My younger girl, an adult of 23, is planning to fly the coop this coming month. She and a friend are moving into a rental house just a couple blocks from my older daughter and her roommate. It’s hard to believe that I have children this old and this self-reliant, for it seems not all that long ago when all four kids were itty-bitty babies, dependent on their mother for every little need. But just as I began to wax nostalgic for the good old days, I got a taste of new-mommyhood again.
We adopted a puppy a week ago today. He’s an adorable golden retriever with a friendly, happy disposition (when he’s not trying to bite every little shred of our being). We’ve had a puppy before–a medium-small mixed-breed dog–but somehow I blocked out all the bad stuff of the adjustment period the minute I laid eyes on Woody. I guess it’s kind of like childbirth. If we were to remember the excruciating pain, we wouldn’t ever repeat the process, some of us three more times.
An inevitable part of the dog-owning program I also finally had been able to push out of my mind was the day we had to put Sammy down. On that day I vowed to never get another dog. But life goes on, and here I am with another needy creature looking to me to fill his every need.
I’m not going to lie. Not wanting another dog wasn’t just about the sentimentality of losing Sammy. It also had to do with my all too keen awareness of the amount of time, devotion, and expense a dog can be. (Doesn’t it always fall on the mom?) Sammy had been a pretty easy pup, too, as far as upkeep goes. He didn’t eat a whole lot and he was healthy for most of his lifetime. He was also an outdoor dog and, I’m almost ashamed to admit, was easy to ignore at times. Fortunately, he was content to be outside in the beautiful Southern California sun. Who wouldn’t be?
But for whatever reason (was it being pressured by one of the kids or was it a midlife crisis?), I went against my own fine common sense and took on not just another dog, but a helpless puppy that would one day become a large dog and one that, according to its breed’s nature, will need companionship on a daily basis.
For the past week, it’s been like raising a newborn again. The whining, crying, and attachment are there–especially in the first two days and nights–and the near-constant supervising is exhausting. He needs to be caged in the kitchen (his nursery?) for the time being until he can get used to a crate (his crib?). He also needs to be housebroken, which is quite a lot like potty training a child.
Things are getting better and Woody is adjusting well to his new home, but it’s an awful lot of work. He’s a cute puppy, as all babies are, but I look forward to the day when the little guy is able to make decisions on his own and need me a lot less. Every living creature eventually becomes autonomous. Fortunately, it comes sooner with pets than with kids.