What I'm Learning From My Puppy
Two days ago, my husband and I made a huge change in our household; we adopted two cats, named Mack and Mindy, who had been at PAWS for almost 7 months, AND we took home a foster pitbull mix puppy named Violet.
It has been a tiring few days, full of early mornings and late nights getting our original 3 cats used to all of these new invaders in our home. The cats are low-maintenance enough, although one is mainly hiding in our master bedroom and has only ventured out in small, brave, spurts. The puppy, however, is another matter.
I have never had any experience with a dog outside of my high school pet, Benjamin, who was brought to us already house-trained and was, as anyone who met him would attest, one of the best-behaved dogs ever to have walked the earth. He still is.
Violet is a good girl; she is rather shy, hence her name, and very eager to please. But of course, she is not house-trained, and because she is so young (only 2 months), she can only hold it for a few hours at a time, unless she is in her crate overnight. So there have been a lot of trips to the backyard, cleaning up pee, and apologies to people whose whom she took a poop in (sorry, Mary!). Plus, every time I have to crate her overnight, she nearly breaks my heart by crying for twenty minutes before finally giving up and falling asleep.
As with most babies, both animal and human, her sweet little face is a perfect foil to her high maintenance needs, but there is something more that I am really affected by.
She follows me everywhere, she comes running to me the moment I call her, she is thrilled to see me the moment she wakes up, only lets strangers pet her if I am holding her, and looks up at me with eyes full of perfect, eager trust. She sees me as her mother, her protector, her pack.
I want to be worthy of her loyalty and love. It''s a great motivator for me to be patient and caring and watchful of her when I see those eyes staring at me, wanting my affection. It simultaneously breaks my heart and fills me with happiness.
I have never really felt responsible for an animal''s welfare the way I feel I am responsible for Violet. Cats are somewhat self-sufficient; they don''t need to be let outside to use the potty, they ignore you until they feel like being petted, and they have no need of our approval. Most dogs are not like that, and puppies definitely aren''t. It''s kind of intimidating, to think you are the one who has to teach this tiny dog all of the things that we take if for granted dogs already know; how to walk on a leash, how to play fetch, even how to climb stairs. I am a teensy bit overwhelmed.
It''s going to be really tough to give her up once we find an adopter, I can tell already. I have a feeling that she isn''t going to want to leave, and I''m not going to want to let her go. Although I have to admit, it will be nice to sleep late again and not to have to get up to let her out to pee. We have her for 6 to 8 weeks, until she is old enough to be spayed and eligible for adoption. If you know of anyone who lives in the Philly arrea interested in getting a puppy in a month or two, get them in touch with me!