Commentary: Welcome to Puppyhood

Lindsay Carey [2014] Web


I was trying to decide between a small and extra small collar. “It’s not like he’s fresh out of the womb. Now, should I go with blue or red?” I wondered in the aisle of PetSmart.

“I feel like I have a newborn,” cried a hysterical woman with a tiny Chihuahua quivering at her feet.

I tried not to stare or be too obvious that I was eavesdropping on the puppy orientation class going on behind me.

“Every time I take him outside he doesn’t pee and then as soon as I bring him back in it’s all over the floor,” she confessed.

“Well that will happen sometimes,” said the trainer. “You just have to be patient and look for the signs that he has to eliminate.”

I put down the bag of Blue Buffalo puppy kibble and rested it on the floor as I paced up and down the aisle pretending to shop. I listened to the grievances of the new parents of a 10 week old German shepherd and an eight week old cocker spaniel.

I ended up leaving the puppy kibble, puppy training pads and chew toys I was planning on buying in that aisle and dashed out of the store for some fresh air.

I escaped to my car and sped off, what I was running from I still do not know… The puppy was going to be arriving within two days. In fact, he was likely boarding the van in Montana at that very moment. I was panicked.

“Was this all going to be too much for me to handle?”

My family got a bichon frise puppy that we named Nemo when I was 11, but for some reason I couldn’t quite remember all the details of how we dealt with it. Of course, I remembered the accidents in the house and how he would escape our grasp and send us on a wild goose chase, but that’s about it.

I couldn’t remember where to start with training and what to do, I guess because it wasn’t my full responsibility. He was the family dog, but this one is all on me.

I became panicked and felt totally unprepared. Thankfully, my boyfriend Kyle called me and calmed me down. He went to PetSmart with me the next day and we picked out everything I would need.

I had been looking at getting a Boston Terrier puppy for months now and it had to be one of the best Christmas gifts ever. My panic turned to excitement and on the night he arrived, I went into total mommy mode.

After riding in two different trucks, which carry about 60 puppies at a time, across the country he arrived frightened. I was surprised to find that my14 week old Boston Terrier is absolutely tiny, I think no more than five pounds. He has the tiniest molars and no front teeth. He’s a baby.

He shook uncontrollably for the two first hours and stared at us with his ears back when we called him to come to us. After eating and sleeping that night, he began to open up the next day.

The first couple of nights I got no sleep. Every time I would dose off it seemed I would wake up to an accident, because he was eating so often.

I fed him small portions throughout the day, so he could put on the weight needed to grow. To prevent accidents, I kept watch of him and tried to make him stay on the training pads when it seemed he had to go.

On day three, around 3:45 a.m., I was up watching reruns of “The Dog Whisper” clinging to a bottle of Nature’s Miracle pet odor and stain remover in my arms. And guess what he was doing? Sleeping soundly.

He looked like he was getting the best sleep of his life, snoring loudly. I was actually jealous, but I love him and I know this is just the beginning of the road to training him.

After almost a week without a name, I settled on “Melo” after one of my favorite NBA players Carmelo Anthony and it’s fitting as he’s a pretty mellow guy who loves his sleep.

He’s getting along great with my boyfriend’s 1 year old pitbull girl, who thinks she’s his mom and he’s learning from her whenever they are together.

I’m exhausted, but happy to have a dog again after the heartbreaking loss of my childhood dog Nemo in the fall of 2013. If you have any advice, please send it my way, but for now I’m just trying to be patient and remain sane on a sporadic sleeping schedule.

I now totally understand what that woman at Petsmart was saying. It is just like having a newborn. Puppies are totally reliant on you and literally know nothing. On the first day, Melo did not understand a word of English, but now he’s beginning to learn “sit” and “no”. He’s starting to bond with me and trust me, but we’ve got a long way to go.

Although the “small” collar I bought was too big on him and still he won’t budge on a leash, I’d still say things are going well as I accept that he’s going to make mistakes and I am too. It’s a learning process.

As my boyfriend said to me, when Melo peed just missing the training pad, “welcome to puppyhood.”

Lindsay Carey is a reporter for the Observer.

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