When you give yourself a puppy, you expect to spend time with the puppy. You expect to train the puppy, to correct the puppy and to teach the puppy good manners.
You expect to be on the alert every single second, for signs of crouching, hunching, squatting or concentrating.
You expect to investigate sounds of chewing, to ensure what’s being chewed is one of the 10,000 used dog toys you have in the house, and not the newspaper, your library book, your eyeglasses, the pillows from the couch or the couch. (Pro tip: It is never a toy.)
You expect too much, and you expect too little.
Expect to revise your expectations.
· Expect your entire life to change. Not in a teeth-rattling lurch, but in incremental ways, so subtle that in a couple of months you’ll be startled to realize the form and content of your existence is unrecognizable from what it was pre-puppy.
· Expect to get up earlier because who can sleep while a puppy is in her crate deciding which corner to poop in. Expect to not go to bed until you’re sure the puppy has been drained of all liquids and solids. You are never sure.
· Expect your mealtimes to change since you can’t carry your lunch sandwich to the comfy chair where your laptop is because you’ll find yourself telling the puppy, “No, get down, no, stay down, no, stop jumping, no,” holding your sandwich above your head while mustard drips down your arm and the puppy climbs up and sits on your keyboard, looking utterly adorable, but come on.
· Expect your housekeeping habits to change because it’s no longer just you and your husband making practically no mess at all. Now a puppy is chewing empty paper towel rolls and paper napkins and magazines and charging cords and is that your slipper? The puppy also will immediately chew a hole in her bed and remove from it quantities of fluff the color of Oscar the Grouch after he’s been disemboweled by Mr. Snuffleupagus. You will turn the bed over, as if that fixes anything, but whenever you look away to read one line in your book or take a tiny sip of coffee, the puppy will have pulled green fluff from the bed and the fluff mounds will be scattered around the kitchen like low-lying green clouds. Your vacuum cleaner, which has been on sabbatical since you said goodbye to your previous dog, will be working its rollers off trying to keep up. It will not keep up. Your house will be strewn with bits of toys and paper and God knows what. It will be like living in a chicken coop without the benefit of eggs.
· Expect your social life to suffer. You’ll stay home because you have a puppy. When you do go out, you will need to go home because you have a puppy. When you make a plan, you will keep it short because you have a puppy.
· On the other hand, nobody argues when you say you have to stay home or go home or never leave home because of your puppy. A puppy is priceless that way.
· Expect your entertaining habits to change. A puppy will be thrilled to meet your friends, especially those friends who recoil from dogs. Leaping, licking, sniffing puppies will bring over toys that are all wet when dropped in the recoiling guests’ laps. Expect the first ten minutes of any gathering to be spent saying, “Down! I said down! Wait! Shut the door! She’ll get out! Oh, sorry. She’ll stop in a second. She’s just curious. Leave it! Can I take your jacket you silly dog? Get down! Sit! No, not you. But you too. I mean, have a seat. Can I get you something to drink? Stop that!” Your guests will be either delighted or appalled.
· Regardless of how active you are, you will be more active with a puppy. You will walk your head, legs and feet off. While you walk, you will talk aloud and maybe even compose original songs, all of which take as a theme urination and defecation: “We’ve been out here seven hours/Won’t you fertilize the flowers …” During most of these brisk, healthy walks, you will watch your puppy’s hindquarters for signs of activity. If you share the puppy with a partner, you and said partner will agree you never dreamed you’d spend so much time watching a dog’s anus for signs of activity.
· Expect to be as exhausted as first-time parents.
· Expect to feel ineffective and incompetent.
· Expect to adore this extremely annoying animal anyway.
That’s exactly what it is. Being first-time parents was a bit the same – only we had already ‘trained’ ourselves for one year before with a puppy…
It was my stepson’s six month old lab we were looking after that gave us the worse scare.
We heard her chewing something hard. Suddenly, my husband said, “What’s she chewing? It’s broken her teeth!”
Sure enough, teeth were sticking our of the side of her mouth, but they weren’t hers. It was his new dentures she’d stolen from a shelf. He’d only just bonded with them; he’s never had such a comfortable set since.