All my life I wanted a puppy. So now four years into retirement I thought maybe I was ready to embark on this chapter in my life. This past December, I adopted a whole 3 pound 3 ounce puppy who is made up of three parts: Poodle, Bischon and Lhasa Apso. She is adorable. I love her! She could ruin my thirty-four year old marriage.
My husband and I don’t talk about our own children any more. We don’t talk about new restaurants or films or travel. We talk about whatever the dog needs or doesn’t need.
“Don’t let her chew on your laces.”
No response from husband.
“Why are you letting her jump on you? Tell her No!”
No response from husband.
“Do you think she needs to go out again?”
My husband walks toward the door with a puppy attached to his foot.
I recall painful lessons with our own two children. I was the bad mom and he was the good dad, the one who didn’t seem to care about curfews, tone of voice or who came up from the basement at what hour of the night. We need to become a united front. She is the cutest puppy in the universe and she knows we think this. I never talked baby talk with my own children. What is wrong with me? And what is wrong with my husband who won’t take me to the movies because she may wake up from her nap and need a biskee? (short for biscuit)
I consult the manual, How to Raise a Puppy You can Live with. Page 79. “A major aspect of the bonding process involves establishing yourself as the alpha member of your new puppy’s new pack.”
“Come, Gracie.” No response. “Come, Gracie.” Still no response. Seven more attempts and I go try to pick her up which takes 10 minutes because she thinks this is a game. The manual says to keep some treats in your pocket and to reward her when she obeys your command.
I stuff my pocket with cheerios. Now I am a 60 year old woman on all fours hiding behind the sofa. “Come, Gracie, come!” She comes to me! I praise her and give her a Cheerio. “Go hide somewhere,” I tell me husband. He contemplates my question. I know he wants to hide in the garage inside the car with today’s crossword puzzle. She cocks her head to one side and blinks her big brown eyes.
“Isn’t she adorable?”
“Look how she holds that squeaky frog between her paws.”
“Quick, let’s make another video for Facebook!”
Every day I take her for a walk. I stop when she pulls on the leash just like the manual suggests. I watch my husband from the window when it is his turn to take her out. She is on top of his shoe chewing on the leash. I yell out the door, “Don’t let her chew on the leash!” He looks at me exasperated. I see disappointment in his eyes—at me. I think maybe I have control issues. I am the bad parent again.