Twenty-five days ago, Theo joined our family.
We had been a cat family. We’ve had as many as five at a time. We currently have three sweet and quiet cats.
We’re good at cats.
We have a lot to learn about dogs.
I had a dog many, many years ago (like 45). But although I did a lot of the puppy training, I had loads of help from my parents and my brother and sisters. And to be honest, Sarge was an extremely sweet dog, but not exactly the best-behaved, so I can’t claim to be an expert.
My husband had a dog — very briefly — more than 60 years ago. So he’s not much help.
But we’re learning.
Here’s what we’ve learned about dogs in the last 25 days:
There is no such thing as sleeping in. 5 a.m. is now late. Late on weekdays. Late on weekends. I jump out of bed and throw on my sweats and my waterproof shoes and run to Theo’s little pen in the kitchen. I pray to reach him before it’s too late. I’m getting better at it. Thankfully, he is also getting better at it.
Likewise, there is no such thing as turning in early. No early bedtime after a long day. Theo is a night owl, and he has to pee at 11 p.m. in order to make it through the night. Eleven is late for me. I’m a 10 p.m. baby all the way. (My husband is more like 8 p.m.) I am learning that there are actually TV shows that come on after 10. I never realized.
My pockets now contain food. Dog treats. All my pockets. My coat pockets. My jean pockets. Food-filled. I have learned that it is a very good idea to check all my pockets before throwing my clothes in the wash.
Speaking of the wash — the amount of laundry has tripled. And the little guy doesn’t even wear clothes. However, we use a lot of my husband’s stack of shop towels. Wiping muddy paws, wiping muddy floors, wiping up “accidents”. And although Theo doesn’t wear clothes, I usually do. I am a very clean person. I can wear my jeans several times before they need to be washed. Until three weeks ago, that is. Now after one wearing, my jeans look and smell like wet dog, muddy paws, and sometimes pee-pee paws, and sometimes worse. I do lots of laundry. And I check the pockets.
We’ve lived in our house for 11 years. I thought I knew it well. Including our big yard. But now I know it intimately. I know where the long grass is — and the dip in the lawn that can sprain an ankle. I know where it stays wet all day. I know how many acorns we have. Thousands. I know how to take thousands of acorns out of a puppy’s mouth.
I am also no longer grossed out by taking a worm out of a puppy’s mouth. At least twice a day. Once he is bigger and has a stronger constitution, I intend to let him eat the worms. Handling dog-saliva’d worms is a job with a time limit.
Fourteen pounds is huge when it is all squirmy. Fourteen pounds can make your wrists ache. And your back. And 14 pounds will soon be 34 pounds.
Cats don’t care if there is nothing to do. In fact, cats prefer it. But dogs need something to do. And they will find something to do. Like chew shoes. I thought my house was quite neat. It is amazing what is lying around. A dog will find an umbrella, a bobby pin, a rather important piece of mail. Lesson: Put your things away.
Cats are quieter (Yea!), but dogs are happier to see you. Cats sometimes notice you have come home. Dogs go berserk. Berserk feels good. No one has been that happy to see me in a long time.
On the other hand, there is ‘happy to see you’ and ‘TOO happy to see you’. See #4 re: pee-pee paws.
Dogs do not have brake-lights. They can be running ahead of you, and you are both having a grand old time, and then…FULL STOP. See #7 re: wrenching your back.
I see everyday tasks in a whole new way. I appreciate a new set of accomplishments. I have a tendency now as I leave the bathroom to say to myself, “GOOD GIRL!”
Read more from Nancy at her blog, “Not Quite Old.”
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