Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Puppy Love

I've gone through spurts in past years where I am massively puppy hungry. Not sure exactly why. If it had to do with all my neighbors getting puppies, or if I was baby hungry but knowing no more babies were meant to be it was manifesting itself in a longing for a puppy, or maybe just the idealic traditional scene of a family with a dog...who knows. I've never had a dog. Not even as a kid. Maybe that had something to do with it as well?

Three years ago my friend got a Havanese puppy. I oohed and ahhed and wished for one myself. She said her puppy had a sister still available and maybe I should look into that. So I did. It was hypoallergenic. She wouldn't get very big so she would make a great indoor pup. I talked with Bryan about it. We (I) researched the breed specifically and puppies generally. It seemed like I was making progress with Bryan...until he heard how much the puppy would cost. Because apparently hypoallergenic puppies tend to be a bit more on the pricey side. And that led to Bryan nixing the whole idea, cost being a factor but also more thought about just puppy craziness in general...Bryan didn't want the house destroyed by a puppy who pees on the carpet, chews the furniture and scratches up the floorboards. But oh, I had come so close!

Later I was kind of relieved. Puppies really did look like a lot of work. Maybe I had dodged a bullet? But I tucked the research and the longing into the back of my head to save for a later date. Because maybe it would be worth looking into again when the older kids were gone and Lilian was home alone. Would a puppy be a nice companion for her?

The puppy hunger reared its head occasionally, but I was able to keep it at bay until a few weeks ago. I came across an ad on FB placed by some friends from our old neighborhood in Centerville. Three little 8-week old goldendoodle puppies looking for a forever home. I was smitten! I could not stop looking at the pictures. I went back time and again to that FB page. The puppy hunger took hold in a big way and I started researching goldendoodles. These specifically were F1B which meant puppies bred from a goldendoodle and a full poodle. This makes the puppies 75% poodle, 25% golden retriever. Which for me meant, even less likelihood of an allergic reaction for my allergy sufferers (Bryan and Brandon) and little to no shedding. The puppies had been born into a home where there were lots of kids to play with them. They had been loved and bathed and given shots and were ready for their new families.

I emailed Bryan and started the process with him. He predictably thought I was crazy. And maybe I was. But I couldn't get over the thought that though this was a few years earlier than I had been originally thinking, maybe now was a good time for a puppy. Rebekah on a mission and heading back to USU as soon as she returns home. Julianne moving out and heading to UVU at the end of the summer. Brandon at gymnastics for long hours every evening. We were already heading into the scenario I had envisioned with Lilian being home with just the parents most of the time.

I gave him reason after reason why this would be a good idea. And why the timing was good. And why this puppy over others would be a good fit for our family. He wanted to talk about the downsides of owning a puppy which were admittedly, many. Finally he said he wasn't 100% opposed and we could talk later when he came home from his business trip. I emailed my friend in Centerville and told her we were potentially interested but that we'd need to bring Brandon and Bryan over to meet the puppy first. I wanted to rub that little puppy's fur in their faces. I wanted them to rub their eyes and breathe in puppy scent. I needed to make very sure if we brought this puppy home to be a part of our family that they wouldn't be miserable or even the slightest big uncomfortable due to allergies. It is their home first and foremost and I was not willing to give up their comfort for my dreams of a puppy.

But they weren't allergic! All went well with the meet and greet. We had a great time talking with our neighbors again after all these years, and they gave us loads of great information about raising puppies in general and goldendoodles specifically. It almost felt meant to be as we talked and they brought up concerns or issues and answered the questions we hadn't even told them we'd had. Their puppy raising philosophy aligned so exactly with the things Bryan and I had been talking about earlier. And the one little puppy left that we were considering was just adorable. Bryan told them that we'd go home to think about it and get back to them by the end of the day. And it looked good, it really did! It looked like Bryan was getting comfortable with the idea of the puppy.

But then we went home and reality sunk in. For me. I knew that puppies were a lot of work and needed serious time and attention to train and take care of. But I also knew that being the beginning of summer, my schedule would be lighter and I'd have helpers. Great timing! But oh, looking around the house and thinking about the ways in which I'd need to puppy proof. Thinking about our comfortable schedule and routine and the ways in which that would get a lot more difficult...did I want to really do that? And yes, it looked like I'd be able to talk Bryan into the puppy. But I didn't want it to be a reluctant thing or like I had bullied him into it. I knew he'd let me bring this puppy home. And I knew that in the beginning he might just tolerate him. But I wanted to feel like eventually he'd be fond of him. I didn't want him coming home from work every night and be irritated about puppy antics. So I texted my friend and told her that we needed to sleep on it.

