To dog or not to dog

I’m picking poo off the ground. Clawing and grabbing at the grass. Wondering where it all went wrong.

“It’s such hard work”

“It’s unrelenting “

“The barking gets worse. It took a year to break one of the bad habits.”

“Don’t do it. It’s like another child”

This advice from my so called mates. AFTER we got the dog.

My wife and 2 boys have been desperate for a dog for years. I’ve been equally resistant.

I’m not a dog person. I grew up around them. But we never had one. I’m just not into it. I can’t see the appeal.

“ aaw but they are so cute and cuddly….aaw just look at them…..great for the kids…..aawww….A friend for life……someone that will always be pleased to see you……they bring so much joy and pleasure to a family…aaaaawwwww…..aaaaaawww”

Nope.  I’m cold. I’ve got enough going on I don’t need the extra hassle.

The dog conversation went on for years. I could not be swayed. I told them it was the dog or me. They discussed breeds.

“Dad I will do everything. Please Dad can we get a dog. I will walk it and clean up after it all the time. I promise Dad, I P-r-o-m-i-s-e. You won’t have to do a thing. Can we dad, can we?”

“No.

I know you don’t mean it, even if you don’t.”

But after many years and as the boys became more self-sufficient I started entertaining the idea. I had to get my head around the fact that I would be doing everything. To expect nothing. That way I wouldn’t be disappointed about the lack of help I was promised.

I know nothing about dogs. But I had 2 conditions.

  1. You couldn’t ride the fucking thing. Some are huge.
  2. It didn’t have a reputation for eating children.

My wife wanted a Schnauzer. Her parents have one. But it sounds like a German Tank and it tries to take chunks out of me. Nein to the Schnauzer.

Another friend has a puppy. Their 2 year old was sticking it’s fingers in places it shouldn’t and wrestling it to within an inch of it’s life. I liked this fluffy thing. It kept coming back for more. This was a cute wee child friendly family dog. Turned out to be a Cavoodle. Half Cav half Oodle. I found my breed.

I started to imagine the dog in our house, sitting quietly  on my lap as I worked in my office, taking it out for walks in the evening, lying together quietly watching  TV. We play on the beach together throwing balls and sticks, the family run hand in hand along the sand as we laugh out loud. The sun shining. Life is good.

The family agreed. The hunt was on. We found our breeder. Did the appropriate research. Bought the relevant condiments that accompany a dish of this kind. The bed, the leash, the toys, the scented training pads (really??), the poo bags, the treats, the bags of food, the chicken necks (gross), the blankets, the bowls and the bag of grass. That was for my nerves. I fenced off an area in the garden. Installed a doggy door too high. And we made a list of names.

Every name was, em….. poo-poo’d due to it being the name of a person we knew or was dead.

Names are hard. 2 days before collection we watched Rocky 2. As we wiped our tears to the shouts of “Yo Adrian I did it” we all looked at each other. We found our name.

Rocky was collected on a Monday. He was 8 weeks old. We wanted to surprise the boys so I went myself to meet the breeder. He was a lot cuter than I expected and I was instantly smitten.

10 weeks

 

Rocky and I bonded on the 45min journey back to the house. He shivered nervously and I surprised myself by speaking to him in an octave higher than normal. We discussed house rules and expectations. He knew what I was saying. We had an agreement.

The kids were not expecting Rocky home for another week. So their reaction on walking in from school and seeing Rocky sitting there was special.

Day 1 was awesome. Great to see the dog getting used to our house. Watching it get comfortable and seeing his tail wagging.

Night 1. An hour of crying. Not normal dog crying. Howling. Borderline intolerable. It sounded like the dog was being throttled. But I had rules. Validated by the breeder. DO NOT COMFORT THE DOG. Confine him to his area and let him cry it out. “Under no circumstances take him into your bed, unless that is where you want him to stay.”

“ leave him” I said to my wife as she desperately wanted to comfort the dog,  “ we are doing the right thing. We have to be cruel to be kind.”

Turns out we weren’t. The poor dog was actually throttling himself trying to escape from the baby gate I had bought to separate him from the rest of the house.

My bad.

Rocky eventually slept through his first night and we next heard him at 630am.

By the end of night 4 there was minimal crying before bed.

I spent the first week bribing him to poo and wee in the same grassed area. The second week teaching him how to use the slightly too high doggy door. It has only taken 2 weeks and he has more or less worked it out. That’s my boy.

We are still cleaning up wee and the occasional poo around the house but it is becoming less frequent. It is particularly pleasing to watch him go outside after we confine him to his area and sit outside his doggy door and chill.

You know who your friends are when you get a dog. The ones that bring you squealing rubber chickens that make the most horrendous and terrifying noises are not. I re-gifted it after 2 days. I will have to get them back for that one.

The boys keep dropping Rocky on my face in the morning. I can’t stand that. This fuzzy wet tongue licking my face. There’s only one tongue I want near me and it (usually) doesn’t come with honking breath.

My wife loves it. Her tone can break glass when she greets Rocky after a day of work. If only I could get that much attention.

Max enjoys his cuddles when he wakes up and comes home. Zak just carries him around like his own personal fluffy manbag. He is slowly learning that Rocky’s feet should touch the ground before he lets him go. Both are irritated by the constant nipping and recent humping of their legs. But they seem to have fallen in love.

It’s at least another 4 weeks before we can take him out to parks. There’s a second vaccination at 12 weeks then a 2 week wait.

It’s early days and despite the initial love at first sight I still can’t say I’m that into it. There are moments when we bond. But like an additional child it can take a while.

The most laborious part is the regularity required to take him out to poo and wee. Yes he does go out himself but he still needs prompting. The constant chewing of all items of clothes and shoes is frustrating. But he is a puppy. And a dog.

The pre-dog imagery of it sitting on my lap as I work vanished on day 1 when he tried to eat my keyboard. The two of us lying quietly watching TV is non-existent as his energy levels are too high. When he wants to sleep he goes back to his bed. He sleeps a lot which is good. We do have a nice play together each day. I didn’t realise how much fun you can have with a stick.

10 weeks old

Reality bites at horrible times. Just last night Zak climbed into my bed at 4am. I hear the tiny patter of doggy feed behind him.

“he was crying dad, I let him out”

I stagger out of bed to put the dog back. I pick him up. There is little love at that time of the morning. Even less when I stand on his poo in the hallway.

Like a fistful of playdo it squelches through my toes. The honeymoon period is well and truly over. I still can’t get that squelching feeling out of my head.

Why did he poo inside? Because dear Zak felt that Rocky would get lost if he went outside at night and so he closed his doggy door.

The next chapter will be dog parks and training. It should get easier with time.

Unless of course I stand in another 4am poo. Then I will become Apollo Creed.

And there will be no happy ending for Rocky in that particular movie.

To be continued…..

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