When Gina’s daughter, Katie, was in second grade and struggling to find a friend, Katie’s psychologist made a startling suggestion. “Get her a a puppy,” he said. Gina and her husband were agreeable to the idea. “If you think it will make her happy again.” So they scraped up some money, called a breeder, and brought home a cute little Bichon Frise they named Max. The psychologist was right. Katie loved having Max around her and Gina loved that it brought other children to their home (something she discourages now that Katie and her friends are teenagers).
Because she loved Max so much, Katie and her sister often asked for another dog. “Wouldn’t it be great if Max had a doggie sister or brother?”
“Forget it,” said Gina. “We’re only getting one dog. And when Max is gone some day, there will be no Re-Max.”
Of course that was the plan. Until a few years later when Gina’s younger daughter, Emily, started experiencing some of her own social difficulties. Gina and her husband were at a loss of what to do until a neighbor sent an email about a 7-month old cockapoo who needed a home. Realizing that what you do for one child, you must do for the other (Hopefully Octomom doesn’t fall into this trap), Gina ended up getting the puppy, named Candy. “It will be so easy, Mike,” she rationalized to her husband. “Max is no trouble at all.”
When Gina ran the idea by her neighbors, Juli and Bob, they had a different opinion. “Don’t do it! You’ll regret it. Having a puppy is a lot of work. Trust us we know.”
“Gene, maybe they’re right,” said Mike.
“But this one is mostly trained. She rings a bell when she has to go potty,” Gina argued.
What Gina and Mike failed to realize was that Juli and Bob had a secret bet between them. Bob bet we would stay strong and Juli, who knows Gina like the back of a Miller Lite bottle, bet Gina and Mike would cave.
Naturally, Juli was right. “I knew it,” she said.
Actually, they both have been right. Though Candy is a wonderful dog, Gina and Mike had forgotten how difficult raising a puppy can be. These are just some of the things they’ve had to adjust to:
- Stanley Steemer on speed dial. Candy, who used to ring the bell to indicate when she needs to go out, now chews it, which probably explains why Gina’s rug looks like it belongs in a frat house.
- Loud barking. They may be small dogs, but they can bark louder than Marmaduke. This is one of the biggest reasons Gina and Mike have regretted their decision, especially when they see the child they got the dog for covering her ears and crying, “Make them stop! Please Mom! I can’t take it!” In addition, the barking has impacted Gina’s work in her home office as her clients now think she has relocated. “Gina, I’ve been meaning to ask you. Did you move your office to a dog pound?”
- In-fighting and in-breeding. Gina thought they would get along well. Once again, she was wrong. It seems they’re either trying to rip each other’s throats out or doing inappropriate things to each other. Gina’s formerly, G-rated house, could get its on late-night pay channel on cable with some of the things these dogs are doing to each other. Our mother has been particularly bothered by this (“Saint Anthony! What’s he doing to her!”).
- Chewing. Having a puppy is like going through labor. You block out all the unpleasant stuff. For example, Gina had forgotten how much puppyies like to chew. There’s pretty much nothing Candy won’t chew — underwear, Barbie dolls, washing machine, toaster oven. It was particularly embarrassing when she got into Emily’s homework. I swear Mrs. Wilson Emily did do her homework. It’s just that the dog ate it.”
Difficulties aside (electrical hazards, Board of Health visits, etc.) Candy has made a nice addition to Gina’s imperfect family. They’re now more imperfect than before, which is hard to believe.
Do you have a puppy in your imperfect home? Tell us about it.