It’s early in the morning and my husband is leaving for work. He leans in to kiss me goodbye and says, “Archie pooped twice.”
Life is a little different these days.
I am now five months into dog ownership and everything that goes with it: controlling his energy levels, contemplating his bowel movements, and trying to outguess his next little mongrel move. I have learned a lot about the lifestyle changes and emotional swings a puppy incites. I vacillate between feeling mad as heck at the little turd monster and utterly smitten with the little sweetie.
Dog ownership has certainly come with its share of surprises. Here are some lessons by dog I did not anticipate. I hope you find them useful or at least entertaining…
- The Clean House Pipe Dream
Obviously, I anticipated messes and occasional smells, but generally when people think about pets, it’s easy to forget that they are animals. We have an animal in our house. When I told my dad we were getting a dog, he said, “Good. You will build your immunity with all of the germs he brings into the house.” I laughed at the time, but man, I’ve really had to adjust my expectations for how long my house can stay clean (i.e. about 3.27 seconds). On top of the dirt and grime Archie brings into the house, he also seems to go through periods of increased shedding, during which you can’t touch him without a cloud of black fur erupting off his body. We sweep a lot these days. While it takes a little more work to maintain my standards of hygiene, the lesson is this: Life’s short and dogs are fun so lighten up and enjoy the ride.
- Tiny crate = Happy dog
Early on, Archie struggled with separation anxiety. His first crate was a big wire cage like the one my childhood dog had. Archie wanted none of it. We had to coax him in there with many treats only to listen to him squeal bloody murder each time we left the house. When it came time for our summer visit to Chicago, I bought this cheap, little traveling crate for the trip, though I worried (a) that it was too small and (b) that I would spend the 7 hour ride dropping kibble through the slats every 30 seconds to distract Archie from his fate. Much to my surprise and delight, that night I put the crate on the floor and Archie hopped right in. He’s been totally chill in his crate ever since, including on the car ride (Thank you, Jesus). Whodathunk.
- A New Side of Me
Dog ownership brings out an unexpected set of behaviors in me. I now have a list of things I never, ever, ever thought I would do:
a. Kiss my dog (but not on the mouth). Gross? Yes. Fun? Totally.
b. Pick up the dog and squeeze him as a little girl squeezes a teddy bear. I pretend he likes it.
c. Utter phrases including, “Stop licking my pants” and “oh good, he’s pooping, I was worried.”
d. Buy a dog a sweater. Yes. I’m afraid it’s true.