What brought me to this miserable state? Did I survive some natural disaster? Did aliens kidnap and probe me? Was I forced to watch a Fast and Furious movie?
I got a puppy.
A ten-week-old puppy.
Which proves that I am either an eternal optimist or a crazy person.
For the record, I’m voting for crazy person, merely because, on paper, I seem like I’d be smarter than that. I mean, I have two undergraduate degrees and a law degree, I spent ten years as a trial attorney specializing in criminal defense, and after that I taught Constitutional law. Seriously, doesn’t that sound like someone who knows a thing or two? Someone who might be pretty sensible and logical? Or at least slightly above average in the intelligence department?
And yet, despite the fact that I have owned dogs all my life and should know exactly what it involves, I somehow thought getting a puppy while my daughter, Iris, is still working on potty training was a good idea.
I’m going to pause here to raise a toast to all those mothers out there who are raising more than one child….mad props to you, ladies. Mad. Props.
The day after we made this colossally bad decision, who we have named Penny, I was home alone with her and Iris, and my mom called to see how things were going.
Mom: So, how does Iris like the puppy?Me: She alternates between being really excited and getting upset because Penny won’t do everything she wants Penny to do right when she wants Penny to do it.
Mom: Well, that’s probably…
Me: (holding the phone away from my mouth so Mom’s eardrum won’t get damaged and yelling across the family room) IRIS! DO NOT SIT ON THE PUPPY!!!
Mom: Is everything okay?
Me: Yes, Iris was just starting to…. (interrupting myself to yell again as I sprint, still holding the phone, towards the puppy who is squatting for a good pee) NO! PENNY!! NO!!! NO!!!! (I scoop the puppy up and start to go outside, still holding the phone on my shoulder) ….Iris was just starting to get too rough with the puppy and I needed…
Mom: (interrupting me, a little cowed) Do I need to let you go?
Me: No, it’s fine. I’m just outside with Penny while she….(to Penny who is now peeing outside where she should be peeing) Good Girl!! SUCH a Good Girl!!!....(whereupon Iris opens the screen door and comes outside still wearing her nightgown)…Iris, we’re not staying outside. The puppy just needed to… (to Penny, who is now pooping) GOOD GIRL!!!! GOOD GOOD GIRL!!!!....(to Iris, who is walking out into our mud-laden yard barefoot) IRIS, NO!!!! GO BACK INSIDE AND PUT ON SOME SHOES IF YOU WANT TO COME OUT INTO THE YARD!!!!!!!!....(to Mom, who is miraculously still listening to all this on the phone, as I try to, simultaneously, scoop up the puppy who is playing the game where you keep just out of reach of the humans, and stop a now-crying Iris who is advancing further into the yard and is making it very clear that she does not want to go back inside and put on her shoes)…..Can I call you back?
And have I mentioned that Penny is teething? And you know how puppies play with other puppies by biting? And you know how there is a mouse in C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia and his name is Reepicheep (yes my nerd pants are showing, shut up) and he has a really sharp sword? Well, Penny’s teeth aren’t like his sword because they’re too short. But, if Reepicheep had a dagger? Try twenty-eight of those little mouse-daggers digging into your fingers. Or toes. Or your boob.
Now imagine a nippy, teething puppy trying to play with an excited, screeching toddler. In the two weeks we’ve had Penny, I have had to have this conversation with Iris a LOT:
Iris: Mommy! Penny’s biting me!Me: You have to tell her no when she’s doing that.
Iris: (to Penny, who has now stopped nipping at Iris) NO!
Me: No, sweetie, you have to say no to her when she’s doing the biting, not now that she’s stopped.
Iris: (to Penny, who is still not nipping at Iris and has, in fact, moved on to chewing on a rawhide bone) PENNY NO!!
Me: IRIS! It’s okay for her to bite the rawhide. Don’t say no to her until she’s nipping at YOU.
Iris: But I don’t want her to bite me.
