What on earth were we thinking?!!? A few months ago we decided we would put our name down for a puppy to join our much loved dog, Sam. I was seduced by visions of two dogs frolicking happily in the garden, or snuggled up together in a Cath Kidston dog basket by the aga. So three weeks ago we went to collect our little bundle of fun and the reality so far has not exactly lived up to my apparently delusional expectations.
Sam spent the first two weeks as far away from Poppy the puppy as possible. Where she was, he quickly wasn’t. But where she wanted to be was in his face………all the time. It made for a rather unrelaxing start to our life with Poppy. What has added to the overwhelming feeling of exhaustion that I now have is she is a very, very different animal to Sam.
I now realise that we lucked out with Sam as a puppy. We had no more than thirty minutes of that first-night -away-from-home, soul destroying, desperate crying. He never, ever messed his crate and had only two accidents in the house. He never chewed anything he wasn’t given. He gave me, what I now realise, was the delusion that I was some sort of latter day Barbara Woodhouse type. Not remotely the case as it turns out.
I remember the puppy classes where he enabled me to smugly look down my nose at all those apparently hapless new owners with their out of control puppies. I remember my son winning a red rosette with him in a puppy obedience class. I remember my pride as he walked to heel, sat and lay down to the command of my autistic son, while all the other puppies did well if they didn’t pee in the ring. But pride comes before a fall. I have met my nemesis in the form of a little black lab puppy no bigger than a rabbit.
She has never cried in her crate to be fair. No, she barks, angrily, often. She wakes me (the alpha now sleeps in a different room out of earshot) at 3.30 am ish to go outside and then is ready for action at 5.30 am. The 3.30 am wake up call involves cleaning all the pee from her crate, new bedding et al. Fun, I can assure you, it’s not. It’s like wrestling a bag of (urinating) snakes. If I dare to put her outside on her own while I clean up, she screams blue murder and claws frantically at the back door.
We’ve decided she’s a bit like a supermodel. She won’t do anything unless she deems the reward (treat) justifies the effort required. She has endless, endless energy. I still have to walk Sam separately so alongside that and all the exercising, entertaining, training (yeah, good luck with that!) and cleaning up that she demands I’m averaging 9 miles a day. “Oooh, you must be losing loads of weight!”, I hear you say. Not so much. Given the lack of sleep and endless routine, I find myself carb bingeing to keep my energy levels up with hers. Lindt salted caramel dark chocolate seems to be my weapon of choice.
She chews. I do what the books tell you to do and give her a dog toy. She chews it for a bit and then gets bored. I’ve bought her more toys than Imelda Marcos had shoes in a vain attempt to stop her eating my house and garden. Not working. I think I’ll give her the dog training manual to chew instead.
The Alpha took her out to do her evening ablutions last night and came up to see me afterwards. ” I was out there for fifteen minutes” he said ” but there was just a lot of messing around with sticks, soil and stones.” I struggled to focus on him in my semi-comatose, exhausted state. “Why are you tidying up the garden at this time of night?” I asked him. He stared at me in disbelief ( even more so than usual). “Not me, the puppy, you muppet!”
I’ve been in regular contact with the breeder who was keen to know how things were going between the two dogs. I told her that it wasn’t quite the happy ending yet. She said that she’d received photos from two different owners who had taken puppies to live with their existing dogs. The photos apparently show both old dog and new puppy happily snuggled up next to each other in their shared dog baskets. Knife to the heart. Then the bitchy me surfaced and I decided the photos had to be staged. I felt better immediately.
That said, a friend recently had Poppy to stay for the night. My friend has a lovely dog, Sam’s best friend in fact. A few hours after we left her I received a photo of Poppy and Sam’s friend cosily snuggled up together, fast asleep, on a rug. I had to concede the other photos may well have been genuine after all.
My friend keeps chickens so she thought she would take Poppy down to meet them. She picked Poppy up and then perched her on her lap so that she could see them properly. One of the chickens did that weird, pecking thing towards her whereupon Poppy promptly wet herself (all over my friend’s lap) and shot back to the house as fast as her little legs would carry her.The words ‘sweet little thing’ were still lauded upon her however, when we arrived to pick her up.
So, all things considered, why is she still here? She is expensive, inexhaustible, demanding, greedy, noisy and messy. Why haven’t I sent her packing, back to the breeder with her little, black tail tucked firmly between her legs? Well, maybe it’s because I adore the piglet-like way she runs. Maybe it’s the lovely, warm, yeasty smell of her head. Perhaps it’s her gorgeous little face and the way she looks at me with nothing but trust and love in her eyes. I adore her, she had me at hello and I still don’t really understand why. But that’s ok, she’s part of the family now.