Puppies can turn life upside down

By Sharna Johnson

CMI columnist

The retelling took place in a fractional representation of the reality: “I cried in the staff meeting, I cried while the dog cried, I forced her into her crate, I got peed on and I forgot to take my allergy medicine.”

That was day four with the new puppy.

Nerves frayed, talking top speed in a blend of excitement, misgivings and frustrations, she sounded more like a new mom in her first week home from the hospital than a woman who went to a local animal shelter on her day off and left with a new puppy.

That’s not to say the decision to adopt a dog had been taken lightly or made hastily, to the contrary, she’d spent months planning and searching for the right dog.

But a few days in, my friend admitted she never could have prepared for the way in which getting a dog turned her world upside down.

Ironically, the change and utter disruption to her life was the result of trying so hard to do it right, rather than a consequence of doing anything wrong, though disintegrating into tears at the conference table in front of colleagues hardly felt right.

The little things add up.

Whining in the night that interrupts critical sleep, trying to create and maintain a schedule that involves frequent trips outside at all hours, reconfiguring the house into an awkward maze of baby gates and newspapers, assembling a kennel and searching for toys that will amuse and occupy.

Discovering things can’t be left on the floor like they used to and that it’s impossible to walk around the house without kicking or stepping on the new adoring shadow, having every shower and closed door prompt ear piercing yaps and cries.

No longer able to just grab the keys and go, even quick trips to the store must be calculated, baby gates closed, cries blocked out all the way to the car, and yet silence becomes a terrifying indicator that something is horribly wrong.

Trying to predict the unpredictable only to find puddles on the floor and always when least expected and evaluating every behavior and indulgence — from allowing the pup on the furniture to getting her to enjoy her crate — every move weighed against the invisible future in an effort to make sure the little things don’t grow into big problems.

Sure, it’s just the psyche being squeezed and pulled, poked, deprived and downright battered.

And when what used to be a calm Tuesday morning, starts with piddle on the work clothes and a frantic drive to the (pet friendly) office is followed by hours of sneezing and itching while trying to juggle a crying, restless fur ball who barks non-stop at a coworker all while trying to meet the demands of the workday… well, tears at the conference table start to make a little sense.

Yet by the next day the tears are all but forgotten, replaced by an optimistic mission to find a collar that the little tyke won’t scratch at for hours before slumping into pouty depression on the living room floor.

Day five closed on a new (softer) collar, a few chew toys, a lighter wallet and the simple, yet monumental satisfaction that all aftershocks took place in the yard.

Day six, well, that’s another day, because if adding a dog to what she now sees actually was a peaceful life has taught anything, she says it’s to live one day at a time — and of course, that doing it right means everything will go wrong, at least for a while.

Sharna Johnson is a writer who is always searching for ponies. You can reach her at: insearchofponies@gmail.com or on the web at: www.insearchofponies.blogspot.com

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