August 5

So when I moved into my house last summer I put in all new carpet. I picked out a nice, neutral frieze that I thought looked nice and would wear well. I liked the texture. It’s reminiscent of the old “shag” type (now called “twist”) which I thought looked a little modern, yet casual. Well, it turns out that frieze is just another word for grass. At least to a puppy. Apparently I have filled my house with a very neutral indoor bathroom for dogs. On so many fronts, my puppy has acclimated very well to his new home. He doesn’t bark at the neighbors. He gets along with the cat (ignores him). He has learned his name, how to sit, sleeps through the night, goes out his doggie door, and doesn’t jump on the furniture. He doesn’t have accidents on the kitchen tile where he’s usually confined. But expand his area to include that beautiful frieze and it’s like he has lost all sense. And I thought my kids being home would speed the potty training process along since there are more of us to keep an eye on him. But I forgot how their eyes get glued to electronics, which makes it easy for the little puppy butt to get into trouble. I’m not sure why I thought potty training would be easier. My oldest kid was three years old before she was trained, which I reminded her of last night when she was complaining about the dog. So that’s a problem that still needs to be solved. Crate training has been Googled. Again. The other is teething. I was prepared for the chewing and the many stuffed animals and bones and random items in his toy bucket can attest to it. What I forgot about was the addition of puppy playing. The proper formula goes something like Teething x Energy + Moving Objects/morning,evening = Painful Puppy Bites. He’s not aggressive, just eager to play. He usually doesn’t actually bite so much as try to nip in an effort to get someone to wrestle with him. At 6 am or pm mostly, which happens to be my least favorite time to play. I’ve Googled this as well. One article I read encouraged playing along until the puppy bites too hard, at which point one is supposed to simply stop and “be a tree.” Um…I’m pretty sure if a tree could move or swat at whatever was gnawing at it, it would. Trees would become Ents pretty dang quickly if they could feel dog teeth. Instinct is, of course, to jerk the hand (or foot or leg) away from his eager puppy mouth, and I have ninja skills when it comes to that. He’s not broken skin, but he’s pinched me pretty good a few times. I have the bruises to prove it. I imagine the neighbors are amused in the morning when I start dancing around the deck in my bathrobe trying to avoid his teeth. Usually he stops pretty quickly with the distraction method. Therefore, I try to keep toys nearby to thrust between his jaws and a few minutes of tug of war helps. I’m grateful he’ll eventually grow out of some of that. I know we’ll also, eventually, get the potty training done. He’s a pretty smart dog and I’m not 100% exhausted yet. And thankfully for him he’s got his cuteness going for him. It’s hard to stay mad for too long.

July 30

There needs to be more time in the day after 5:00 pm. In the last week I’ve gotten on a completely different schedule and am now finding myself getting up earlier and earlier, and I don’t even have the dog to blame. Chance still doesn’t whine or bark in the night. My cat, however, thinks 5 am is time to wake up and attend to his needs. Out of guilt, I’ve been letting him sleep with me, something I don’t normally do. I don’t like the fact that he takes a bath at bedtime. Or purrs loudly in my ear. Or bites my hands when he wants to be petted. Usually, I shut my bedroom door at night, only now I have been keeping it open to hear the dog. Plus, the first couple of nights I tried to keep the normal routine, the cat sat outside pounding on my door and meowing loudly, in tones that sounded like I was being cussed out and yelled at. He wasn’t pleased with our new addition. Either I let him in and put up with his nocturnal bathing, or I locked him out and woke up to pounding. Ultimately, the bathing was less noxious. Given the state of affairs recently, I’m confident I will eventually be able to sleep alone again. The dog and cat have been sighted within inches of each other without incident. A hiss and a tail wag is the norm. At any rate, this morning I woke up at 4:30 with no one but myself to blame. I just woke up. And then had trouble getting back to sleep. I did, but only briefly before the alarm rang at 6:00. And the sleep was punctuated by strange dreams of bathing in a sink in front of a sliding glass door behind which was my entire extended family sitting on couches in what appeared to be my late grandmother’s living room. I’m not even sure what to say about that except I’m sure my day to day hassles are to blame. My kitchen sink sprung a leak yesterday, I’ve been trying to get the dog to go out of the sliding doors to the deck, I’ve been wishing my family lived closer. That’s what I tell myself anyway. So what am I thankful in all of this? Well, nothing as far as getting little sleep is concerned. Getting up earlier means I’m tired earlier, which means I have less time after work to get things done. I’m sure I’ll get used to the routine and maybe actually do more in the morning besides drink coffee and sit outside. I am thankful for a small break tonight though. My boyfriend invited me out for pizza and beer. No dogs. No house projects. No worries. That was really nice.

July 19

This morning my boyfriend and I went to a couple of animal shelters to look at the dogs available for adoption. He’s in the market for one, although I’ve been considering it myself lately. My kids have bugged me about getting a dog for years. The preference is a Corgi, which I’m not opposed to. However, I cannot justify spending the $800+ to get one when there are so many animals up for adoption at the local shelters. That being said, I’m really still on the fence about getting a dog at all. The time commitment is different from what I have with my cat. He’s mostly content with being left alone, but that really wouldn’t work with a dog. So I’ve been going back and forth on it. Therefore, going to the shelters today was difficult. Our county pound literally looks like an animal prison. Rows of cages back to back in a rather sterile room, no person visible beyond the front glassed-in office where we stopped to get buzzed in to the kennels. And maybe it was simply the fact that I had to stop myself from crying several times, but I didn’t notice any toys or bones or blankets in the cages with the dogs. Just face after little face looking up expectantly as we walked by. Some of the dogs didn’t even bother to get up, some jumped and barked, some just sat with their noses pressed between the bars. It was difficult to look at them knowing that if I was going to adopt, it would only be one. Ultimately, there were a few that stayed on my mind after we left: a 2 year old Jack Russell terrier, a 7 year old Beagle/Boxer mix, and a 5 year old German Shepard mix. And my boyfriend and I both liked a year old Pit Bull with the sweetest face and curious eyes. He’s considering him. After we left the county pound, we checked out an animal sanctuary. What a difference. That place was bustling with people and the animals had blankets and chewing bones and staff coming and going. It still wasn’t fun to see them stuck in cages, but it seemed a much more tolerable atmosphere. And they do an amazing job of using resources such as Facebook to get the animals adopted. Which is why most of the dogs had been adopted; only two were left. I’m grateful today to know that there are dedicated folks out there who help find homes for the adoptable animals and to see the difference that makes. I’m not saying the people from the county pound don’t care, but it sure seems like they could and should do more than they are. Thankfully, the animal sanctuary often takes animals from the county pound. I’m hoping they do soon.