I dreamed of puppies all night. And early the next morning I awoke to a text from my friend...a video of the puppy running around the yard and being the cute little guy that he was.  I left Bryan and the kids sleeping and puttered out to my computer to do more research. I went back and forth on my pros and cons list. And finally went in to talk to Bryan still in bed. I spilled my guts as to everything on my mind. He listened patiently to my somewhat tearful puppy ramblings and finally said...he would be okay with the puppy. He would help me when he was home. He enjoyed having dogs when he was growing up and knew that our children would likely enjoy it too. Specifically he liked the idea of Lilian having a companion and some more responsibility associated with owning a puppy. And he was pretty sure he would become fond of the puppy over time. We could do this if I really wanted.
(Oscar is a bit obsessed with our water fountain in the backyard.)

So I texted my friend, told her we were on board.
And then got really excited and nervous and felt all sorts of emotions.

We decided to wait till Friday to pick him up so as to be a birthday surprise for Lilian. (Plus, a little easier to get through the crazy last week of school which included Julianne's graduation!!!) Bryan ordered puppy necessities on amazon. I texted all my dog owning family and friends asking for advice and reassurance that I wasn't crazy. (Some of them told me that I was. But it was tempered by the ones who said I'd never regret know, after we got through those first crazy weeks.) I emailed Rebekah and told her what we were getting a puppy (she was rightfully stunned) and asked her to send me some name suggestions so she could be a part of the process. Julianne, Brandon and I talked names all week...we had a running list that we texted to each other with additions or cancellations. We wanted Lilian to help pick a name...but we also wanted to be set with a few approved choices to present to her so we could guide her...knowing on her own she would likely try to name the puppy some silly or generic name.
(And being a baby...he sleeps a lot.)

And then we brought the little guy home. And it was indeed quite a birthday surprise! We named him Oscar. (Trumping Bryan's suggestion of Dorkadoodle...haha.)

And then our lives changed. A lot. More than I had even expected. I knew it would be a lot of work. I knew this! But wow, it wasn't too long before I was rather overwhelmed. Could I really do this? Had I bit off more than I could chew? Regardless of the years of longing, had I jumped into this too soon? Oscar was adorable. But taking care of him was hard. And he wanted to continually poop under my grand piano, regardless of potty timers and signals. He's a puppy and so naturally he was nippy at times. Especially in the early mornings when he was super hyper. And that made me nervous...because though it didn't hurt too much, there's just something about a dog lunging or jumping at you, even in play, with his mouth open wide and those teeth trying to grab your hand or clothing. (Shades of my past childhood fear of dogs coming back, maybe?)

I called a trainer. Which I had always planned to do. She came to the house and started training Oscar AND me. And suddenly I felt hope again. I knew of course that eventually we'd make it through the puppy phase. I could see that in the future we'd have a sweet dog that was truly part of our family in a calm, happy, companionable sort of way. But this puppy thing? I could do this. And this was what would make that future happy vision I had in my head come to fruition. She assured me that Goldendoodles were a highly intelligent breed, and people pleasers to training shouldn't be horribly difficult as long as we were consistent.

We got a fence/gate to put across the entrance to the kitchen in as we got serious about potty training. Oscar will be confined there and the back yard for the first few weeks until he "earns" his way into various other rooms of the house. We took Oscar to puppy class on Saturday morning and let him socialize with other puppies.
(I tripped over the fence a couple days ago. Oscar was ringing the bells on the back doorknob which is the signal we are trying to teach him that means we will let him out to go potty. I was hurriedly trying to get to the door when my pinky toe slipped in and got caught on that top rung and the fence and I went down hard. Multiple bruises and a pretty deep gash in between my pinky toe and the one next to it. Who would've guessed training a puppy could be so hazardous to one's health?)

Every morning I get up somewhere around 6:15. (This morning it was 5:45, but yesterday it was 6:30.) He is forcing me to become a morning person. And because the two of us spend a whole lot of time in the kitchen, I'm usually pretty on top of my dishes and laundry. He's sleeping a lot better, early mornings withstanding, at least he's not waking up in the middle of the night, or whining and barking when we put him to bed.

Every day I wonder what I've got myself into and think back somewhat longingly to my days of sleeping in and being able to leave the house and do whatever I want, whenever I want to. But every day I also spend a lot of time on the floor petting and scratching and loving on my little furry baby and know that it will be all worth it. Puppy phase is hard but oh so cute and I'm sure we will miss it when it's over.

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