We have a new puppy at our house: Della Bear.
She’s currently a five pound (after she’s just eaten) fluffy ball of teething joy with a sometimes uncontrollable bladder. She’s a Teddy Bear – a mix of bischon and shih tzu, and it’s a damn good thing she’s cute.
The whole puppy thing came about because Adellyn’s true utopia would be to have all the dogs and all the cats and all the birds and all the fish in her house at all times. As a mom, it’s my inclination, of course, to ensure her childhood is filled with joy and happiness. So, while bringing home all the animals seemed a bit of a stretch, growing our adventure team by one little fur ball seemed like a reasonable undertaking.
The idea is that Della will become Adellyn’s dog. A will teach Della to sit, speak and stay. Meanwhile, Della will teach A about responsibility, caring for another creature and unconditional love.
But first we had to get Della home.
Adellyn got the surprise of her life when she learned that she wasn’t just visiting puppies on a Saturday afternoon in October, but that the little tiny wiggly two-pound critter in the cage was her new dog. After a three-hour car ride, we arrived home with an anxious 8-week old puppy, an armful soiled blankets and one very excited seven year-old.
Puppy season, it turns out, is a bit like new baby season. When you tell someone you’re getting a puppy, they smile and say something like, puppies are a lot of work, but they’re worth it.
And then you bring your puppy home and suddenly, a lot of work takes on a whole new meaning, while they’re worth it feels like some kind of light at the end of a tunnel you’re no where near close enough to see and not yet sure you have the stamina nor the desire to get to.
During the first few days, everything in our house was turned on it’s head. Rugs were rolled up, card board boxes became puppy gates, and our days..and nights..were quickly oriented around the baby puppy’s potty and feeding schedule.
I could count the hours of sleep I got the first few nights on one hand, and yet, needed both my fingers and toes to keep track of how many times we’d been outside for the new furry family member to go potty the very same night.
Safe to say, the first two weeks could be summed up as disorienting at worst, exciting at best, topped off by only one 15-second conversation about giving her back.
While we are learning about Della’s personality and adjusting to her schedule, A is learning that Della is in fact, a live animal. Dinner table conversations have been interesting lately.
“Honey, holding her in the air by her leash and dragging her up and down the stairs before she can find her footing causes Della to be scared of you. In fact, it can make Della growl at you when you want to do things like hold her or play with her. And if we want Della to like us, we have to treat her the way we would like to be treated.”
“I know, Mom, but Della was eating a stick.”
“You don’t have to discipline Della, okay? We will do that. Your job is to play with her and feed her and give her cuddles.”
“Okay. But when you say “Della,” I think, “What did Della do?,” and then it’s hard for me to concentrate on anything else. Hey Mom, you know else I want to be besides an animal doctor and a scientist?”
“An author and an illustrator. I have an idea. I will write a book about how to take care of your animal, and I will say, “Don’t pick your dog up by the neck. That doesn’t feel good. Or by the ears. That would just be weird. Pick your dog up around their tummy, but hold them gently so it doesn’t hurt.”
Nearly three months in to our adventures in puppy land, we are finding our stride. Della goes in to her crate…hesitantly..at 10:30 each night. Most of the time, I don’t hear from her again until 6am the next morning.
She has yet to meet a stranger. Winter in Chicago – and the hideous yellow balloon booties that go with it – are not her favorite. The jury is still out on walks as well. She prefers a quick dash around the yard or doing figure-eight sprints inside the house. Other than when she’s had a round of shots, she’s feisty, friendly and a show stopper wherever she goes. She even has a few tricks up her sleeve. She will sit, lay and fetch for any reasonable treat. Come, drop and off…well, we’re still working on those.
There have even been a few days, in the midst of unpacking the backpack and getting dinner started and finishing up the work emails, I’ve forgotten we even have a little furry critter roaming around the house.
And then, from the corner of the kitchen I hear, “Mom. Della peed.”