Me: I know. But, the only way she’ll know why you’re saying “no” to her is if you tell her NO while she’s doing it. And you have to keep repeating it because she’s just a baby and she’ll forget sometimes.
Iris: Okay, Mommy.
Me: Also, if you’re calm, I bet she’ll be calm. If you run around screeching, she’ll get all excited and that’s when she nips you. Maybe try just being calm and petting her and I bet she won’t nip at you then.
Five minutes later, Iris is running around screeching while Penny chases her, which turns into Penny nipping her…..later, rinse, repeat.
Something like eighty-seven times in a single day.
And I can’t even talk about the housebreaking.
That’s a lie.
If I can talk about potty training, I can totally talk about the housebreaking.
Here is what I have to say about housebreaking a puppy: I AM ALMOST DONE POTTY TRAINING MY TODDLER!!!!!!! Holy Mary Mother of God, what the FUCK was I thinking bringing a puppy into my house when I am thisclose to being done with potty training????
At least, if Penny was a human child, I could put a diaper on her.
But no. No. She is a puppy. Which means if I’m not picking poop up off the floor, I’m cleaning up pee. Or I’m yelling at the dog to stop her from peeing in the house and getting her outside as quickly as possible so she can pee out there. And, if I’m very, very lucky, Iris won’t decide that right at that exact moment she needs me to take her to the potty.
Or, better yet, when I take Penny outside for a quick pee (by which I mean I am hoping that she’ll pee and I can just scoop her up and get her back inside before Iris even notices we’re gone) so I can come back inside and get started on cooking dinner, Iris decides to join us in the backyard. Thus, what I envisioned as a quick trip to the grass is either going to end in great heaving, snotty sobs because it is soooo unfair that I took the puppy outside and not Iris or it will become the marathon of please-mommy-can-you-push-me-on-the-swing. Either way, we’ve eaten leftovers, takeout, or pizza for dinner more often this week than I care to admit (okay…all but one day…all but ONE FREAKING DAY we ate crap for dinner. There. I said it. I am a crappy wife and mother. Happy now?)
Speaking of having to get up multiple times in the middle of the night…
What? I wasn’t talking about having to get up multiple times in the middle of the night?
I should be talking about having to get up multiple times in the middle of the night. Because, yeah, I’m having to get up multiple times in the middle of the night. Again. The best time was when I was up with Penny, taking her out to pee at about 2AM, standing in the middle of the yard holding and umbrella and trying very hard to muster up enough patience to not yell at the puppy something insane like “FUCKING PEE ALREADY!!!!” because Penny wouldn’t understand it, anyway and it might, in the end, scare Penny badly enough that I would have to wait even longer for her to pee. (At least, with a child, you don’t have to go out in inclement weather to deal with poop and pee…it’s all nicely contained in a diaper which is located inside the nice, warm, dry house.) Then Iris wakes up, screaming, because she had a nightmare. Let me note here that my husband, who (bless his heart) sleeps like the dead, does not wake up. Not even a little. So, I grab the puppy, mid-pee, she dribbles the rest of the pee down my nightgown, I chuck the umbrella onto the deck, toss the puppy into her crate, and race up the stairs to comfort my child, pausing only long enough to take the rain-and-pee-wet nightgown off. It takes me ten minutes to calm Iris down, twenty to retrieve the umbrella off the deck, clean up the mess downstairs, and calm the puppy down enough that she goes back to sleep, and then two damned hours to get myself back to sleep.
Please do not misunderstand me. I love this puppy. I mean, look at her:
It took her about two and a half minutes to worm her way into a permanent spot in my heart.
And I love my daughter more and more fiercely than I ever thought possible. But ye gods and little fishies, I am tired. Love may be infinite but patience and energy are not.
Also, I swear those two little monsters are in cahoots. The only time they’re alone together is when I’m in the bathroom. It’s also the only time they’re quiet. And I’m pretty sure they’re using the time to concoct new techniques to either drive me batshit crazy or to get me to just give up and surrender all the cookies.
But I'm not letting them have my Diet Coke.