioned and disappointed and at other times delighted. With kids and with the dog, life is messier, but richer than we anticipated.

See you later. Shadow and I have to go pick up the kids now.


holyyogini said...

Hi Anna See! I'm so glad you are blogging and can't wait to read more of your adventures with Shadow and the rest of the family. Dallas says Hello!

Liz said...

Jarrett and I have an 9-month old black lab puppy. She sleeps on my half of the bed. I feel your pain :)