By TMoM Team Member Laura Simon
Yep, I got a quarantine puppy. So did approximately 67 percent of America, so please don’t judge. What else are you supposed to do when faced by day after unrelenting day…at home? Besides, I’ve wanted a dog for 15 years. This wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision.
But no, I had no idea what I was getting into. Maybe you can relate.
We adopted a lab/pointer mix, and I envisioned an affable, sleepy creature who snuggled with my children and chased a ball for hours on end. I was quite certain that quarantine puppy would “fix” the fact that all three of my kids were deathly afraid of dogs, even the one who begged for a puppy on the daily. Familiarity eliminates fear, right?
When I saw the litter on the rescue Facebook page, I applied for my puppy’s lovely sister. Of course, she was gone by the time they processed my application. “But three of her brothers are still available. You can meet them if you’re interested,” the rescue promised. I mean, who doesn’t want to snuggle with puppies? “They aren’t really snuggly,” the lady warned. “They’re very playful. They love people, and then they want to play.”
What puppy doesn’t want to play? If there was warning in her voice, I missed it entirely. So we went to meet the remaining puppies. The child who begged for a dog fell in love on the spot, we paid up and headed home. My six-year-old cried from terror the entire time. It was probably a sign from God.
Quarantine puppy, named Jack by my eight-year-old, who produced a two-page, handwritten list of names we could not possibly give to any dog (Sweaty? Stinky? Johnson…for a male dog?) slept all the way home, and again on the rug when we arrived. I exhaled. We had done a good thing. This was going to be good, even if Jack (not Johnson) had to pee every two hours for the first night. Frankly, he didn’t sleep again for two months.
It turns out that lab mix puppies are nothing like their gentle, slightly lazy adult relatives. In fact, for two months I worried that I’d actually adopted a crocodile. With fur. And a tail that wags so furiously, it will certainly clear every coffee table on the planet when he’s fully grown.
Yes, Jack is super friendly. He LOVES people. They taste wonderful. So do shoes. And potted plants from Mimaw’s funeral last year. And handmade quilts. And books. This dog tried to eat the BIBLE, bless his heart and God have mercy on his soul. He loves a grass-fed steak, stolen from the plate of a child who looked a way for a split second. But if that’s not available, rabbit turds are a close second. We have a lot of rabbits.
I was not prepared for the puppy.
Lab puppies BITE. And their puppy teeth are effectively tiny razor blades that tear even the toughest flesh – and shoelaces – to pieces. I couldn’t wear my running shoes without Jack pulling both laces untied, over and over again. Skirts were out of the question. So were flowy pants. He de-pantsed all three of my children, multiple times.
My six-year-old sat on the kitchen table and the countertop for two months. She ate her meals while seated ON the table. She refused to walk through the house because Jack liked to shoot out of nowhere and attack calves. I can’t say I blame her.
Everyone was afraid of Jack. Even me. I begin to worry that I’d made a terrible, terrible mistake.
One fateful day, we left Jack in his crate and went to the pool for a few hours. When we came home, my ten-year-old opened the door from the garage to the mudroom, stumbled backward, and yelled, “AHHHHHH! Jack is OUT!”
My heart stopped. Whether he got out because he’s basically Houdini or because in my puppy-induced exhaustion, I forgot to latch the crate correctly…the crocodile was out. I was afraid to enter my house. I wondered if there was anything left.
But all things considered, his brief reign as king of the castle wasn’t all that bad. He pooped on the front rug, peed on my daughter’s art, and ate a bag of goldfish. I thought I wouldn’t have a stick of furniture left, so honestly, I was grateful. I started wondering if, like a toddler, he acts out when we’re home just to get attention. Great. Another toddler. Just the thing I needed. I began to question my sanity.
But somewhere around 16 weeks, it was like someone flipped a switch. He started sleeping. We could let him out of the crate without wearing protective Carhart overalls. My kids could play with him and take him outside without dissolving into tears. My six-year-old ventured off the table. She started (gasp!) playing with him. In the last week, he’s started trying to sleep in their beds, a practice that all parties find agreeable. All parties, except mom. Want to see a sad puppy? Rouse him from a deep, snoring sleep in a comfortable bed and walk him to his tiny prison with a hand-me down pillow.
All that to say, I think we’re going to be OK. There were a lot of days where I felt like I was back in those colicky months with a newborn. I relearned how to stealthily crawl out of a room without waking a soul. I became fixated on bathroom habits that weren’t my own. I got peed and pooped on. I was responsible for feeding a creature around the clock. My new newborn is afraid of everything on the planet – from the dinosaurs at Washington Park to the turtle in the middle of the trail. He lost his mind over a pumpkin today, which does not bode well for the next two months.
But there’s something magical – and maddening – about kids and a dog. The other day, we went a got a collar engraved with Jack’s name and our contact information. It looks like quarantine Jack gets to stay.
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