There is a monster in my house. And I let it in.
It’s all tooth and piss and energy. Its ruddy coat is the color of rust and autumn leaves. It leaps and calls and RUNS MY LIFE. It demands, and I acquiesce. It is a young thing yet, and when it matures, I don’t know what I will do. And when I caged it, it growled and howled such that I had to cover my ears and cower in my bedroom. Sleeping was difficult.
It arrived without any fanfare. No warning. This isn’t some misdirection or clever euphemism, this is a real, breathing, voracious, animal. It stalks, and bounds, and sleeps, implacable in it’s dominion over it’s surroundings. Or at least oblivious to my attempts at control. Of course, my wife has some say in this: I am not alone in this struggle. She was as surprised by this development as I. When we opened the door, we had no way to know what expect. But neither am I completely alone in culpability. We accepted this intruder together.
And despite it all, I have few regrets. Maybe that sounds crazy. Maybe these last few days have worn me down, I don’t know. I do know that feeding and caring for a monster has become our daily obsession. I do know that I could never stop, now that I know what I know. My life is forever changed, and I am getting used to it.
We call this monster “Peanut’.
I blame my sister.
Ok, so I’ may be laying on the melodrama a bit thick. Let’s start over.
Saturday, I received a phone call. A welcome one. Sis is coming over (For the record: I never really call her “Sis”). I like my sister. Strike that: I LIKED my sister. She was always a welcome visitor.
So the word is she has to stop by work first. Understandable: work is in the neighborhood. She didn’t say what she’d be doing at work, but she did drop the hint that she had something for us. This should have set off alarm bells, since I’m well aware that my sister works for the Mt. Airy Animal Hospital.
So she arrives, all smiles, with a large black bag over one shoulder. Trouble lives in that smile. I’d seen it many times before.
And out pops the cuteness that corrupts. All tawny fur and puppy sweet. Out pops the new ruler of my world.
I love my sister, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t spare her a moment’s annoyance. This is the kind of sneaky, underhanded philanthropy that often elicits resentment. It involves a total loss of control. It’s a submission. It’s the inherent clash of the need to say “no” on principle, with the desire to say “yes”. It’s the acknowledgment that somebody has your number. And it doesn’t feel great. At least not right away. And then you see the “big picture”.
Fair disclosure: I have to admit right now that we had been planning to get a dog. Not this breed necessarily, and not right away, but it was an inevitability. So I won’t cry over the pleasant surprise. My sister knew this, darn her hide. And while we may have made different choices, I have to say, we were first-and-foremost interested in the happy-healthy-manageable factors long before any specific breed or size. So, while totally unexpected, Peanut was not unwelcome. Just ill timed. Such is life.
It didn’t take long to become convinced. I had all the fervor of the newly converted: the books ordered on Amazon, the PetSmart shopping sprees, etc. I started changing in little ways. I am now acutely aware of my tone, for one. How I say things is now, most assuredly, more important than what I say. This is a harder thing than you might imagine. And one of those (annoying) things that people who don’t have the experience can’t really know. It’s also a hard thing to “unlearn”: your dog has no idea what “stay off of that”, or “leave that alone” means, unless it’s said just the right way.
And a million other things, it seems, to learn and unlearn. All of a sudden my life is about the dog. I talk to my friends about it, the ones that have this perspective, and they all assure me it’s temporary. “You’ll get used to it”, or “you’ll establish a new routine” all fall a little flat when you are in the stinking middle of chasing your poor puppy around hoping that you can catch it before it soils a new area of the house, instead of the perfect paper poop place you’ve constructed on the kitchen tile.
Even Dog Whisperers Get Hoarse
So here I am. Owner/pack leader/Pappa to a new 3.5 month-old
Lhasapoo Bijapoo girl-puppy* named Peanut. With all the pleasantries that represents. I handle poop on a regular basis (second only to parents of new humans, I imagine). There is less social interaction between me and my wife, that is not puppy related. I encounter new and strange smells. There is fur quietly accumulating in all the places we already rarely dusted. I endure licking, and chasing, and barking. You know: the usual.
All you new parents (human and dog alike) can probably relate. Certainly it’s not the most difficult thing in the world. But it does change your outlook just a bit. I am now responsible, in a way I wasn’t before.
And while the monster slowly becomes the well-trained pack FOLLOWER that I wish her to be, I will be happily moving into that newfound responsibility with a wry “what the heck” smile on my face. I’ll embrace the dog community in my neighborhood. I’ll become the proud “parent”. I’ll do the research and the training, and the changes in attitude. I’ll *gasp* WALK the dog when she is old enough…
Such is the power this monster holds over my life. I’m captive.
…And so far I’m loving every minute of it.
P.S., Hey Sis: I forgive you.
*There is sometimes a little bit of an open question about sex: sexing puppies can be tricky when they are really young. The professionals have assured me that they are about 95% sure it’s not a guy. [EDIT] 100% certain. All baby-girl.[/EDIT]