If you’re a dog lover you know how difficult it is to let go of a long time, four-legged, family member. That’s just what my husband and I had to do last month with our 17-year-old Yorkie, Molly. Just like every family dog on the planet, Molly was unique. She was loving and long suffering and spoiled rotten…and we loved her.
Larry and I find ourselves at the stage of life where many couples don’t take on another furry friend. The adage, “Life begins when the kids move out and the dog dies”, is very true. For just a moment the thought crossed our minds that this might be the doorway to the freedom years. No more waiting in the rain for a dog to complete its mission…no more bounding out of bed to the unmistakable sound of a dog hiking up a hair ball, or a dead mouse, or whatever disgusting thing it’s digestive tract might be expelling. Tempting……
The siren song of freedom lasted exactly two days. That’s how long it took our girls to take their mother on a puppy hunting mission. And guess what? We found one.
Enter Madison…. Maddy….3.2 pounds of Chorkie attitude. This eight week old ball of fire, half Yorkie and half Chihuahua, charged into our lives to remind us how pleasant life actually is with an older dog. No long adjustment period for this gal; she immediately began tearing through the house at breakneck speed as she explored every inch of carpet and happily christened half of it.
We had promised ourselves not to make the same mistakes we made with Molly, so Maddie is being crate trained. In truth it sounds more like crate torture because she screams most of the night. The only pay off seems to be that her exhausting nights keep her sleeping much of the day…. a side effect I can live with.
To corral the critter, we went on line to find a reasonably attractive baby gate to use until she is trained. After carefully measuring we decided on the expensive, but less obnoxious, wood and metal version with a door in it. The thought was we would let her sleep in the kitchen, allowing her to come and go from the crate, thus giving her the feeling she had her own little “home”. Isn’t that sweet? As we patted ourselves on the back for this great plan after finding and installing this piece of art, Maddie walked right through the bars and stood watching our progress from the other side.
Not to be outdone, Larry squared his shoulders as he headed to the basement to find something to help us out. He returned with a roll of fine, plastic screen which we carefully wove through the wooden bars to create a particularly ugly barrier. Maddy climbed over the screen. A second layer of screen blocked the bars entirely, but it wasn’t until the next morning we discovered she could weasel her way between the carefully woven layers. I found her blissfully asleep in a pair of my husband’s athletic shoes under his desk in the den.
Without adding barbed wire I can't see a useful future for this gate. Until further discussion it will remain where it is, flapping uselessly in the tail wind created as Maddie blows thru the kitchen at warp speed. This useless piece of equipment gives our kitchen the look of someone preparing for a terrorist attack, but it is what it is.
Three weeks into this experiment in forming a new family unit we are enjoying a vigorous exercise program that consists of taking Maddie out every hour, chasing her down and clearing her mouth of mulch, and fending off her little shark teeth (I clipped her fish hook toenails).
Like the pain of childbirth, I know the pain of housebreaking and training will pass. I will forget the gnawed shoes and the ravaged socks, and my defense wounds will heal. There will come a time in the months ahead when it will no longer be necessary to type with one hand and fend the dog off with the other. And, best of all, I won’t have to keep the carpet cleaner on speed dial. This too, in time, shall pass as I keep my eye on the prize.
It is my nature to reflect on the events of my life, and I’ve decided the challenge of adjusting to a new puppy is just a short story about life. You cannot replace a loved one, but you need to move on. It will be painful at first…but like breaking in a pair of shoes the new normal becomes more comfortable with time. Like it or not, pain and joy is the cycle of life. Add to that puppy breath and you know things are going to be just fine.
Life is Good