Four years ago we adopted the cutest puppy in the history of cute puppies. Within a week of dog ownership I had a lot more adjectives to attach to said cute puppy, and they weren’t as nice. Being a dog mom is hard. People warned me, but honestly I had no idea what I was in for and it wasn’t my finest moment – still isn’t some days. We still have a tenuous relationship to be honest – in addition to not really being a dog person in my heart of hearts, he’s a lot of dog. He’s anxiety walking with seasonal allergies, gastrointestinal issues and more energy than twenty second graders combined.
And while he is busy eating things he shouldn’t, barking at any living creature within a ten mile radius of our property and causing general mayhem and destruction, I cannot reason with him. I can say NO sternly, spray him with a bottle, stick him in his crate and whatever but I can’t say, “Darling, you don’t need to be afraid of the mail man every day. I promise he’s allowed to leave packages on the porch,” and expect him to understand or change.
We’ve both gotten better over the years. We’ve found little tricks to keep him relatively well behaved. I learned to get out of the house more so that I don’t feel like his prisoner. He’s mellowed out a little and was nice enough to eventually learn to use the bathroom outside. And although I don’t like him every day, I’ve found that in spite of myself I love him and consider him part of the family. Luckily my actions speak louder than my words.
I don’t balk at the $90 dog food; I happily take him to the groomer once a week so that his sensitive skin and allergies don’t drive him up the wall (this spring we’ll probably go back to bathing him ourselves unless my husband decides the convenience is worth the price); I stayed home with him 24/7 and monitored him relentlessly when he had a benign tumor removed and wouldn’t leave the stitches alone despite so much effort. I went momma bear on his first vet and found him better care when they weren’t cutting it. I found in my actions the love that my words are rarely patient enough to convey.
And honestly, most of the day we are good buddies. He follows me around the house whether I like it or not and often curls up to sleep next to my chair. He’s kind and patient (if overly energetic) with the kids and he worships the ground my husband walks on. He’s so smart about so many things in spite of a major stubborn streak that rivals my seven year old. He is beloved by our groomer and doggie daycare staff when he goes for overnights when we are out of town. He’s a good dog in his heart of hearts.
Because of the various breeds running through his DNA, he’s expected to be a “puppy” behavior-wise until he’s about 6 so I continue to hope that he may mellow out even more over the next few years. But like all the other members of our family, he has earned unconditional love from us even when he acts like an absolute twat. Lord knows the rest of us aren’t always our best selves either.
I’m linking up again with Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop. Head over there for more writing prompts and responses.