What to Expect When Getting a Puppy

One week ago, our family adopted our first puppy. My kids loved the idea of having a dog but were also not used to one. I thought a puppy would be less intimidating due to its small size, and they could get accustomed to it before it grew to full size. The 3 of them could grow up together. Images of lifelong companionship and adorable childhood-puppy bliss filled my mind.

E's successful soothing in the car ride home from the city shelter.

A scared pup gets successfully soothed in the car ride home from the shelter.

What was I thinking?!?!

Prior to becoming a parent, I read several books to prepare myself as much as possible. Where were the puppy books? I naively did not think to prepare or read a single one. If I had, I am sure this is what it would have said to me.

Goodbye, sleep! Remember how as a new parent you did not handle the newborn stage well? It was because you love (LOVE!) sleep. It was because any disturbance in your nightly rejuvenation, no matter how small, turns you into a monster from the crypts of hell. How convenient of you to forget that before you decided it would be awesome to bring home a young puppy. On her first night, she cried so loudly and desperately that your son woke up, and your husband banished the poor creature downstairs. You heard her again throughout the night and awoke to puddles of urine. ‘It’s just the first night,’ you ignorantly told yourself. Not wanting to face pools of pee every morning, you learned that you should take her outside when she cries in the middle of the night (thank you, internet). You found yourself feeling like the Walking Dead while you dutifully took her out at 2am. Night after night, you endured while your ability to function during the day dramatically decreased despite consuming large amounts of industrial strength coffee. You also woke up earlier than usual on top of the midnight escapades. You’re sure you look like a dancer from the Thriller video. On night 6, she finally slept through the whole night, and you celebrated like the Pope was coming to town. Even still, she started night 7 with pitiful whimpers and cries that had you praying to God that He would please let her sleep, please let her know it was ok, please make her be quiet because at that moment you were certain that the Creator of the Universe’s main concern was your puppy’s bedtime whining. Blame the lack of perspective on the sleep deprivation and caffeine overdosing.

Hello, poop! You are learning how to mouth-breathe again. Each time you clean up a pile of poop, you feel your aging process quicken (as if it needed any more help these days). For survival, you have convinced your kids that using the pooper scooper is as fun as going to Disney. Suspicions that your kids are capable of fighting about anything are fully confirmed once they wage an all out war about who gets to clean up dog poop. You still need to assist, and therefore your rapidly aging self is mouth-breathing A LOT. Your hands have come in contact with enough urine-soaked towels that you are conditioned to gag at the site of a roll of Bounty. It may be the quicker picker upper, but why could it not be thick enough to keep your miserable hand from feeling the dampness of wet waste? You hope for your birthday you get a steam-vac which would make you more excited and overjoyed than were it a diamond from Tiffany’s. Yet even the best carpet cleaner cannot maintain your once neurotic ideas of cleanliness. That neurosis has been gradually beaten down after marriage, then children, and finally the fatal blows from having an animal in the house. There are no (Asian) dogs who can take their shoes off when they enter the house. You thought kimchi made your house reak, but it has a fierce competitor now. There is nothing quite like opening your door, stepping in your house, and filling your nostrils with the odor of smelly, dirty dog. That lovely scent clings to you and becomes your own. You then realize that being in public without showering was not your worst offense as you now emit “eau de smelly dog” on a daily basis.

Puppy Prima Donna. Your independence has fallen to the mercy of a small, furry animal. This means you have not gone running all week (which common sense tells you should make you happy, but the release of endorphins after torture is still missed). You limit times away from the house because you have to go home and let the dog out or because you feel guilty for leaving her in the crate too long. You are the loser who tells your dinner hosts that you cannot stay for a fun game because you have to go back home to your puppy. You postpone errands to the point that your husband uses water in his cereal one morning, and your kids complain they have to eat the neglected snacks from the unwanted side of the pantry. (Cry me a river, kids.) Because she is young and not fully vaccinated, you are she is under house arrest. Normally, this could drive you crazy but being as sleep-deprived as you are, you actually do not mind being isolated. You would enjoy sitting on the couch in a stupor, but alas you have to monitor your pup 24-7 because everything can be a chew toy when a dog is teething just like any surface can be a toilet when potty training. You are pretty sure secret service agents have to own young puppies as part of their surveillance training.

Final Verdict. You are cranky from sleep deprivation. You are dealing with endless amounts of stinky poop and peed-on carpet. Your house is dirtier than normal. You cannot escape the strong odor of animal. Your life now revolves around a 4-legged creature who thanks you for your sacrifice by nipping at you with her sharp teeth. What were you thinking?! You are not quite sure, but you are certain that your thoughts at this time are this: SHE IS TOTALLY WORTH IT. It is not without reason that she has cute, floppy ears and big, imploring eyes. Even though she can be a hyperactive, somewhat stubborn pup, she shows signs of being trainable. She has made progress, and today there have been zero accidents in the house (hallelujah!). You realize that when her tail beats against the ground in happiness that it corresponds with your own endorphin release as she gently lays her head on your lap. Despite scooping poop and being jumped on, your kids say often how glad they are that they have her. Your younger son has been inspired to lyrical forms of expressing his happiness and has produced melodic tunes like, “Oh, Harpy! Oh-oh-oh, little Harpy!” You are sure that Bob Dylan and Smokey Robinson both had dogs as muses. Your older son whose sibling regularly accuses him of meanness shows such sweetness with this animal that you have renewed hope he can grow to be an empathetic, good human. You are certain each Nobel Peace Prize winner had a puppy. Your boys are learning responsibility in feeding her and taking her outside. All your hearts melt when she lays on her back for a belly rub or curls in a ball for a nap. You find yourself unable to imagine your family’s life without her. What to expect when getting a puppy? A really, really, oh-little-Harpy-HAPPY home.

Harper

Harper

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