Sunday, July 19, 2015

Life with a Dog

We've had a dog for months and months now, the first dog I've ever owned, though I've always loved them, been a chronic dog-petter of strange dogs. At Penn, I inspired the Take Your Dog to Work idea that is still in effect today. I did that because we had a lot of dog owners and it was the only way I could get more than five minutes with the creatures. I've actually never met a dog I didn't like. I've liked some more than others, but I've liked almost all of them more than toddlers.

Before we got the Morkie, I'd heard the comparison between puppies and babies; how puppies were like babies, requiring a lot of care in the beginning. This was true-ish--puppies and dogs in general are way more work than cats. With cats, you just show them the litter box one time, and they are potty-trained for life. Your furniture will get scratched to hell, and you have to make sure they don't run out of the door (as they will not return on their own), and you have to pick up hairballs, but that's about it in terms of extra care.

It took us about two months to train Chaplin to go out outside, partially because we got him in the middle of winter and also because we didn't crate train him at first (due to my laziness, I didn't want to get up a 2 AM to take him outside when he cried). We took him to two and a half puppy courses (missing the last three sessions of the second class), and we walk him four or five times a day, down from like 6 or 7 when he was small. But I don't really think puppies are nearly as hard as babies. Just harder than other pets, except for maybe horses. And they can't take care of themselves.  And they want to play all of the time, He's calming down but he has pretty much three modes: chewing on something, wanting to fetch, and dead asleep. Not a whole lot of  moments of hanging out in contemplation.

Those curly-cue bones are a god send because they last for a hour or more, same with that little orange thing with the bone in the middle. He doesn't care about the Kong.  He sneezes more than a cat would, and he does this thing called a reverse sneeze which sounds like an old men trying to hock up phlegm. Many times, it's happened that I just let him chew on a pair of shoes. The value of shoes outweighs the value of my own time not having to throw that damn hedgehog again. You have to bathe dogs, otherwise, they smell. You have to apologize for dogs, for jumping on stranger's white pants. They will follow you everywhere, watch everything you do. They will hang out on the rug while you take a shower (the steam is also good for the phlegm problem mentioned above). You have to physically pick up their poop three to four times a day and carry it around until you find a garbage can, You have to stop them from running out into the street to chase a sparrow, a taunting squirrel, a white piece of paper.  Every time we go to the pet shop, I walk out $50 poorer. Every time, like even if I think I'm going in to get only dog treats.

But they are so totally present, and engaged, and interested in what you're doing. They lose their minds when you walk through the door. They are always glad to see you, even if you've only been gone for five minutes. If you stick your foot into their faces in the middle of the night, they will lick your toe. You can take them places and not just the dog park. They go with you on holiday visits, they go with you to the hardware store, the ice cream shop, other people's houses. They smudge their noses on the windows and they start to cock their heads to one side when you say the words "dog park."

For Luke, it's been good because he used to be afraid of dogs, any dogs, all dogs, even puppies. But Chaplin was so small when we got him, that he was able to deal with it, though it took him a while to see that the puppy's teeth weren't that sharp, that he could keep him from biting if he wanted. It took him another couple of months before he would pick him--I think he was afraid of dropping him, or unsure how to hold him.

Yesterday, he had a friend over who has two dogs, and the kid goes, "I just love dogs, don't you?"

And Luke said, "I love dogs too."

Score one more for dogs.

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